Fat Quarter Fun

Fat Quarter Magic – a Bargello Quilt

You will need:

12 Fat Quarters

You will cut 4 – 5” wide strips from each fat quarter, along the selvage.

You will have four stacks of 12 different fabric strips.

The fabrics must be in the same order in each stack.

Sew all twelve strips together along one long side of the 5” wide strip. You can sort them in a pleasing manner before you start, but, all four stacks must remain in the same order.

¼” seam allowance throughout

Press all seams in the same direction on each strip set. When done you will have four strip sets of 12 joined strips the unit will measure about 18” wide (US) 20” wide (CDN) and 55” long.

Sew each unit into a tube by sewing the long side of strip number one to the long edge of strip number twelve. Press that seam in the same direction as the other seams.  Make a total of four tubes.

Lay one unit on your cutting mat, right side out, smooth and straight. Without too much waste trim one side to square it up. From the square up side cut 2 ½” wide strips for a total of seven strips.( Save the excess for  another project!) Keep in a neat pile. Do the same with three remaining tubes. You have 4 stacks of 7 strip sets.

Working with one stack at a time, lay out the seven strip sets side by side.

At the top of strip #1, designate a fabric as the first fabric.

At the top of strip #2 fold the first fabric in half.

At the strip #3 will have the second fabric’s seam at the top.

At the strip #4 will have the second fabric folded in half.

At the strip #5 will have the third fabric’s seam at the top.

At the strip #6 will have the third fabric folded in half

At the strip #7 will have the fourth fabric’s seam at the top

Continue laying out all the remaining strips sets side by side #8, #9 through #28.

Use painter’s tape to number the strips 1 – 28.

Cut open strip #1 at the top along the seam (do not open the seam)

Cut open strip #2 along the fold (the middle of the first fabric)

Cut open strip #2 along the seam between the first and second fabric

Sew all 28 strips together making sure that the seams of one strip is centered in the middle of the rectangle beside it. Use a few pins, start pinning from the end of the seam. This way you will end with the seams even.

Add a narrow inner border (1.5″ cut)and an outer border (5″ cut) You are done. Now quilt it!

 

Origami Market Bag – See Tutorial here: https://www.alandacraft.com/2018/04/21/origami-bag-tutorial-easy-to-make-market-tote-bag/

Another version of the Origami purse, no lining, different technique that I demonstrated with 3 fat quarters.  It is called a ½ metre purse on the German youtube video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Jssi9k2z8E

 

Baby Quilt – 5 Fat Quarters – Lay the 5 fat quarters on top of each other, selvages even. Trim off selvages.

Cut into 2.5” strips along the selvage edge. You will have stacks of five different fabric, 2.5” wide by 19.5”.

Make 8 stacks.

From 7 stacks of five different fabrics cut:

1 – 2.5”x2.5”

2 – 4.5”x2.5”

1 – 6.5”x 2.5”

You will have one stack remaining. From this stack you will cut extra 2.5”x 2.5” squares as needed.

Don’t cut the whole pile into 2.5” squares immediately, in case you make a mistake later and require a larger piece.

Sort all cut pieces into piles of 2.5” squares, 4.5” rectangles and 6.5” rectangles. Keep families together, don’t mix up.

You will have five piles of 2.5” squares, five piles of 4.5” pieces and five piles 6.5” pieces

Select a square of one print and stitch a 2.5” (different) piece to one side. Add a 4.5” piece to both long sides.  Add a 6.5” piece to the remaining side. You will have a different fabric in the center, with another (different) fabric all the way around to create a “Once around the Square” Block. You will make 35 blocks. Place the 35 blocks in seven rows of five across, random or in diagonal rows sorted by colour, as you please.

 

Fat Quarter Grocery Bag

Two fat quarters. Trim both fat quarters to same size, about 18” wide and 20” tall.

Use the “French Seam” method to clean finish the side seams and bottom seam the same way as for the Easy Pillowcase.

