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Thread: any advice?

  1. #1
    deedles215's Avatar
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    Hello! I am a beginning quilter- I can sew and know the basics and I'm on my way to finishing my very first quilt!
    I have the top all but finished (just a few more seams), have batting and a back.

    What are people's opinions on getting a quilt longarmed vs. tying it vs. attempting to machine quilt it myself? I'm worried about it bearding on my machine, but I'm open to trying it if it's possible! Then what about finishing the edges?

    I have just a few weeks before it needs to be done, so whatever I decide has to be done fairly quickly.

    A few facts about the quilt:
    Twin size
    All cotton top quilted top
    poly batting- not sure of the loft, fairly standard
    1-sided fleece on the back

    It's for my 2-year old niece, so in theory I'd love for her to keep it forever, so I want it to last and be sturdy for a little girl.

    How, at this point, should I finish the quilt? Any ideas?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rachel's Avatar
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    I think any basic meandering quilting design would be fine. I personally like stippling and its pretty simple on a standard sewing machine (and much faster than sending it off to the quilter, not to mention cheaper). Good luck with it. can't wait to see pictures!

  3. #3
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    My first recommendation would be to quilt it yourself, second would be to tie it yourself. Are you sure you can get it longarmed in time to meet your deadline? Where I am good longarm quilters always have a backlog of 2 or 3 months work, especially at this time of year.

    The easiest way for you to quilt it yourself would be to use a walking foot. With that, you can just make big curvy lines from one end of the quilt to the other without worrying about staying in the ditch or keeping lines perfectly straight. If you do it both up-down and side-to-side, you have curvy crosshatching. However, I have some tips that would help with this, so read on.

    Bearding is not caused by the type of machine that does the quilting, but by the type of batting you use. All-polyester batting is the worst for bearding, although nowadays some have resin coatings that delay or prevent bearding. If you want the fluffiness of poly, my recommendation is to get Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% poly). Cotton battings do not beard and, in my opinion, hold up to frequent washings better than poly. The lovely vintage quilts we all admire were made with 100% cotton batting. It holds up to wear!

    If you decide to tie the quilt, I would recommend using Warm n Natural cotton batting. This batting is needlepunched through scrim so it will not beard and is very stable. The stability of this batting allows tying or quilting fairly far apart (I wouldn't go further than 6 inches apart, but theoretically you could go 9 or 10 inches apart). Many, many quilters use this batting exclusively because it is so fail-safe. I personally don't use it anymore because I find the drape somewhat stiff compared to non-scrim cotton battings. I want the soft drape of vintage quilts.

    If you decide to machine quilt, I highly recommend starching the backing fabric heavily before layering. This prevents puckers and tucks underneath. I use a 1:1 solution of liquid Sta-Flo laundry starch and water, lay the backing on my kitchen island, "paint" the starch on using a large wall painting brush, throw the saturated fabric into the dryer, then iron with steam. This makes a nice stiff backing that won't pucker when you machine quilt. If you use a cotton batting, you can then spray baste the quilt sandwich together in a few minutes rather than pin basting or thread basting (both of which take a lot more time). Spray basting doesn't always work well with polyester batting, especially if the backing has been starched.

    Years ago I made a baby quilt for my niece using 100% cotton batting (Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon). I happened to see the quilt again about 15 years later, after her mother had run it through their washer and dryer about a gazillion times, and it was the softest thing you could imagine! The colors had faded to a gentle vintage look, the binding was frayed from use, but the feel of it was like hugging a cloud! My niece takes very good care of it now.

    Hope this helps get you started!

  4. #4
    deedles215's Avatar
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    Are you sure you can get it longarmed in time to meet your deadline?

    No, I'm not sure. :) Good thinking though, I didn't consider that. However, after reading, I'm going to be brave and try machine quilting, so now I don't care!

    Bearding is not caused by the type of machine that does the quilting, but by the type of batting you use.

    Ah-hah!

    All-polyester batting is the worst for bearding, although nowadays some have resin coatings that delay or prevent bearding. If you want the fluffiness of poly, my recommendation is to get Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 (80% cotton, 20% poly). Cotton battings do not beard and, in my opinion, hold up to frequent washings better than poly. The lovely vintage quilts we all admire were made with 100% cotton batting. It holds up to wear!

    I did want cotton batting, but didn't do enough searching to find it (as in, didn't really look at all, just bought the first batting I found, thinking, well it's poly, what does it matter? Beginner :) ). Where can I find the heirloom batting? Anywhere? JoAnne's? Walmart? What about cotton batting? That's honestly my first choice for that exact reason- vintage quilts are so soft and nice...



    If you decide to machine quilt, I highly recommend starching the backing fabric heavily before layering. This prevents puckers and tucks underneath. I use a 1:1 solution of liquid Sta-Flo laundry starch and water, lay the backing on my kitchen island, "paint" the starch on using a large wall painting brush, throw the saturated fabric into the dryer, then iron with steam. This makes a nice stiff backing that won't pucker when you machine quilt. If you use a cotton batting, you can then spray baste the quilt sandwich together in a few minutes rather than pin basting or thread basting (both of which take a lot more time). Spray basting doesn't always work well with polyester batting, especially if the backing has been starched.

