Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses

Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses

In Part 2 of The More You Know @ DreamWeaver’s Quilts, Machine Quilting Edition, we talked a bit about checking your quilting design for trouble spots where you might be stitching over multiple layers of fabric that could cause the presser foot to hang up, making stitches smaller, uneven or just wonky. Being prepared by marking those spots in the pattern, repositioning your hands and the quilt for more control when approaching those trouble spots, and slowing down or even stopping the machine to make one stitch at a time can help keep free motion quilting stitches even over those rough patches.

What about your own weaknesses? What weaknesses in your technique could be causing wobbles and uneven machine quilting? Yep, we all have them and usually we know what they are, and sure, we’ve tried to get better at it all–we practice every day, right??–but still those weaknesses sometimes persist. There are a couple of specific things that affect the quality of my own quilting and I’ll share my correction methods with you!
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'Tis Just the Wind (detail)

Feeling Wicked Today…Though ‘Tis Just the Wind…

Wicked Blog Hop at sewwequilt.comTruthfully, that Wicked feeling has been here since last week. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed visiting with all the bloggers on the Wicked Blog Hop and seeing all of these amazing and inspiring projects! Special thanks go to Wicked Wendy for cheerleading and organizing this Hop, Madame Samm for organizing and making these hops possible, and to the awesome sponsors Madame Samm rounded up: Wyndham Fabrics, Reliable Iron and Bird Brain Designs!

Onward! I had so much fun with this project I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll just share my favorite bits in pictures before I share the whole thing (click if you want to see them bigger!): Read More

Machine Quilting: Know the Design @DreamWeaver's Quilts

Machine Quilting: Know the Design

Let’s talk quilting designs, and get prepared to quilt even the most complex designs without getting lost! There are a huge number of continuous line quilting designs available these days, and of course you can also design your own or just dive in and quilt freely without marking. For some continuous line machine quilting designs, it’s pretty easy to figure out the stitching order and direction, but for more complex designs it’s not always obvious.

One of the best–and easiest!–things you can do to improve the quality of your machine quilting is to practice drawing the design just as if you are quilting it, taking the turns, stopping at the pivots, and backtracking where necessary, to commit the design to your muscle memory. Knowing your chosen quilting design inside and out–where to turn, where to stop and start again, where to backtrack over lines previously quilted–can prevent those “Um, CRAP, I’m not sure where I’m supposed to be going!” moments that will make your stitches get really small, crooked, or just plain wonky and out of place. And then you’ll want to rip them all out which is no fun at all! 😛 Read More

Machine Quilting: Know Your Tools

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When I pulled out the Misery Quilt to work on the machine quilting that I hadn’t touched in…well…years…I had to remember how to do all of this machine quilting stuff! 😕 It all came back pretty quickly, but it made me realize all over again that there are so many little details that go along with machine quilting that are good to remember, and I thought them all over as I retrained my eyes and hands and foot to all work together again to get the quality I wanted. This series of blog posts is dedicated to machine quilting–because the more you know, the easier it is!

Let’s start with tools! What tools are great to have and use, and maybe even count as “essential” for machine quilting? Aside from the obvious big things like the actual quilty-type project that’s basted with batting and backing and thread and needles that are appropriate for it and of course that well oiled sewing machine, here are the smaller essentials that I always keep within easy reach (clockwise from top left–more or less!): Read More

Marking clam shells on a quilt with a circle template at DreamWeaver's Quilts

Quilt Marking with a Circle Template

I’ve been working on a wild little “black and white and red all over” type quilt, and before I could get to one of my favorite parts–that would be the machine quilting!–I had to mark it. Well, I didn’t have to mark it I suppose, but I didn’t think trying to freehand quilt a bunch of oversized clam shells was going to end well. My perfectionist side would have come out of the corner screaming the minute things started to go wonky, as they undoubtedly would without some premarking!

The search for the circle template began; Read More

Patches, Shadow and the Misery Quilt @DreamWeaver's Quilts

That Creative Spark Still Burns

It seems quilting isn’t really done with me, or perhaps I’ve just figured out that I’m not done with quilting. Maybe it just takes more time than you’d believe to get past total burnout. Remember that ambivalence? Well, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last three and more years trying to answer the question “What do I want to do now?” I’m lucky that I have the luxury to even consider that, I know.

I’ve thought about (and tried) a lot of different things that I could pursue instead of quilting and textile art: drawing, mixed media art, programming, web design, web and mobile app creation, photography, and so on. It all goes back to how much resources I’d need to devote to be able to accomplish what I’d want to at the level I’d want to be at, and it’s just too much time, effort, and in some cases money, to invest in something that doesn’t speak to me as clearly and as loudly as quilting and textile art always has.

To state it another way, and this is a bit more brutal: I think I’m just too lazy to invest the time and energy it would take to be as good at any of that other stuff as I am at quilting. Yep, I can just admit that I’m lazy. Quilting is still a comfort zone as well. Or it is again…or something. Read More