Here is my entry for Quilter’s Favorites.
List a few of your favorite quilting notions
- Thread Snips – I can’t live without them!
I use them all the time: for cutting the batting away for trapunto, trimming the thread while piecing, cleaning the edge of the quilt before binding, during the machine quilting. I rarely use my large scissors.
- Creative Grids rulers– non-slip rulers with fine black and white marking ( so easy to read) and turn a round patented feature.
I have a long 6.5”x24.5” ruler, and a 12.5” square ruler. It’s all I need for the basic cutting; I bought 2 sets in 12 years! Soon I have to buy the third set, I hardly see the marking lines.
- Magnetic Pincushion -I just had to add this, because I bought my first magnetic pincushion 10 years after I started quilting; you really need one.
- Lint roller – a big help if you share your quilting space with your cats/dogs.
Any advice for a successful color scheme of a quilt ?
- use fabrics from the same collection.
- what I learned from books is to combine light, dark and medium color fabrics and use prints in different pattern scales.
- choose first a print you like then choose fabrics in the colors of on the main print.
- I don’t have patience to work with scraps but I like scrappy quilts; and I like how easy it is to tie together a lot of different fabrics with neutral color fabric (like beige, cream, brown, gray, black, white).
- I want the fabrics used for a block to highlight its pattern; I don’t like using too many busy prints and in similar colors for a block , I use contrasts to show a sharp design.
Some thoughts about thread and needles, batting, fabrics ?
– Favorite needles for (free motion) quilting – Topstitch needles (#100/16 or #90/14). They have a double-size elongated eye, providing more room for the thread to move
through with much less friction, meaning less chances for the thread to break.
– It’s time to change the needle when it is dull and does not prick or it leaves a scratch on your fingernail.
|The difference between an universal needle,
a quilting needle (sharp point) and a topstitch needle (big eye).
Usually I use the same color thread for an entire quilt, a light neutral color thread- white, cream, beige, light gray; the main reason is that it looks great on light fabric as well as on dark fabric ( I hate quilting with dark color thread on light color fabric- it seems the mistakes are more evident).
Aurifil thread- my favorite thread for free motion quilting,
perfect for my speedy industrial machine.
I like cotton batting – the fabric sticks nicely to it, leaving no room (almost) for creases.
Wash the fabric to remove the chemicals from the manufacturing process – it is the best advice I could give to a quilter. 10 years after I started working with fabric, I developed allergy to new fabric.
OR, at least, do not store unwashed fabric in your bedroom or try not to be permanently exposed to a large amount of new fabric.
Tips for easy piecing
- I usually starch the fabric after washing – not much starch- it helps with pressing and makes the fabric more stable, easy to cut and help the piecing.
- When assembling a block, I don’t press after each seam. I finger press and I gave the block a good press when it is finished.
If you enjoy other quilt techniques than patchwork, could you share some tips with us ?
You probably know I love shadow trapunto – here there is a tutorial with lots of tips.
Machine quilting tips
- free motion quilting – position of hands.
This is the reason I enjoy so much free motion quilting – I don’t quilt with both hands on top of the quilt sandwich. If someone would force me to do this, I would give up quilting.For me this position of hands is much more comfortable. I move the quilt under the needle without difficulty and with no pain in my shoulders. I don’t wear any type of gloves, I don’t need them.
Click to see lot of pictures explaining the position of hands
while free motion quilting
I keep on top only my left hand (keeping the quilt laying flat) and the right hand I keep under the quilt. I use this hand to move the quilt. I also use my left hand to move it under the needle, but the right hand is mainly doing the job.
- I use pins (instead of safety pins) to baste the quilt sandwich.
I try to keep the points of the pins in the middle layer (batting). I prefer scratches on my hands (especially if the quilt is large) rather than spending more time working with safety pins.
- Usually I use the same color of thread on the front and back of the quilt. And I like using the same color for backing, too. In this way if I can’t get perfect stitches, the mistakes will be less noticeable.
- For large quilts I usually like to buy wide fabric for backing instead of piecing the backing; It is cheaper and faster.
- You probably noticed how easy and enjoyable it is to free motion quilt a small piece – like a pillow. If you don’t enjoy free motion quilting large quilts, it’s because the quilt hangs off the edges of the table you work on, this causing difficulties in moving the quilt under the needle. So this is the golden rule for easy free motion quilting : regardless of the size of the tablewe use (I use a small one), we must keep the whole sandwich on the table at all times. The quilt needs freedom to move under the needle. This matter is more important than the size of the space under the arm of the sewing machine.
