Quilting Basics – Part 4 – Answering Questions and Helpful Readers’ Comments

Quilting Basics – Part 4 – Answering Questions and Helpful Readers’ Comments

Blogs are like books in progress. Although, as the author, you are always on the last page, writing your heart out, at any point in time, someone else can pick up the book, and start reading, and it is all new and fresh to them. Yesterday, someone linked to our articles on basic quilting. Because of that, there's been renewed interest in those postings, with new comments and emails with questions. It occurred to me that there were a few things I did not talk about, and some new questions asked. Instead of answering all the emails separately, I decided to add a 4th part to the series. I hope it answers some additional questions you might have had. Please, feel free to include any tips and advice you may have. So, here's some additional info… in no particular order. I will continue to add comments made by our readers over time, so check back periodically πŸ™‚

Quilting Basics – Part 1

Quilting Basics – Part 2

Quilting Basics – Part 3

If using tracing paper, wax pencil, disappearing markers, etc. on your fabric to mark stitching lines, always test it on a scrap piece of your fabric first. Mark your scrap, then wash it, to make sure the marks will come out. Nothing ruins a project more than marking stains!

I've had people ask me what size needles I use. The honest answer is I haven't a clue. All of my needles wind up, out of their packages, and tossed in my needle holder. (Just an old Altoid tin πŸ™‚ The needle I pick depends on the thickness of the thread I use (thicker thread, larger needle eye), how lofty my batting is (the thicker the batting the longer the needle), and the type of fabric I'm trying to quilt (delicate fabric requiring thinner needles). You can buy "quilting" needles, usually they are straight needles, without a bump around the needle eye so you don't leave a bigger hole than necessary, but simply use a needle that gives you a nice look and is easy to use.

The question of how to hold the top, batting and backing together could be a whole post by itself, but I'll condense it here. If I'm doing a small project, like the yellow square I used in the examples, I usually just pin or staple the piece together. (See note in Part 1 about using a stapler.) You can also go through and baste the 3 pieces together, using very long running stitches. The advantage of basting is there are no pins for your quilting thread to get tangled in, but basting takes more time. Using a hoop or frame helps hold your pieces together, and stops the layers from shifting. A hoop or frame is especially necessary when working with big pieces. Even when using a frame, I still like to pin my layers together. Several years ago, a friend gave me a Quilters Basting gun. It takes the place of safety pins and is fast. The gun puts small, plastic tags in your fabric, similar to the price tags used on new clothing. When you are done, you go through an sips off the tags. Always test the gun on your fabric first to make sure the gun doesn't break threads on the fabric.

I'm So in love with 505 Basting spray I used this for the first time on my last big project. It was all hand appliqued and I was afraid to machine quilt it. So I Hand stitched for 3 weeks πŸ™‚ I used 505 and it really did a great job holding it together so I could get it on the frame. Used it for 3 small projects since and I'm still in love with it.

I was told it dissipates after 2 days but it held for more like 7 days… Which was a bonus.
 

I've used 505 a lot, especially for large quilts. It works wonderfully and if you don't overspray (which isn't necessary) and if you wait til the next day to start sewing the needles go through fine. I've quilted the same day and it's fine, too, but I think it was recommended to me to wait til the next day. I've used other basting sprays and they don't work well at all and gum up needles.
 

I haven't done hand quilting yet, but I'll remember to pull out my beeswax block for then. I don't use my beeswax much though. Here are a couple of tips if you don't have beeswax:

With cotton from a spool in particular, is that you always thread the end that comes off the spool first (not the end you cut). So that I don't mix this up, I usually thread my needle, then cut my length.

If you're using embroidery thread, I similarly find the "right" end to start (the side that will allow you to pull a length without tangling generally) and always thread my needle onto the first end. Before you thread your needle though, you'll also want to "relax" the threads by taking each of the strands and separating them. If you are only using 2 or 3 strands (ie for embroidery) I try to keep the threads laid so I remember which end was the "right" end to thread to the needle.

Submitted by Linda Theil on Tue, 01/17/2012 – 07:33.

I am not much of a quilter, but when I make a quilt I always hand-quilt it; and since I am an embroiderer, I think of my quilting as embroidery. As an embroiderer, I was taught to make an away-knot, so I use a similar technique for my quilting. I don't knot my thread, I just bury a long tail through the batting and take a little backstitch under my first quilting stitch. It may be unorthodox, but I like it and it works pretty good. Also I couldn't hand-stitch at all if I didn't have those fantastic little leather dots that stick to your finger to use instead of a thimble. Amazon calls them "leather thimble self-adhesive fingertip pads" made by Colonial. I call them finger-savers : )

Thanks for the suggestions. I've never used leather dot thimbles. It might take the place of the clear nail polish that I slather on my finger πŸ™‚ I will also use a backstitch instead of a knot if I'm making a decorative piece that won't receive any wear and tear. If I'm making a utilitarian quilt, I usually make a knot and bury it in the batting.

Submitted by jread921 on Tue, 01/11/2011 – 12:02.

I have found that a dryer sheet works well for keeping thread detangled as well. (although I LOVE the smell of beeswax much more than dryer sheet)

Then there is the question of thimbles. I seem to be thimble challenged. I have never gotten the feel of using one. If I do use one, it is leather, and I use it on my right hand for pushing the needle through. An elderly neighbor once shared this idea. She didn't like the feel of thimbles, either. What she did, on the backside guiding finger, was to put a couple coats of clear nail polish on her fingertip. Since you tend to just graze that finger, having a little film on your finger really helps. When you have picked through the polish, just add a little more. If I have a lot of quilting to do, I use nail polish on my finger πŸ™‚
 

I am not much of a quilter, but when I make a quilt I always hand-quilt it; and since I am an embroiderer, I think of my quilting as embroidery. As an embroiderer, I was taught to make an away-knot, so I use a similar technique for my quilting. I don't knot my thread, I just bury a long tail through the batting and take a little backstitch under my first quilting stitch. It may be unorthodox, but I like it and it works pretty good. Also I couldn't hand-stitch at all if I didn't have those fantastic little leather dots that stick to your finger to use instead of a thimble. Amazon calls them "leather thimble self-adhesive fingertip pads" made by Colonial. I call them finger-savers : )

 

I enjoy embroidery, but have only done a small bit of hand quilting. When I took a class last year, they taught us to do about three stitches at a time. So, you go in and out, in and out, in and out, with your needle in the quilt that whole time, before pulling the needle through and tightening up your stitches. (Does that make sense, LOL?) Is that how you do it, or do you do one stitch at a time?

Good point to bring up, Tina. Yes, I will make 2 or 3 stitches at a time, weaving the needle up and down through the fabric, especially for straight lines.It is harder to do multiple stitches when you are quilting curves or if you are working with a loftier batting. As I said in the beginning… this is a "feel" type of craft. As you get more comfortable, you find things that work for you that aren't in the "books". I chuckle every time I watch Michelle knit because she holds the needles in a bizarro fashion. But look at her work… it is beautiful and she knits faster than me. Can't argue with success!
 

Kimara

2 Comments

  1. I’ve read of someone using a dot of superglue instead of a thimble.

    1. Super glue is harder than nail polish so it would probably hold up to "pricks" better. I wonder, tho. I've gotten super glue on my fingers before (actually, I do that almost every time I use super glue πŸ™‚ and it has pulled away some skin when I tried to remove it. I guess if you left it on and let it wear off it might not be a problem. Please let us know if you ever try this. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *