Quilt top finished-quilting advice welcome!

mnbobbiJuly 30, 2012

Hello all,

I had posted recently that I was starting my first quilt, a picnic quilt for my DS and DIL's first anniversary (coming up in two weeks-eek!) Anyway, I just finished the top and (hopefully) a photo is attaching to this post.

My thought was to stitch in the ditch, and bought thread that seemed like the perfect color to blend in on the blocks and in back. I didn't think at the time about the dark borders, and since it's a medium green, I think my dark green borders are going to highlight my very novice quilting skills if I stitch all the way through the borders. The border is 6-1/2 wide prior to seams. Does the border need to be quilted? Should I stop at the end of the blocks and then quilt the borders separately, maybe in a straight stitch running the length of the quilt and in a darker thread? Is it too wide an area to leave without quilting at all?

Also, any advice on the actual SITD? Do I stitch the entire length and width of the quilt starting in the middle? In the same direction or opposite directions for the alternating rows?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, but I am so appreciative of having you as a resource to help me finish this!

Many thanks,


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Barbara, I think your quilt looks great. What an accomplishment!

SITD is one option, but take a look at what I did for one of my first quilts. I personally think it's much easier the SITD, and I think it looks great. You start in the corner of one block and just sew a curve ending in the corner of the same block. You can even keep going into the next block by pivoting at the corner. What I like about it is that it gives some curves to an otherwise linear quilt. It's not free motion; the feed dogs are engaged at all times. You just need to go slowly and feed the quilt into the curve.

Right on the packaging of most battings, you will find the suggested distance between lines of quilting. I think 4" is a pretty safe unquilted area, but I'm sure many of the more experienced quilters will help with this. I think I would quilt the border too. Two staight lines running the length and width of the quilt and pivoting at the corner diagonals should look great.

Whatever you do, have fun with this. I'm sure your kids will be delighted to have such a treasure. Lois

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:54PM
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It is stunning !!!!!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:01PM
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Thank you for the suggestions Lois. That curved line in your quilt looks great - did you use a template and mark it? I like your point about adding curves to the linear design.

I looked at the batt and it recommends a max of 3 1/2" for quilting space. Your suggestion of two parallel lines is kind of what I'd been thinking I'd need to do.

I am really enjoying this, and I do think the kids will be surprised and enjoy using it. We had a picnic quilt that got used to shreds when my son was little, so I think he'll appreciate the sentiment. I've been wanting to begin quilting for quite a long time, so I'm glad to finally begin! I feel that just making this very simple quilt has taught me a lot, and has also given me an idea of how very much I have to learn. One more question - do you pre-wash your batting?
And thanks for your kinds words Minnie!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 7:54PM
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Your quilt looks great! However you decide you're truly on the road to a great addiction...quilting.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:23PM
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Loisf...what a great idea. Maybe I can use a similar solution for the queen size top I've never quilted. I'm looking for a new machine with a bigger space, but maybe I can solve the current problem without it!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:26PM
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It's your quilt but if I were doing it, I think there is an easier solution. Your blocks are very symmetrical and a cross hatch would look lovely.

Lay a yardstick at a 45 degree angle from the corner of one of the square blocks on the edge. You'll see that it intersects many other corners down the line. You can sew a straight line making sure you stay at corners you pass till you reach the other edge. Then make a parallel line over a bit starting at another corner. It will pass through some pieces that aren't square but still hit corners of others. When they are all in you do the same going the other way. It's a nice, simple look and very easy to do.

You'd do your border separately but can easily do something with straight lines.

I'll add a picture of a cross hatch but yours would be bigger and farther apart to match your blocks.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 9:51PM
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Barbara, congratulations on a well-done first! I agree that curved lines would give movement to the straight-line block pattern on this quilt, also curved lines are more forgiving than straight lines. May I suggest the Serpentine Stitch if you have a machine with decorative stitches? I have used it a couple of times on linear block quilts and really like it. On my machine, I use the walking foot but I adjust the width so that the foot can accommodate it (the movement from side to side) and lengthen the stitch to 3.5. I set the stitch, then follow each straight seam line right down the middle of the foot, and it curves back and forth across the seam-line. If you divide your borders into 2 of these lines down the length I think it would look nice. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 6:44AM
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I second the motion for a large cross-hatch design. It is much easier than trying to stay in the ditch. You can make your lines 3-4" apart and it should go very quickly. I've also used long pieces of blue painter's tape for marking. Place it along the direction you wish to sew, sew along the edge, then move it over.

If you do a cross-hatch, on this particular quilt, you could easily take it right out to the edges, through the border, and call it done!