Make two straps. I used 2-4” wide strips, pressed in half, wrong sides together. Next, open up the fold and press, towards center, 1” along both sides. The two long raw edges will meet at center. Press along the center fold again. You will have two 1” wide straps.

Top stitch with “Straight Stretch Stitch” set at a length of 3.5 – 4mm. Cut straps to your desired length, baste to raw edge at top of bag. Press to wrong side ¼” and another 1” to 1.5” Top stitch with same stitch as for straps.

Miter bottom corners of bag if desired.

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Improvisational Patchwork

Become an Improvisational Quilter

How much time have you got?

Choose project size: Placemat, wall hanging, table runner, lap quilt, bed quilt or HUGE Wall Art

Colour: Pick a palette of colour. Check out a colour wheel. Look around you for inspiration. Use an object such as a vase, rug or a pillow for colour options. (beach, forest, monochromatic, African etc)

Shape: Lines, curves, squares, circles, waves, abstract……. Pick a style and stick with it throughout the project

Collect your fabrics. Be it by design, by purchasing the desired colours OR work with what you have by sorting scraps into colour groups that are pleasing to YOU. Maybe start with your scraps and purchase new to fill in the gaps

Before you start to sew:

Get your sewing machine, cutting table pressing area prepared.  Doing so, prepares for fun, satisfaction and pure bliss

Machine is clean, insert new needle such as a size 70 or 80 microtex.

Thread the machine with Aurifil 50wt thread, it is super fine and strong, full bobbin, lasts longer and your seams will press flatter. Choose a neutral colour that will work with all your fabric colours.Let’s go!

You already know how to sew and understand the basic rules of sewing. With improvisational patchwork “accuracy” is not important. You are not following a pattern, the patches need not match up or measure up to a designers  instructions, sooo…….. ¼” seams are not required but not frowned upon.

It IS important to sew a straight line (just try pressing flat and open a curved seam!)

Grab two pieces of similar sized fabrics and stitch them together. Your first pair!

Grab two more pieces of fabric, stitch. Repeat, make a pile. Time to get up and stretch,  head over to the ironing board and press the pairs open, as you would usually do.

Consider each pair the start of a block. How many blocks? How big will each block be when finished?

8” or 20”? The smaller the block the more blocks you will need.

Make 9, 12, 20 blocks. You get the idea.

Set your pairs beside the sewing machine. Pick a third piece of fabric and stitch it along one side, any side, you are the designer.

At this point you can start making “rules” or we should really call them “the steps in YOUR design”.

Stitch the third pieces to every pair and head to the ironing board. Don’t like pressing? It is okay to finger press the seams instead! But do press once you have made the blocks

At any time you can hang the blocks on a design board, step back and ponder about what you see.

Look for the flow of the design, do you like it, move it around, rotate, play. At some point you will want to stop making each block bigger. Now is the time to start compiling all the blocks into one piece.

There are several ways to do this,and it is all fun:

Simply sew two blocks together, trimming after stitching. If a block is too small to fit, make it bigger. Too big? Trim.

Sew to blocks together with a secondary unit in between, maybe only a thin strip of fabric

Cut one or two blocks into parts, rearrange and stitch together with each other or take a piece and start another block!

 

 

 

Here is the blog I wrote originally for my Improvisational Patchwork and Dye Class

Cotton, linen, cotton, rayon, silk, hemp, cotton/linen blends, flax, velvets & jaquards. New fabrics, vintage linens and antique laces & doilies.

With bobbins wound with white Aurifil 100% Egyptian cotton thread.

“Just sew scraps together,” the teacher said. “Just do it! Add a scrap, add a square, add a strip,” suddenly a quilt block is done.

“Make another block” said the teacher. And another, more, more, more. Square up the blocks, join the blocks.

In no time we had a quilt top ready to……………….Dye!

Ready to dye

Knowledge of dyeing was not a requirement in this class. The simple steps were explained, but the dye mixing was left to Carola’s daughter Alaina. The students were here to enjoy the process of sewing and see the results of their own colour choices in their beautiful dyed quilt tops.

Low water immersion Avocado Green, Curry and Egg Plant
Low water immersion
Avocado Green, Curry and Egg Plant

Above is Carola’s quilt top soaking in the Procion Dye tub, a shallow plastic tub about 18″ x 24″ After 15 minutes of steeping in the dye, soda ash solution is added. All in all, very little water is used in this process.  Only one hour later the quilt top is ready to be rinsed. “Rinse until the water runs clear” Carola said.

Aurifil 50 weight 2 ply was used to free motion quilt
Aurifil 50 weight 2 ply was used to free motion quilt

Finally, here is Carola’s hand dyed quilt top. All the different fabrics took the dye in different ways.

The dark square in the middle is silk velvelt
The dark square in the middle is silk velvet

It is all the twists and turns in the whole process that makes Improvisation Patchwork such a fun, inspiring and uplifting experience!

 

Draw, Sketch and Doodle with your Sewing Machine

The sewing machine is your pencil, the fabric is your paper, let’s draw! Doodling and drawing is mainly a “free motion” sewing technique.

However, you can also do many parts of your straight line work such as a flower stem, with the feed dogs engaged.

Below are many of my tips, tricks, techniques and suggestions. They are not in “step-by-step-order”, so read all the tips before starting:

  1. Always practice your doodling before you make a big project. You will be more confident, you will have sorted out any issues such as bad tension, needle type/size/age and thread colours.
  2. Approach doodling with your sewing machine with the attitude of a five year old being asked by the teacher to draw pictures. Although your work may initially look like a scribbly mess, they will become “works of art” with practice. In other words, enjoy yourself and don’t be critical of your work, you are on the path to awesome success!
  3. Free Motion set-up: Disengage any “Built-in Walking Foot/Dual Feed/IDF”
  4. Drop feed dogs (If they cannot be dropped, cover them with the feed dog cover provided)
  5. Attached Free Motion Quilting Foot aka. Darning Foot
  6. Attach the extension table to the machine. This is a must. Your left hand will now have a surface to work on. If you are quilting with the machine dropped down in a cabinet, you will not need an extension table.
  7. Optional: Cover the bed (sewing area around the needle) of the machine with a “Sew Slip” a teflon sheet. Your fabric will move more smoothly and wont bind on the uneven surfaces of the sewing machine
  8. Wear Quilting Gloves. They give you a firm grip on the fabric and you will be able to move it without your hands slipping. This will give you the control to achieve an even stitch length!
  9. Insert a new needle, size 80/12 or 90/14. Choose a sharp needle such as a Microtex, jeans or a quilting needle. Change to a new needle every few hours of sewing. Or, choose the needle that works best for you, but change it often.
  10. I use Aurifil Mako Cotton Thread for Doodling. In the needle, 28 weight is thick and really shows off the stitching! In the bobbin I use 50 weight, a very fine thread. You won’t be changing bobbins as often.
  11. Select the needle down function. This keeps the needle in the last stitch whenever you need to pause.
  12. When you start to sew, moving the fabric, sew only in the area between your two hands. Do not sew in the space above or below your hands. Instead, stop, re-position your hands and continue stitching. I envision my two hands on the fabric as an embroidery hoop, clamped down on the fabric. Stitch “in the hoop”, when done, re-position “the hoop” and continue sewing.

 

Doodle, Sketch and Drawing Tips:

Draw your design with a pencil on paper. This is good practise for warming up and not wasting fabric and thread, saves you from using the seam ripper. Doodle!

Prewash fabric to shrink the fibers. This is optional, but a good suggestion for some fabrics as they may be washed later.

Stabilize the fabric to give it a “backbone.” Stitching on single layers of fabric may cause puckering and shrinkage. Stabilizers are a must.

Choose either a tear-away stabilizer or my favourite: thin batting (I’m a quilter) Even a second layer of fabric can be considered a stabilizer.

