Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Machine Quilting 101:Pre-basting Prep

Welcome to week 2 of Machine Quilting 101! Thank you so much for your excitement about this series and your great response last week. I certainly have my work cut out for me, huh?

Today we will be talking about how to prepare your quilt pieces before you baste.

First off, when you finish a quilt top, I highly recommend sewing a straight stitch or a small zig zag around the perimeter of the quilt. This will prevent the seams from splitting before/while you quilt it. It only takes a few minutes at the most and it prevents a lot of problems down the line. If you've ever quilted something where the seams have started coming apart on the edges, you know what I'm talking about and why this is so important!
Next, give the quilt top a good press. Make sure the quilt top is as flat as possible.
Do not do what I did....start trimming threads on the back side and THEN decide you need to press the quilt top. You will have to start the de-threading process all over. It's a big waste of time! :)
Also, when pressing, take the time to trim any threads off that are peeking through the top.
Flip the quilt top over (on a clean surface) and de-thread. This quilt is a good example why this step is so important. It has dark colored blocks on a white background. Any stray threads can/will show through the white. It's frustrating to finish a quilt and see stray threads in the white areas. This is a slow and tedious process, but I have found that having a thread catcher, a sharp thread snips and a bit of duct tape help a lot. 
Eventually, your quilt should be de-threaded and lint free. Doesn't that look so much better?  
 
De-thread the backing as well, especially in cases like this, where the bright pink and white are adjacent to each other.  
And even more fun...de-lint your batting. I was working on a jelly roll project about the time I was basting the Picadilly quilt. Those little bits of fuzz from the jelly roll ended up EVERYWHERE!
Once everything is de-threaded and the lint is removed, set the pieces somewhere very carefully so they don't pick up anymore threads or lint. I usually hang the pieces on a railing until I start the basting process.

I had a question about how to piece a quilt back, so I thought I would cover that briefly this week, as well. When I am piecing a quilt back, I usually start by placing my quilt top on the floor, face up. It acts as a guide or template, if you will. My goal is to make the quilt back about 1"-2" larger on all sides. I rummage through my stash and layer/arrange any fabric I think may be suitable on top of it, designing as I go. Once I am pleased with the arrangement, I sew it up. I love a pieced back because I tend to let go of the "rules" and make do with what I have. It is a fun process because the results are always a surprise!
This is the back of my Picadilly quilt. I liked the arrangement when I had all the pieces laid out, but once it was sewn up, it wasn't quite right. The top horizontal strip of pink was a little too chunky for my liking and the middle and bottom strips were blending together too much.
So, I trimmed off the seam allowances on the top horizontal strip (as opposed to stitch ripping!) and sewed it together again. It's only slightly smaller now, but to me it made a big difference. I also inserted another horizontal strip of bright pink toward the bottom. I like it much better after a few edits! It looks even better on the back of the quilt now that it is finished.
 
Next week we will talk about everyone's favorite....basting! Ha! Actually, after de-threading a white and navy quilt, basting is a piece of cake!
 
If you have any questions, I will try to answer them in the comments.

If you missed last week's post, you can find it here:
Machine Quilting 101:Introduction

40 comments:

Grandma Ruthie said...

I'm so glad you mentioned stay stitching or zig zagging the edge of the top and backing. No one ever mentions that and I learned that from a basic quilting book I had years ago. I was starting to think I imagined that step in the process because I don't know anyone who does the stay stitching. I also find having a lint roller around during pressing helps in getting those stray strings.

Paula @ Sewy Stuff said...

I'm anxious for the basting tips. I really hate that part.

frommycarolinahome said...

Trimming those threads is so important, whether you are quilting yourself or sending it to someone else for quilting.

tink's mom said...

Oh how annoying those dark threads are when they are quilted in behind whites and creams. Wonderful reminder.

Melanie Sim (Heart and Homemade) said...

I'm actually very eager to read your tips on basting! I've been quilting for 4 years, and over time my quilt tops are getting so puckered during the quilting process. I'd love a refresher.

pippinsequim said...

I read somewhere that you can clean threads off of batting by ironing freezer paper onto it and then ripping it off. I haven't tried it but it sounded like a pretty fast way to clean off batting that has been used for laying out blocks or whatever.

Jeanice Shelley said...

Amanda, I am in the learning process of quilt making. Thus, I am leaving you a BIG thank you for your new series! I never knew to sew around the edges of a quilt top before beginning to quilt it. But it makes total sense! Thanks again.

Laura said...

Oh! I love the idea for stay stitching. I'd never thought about that before and it is SO frustrating when that seam starts to come apart on you!

Karen said...

Great advice, thanks so much!

karen said...

Love the one about clipping the dark threads that may show up on lighter fabric. Great tips overall!

roxi said...

Oh, i can tell this series is gonna be good!! Thanks Amanda Jean! I've never stay stitched before, definitely will try it on my next one!

A Quilter's Mission said...

This is a great series! I appreciate all the tips I can get.

Janet said...

Great tips, great reminders! Thanks.

Pc Call said...

