By now, your top might be pieced and you're ready to quilt your quilt. This is the exciting part, it's becoming a real quilt!
I quilted my Braid quilt on Meggie, my longarm MegaQuilter. But this tutorial assumes you do not have your own longarm, and will quilt your quilt on your home machine. The sample I'm using for this tutorial is a Schnibbles quilt, "Dimestore." So don't panic if it doesn't look like your quilt!
1. Backing and Batting
The first step is to cut your backing and batting. You may have to piece your backing, and that is perfectly OK. This is a good way to use up leftover fabrics. You can piece your batting too. (Hmm, good idea for a future tutorial.)
Lay out the backing wrong side up on your cutting table, dining room table, floor or bed. Smooth the batting over top of the backing, then add the quilt top right side up.
To machine quilt your quilt, you need to secure the layers. There are several ways to do this: pin, safety pin, or use spray basting.
You can buy this nifty tool to help you close the safety pins:
Use the metal tip of the "Kwik Klip" to hold the pointy side of the safety pin when you're closing the pin. Much easier on the fingernails!
If I'm quilting a very small project, I use long straight pins. Be careful -- they are sharp!
I prefer to use a basting spray. Again, there are several brands:
I like the heat set adhesive, I think it holds better.
Fold back half of the top two layers (quilt top and batting) and lightly spray the batting. Be sure the room where you're working is well-ventilated. If you're doing a really big quilt, you might consider doing this step outside.
When you've sprayed both halves of the backing layer, repeat to secure the quilt top:
If using heat set spray, press with a warm iron set to steam (or follow the directions on the can):
3. Set up the machine
Next, set up your machine for quilting. If you have a walking foot, this is the time to attach it. It is possible to quilt without a walking foot, so don't think you have to shell out $90 for a walking foot just to finish this quilt. If you don't have a walking foot, be sure to baste closely. If using pins, pin every 4-5 inches.
Set the stitch length longer than use for piecing. Experiment to see what stitch length you prefer. I set mine at 3 (about 6-8 stitches per inch):
Test your stitching on a scrap of batting between two layers of fabric. You may need to fiddle with the tension:
4. Handling the quilt
Handling a large quilt while machine quilting can be difficult. You can buy "bicycle clips" to keep the quilt rolled up while stitching (or snag them from your bicycle-riding teenager or husband):
Roll the edge of the quilt that will be in the "harp" of your sewing machine and slip the bicycle clip (or two or three) over the rolled edge:
Fold the front of the quilt a couple of times so it will fit in your lap. If your quilt is really big, you may need to hold the rolled edge on your shoulder:
I'm stitching 1/4" away from each seam on this quilt, using the edge of my walking foot as a guide. Place your hands like this to control the fabric:
Stitch along one seam in one direction, then turn the quilt and stitch the next row in the opposite direction. This will help keep the layers from shifting.
If you're doing a large quilt, don't try to quilt the entire thing in one sitting. Set your kitchen timer for 23 minutes, and when it buzzes, get up and move around.
5. Stand back and admire!
Soon you'll have your quilt quilted, and you can stand back and admire your work!
It's hard to see the white stitching on the white background, so here's a closeup:
Next week, we'll review Susie's Magic Binding and some ideas for a label for our Braid in a Day.
From the desk of your