Attaching the fabric in a sewing machine embroidery hoop is also an option, to eliminate puckering and help in handling the fabric.

Test the upper and lower tensions on your machine. Too tight tensions will pucker the fabric. If the tension is too tight it will manifest itself later, especially after washing.

Draw guidelines on the fabric with a blue wash-away marker. The lines should be considered a general guide, to help you with the proportions of the design. Don’t worry about hitting your guidelines perfectly (no fun otherwise)

Writing words: Mark lines the same as in your grade two exercise book. You remember!

My favourite way to stabilize my fabric is to use thin batting, which will remain in my project. Other ways to stabilize the fabric is with a tear-away temporary stabilizer, starch or even an embroidery hoop designed for use in sewing machines.

Can’t draw designs? Trace designs from a colouring book (please keep in mind not to use copyrighted material. It is okay to use other people’s designs for inspiration, But do not copy.  If you do copy a pattern you have purchased, you will have permission to do so. But it must be for personal use only and not to be shared with others. If in doubt, contact the owner of the design

My favourite way of sketching a design such as a dog, poppy, bird etc. is to google “How to draw a_______. There are lots of on line drawing tutorials that show the steps, tricks and secrets of how to draw anything! Who knew it could be so easy!

Once Around the Block

 

A 52” x 70” Sized Quilt

Once Around the Block

 

Supply List:

1 package Charm Squares – 5” squares, 40 pieces (you will need 39)

1 Jelly Roll – 2 ½” strips, 40 pieces

.30 metre for inner border

.50 metre for binding

1.5 metres of 90” (230cm) or wider fabric for back

OR

3 metres of 45” (115cm) fabric for back

60” x 80” piece cotton batting

 

Directions:

All seams are ¼” unless otherwise stated.

Trim all the BATIK charm squares into 5” squares. They may be slightly larger or irregular.

Set aside four 5” squares for the outer border corners

 

  1. Stitch a 2 ½” BATIK strip to one side of a 5” square. Press seams toward the strip & trim excess strip.
  2. Using the same strip, stitch to the second side. Press the seam towards the strip and trim excess.
  3. Using the same strip and stitch to the third side. Press the seam towards the strip and trim excess.
  4. Using the same strip and stitch to the fourth, last side. Press the seam towards the strip and trim excess.

Put aside the “excess” for the Piano Key Border

  1. Continue in this manner until you have stitched a strip to all four sides of each of the 35 – 5” blocks. You will now have 35 – 9” blocks. If your blocks are slightly larger or smaller, that is not a problem, as long as they are all square & same size. Trim all 35 blocks to the same size.
  2. Layout the 35 blocks, 5 across and 7 down. Move them around until you are satisfied that the colours are evenly distributed.
  3. Construct 7 rows of five blocks
  4. Join the 7 rows.
  5. Add the inner border: Cut 6 – 1 ½” wide strips from the inner border fabric. Sew the inner border strip to the short sides first (top & bottom), long sides second.

Press seams to the inner border strip.

  1. Make the Outer “Piano Key” Border: Sew the remaining 2 ½” BATIK strips together along their long sides. Cut these strip units into 5” wide strips
  2. Join enough “Piano Keys” together to make four border strips:

There are 31 “keys” in the 70” sides of the quilt and 22 “keys” in the 54” sides of the quilt.

Stitch a “31 key” border unit to both long sides of the quilt top first.

 

Tip: If the “31 key or the 22 key” border units are not the same measurement as the top, bottom or sides of the quilt top, open some of the seams between the keys and sew them again using a smaller or larger seam allowance.

 

  1. Stitch a 5” charm square to each end of both the “22 key” border unit. These 5” squares will be the border cornerstones. Press the border seams towards the borders.
  2. Optional: Purchase a batik fabric for the border instead of using the remaining 2 ½” strips
  3. Machine or Hand Quilt as desired.
  4. The binding is made from 6 – 2 ½” wide strips.

