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Stabilizing knit fabrics in finished quilt top

Stabilizing knit fabrics in finished quilt top

Old 03-06-2018, 07:42 PM
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Default Stabilizing knit fabrics in finished quilt top

I am making a quilt out of apparel fabrics, mostly tshirt, but also flannel and thermals. I am trying to find the best way to stablilize this super stretchy quilt top so the stitching wont be so likely to pop with normal wear and tear. I am considering using pellon 911ff (this is the one that keeps coming up in my searches). I'm wondering, is it ok to use fusible interfacing by ironing it onto a finished quilt top before quilting? I didn't do my homework well enough before I started this project unfortunately, and I know Now that it would have been best to line my knits before piecing. You live you learn. But now I have to do my best to stabilize this quilt top. Has anyone ever fused interfacing at this stage, after piecing is done?

In another thread someone recommended considering using a lightweight muslin between the top and batting as an alternative. Maybe this would be better? I'm open to suggestions!

Thank you!

Last edited by QuiltnNan; 03-07-2018 at 03:18 AM. Reason: remove shouting/all caps
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Old 03-07-2018, 04:34 AM
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I use non woven lite weight fusible interfacing, I think by Pellon .......good for t-shirt quilts too.
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Old 03-07-2018, 01:14 PM
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Have you checked Pellon 906F? I haven't used it yet but it was suggested to me for t-shirt quilts. I have everything but haven't started yet. Anyway, the 906F is very thin so would add hardly any weight. It would take some picky cutting of the Pellon but I think in the long run it would help the quilt over-all.

The idea of adding lightweight muslin between the top and batting might be a good alternative also.

I don't think the stitches will pop because of the lack of stablizing as much the shirt material will bubble and deteriorate between the stitching.

Last edited by selm; 03-07-2018 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 03-07-2018, 02:55 PM
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The only problem I have with Pellon is that is does tend to come apart after repeated washings. I quit using it on apparel when I discovered that. I'd use one of the fusible tricot interfacings. They are woven and don't come apart with repeated washings.
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Old 03-07-2018, 07:15 PM
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I'm liking Stay-Flex, a woven fusible that is often used in tailored clothing like suites, etc, for stabilizing now after having used Pellon 911F, Pellon 906, and Flex-Fuse (a fusible knit stablizer that does stretch in one direction). It comes in both 20" and 54" widths. One of the problems with using the Pellon is the width is 20" and on a full size quilt that may be hard to keep it all together while quilting.
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Old 03-07-2018, 07:58 PM
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I still think a layer of fine muslin spray basted to the quilt top before layering is your best bet. For those of you who might not be familiar with this quilt, here is a link to a previous thread about it:
https://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f...n-t295166.html
Scroll down the thread to see some photos.

This quilt top has a mixture of fabrics, with cotton interlock used as the sashing. The piecing was done with Aurifil 50wt using a straight stitch. Backing is a soft fleece. The problem, now that it is quilted, is that there is a ton of stretch in the fabrics but no stretch in the stitches, so threads break easily when the quilt is manipulated.

This is a very important quilt because it is a memory quilt for a 16-year-old boy. Laura is planning to take out the existing quilting in order to stabilize the quilt for normal use.

Aurifil 50wt is a very weak thread (which I love for normal piecing, but this is not a normal piecing situation). I am thinking it would be best, after taking the quilt apart, to reinforce the piecing seams with a narrow zigzag stitch using a polyester thread. I am thinking Bottom Line for the thread, as it is fine but strong. I would just secure it with a backstitch or two, do a narrow zigzag over the existing seams, and secure again at the end. It doesn't have to be perfect. This would greatly strengthen the existing piecing seams.

I am not sure it would be a good idea to use a fusible on the underside of the top. Non-woven fusibles such as the Pellon gradually disintegrate. They are good for temporary stabilization, but will lose that quality over time. Fusible nylon tricot such as the Stay-Flex would be a better choice, but it would definitely add a little weight and substance to the quilt top. This is not necessarily bad. It will make the quilt slightly heavier and slightly stiffer, but this probably will not be noticeable to anyone but the maker of the quilt.

My biggest question concerning using a fusible on this quilt top are the seams. There are a lot of seams in this top, and they will be relatively bulky because of the fabric mix with interlock. Do any of you have experience using a fusible on top of a seamed quilt top? I am thinking it is going to be difficult to get the fabric to fuse uniformly. Different fabrics may respond to the fusible and heat differently. The seams will make lumps in the fusible, so there will likely be gaps between the seams and the top's fabrics. I have only limited experience with fusing, and it has always been on flat fabrics with no seams. It seems to me there is a possibility of disaster in this case.

I still think the best option is to line the top with a cheap, fine muslin -- the type widely available in stores, including Walmart. It can be purchased in a width bigger than the quilt top so it will not need to be seamed. It can be prewashed and dried a couple of times to ensure that it will not shrink inside the quilt top. And it can be spray basted to the quilt top. Spray basting is a much more forgiving endeavour than fusing with heat, as the fabric can be lifted and re-arranged until very smooth before heat setting (or allowing to dry naturally). The muslin will not gradually disintegrate inside the quilt the way a non-woven fusible will, and it will not add as much weight (or stiffen the drape) the way a fusible tricot would.

