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Am I on the right track with my quilt?

Am I on the right track with my quilt?

Old 06-22-2018, 06:29 PM
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Location: Minneapolis
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Default Am I on the right track with my quilt?

I'm making my first ever quilt. The quilt top was very enjoyable in selecting fabrics, cutting and piecing and sewing. but I have struggled with making the quilt sandwich and quilting. Choosing how to quilt - I chose stitch in the ditch - was daunting. I didn't know about any of these things like stippling, etc. I had some problems with my backing fabric bunching and have a few folds. It's not perfectly smooth. Also there were different opinions on thread color - I chose a light color and my backing shows every imperfect stitch as a result. My quilt top looks beautiful though! I have been frustrated how hard quilting was - especially manouvering the big quilt through my machine's throat. So after making my first quilt, I love making the quilt top and disliked quilting it together. Is my experience typical and is quilting usually this hard? I already have a second quilt in the works and completed the quilt top. Now I have to make the sandwich and quilt a second time - ugh!!
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:36 PM
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Hi Paula, welcome to the board!
I can only tell you my experience. I started quilting when everyone was hand quilting- that was many years ago. So machine quilting is still rather new for me. I started with small projects, and also made sample quilt sandwiches about 15 or so inches square to get the hang of machine quilting. There is definitely a learning curve.
When you quilt a large quilt it's a good idea to have a machine with a large enough throat area in which to work. I rely on Youtube videos to get a lot of good tips and great tutorials for learning many aspects of quilting.
It can seem daunting but hopefully you will keep plugging away at it. You'll be surprised at how quickly you will advance your skills.
It all takes practice. Best of luck to you!
This board is a treasure trove of information so ask away

One more thing- you may find that you enjoy the planning and piecing of a quilt and not the quilting of it. There are many people who send quilts out to be quilted. Bottom line- there is no right way to do anything but whatever works for you and makes you happy.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:47 PM
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Thanks SusieQ for your encouraging words. I'll keep at it and see if Inlearn to enjoy the quilt sandwich onward part more as I gain more skill in this area. I learned how to do it all using videos on You Tube. I didn't know about a walking foot and purchased one from Amazon. I was also learning to sew and how to use a new sewing machine all at the same time! A lot of newness. If only I had a quilting mentor! I'm so glad to find this board.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:53 PM
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Paula, I'm really impressed that you have achieved so much just by watching videos! That's fantastic!!!!!
I took a beginner class and then found some people to form a quilt group. I no longer have that contact but get so much help right here. I started before the internet and things have changed drastically since then. So glad for the internet! Some people join guilds. There is a huge one where I live but frankly, it's too big for me!
Just tossing out ideas for you I'm still evolving in quilting and having a lot of fun doing so.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:54 PM
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Paula, there are several good threads here about putting the quilt sandwich together that I've found very helpful. I use 505 spray and it seems to hold things in place really well. As far as the actual quilting goes, my suggestion is to make a small (18 x 24) quilt sandwich and practice your stitches. It's much easier to become good at quilting with a small piece that is easy to maneuver. I usually FMQ all my quilts and do a small practice piece before I work on my big quilt.

Last edited by cashs_mom; 06-22-2018 at 06:57 PM.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:57 PM
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I've been FMQ for 14 years and can do a fairly decent meander but that's about it, it takes lots and lots of practice, you will get better but it does Help if you have a machine with a larger harp space than most the modern machines. You can also check into quilt as you go, and there are various ways to "make it easier", one of which is dividing the batting into thirds, quilting the center, then add one of the thirds, then quilt that section, etc.

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 06-23-2018 at 03:06 AM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:03 PM
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Smaller quilts will help. You may want to make donation baby quilts for local hospitals, or toddler quilts for charity. Or alternate those with the big quilts you must make for family members. Also, look for tutorials on:
How to baste a big quilt without a huge table
Basting spray to baste your quilt
Using washable glue to baste your quilt
How to do quilt as you go to keep the size of your quilting area down
How to split your big quilt into manageable size pieces (great tutorial by Ann Peterson on Craftsy).

Quilt with your walking foot, not free motion. Simple straight lines are very modern and easy to do with your walking foot. So are gentler curves. This is also the best foot to use to sew on your binding.

Some people on this board use QAYG (quilt as you go) exclusively. Some use only free motion; some both; some quilt by check. Some quilt by hand with beautiful little stitches. Some quilt by hand with big stitch quilting. Some people tie their wuilts. It is all OK. But machine quilting is a learned skill and takes practice. If you are like me, sewing a straight seam took a while to learn.

It is simply not true that machine quilting is easier than hand quilting. Faster, yes; easier, no. First you need to determine if you like the machine quilting process at all. If you find that you enjoy machine quilting, look at the bigger throat straight stitch machines. Take a class at your local quilt shop. Go to the Minnesota Quilt Show next June in Rochester and try out some of the machines. Try them out at the shop if they have them available. Or a sit down midarm. Or quilt by check. You did complete one guilt beginning to end, so you proved you could do it. Now you need to decide if you want to do it. Life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy because the quilt police told you “It is not a real quilt unless you (fill in the blank)”. Do it your way and enjoy it.

Last edited by Krisb; 06-22-2018 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:33 PM
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I have the impression that the (vast?) majority of quilters prefer piecing to quilting, hence the number of longarmers who quilt for others. I've never heard of anyone offering piecing services, LOL.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:51 PM
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Look up Sharon Schamber's board basting method on YouTube. It is so much more doable for me. I dislike machine quilting and can't afford to pay someone, so I taught myself to big stitch hand quilt. Love it! Find what works for you.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:53 PM
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I have quilted a long time and basting my quilt sandwich is my least favourite part. I like Hobbs fusible 80/20 batt and iron the sandwich flat out on my old carpet in the basement. I also like basting with 505 soray but that I have to do outside because of the smell. There are some longarm machine quilters that will baste your quilt at a charge or you can have your quilt quilted by them. This is called quilting by check.
I usually pick a patterned backing as this hides most quilting errors. I quilt from the center outward to the quilt edges so any excess backing fabric gets moved to the edge. As others have said, do some smaller practice pieces and you will get better.
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