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Thread: machine quilting with flannel backing

  1. #1
    Senior Member craftyone27's Avatar
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    Hi all,
    Looking for suggestions for working with flannel as a backing fabric. i'm making a lap sized 45 x45 baby quilt using flannel as backing. I have a Bernina with a walking foot that I have used to machine quilt small quilts fairly successfully - nothing fancy. This quilt is giving me fits with puckers all over the back. I spent the afternoon quilting and then the evening pulling stitches. I saw one post about flannelquilts which suggested lowering pressure on the presser foot so the flannel doesn't stretch. Does anyone know if this will work when only the back of the quilt is flannel? I'm hoping for some input that will help me avoid another seam ripping session, and let me get this quilt finished and not be embarrassed by puckers in the backing. Thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I would starch the backing quite heavily. Flannel is a softer fabric, not much body to it. Believe me, you can't starch it too stiff. I soak it, and let it dry and then press it. If it is stiff like paper, then you have it stiff enough :wink:
    Starching the backs is one way besides basting well, to keep puckers away :D:D:D

  3. #3
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    Power Poster np3's Avatar
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    I have only hand-stitched flannel..

  4. #4
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    The only other thing I would say is to be sure you wash and dry your flanel because it loves to shrink.

  5. #5
    Super Member Lilrain's Avatar
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    My friends avoid flannel backs as much as possible. When i do use them, I pin heavily. How about spray basting?

  6. #6
    Super Member trif's Avatar
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    Did you pin, or spray baste? I have found after you wash and iron your flannel, if you liberally spray baste then roll your sides, start quilting in the middle and you should be fine. Baste gun and pins allow too much movement with flannel (just my opinion) Good luck

  7. #7
    Senior Member craftyone27's Avatar
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    Oddly - I normally use a basting spray for smaller projects - but decided to pin baste this one. Don't ask me why-LOL! Maybe when I 'm done pulling stitches, I'll pull out the can of basting spray. I usually don't use flannel as a quilt back, but it's a baby quilt and the printed flannel went so well with my other fabrics I just couldn't resist. I thought it would be nice and snuggly for a little one. If this went well, I was considering doing a larger flannel backed lap quilt for my father-in-law who is always cold. I guess his quilt will not be backed in flannel!!!

  8. #8
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    when I longarm fleece or flannel I keep the backing material very taut. I also use the selvage edges pinned to my leaders to help me keep it from getting too stretchy you can also sew on the the side regular fabric selvages to help keep it from stretching so bad.The biggest thing is to pin the heck out of it. and let machine do the work not your hands when doing it on a dsm.

  9. #9
    Super Member SuziC's Avatar
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    I just finished doing one with flannel. I used basting spray and the flannel didn't move at all.

  10. #10
    sewTinker's Avatar
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    I flannel-back All of my quilts. I have a bernina and either use my walking foot, or free-motion. After washing & drying, I spray starch the flannel (soaking it is a Great idea, btw). I use basting spray and I pin the quilt heavily with quilter's safety pins.

  11. #11
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    i don't read how you are quilting. Are you doing in the ditch; using walking foot etc. I have quilted in ditch and walking foot by pin basting. I also was careful in hold the layers flat as well as pinning with straight pins in front of the walking foot to help keep it flat.

  12. #12
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I have made several hundred Linus quilts with flannel backs in the last couple of years. I always prewash all fabric for those quilts. I pin bast about every 4 inches and don't have a bit of trouble. I use a walking foot and a decorative stitch. I only quilt about every 5 inches or so. At the most I might have one or two puckers. I have a Bernina 1260 but I have also done them on my newer Bernina. No problem.

  13. #13
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    i use flannel all the time...i think you will have better results if you lengthen your stitch a little bit it sounds as if you are using too small of a stitch for your sandwich, remember flannel is a (thicker/heavier) fabric, then add the top and the batting...makes a thick fluffy sandwich...a longer stitch and on my machine i can set it for light, medium or heavy fabrics which adjust's the pressure on the foot to accomedate the thickness. when i've had pucker problems though it's been fixed with a longer stitch.

  14. #14
    Senior Member craftyone27's Avatar
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    I am quilting with my Bernina using a walking foot. I normally do quilt in the ditch, but decided to do a more decorative style this time. The quilt is a modified Rail Fence w/5 strips instead of 3. To try to soften the linear effect of the design I marked the top w/arcs from corner to corner on each block. I pinned every 3 inches and started quilting in the middle of the quilt out to the edges. I'm hopeful that using starch and a spray baste will allow me to stick w/my planned design and not resort to quilting in the ditch. I will try to upload a pick of the quilt soon.

  15. #15
    Power Poster dkabasketlady's Avatar
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    Basting spray, walking foot and larger stitches seem to help me! Looking forward to seeing a pic of this cute baby quilt!

  16. #16
    Super Member trif's Avatar
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    Good luck, I would love to see a pic of your quilt once you finish quilting.

  17. #17
    Super Member quilterella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ckcowl
    i use flannel all the time...i think you will have better results if you lengthen your stitch a little bit it sounds as if you are using too small of a stitch for your sandwich, remember flannel is a (thicker/heavier) fabric, then add the top and the batting...makes a thick fluffy sandwich...a longer stitch and on my machine i can set it for light, medium or heavy fabrics which adjust's the pressure on the foot to accomedate the thickness. when i've had pucker problems though it's been fixed with a longer stitch.
    Ditto: I use flannel alot with my quilts and lengthen my stitch. I rarely prewash my flannel and I have never had it shrink or bleed. However, I do pin more heavily when using flannel with my walking foot.

  18. #18

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    I haven't tried using flannel yet but someone suggested using a flannel blanket instead of batting... does this sound like a good idea??? Any drawbacks to this idea??

  19. #19
    Super Member MaryKatherine's Avatar
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    I've had success putting the flannel on top,ie quilting it upside down. Then you can keep an eye on what's happening.

  20. #20
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewTinker
    I flannel-back All of my quilts. I have a bernina and either use my walking foot, or free-motion. After washing & drying, I spray starch the flannel (soaking it is a Great idea, btw). I use basting spray and I pin the quilt heavily with quilter's safety pins.
    I love flannel backing for baby quilts. I spray baste and pin, pin, pin. Then I flip it over and make sure it is super smooth, repin if necessary, and use the "braille" method while quilting. If I feel a bump or unevenness, I stop and check. Don't try for speed in this stage of your work.

  21. #21
    Member shirlm's Avatar
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    Just put the label on a flannel backed baby quilt last night. Like others said: Bought good quality flannel, prewashed and dried, spray basted, walking foot, adjusted pressure and used larger stitch (approx 2.70). Results were quite nice. NOW I hope there's no more shrinkage or distortion when the quilt's washed!

    Shirley in Shreveport

  22. #22
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    I, too, like flannel backs especially on quilts for "littles". The walking foot is almost a necessity. Usually I do stitch in the ditch to stabilize the blocks before doing any sort of decorative thing. (I wish they'd come out with a stitch in the ditch walking foot! Could really use that one.) I always start with the grain of the flannel on the straight and in the middle of the top or bottom working toward the sides with all of those stitching lines going the same direction. Then do the crosswise. When crossing those lines of stitching that were done on the straight, tug just a bit on the sandwich so it will stretch with the crosswise grain and work those puckers out. This will work on the little puckers, not excessive ones, which actually should not be there if you started out with the back perfectly flat. If you work on a table, try taping the back out so it is smooth when creating the sandwich. It sounds like your back may be sliding without you noticing.

    Salemm asked about using a flannel blanket as batting. I did that on one of my first quilts and wish I hadn't. It is one that was for my younger daughter and the blocks were all embroidered--a lot of work. I wish I'd used a traditional batt in that one. My opinion--depends on the use for the quilt. If it's for utility, good idea. If it's for a treasure, use a traditional batt. Flannel blankets work well for batting in a rag quilt as it is extra warmth and adds to the fringe.

  23. #23
    Junior Member Grandma Libby's Avatar
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    The first full quilt I did was flannel and it does stretch out as you go - I saw somewhere on one of the tv shows that you could spray sizing or starch to firm it up....maybe just try a section and see.

  24. #24
    Junior Member BATIKQLTR's Avatar
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    I also back all my quilts with flannel. I wash and dry first (very improtant). Sometimes I will use iron on batting to help stabilize and I always use a lite spray baste (505). I smooth it down several times before I spray and I quilt on my old Kenmore with a longer stitch.

    Good Luck, I hope it works for you.

  25. #25
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by illinois
    I, too, like flannel backs especially on quilts for "littles". The walking foot is almost a necessity. Usually I do stitch in the ditch to stabilize the blocks before doing any sort of decorative thing. (I wish they'd come out with a stitch in the ditch walking foot! Could really use that one.) I always start with the grain of the flannel on the straight and in the middle of the top or bottom working toward the sides with all of those stitching lines going the same direction. Then do the crosswise. When crossing those lines of stitching that were done on the straight, tug just a bit on the sandwich so it will stretch with the crosswise grain and work those puckers out. This will work on the little puckers, not excessive ones, which actually should not be there if you started out with the back perfectly flat. If you work on a table, try taping the back out so it is smooth when creating the sandwich. It sounds like your back may be sliding without you noticing.

    Salemm asked about using a flannel blanket as batting. I did that on one of my first quilts and wish I hadn't. It is one that was for my younger daughter and the blocks were all embroidered--a lot of work. I wish I'd used a traditional batt in that one. My opinion--depends on the use for the quilt. If it's for utility, good idea. If it's for a treasure, use a traditional batt. Flannel blankets work well for batting in a rag quilt as it is extra warmth and adds to the fringe.
    I have Husqvarna Vikings and they just came out with a new walking foot that has interchangeable feet, and one of them is a stitch-in-the-ditch foot. It is wonderful. Another is a 1/4" foot. I love it!

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