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The magic (and how to) of Floating Stitches for your quilt projects

The magic (and how to) of Floating Stitches for your quilt projects

by Sarah Vanderburgh

This week I’m feeling the spring vibes. It helps that my Modern Blooms wall quilt is made with such bright fabrics. In yesterday’s post, I used the Patchwork Program to quickly sew together the purple flower blocks – I even started piecing the bright blocks too. I’ll add extra details to the purple blocks when I quilt the top. But for the rest of the colorful blocks, I want to add decorative details while I piece the block units together. How? It’s easy with the hundreds of built-in stitches on the PFAFF performance icon.

PFAFF performance icon sewing machine

PFAFF performance icon

Modern Blooms wall quilt laid over a beige couch.

Modern Blooms wall quilt as couch topper

I decided quite early in this project that the delight would be in the details. Keeping all the block construction the same meant I could spend more time playing with the performance icon’s menus of stitches. To take a peek, check out the stitch chart: PFAFF performance icon stitch chart (opens as a pdf).

With the first two strips of light fabric added to the remaining blocks, there’s only one more strip of light fabric to add.

Pink, orange and red block units with light fabrics laid on top of a gray cutting mat.

Pink, orange and red block units with light fabrics

Sew the final light strip

Sew the light fabric 2½” x 4½” strip to the right side of the unit. Press the seam to the strip.

Repeat with each of the 8 bright blocks.

Now to the decorating! With my white thread ready, I started my search through the decorative stitch menus to find something that would work in a playful garden. When a non-straight stitch is selected, a pop up shows up on the Multi-Touch screen to prevent damage to the machine; the standard needle plate needs to be on the machine for these stitches.

Machine pop up is a Stitch Width Safety feature on the PFAFF performance icon

Machine pop up when a non-straight stitch is selected

You can easily remove the needle plate after lifting the front right edge with the small screwdriver included with the machine.

A hand holding using a screwdriver to remove the needle plate on the PFAFF performance icon

Lifting the front right corner of the needle plate with a small screwdriver to remove it

The extra needle plate is stored in the base of the performance icon so it’s always with the machine. I love this feature!

Needle plate storage accessory tray on the PFAFF performance icon.

Needle plate storage in base of accessory tray

The standard needle plate has a wider opening for the needle to accommodate stitches that move the needle across the fabric.

Standard needle plate bobbin casing on the PFAFF performance icon.

Standard needle plate

Now we’re ready to start scrolling and choosing stitches to use on the wall quilt. Some of my favorites to include while sewing block units together are the floating stitches. I decided to select floating stitches to complement the pattern designs in my fabrics.

Floating Stitches menu on the Multi-Touch screen of the PFAFF performance icon.

Floating stitches menu on the Multi-Touch screen

Use Floating Stitches to sew dark fabric strips

Start with pink.

For the pink batik, I picked the dots or circles, and used white thread so they would show on the fabric. The floating stitches can be sewn two different ways depending on if you’re using one fabric or two. In this case, I’m sewing two pieces together and using the 1A presser foot. The instructions are in the User’s Guide too! For best results, use a piece of INSPIRA Fast & Easy Tear-A-Way Light Stabilizer on the bottom of the fabric set.

Sew the dark fabric 2½” x 4½” strip to the top edge of the unit. Before opening the seam, all of the floating stitches are on the wrong side of the fabric. Here’s what the floating stitches look like when you’re finished sewing.

Floating stitches on the reverse side of a pieced pink and yellow block.

Floating stitches on the wrong side of fabric after stitching

Now gently pull the fabrics apart to reveal the stitches on the right side of the block. The batik fabric made it easy to pull the stitches up fully; you can also iron this seam to get it flat.

Floating stitches in white thread shown on the right side of the pieced fabric block made of pink and yellow fabrics.

Floating stitches on the right side of the fabric

Gently tear away the excess stabilizer from the back around the stitches. Repeat this step using the same floating stitch with the 2½” x 4½” strips on the remaining pink units. Then sew the dark pink 2½” x 6½” strips to the right side of each unit with the same floating stitch to complete these units. Press the seam to the strip and remove the excess stabilizer.

Finish with orange and red

I chose a different floating stitch for the orange and another one for the red blocks and changed thread colors for each too. I used green thread on the orange and yellow on the red.

Sew each set of blocks with the selected floating stitch, first adding the 2½” x 4½” strips to the top and then the 2½” x 6½” strips to the right.

Add a stitched surprise.

I added a fun stitched surprise to the center of the orange blocks. There are just too many cute stitches to not include a few on this project. Continuing with the garden theme, I went through and selected a few different stitches to compare their sizes. To do this, I opened the Sequence Creator to compare the stitches with each other right on the Multi-Touch screen.

Multi-Touch screen built-in decorative stitches, bug stitches, insect stitches on the PFAFF performance icon.

Various creature stitches in the Sequence Creator on the Multi-Touch screen

I had to pick the frog! Using the Sequence Creator program lets me insert commands like Stop, so only one frog stitches out. I can add commands to tie and cut the threads too.

A sequence of frog stitches shown on the Multi-Touch screen Sequence Creator of the PFAFF performance icon.

Frog stitch with commands on the Multi-Touch screen

I put a piece of stabilizer under the center of the block as recommended on the Multi-Touch screen. I used the green thread because I used the green thread on the orange blocks already. Using the Start/Stop button, the machine stitched while I kept the block straight, and the performance icon accurately stitched out the frog stitch.

I selected and stitched a different critter for each of the orange blocks.

Three orange blocks each with a different critter in the yellow center block next to a pair of scissors all laid out on a green cutting mat.

Orange blocks with a decorative stitch in the center

Floating stitches and decorative stitches on completed orange and pink blocks laid out on a gray cutting mat.

Completed bright blocks for wall quilt

Today’s post was a busy creative one, but now all of the blocks are stitched. We did a lot of embellishing to the blocks using the floating stitches as we constructed them and then added a fun detail of garden critters to the orange blocks. The variety of stitches on the PFAFF performance icon means you can create a themed wall quilt for any occasion.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: PFAFF Patchwork Program: makes chain sewing fast and easy

Go to part 4: Adding a little something extra to your quilt: Here’s why you should!


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