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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beginner QAL- Quilting!

Time to get this baby quilted!  We're going to be doing straight line quilting, echoing each long horizontal seam on both sides of the seam.

Before we start, I want to remind you to leave your pins alone while quilting!  Remember, when we basted our quilt, the top and bottom were smooth.  Trust that they are placed where they should be.  When your quilt is shoved into the small space around your needle it may seem like your quilt is bunchy.  You may think you need to move your pins to "fix" it.  Don't.  Instead, you should frequently stop to move the quilt (not the pins), and smooth it out around your needle.

Also, keep in mind that this part can get heavy.  You may want to stop and take breaks periodically.  You'll be working with the full weight of the quilt, and that can take some maneuvering.

Okay, lets meet one of the best friends of quilters everywhere- the walking foot!

What makes quilting different from other kinds of sewing?  Well, you're feeding three bulky layers through your machine!  Your sewing machine has feed dogs (yes, that's really what they're called!) that feed the fabric.  The problem is, it can only feed the bottom layer, or the backing of your quilt.  

Take a good, hard look at your walking foot.  See those little teeth things?  That's the walking foot magic.  The walking foot has those little feeders to feed both the top and bottom layers of your quilt evenly.  This helps give you smooth quilting with no wrinkles or puckers- and that's what we all want!

So, make sure your walking foot is put on your machine properly.  Then line it up with the seam in the middle of the quilt.  We're going to quilt from the center outward to the right.  You may want to roll your quilt so that it fits in the throat of you machine more easily.

Use the left side teeth as a guide.  Keep it lined up on your seam like this.  Your needle will sew to the side of the seam, not on top of it.

Backstitch to lock your seam, then quilt all the way down the length of your quilt.  Don't push or pull your quilt through your machine- just guide it.  Keep the weight of the quilt supported in your lap and you shouldn't need to do that.  Take it slow and keep that walking foot lined up on your seam as best you can.  Backstitch at the end as well.  Your seam will look like this-

Cut your threads and get ready to quilt on the other side of the seam, lining up the walking foot just as before, only using the other side as your guide.

When you have both sides of your seam quilted, it will look like this!

Now, move your quilt to the right and quilt the next seam in the same way.  Continue quilting until you've reached the end of your quilt.

At this point, you have half of your quilt finished!  It's time to do the other side in the exact same way.  Flip your quilt around, and again start in the center, moving to the right, echoing the seams on both sides.

When you are finished with all of the quilting, remove your pins, then use scissors or a rotary cutter (I use scissors) to trim off excess batting and backing.  If you have rows of bricks on one side that are shorter, you should trim to the shortest brick.

Congratulations to you for finishing your quilting!  Fighting the weight of a quilt, and shoving it through your machine just takes patience and practice!  

Now that know how to use your walking foot and quilt with straight lines, there's no end to what you can do!  All straight lines are quilted the same way, you can just change the direction you choose, or the seams you follow.  You can even quilt in one direction, then pivot your quilt and continue to quilt in another direction to follow straight line shapes like triangles, squares, or zig-zags!  The possibilities are limitless! 

Only one more step and you'll have it finished!  Binding is next week!


  1. Nice tutorial. I love me some straight line quilting.

  2. Clear and easy to follow tutorial with great pictures, Kelly! May I suggest increasing your stitch length for quilting? I read about this on Red Pepper Quilts and am sew glad I did. It looks really nice!
    PS. Nice to meet you, Walking Foot!


  3. Nice tut! Looks great and I'm sure it will be very helpful for the QAL'ers!

  4. I'm not quite ready yet, but I will be soon enough! And when I am, I'll come straight to this page! Thanks for setting this up for people like me. :

  5. Great tutorial. I wish I had read something like this when I started quilting. I'm a commando and usually don't think about things before I do them. Sometimes this works in my favor and other times... not so much.
    I tend to increase my stitch length, too - just like Lorna said. It makes the quilting both stand out and blend in.

  6. Great tutorial, I'll be using it later on this month:)


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