Hand quilting tips
Sorry! I don’t know how to hand quilt.
Other tips related to quilting
- A sharp blade for the rotary cutting saves you time and protects your cutting mat.
- I always wash my quilts after they are finished. Details here.
I add the binding after I wash the quilt. I think most of the quilts get distorted after washing; the stitching and fibers relax and most of the distortion will happen at the first washing. This
is why I think it is better to wash the quilt first, then square it up and then bind it; at least, this is my engineering thinking:).
- Storing quilts
I fold my bed quilts but I hate having creases on my wall hangings. So this is the way I store them – rolled on a cardboard tube (you can find one in a fabric shop ( and longer ones in a carpet shop).
Do you have free tutorials on your blog? Share the link.
The sewing machine – share a few things you love at your sewing machine; what makes it special? What features do you think are the most important to a sewing machine used for quilting?
- The space under the arm is the most important thing; the bigger the better.
My industrial machine – under the arm there is a 10.25” space
and an 100” quilt. My domestic Pfaff has 7” under the arm.
- My machine sews well thick fabrics – very, very important to me, as I enjoy making bags.
- I don’t need decorative stitches; I have about 15 on my machine but I use only 2; color + fabric + pattern + quilting are enough for my quilts. But a zigzag stitch is a must.
- I have 2 machines (a domestic one and an industrial one): one for piecing, one for free motion quilting.-I love that I don’t waste time changing feet, needles or adjusting thread tension.
- The knee lift of my sewing machine is invaluable because it frees up both of my hands to hold the quilt sandwich during the quilting.
What about modern quilting tools? Quilt software, die cutting systems, other tools? Why do you like them ?
I use Electric Quilt software for designing quilts, I bought it soon after I started learning quilting. It’s great for beginners or advanced users. You can design patchwork quilts, appliques, audition your own personal fabric stash, embroidery designs and quilting designs on your quilt before you make it. You can print patterns for foundation piecing, templates and rotary cutting charts. It does all the math for you! It prints even your fabric yardage! And you can print anything in any size, right on your printer at home.
Tips for organizing the sewing tools, the fabrics, the sewing studio?
Here is how I store the bent or broken pins and needles- in a safe container. When the container is full, it can safely be thrown in the trash.
Could you recommend a book to someone who just started quilting ? A quilting bible ?
My first quilting books were a “Fons and Porter” quilter’s guide and a Harriet Hargrave machine quilting book- it was 12 years ago; visit their websites to learn more about them.
List one or two of your favorite quilting techniques and a tutorial/pattern/book where you learned about them ?
For years, the stack-n-whack technique was my favorite. I learned it from a book by Bethany Reynolds. I made many kaleidoscope quilts.
|These are old pieces; I would love in the future to
combine the kaleidoscope technique with my love
for English paper piecing and hexagons.
Do you have a favorite quilt designer ?
I learned a lot from Eleanor Burns; I saw many of her videos and I love her quilting shortcuts. Of course, I love her enthusiasm too.
Do you have a favorite quilt blogger?
Not only one. I admire a lot the moms with small children; some of them have 3, 4, 5 or even 6 children and they still find time to sew and blog!
Would you like to share one of your favorite quilts, made by you ?
This one will always be special to me and my family.
What would be the perfect gift for your best quilting friend ?
A portable box filled with a portable quilting project, like this one (this was a surprise for my friend Sanda).
Or a selection of thread, like these prewound bobbins.– great for English paper piecing.
Don’t Do Like Me!
Trust your instincts and do not persist in doing something you don’t like – only with the hope that once it is finished, you will like it.
I free motion quilted 500 yards of thread in 4 hours and then I needed almost 5 days to rip out all the stitches! I used a lot the seam ripper, tweezers and lint roller.
I am happy this quilt did not remain an UFO!.
If there is something else you would like to share with us, please do it. And please tell us a little about you, we would love to know you better.
I remember my first years of quilting – learning and sewing alone, at home, with not too much information available on Internet.
Today there is an abundance of information and many opportunities for us all to learn, share, make and meet new friends.
And I can’t help myself not to think what the next 10 years will bring to the quilting community. What kind of quilts will we make ? What kind of fabric will be in fashion ? How will look like the quilt show in Houston or in other parts of the world ? How “computerized” will be the quilting world and how much time will we afford to spend on handwork ?
Time will tell us!
hoping that there is something interesting for you in this post.