Thanks so much for all the tips esp. the tip on stay stitching, I've only seen it mention in garment sewing only.

margaret said...

so much good advice here,the preparation I can see is an important part I rushed in like a bull in a china shop and did not do the thread removal etc, learnt my lesson the hard way and will now do more prep before I tack it all together
Thanks for these tutorials they are a great help

Kay said...

Thanks so much for the tips, certainly having some tape nearby to pick up the threads will be useful to try.

Lorna McMahon said...

Thanks for sharing this great advice. It is a lot of work, but sew worth it!

Linda said...

where did you get the pretty clippers?
love your blog

Pam Walton said...

Great tips. I love your backing your change with the extra strip was a perfect.
Pam

amandajean said...

Linda,

The pretty clippers were a gift from a friend. They are so wonderful! There is a link to them in the post. Hope that helps!

AJ

Jess (a.k.a. Rosie) said...

As a newbie quilter, these are GREAT tips that I've never heard anywhere else! Thank you so much!

~ Jess ~
Everything Is Coming Up Rosie

Shannyn said...

Such great tips!! Made me smack my forehead and say out loud "Of COURSE!!!" Laugh. Thank you!

Sewing In CT said...

Thank you for doing all this. I've learned along the way, but probably missed a lot of "properly" how to's.
I've never trimmed threads and luckily have not had any issues but I will. I am about to assembled a pineapple quilt and will definitely sew the perimeter! Thanks!

50 Pink Balloons said...

I just discovered your blog and I am loving it. Thank you for the tutorials on quilting. I have sewn for over 40 years sewing drapes, clothing and even an Irish solo dress. But have not spent any time on quilting. Now I am ready to begin.

Barbara said...

Thank you so much for the tip recommending sewing around the perimeter of the quilt, I've had seams come open on the edge on nearly every quilt I've made.

Lucia Brown said...

You are such a wonderful teacher. Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge and expertise with us.

Chantal Thibodeau said...

I do to that secure stitches (learned by experience). But I used to do them when the batting is on, I think your idea is better, I will do it this way next time.

Kate Marshall said...

I was wondering only yesterday whether I should be trimming all the lose threads from my quilt - can't say I'm overjoyed to find the answer is yes! I'll have trimmed a small mountain of threads by the time I've done the top, the back and the binding - this puts me off using shot cotton for backing any more as boy that stuff frays!

Till now I've tended to snip the worst threads from the back of the top, but I leave so many. Then I snip away from the edges as I hand sew the binding. This results in small piles of lose threads being left on the arms of couches or the edge of coffee tables or beside my bed. I really must make it a habit to grab my thread catcher when I get my thread and scissors...

Thank you so much for this informative series, Amanda-Jean. As a relatively new, Internet-taught quilter I am so grateful for the time and effort you put into sharing your knowledge.

Lisa in Port Hope said...

One more tip I suggest is to starch your backing, I find it makes it a lot easier to baste.

Kathy @ Kwilty Pleasures said...

Great tips here. I especially like the zigzag around the perimeter. Will use that one ! Detrhreading is a pain but sew worth it! Thnx.

Emily Carnes said...

You really do write awesome tutorials. Thank you for pointing out all those little details! Love your blog.

Darcy said...

Sewing around the edge seems like such a simple and obvious solution to the edges coming un-sewn and I can't believe I've never heard/read/thought of this before (hand smacking forehead). You're a genius. Seriously. Thanks so much for doing this series!!!

Annemieke said...

Thanks so much for making these series about the quilting process. I used to baste my quilts with pins but I'm very enthusiastic about using basting glue (505), so that's different then. I must say I didn't do many and not so very big ones. I'm looking forward to your next post.
Groetjes
Annemieke

tyme2blog said...

Thank you for posting this series :-) I am new to quilting and have already learn a couple tricks. I am excited to see the next steps.

hoptownracer1 said...

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I am a beginner to quilting, so I appreciate the helpful advice you are sharing!

Linda said...

Your series is timely for me as I have been putting off quilting a vintage quilt top for my niece. I normally spray baste, so I am going to try to follow along. It is actually encouraging to read about others' challenges in the comments section!

Libby Charles said...

Thanks for these reminders. I JUST sent off a quilt top and backing YESTERDAY and after reading your post this morning, I'm thinking that I may not have checked the wrong side of my top closely enough for stray threads - uh-oh! I was so anxious to get the quilt top out of my house and on its way to the long-armer that I may have skipped an important step! Lesson learned: Don't skip important steps, no matter what! :[)

Shar said...

I personally long arm my quilts and find that the stray threads are the biggest problem. Thank you for mentioning it. But I learned to clean the batting too. I noticed the thread and just pick them off. That was a really great idea.

christy said...

I can not wait for more tips. You see, I have 3 quilt tops that I have completed over the course of 27 years. The kids are grown and I am dying to get back at it! Those little babies need to be completed. Looking forward to reading more!

Sharon said...

Good reminder. Refreshers are good for any quilter. SEW looking forward to other reminders you might have.