    AH-HAH!!! Genius! I had never thought of that! GREAT idea!!! I had just considered a quick hand baste in addition to pin basting it before I 'ditch' stitched, to keep the back from puckering.
    On those lines, what do you think about mixing hand quilting (again, considering my timeline of Dec 18 to be complete!!) with machine quilting? Will that look silly?
    Also, I have a fleece to complete the back, should I do some nice white cotton instead (have lots left from some of top)? I just thought fleece because she's little and even I love cozy quilts... but in 15 years is that not going to look nice, but cotton would age and look more appropriate? I had originally gotten the cotton for the back, fleece for the edges, but then switched gears. Now I'm quad-guessing myself.

    Ahh... Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm so nervous to do this- it's the first quilt ever- but I'm a major perfectionist so when it's done I don't want it to look thrown together. My sis-in-law isn't exactly the homemade-quilt-type-of-girl, but it's for her daughter and I really wanted to do something nice for Christmas for the little girl who has everything; thus part of my nervousness.

    I will post pictures once I get more done- I came up with a design, I'm sure it's not an original idea, but easy enough for me to sew and I think it's pretty. That's all that counts, right?!

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I'm pretty sure Joann's carries both the Hobbs 80/20 and the Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon 100% cotton. As a beginner, you might be happier with the 80/20 because it has the fluffy element to it. The Blue Ribbon is considerably flatter looking and can disappoint unless (like me) you like that thin soft look after washing. I haven't seen the good battings at our Walmart, but it's a small one.

    A lot of people mix hand quilting with machine quilting. I would recommend doing the machine quilting first, as that will stabilize the sandwich for your hand work.

    For the spray basting, check other threads so you purchase a good brand. 505 and Sulky are the two preferred brands because they don't stink you out of house and home (but still spray in a well-ventilated area). Sulky is environmentally friendly now too.

    I would post another question to ask how fleece holds up over the years. I have never used fleece as a quilt backing, and I am unsure if the spray basting would stick to it. Also, fleece is stretchy so it's easier to get distortion in the backing even if you starch it heavily. You might want to ask about a flannel backing and how they hold up over the years. Again, I don't have a quilt with a flannel backing so am not sure if they eventually pill. Personally, I would use a cotton fabric for the backing just to make sure it will last without pilling, especially if this is a quilt that will be machine washed and dried many times (as most loved little blankies are!). However, I would recommend a print design backing fabric instead of plain white. Any solid color backing will highlight mistakes you make on the quilting; patterned backing fabrics hide mistakes so you still get the nice textures but no gross imperfection are staring you in the face every time you look at it. (And usually it is only the quilter who notices these gross mistakes anyway.)

    Also, do some research on threads to use for your quilting before you start. This can make a big difference in the result. I kind of like the combination of a variegated thread on top (adds interest) and a fine thread on the bottom (hiding mistakes). A lot of people like King Tut variegated for the top and So Fine or Bottom Line for the bobbin. Make sure your needle is the right size for your threads too. You probably want to avoid metallic threads as they can be considerably trickier to use.

    I'm sure your quilt will be much loved over the years. The biggest problem is usually not how pretty a quilt is (even "ugly" quilts become loved through usage), but finishing the quilt!

  6. #6
    MNQuilter's Avatar
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    Deedles- Not sure where in the Twin Cities you are at but I know that several of the Walmarts up here int he north Metro still have fabric and they carry Warm and Natural cotton batting. This is what I use and love the way it quilts. I usually hand quilt but I know a lot of people on here machine quilt with it. I also recommend starching the heck out of everything! Makes it so much easier to work with and it all washes out in the end! Good luck.

  7. #7
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your first quilt. I have used fleece on the backs of quite a few Linus quilts. If I were doing it I would not even bother with batting. I would also make the quilt envelope style, like a pillowcase leaving one end or at least a whole to turn it. Fleece does stretch so pin the heck out of it before you do any stitching. This would save you the bother of binding. When I make the Linus quilts I use a decorative stitch to sew in the ditch or in some simple pattern that complements the top and then sew about 1/2 an inch inside the outside edges which gives it a bound look.
    Depending on how young the child is they may be dragging it around for a long time to come. The lighter weight would give them a longer snuggling season.

  8. #8
    sewfunquilts's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like you got some great advice from others here. This is your first....don't longarm it from somebody else. You want your first quilt to be totally "YOUR FIRST QUILT".........and congratulations!

    Look out....you will become addicted, like the rest of us.

  9. #9
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of bearding problems in years! unless you are uing an extremely loosely woven fabric, I doubt if there will be problems. As to quilting or tying, I'd recommend you go for quilting in the ditch, keeping lines straight. Be sure to take pictures and label it on the back.

    While I love the work longarmers do, it's just too pricey to be in my future.

  10. #10
    sewfunquilts's Avatar
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    Yes, longarm quilters do Beautiful work....and I didn't mean to infer not to use them. Thank goodness they can do those King Size ones that I just don't want to wrestly anymore. It's just that this is your first one....so let it be totally your work!

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