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Bits from Brian – October 2010

Some years ago, hand quilters would have disdain for machine quilters. I guess maybe some still do, but you have to like the idea of machine quilting; Machine quilting gets it “Off the floor and out the door” a lot faster. Unless it’s the wedding quilt or some similar heirloom, machine quilting can be a useful way to bring your project to completion.

Today, machine quilting is generally accepted, but ironically quilting in the embroidery hoop still has its detractors. This is silly, really, because it’s the same stitch, whether sewing or embroidering. Some must think of using embroidery as ‘cheating’. But I could argue that using a machine is cheating, and using any tool is therefore cheating. Why should only the most antiquated, least precise and most difficult technique not be cheating?

I say, “Cheat!”

Some essential things to keep in mind:

1.)    Quilts are inherently stable. So you do not need a stabilizer for the sake of a finished quilt. If you are running a design into it, the stitches are almost always composed of running stitches. These do not pull the fabric nearly as much as satin stitching or fills. Thus the stability of the quilt itself is usually sufficient to support the stitching.

However, from time-to-time you have a quilting project that needs to be attached to some stabilizer in the hoop, simply because the corner or edge of the quilt needs to be embroidered. In this instance, try a “Rinse-Away, Tear-Away” which removes easily and leaves no residue after washing. (This is also great for terry cloth and towels.)

2.)    Hooping a quilt can be problematic, and in the extreme, you can break your hoop. So, when possible, don’t hoop it unless you have a hoop designed for the purpose such as the Magna-Quilter.

Some of the newer hoops are thicker, taller and have more substance to them, and these can be used, but loosen the frame up. It does not have to be as tight as we traditionally set it. Also, the quilt itself should be fairly relaxed in the hoop, not stretched out at all.

One thing you may want to experiment with is attaching your quilt over the top of the frame. First, assemble the two hoop pieces and tighten it down. You may need to insert something like a piece of paper towel in-between the hoop pieces so that it tightens up without play. Then, float the quilt into position over the hoop and clamp it onto the hoop using binder clips or something similar. Sometimes double-sticky tape can be used on top of the hoop to help hold it in place.

3.)    If you digitize a design for quilting, a simple, single run at 2.5mm is your typical stitch (That’s about 1/8th inch for most of us). If you want a heavier stitch, you may be tempted to create a double-stitch or (if your software supports it) a three- or four-pass stitch. These will probably not line up when stitching out. It would be better to go right up to a ‘Bean’ stitch, which most sewers think of as a triple stitch.

4.)    If the quilt is large, you’re going to have a lot of work getting it done, but this is not much worse than quilting on a regular machine: Only so much of the quilt can fit in the free-arm of the sewing machine, and with the embroidery hoop, there’s a little less space. So if it really is a project for the Jewel or other long-arm machine, consider doing it that way.

If you want to get started, try it with a small project, maybe a quilted purse or bag. A wall-hanging would be good too. If you are familiar with techniques that let you quilt-as-you-go such as Betty Cotton teaches, then you can have even more fun with larger projects.

Now you may ask yourself, “Where oh where am I going to find great quilting designs?” And naturally I must steer you toward our Interactive title, Decorative Quilting.

Far from being a simple quilting design collection, Decorative Quilting has hundreds of traditional designs and variations which digitize themselves for your project in both size and type of stitch. Also there are tacking designs, border and repeat functions, quilt labels, fonts and more.


Happy Quilting!



Posted in Brian's Articles and News 9 years, 7 months ago at 8:36 pm.

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