BTW, I love that pattern! It was one of my earlier quilts!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 8:50AM
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Barbara, your quilt is beautiful and you should be so proud of it!
Although I typically like rounder, more fluid quilting with a geometric quilt, I think the cross hatching would work well with this one.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:04AM
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Toolgranny and Jennifer - I really like the idea of the crosshatch, and especially the idea of the painter's tape. That seems a very fast and effective way to mark it. I was sure you all would come to the rescue!
Jennifer, when you do the crosshatch, do you go all one direction? For instance from the top down? The reason I ask is that I recently used my walking foot for the first time in quilting some fabric for a home dec project, and it seemed to end up smoother on the back by going all one direction rather than alternating.
Thanks for the great ideas and encouragement!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:07AM
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The 'experts' will tell you to alternate the direction of quilting. Start at the top-middle, stitch to the bottom, rotate the quilt and start at the top again, working your way to the outside. Each line of quilting would then have been sewn in the opposite direction.

Although I'd agree that you should start your first line down the middle of the quilt, I have simply worked in the same direction, working my way out, with no problems. Then rotating it and working from the middle out in to the other edge. (This minimizes the amount of quilt in the throat of your machine) It should be a well-basted/pinned sandwich either way.

I've also been known to put the painter's tape from corner to opposite corner of the quilt, totally disregarding the blocks. On a rectangular quilt like yours, you'll end up with diamond cross-hatching.

Remember, with a quilt sandwich & a walking foot, you have to move slower. (This is a challenge for me, who likes to get as much done in as little time as possible.) That will help keep everything smooth, too.

One tip about painter's tape: Put an arrow pointing to the side of the tape that you want to sew against. Once you put it in place, move the quilt to your machine, and sit down, it's pain not to remember which edge is the right distance from your last stitching line.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 9:39AM
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Great quilt! Nice colors and this is going to make a wonderful gift.
A hint on the painter's tape. Choose your width wisely & you can reuse each strip a few times before it loses it's tackiness.
Also, see if your machine has an attachment that is a quilting bar that has a hook shape. It slides thru a tiny hole located on your pressure foot. It is a guide to be used for even spacing while you are quilting straight lines.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Going slowly does not come naturally to me either, but I can see where that will make a difference so I'm glad you mentioned it. Do you have advice on the best width of tape to use?

My walking foot has the guide bar attachment, but it seems to have a little play in it. I also have a quilting guide for the machine (that I have never used) so I will check that and do a little experimenting before I start on the quilt.

Thank you all so much!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 11:24AM
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If you get the wide tape - 3 or 4 inches - you can sew along both sides!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Kate that is a great idea. I guess maybe the basting pins lie flat enough that it wouldn't throw the lines off. Is it possible to tape all the lines before starting or does the tape end up detaching as you move the quilt around?

I am feeling much more prepared to tackle this!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Love your quilt top! You've gotten some great ideas that I need to borrow for an around the world quilt top I did a few months ago, never thought of painter tape for cross hatching...love the idea!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Great first quilt!!! Look on your batting wrapping and it will give suggestions as to how close (or far apart) the quilting should be. The one I am using now suggests 2".

I am just learning to machine quilt (about 5 years now lol) and I love anything that doesn't have to be marked.

With SITD it is sometimes not easy to stay in the 'ditch', but when the quilt is washed it doesn't show as much.

The scrappy Irish Chain I am making for my sister is going to be mostly quilted on the diagonal. You can always mix it up and do different quilting designs.

Have Fun!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Thank you Rosa! My batting has a max of 3-1/2", so I'm just about to go take a look at my different options. If I had more time I might just try to hand quilt it, but I need to finish this in the next week.

I appreciate all the help and kind comments from everyone. I wouldn't be this far without all the things I've learned from all of you. It's a pretty basic quilt, but it feels like a good start!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 6:02PM
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See the link below for some ideas and techniques for using Painter's tape to create grid lines.

Personally, I would use 1" or 1.5" wide tape to have better control of the line and wrinkling of the quilt top fabric. I like to see fabric between the tape.

Here is a link that might be useful: Painter's tape -gridlines

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:18AM
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I used the diamond grid quilting on several quilts, it is very easy and goes fast. I never used the tape, just mark diagonally from corner to corner( an X right through the middle), then used a quilting guide on my walking foot to sew the next row.

Your quilt is so pretty, and I'm sure will be loved and used.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 11:56AM
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The link looks like a good resource and I will definitely check it out. I had thought about the wider tape, but especially with this being my first experience with it I thought the narrower would be easier to handle, so thanks for confirming that thought.

Kathy, "easy and fast" is definitely what I'm looking for, so I think the grid is the way to go. I tried my machine guide rather than the guide that fits the walking foot, and that seems to work better. Thanks for your comments!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 12:18PM
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