I am wondering if it would be a good idea to also line the fleece backing with muslin. This would help relieve stress on the quilting stitches.

For quilting, I would use a polyester thread again because it is stronger than cotton. Bottom Line (60 wt) would probably be too fine. I would consider Glide or an equivalent 40wt polyester thread. The quilting could actually be done with a zigzag stitch too, just to add some "give" to the quilting. It could be a narrow zigzag, or a wider decorative zigzag.

Sorry to go on so long, but I would like to see Laura get some really solid advice for this quilt. She has put a lot of work into it and deserves to get the result she is looking for -- which is a durable memory quilt for the family.

Last edited by Prism99; 03-07-2018 at 08:01 PM.
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Old 03-07-2018, 11:17 PM
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Thank you Prism (yet again) for the wonderful advice. I like your explanations on many points. You are a great resource! I think after reading all of this I am going to get some muslin. I definitely do not want to use an interface that could disintegrate over time as you guys have mentioned. Defeats the purpose. I was also worried about the permanence of the placement of interfacing. With the stretchy quality of the quilt, one little wrinkle or stretch while ironing would be a disaster!

I will also look into the threads you've mentioned.

One more question: When I requilt it, I was considering switching to free-motion, in a modified stippling pattern, rather than straight-line. Do you think free-motion or zig-zagged straight line would be less likely to pop? I think the linear nature of my original quilting makes the thread more vulnerable if it were to get pulled. Makes sense in my brain that switching direction, as you do with free motion, would help, but I'm really not sure. I do like the pattern I went with originally, so maybe I should make another test sandwich with the muslin and zig-zagged straight line to start with and test how it holds up. Hopefully the stability the muslin provides will be enough that I don't need to worry so much about the quilting pattern itself. After all, if I eliminate the stretching, I eliminate the problem essentially, and it should not be any more vulnerable than any of my other quilts.. in theory!
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Old 03-07-2018, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
I am thinking Bottom Line for the thread, as it is fine but strong. I would just secure it with a backstitch or two, do a narrow zigzag over the existing seams, and secure again at the end. It doesn't have to be perfect. This would greatly strengthen the existing piecing seams.
One more thing... by this, do you mean I should consider retracing every seam on the quilt top alone before sandwiching? Or as my quilting pattern for the sandwiched quilt?
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:54 AM
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Regarding the seams, I was thinking of going over the existing piecing seams with a zigzag using polyester thread. You don't have to go over the corners or bulky spots; just over the straight seam portions where it is easy to do. This would reinforce the straight-stitch Aurifil seams and prevent the seams from opening even if the Aurifil thread happens to break. After some thought, I don't think you even need to use Bottom Line for this. Whatever polyester thread you use for the quilting would work fine in the seams. When zig-zagging, I would secure the poly thread in the seam allowance, then gradually taper the zig-zag so the zig is just to the left of the Aurifil and most of the zag is in the seam allowance. Basically this is covering the Aurifil thread with reinforcement and, if the Aurifil thread breaks, the poly thread will hold the seam together. A slight zigzag like that does not show enough on the right side of the top to matter. You wouldn't necessarily have to go over every single seam; just those that are easiest to do. One of your biggest problems is that Aurifil 50wt is a weak cotton thread that breaks easily, and you used a straight stitch with it. Reinforcing those seams with a polyester zigzag stitch will help a lot. Experiment on scraps to get a zigzag stitch that you like. You don't want it so short and narrow it stretches the cotton interlock fabric. Take scraps of interlock and sew a straight seam with the Aurifil. Then experiment going over it with the polyester thread to figure out what zigzag settings works best. Even if you end up reinforcing only some of the seams, it will help.

(Edit: Even not covering the Aurifil thread would help as, even if the Aurifil breaks, the zigzag polyester thread will keep the seam together. Experiment with placement of the zigzag to see if you want to cover the Aurifil thread or not.)

I hadn't thought of quilting over the seam lines, but that would be a possibility too. I really like your original quilting design pattern and was thinking of keeping that pattern but just changing the straight stitch to a very narrow zigzag so the quilting lines have a little "give" to them. You could certainly do a free-motion modified stipple for the quilting. I'm just thinking if you line the top with muslin, that wouldn't be necessary. From a design standpoint, I just like your original quilting pattern better.

If you need to order the polyester thread, redrockthreads.com is a good source. Isacord 40wt polyester would be good. Another good source of polyester thread is metroemb.com ; either Glide or their Metro brands would be fine. Their mini spool has plenty of thread on it and a single spool would be enough for your project. Whatever you get, it should be a 40wt polyester. In terms of color, I would use either a silver or gray as these tend to blend with everything and are in keeping with your fabric colors.

Also, I realized there would be no point in lining the fleece backing. Lining the top will be enough. The backing will be secured to the muslin by means of the quilting. You were able to quilt it before without stretching the backing out of shape, so you will be able to do it again.

Last edited by Prism99; 03-08-2018 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 03-08-2018, 06:16 PM
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If you buy your thread locally, make *sure* it is polyester thread and not rayon thread. They look very similar, but rayon is weak while poly is strong.
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