Free Motion Quilting – The Secrets of Success

 

 

These notes are a companion to my lecture. It is recommended that you attend my lecture to get the full meaning of the following notes

Below is a list of the Top Tips for Successful Free Motion Quilting. Applying ALL the tips at the same time is the real secret for success.

Let’s get started:

Extension Table – An extension table that attaches to your sewing machine is a must. Your left hand needs a solid flat surface to the left of the needle. The sewing machine’s bed is not wide enough.

Quilting Gloves – A must. After all, it is your hands that control the stitch length. The stitch length will be erratic if your hands slip

Sew Slip- Free Motion Slider: A slippery sheet to cover the bed of the sewing machine. The “Sew Slip” has a non-stick top surface which is bonded to cured silicone. The tacky back holds the “Sew Slip” to your machines surface. “SewSlip” eliminates the drag on your free-motion sewing and quilting projects. Best of all, you don’t need to tape the “SewSlip” down to have it stay where you put it.

Drop the feed Dogs – If you leave them engaged they tend to fight against you when you move the quilt sideways and backwards

The backing and batting should be at least 2” larger all around the outside of the quilt. This will give your hands something to grip. If there is little or no extra batting and backing, you will not be able to do your best stitching around the outside edges of your quilt.

Your frame of mind: If you are a novice, take on this new experience like a five year old kindergartener. Be excited, and proud of every stitch. Be proud of every scribble, as you progress, your scribbles will become calligraphy! Have fun, no negative thoughts allowed!

Like a pilot working towards his license, you need to put in the time. As the hours pile up, so will your skills.

Now that I have convinced you to get started, here are more secrets for success:

 

  1. The machine should sew at about ¾ speed, quite fast. (This can be set on the speed control slider or button) Your hands however should move the quilt at a slightly slower, steady speed.
  2. Engage the needle down function
  3. Bring the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt, hold onto the threads, sew a few stitches, stop, snip the threads and continue to stitch
  4. Your hands must move at a steady but slower speed.
  5. Never let go of the quilt while you are sewing. Don’t lift your hand(s) of the quilt while the needle is going up and down.
  6. Only quilt between your hands, not above your finger tips or below the palms. Simply “STOP” reposition your hands, and continue stitching
  7. Never rotate the quilt while you are stitching. Although you may be practising on a small piece and you see no reason why you shouldn’t rotate the fabric, keep in mind, once you have a large quilt in your machine YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ROTATE THE QUILT WHILE STITCHING. So don’t develop a habit that will make you feel uncomfortable and awkward.
  8. Tackling a very large quilt in a very small machine: Start at the center of the quilt and stitch towards the right only. Give the quilt a ¼ turn and start back at the center. Repeat a total of four times until you have the center 2/3 of the quilt done. Then quilt the outside perimeter of the quilt in a clockwise manner.
  9. More on the subject of speed: When Quilting to a point or around a corner of a quilting motif such as a star or a flower, do not slow down your speed. How fast you move the quilt compared to how fast you are stitching should not vary. If you do, the machine will place several extra stitches at the point of a star or as you slow down for the curve. This is manifested on the underside, looking like mini French knots of the top thread!
  10. This tip is for those of you who have an older machine. Always remember to put the presser foot down. Every time you stop or pause your quilting, your right hand reaches to lift the presser foot. It is an automatic reaction. When you resume quilting, you may forget to put the presser foot down. Why? #1 you may not remember putting the foot up and #2 the foot looks like it is still DOWN because of the loft of the quilt under the foot. Why is this important? Presser foot down means that the tension is engaged. Presser foot up means NO TENSION ON THE UPPER THREAD. Result? A big jumbled mess of TOP THREAD on the UNDERSIDE of your quilt. My tip, always give the presser foot lifter a quick stroke with your hand before you resume quilting, just to make sure it is down.
  1. Aurifil thread is wonderful for piecing and quilting. I use 50 weight, the finest Aurifil thread if I don’t want my stitching to show much. It is also great for quilting in the ditch and quilting that back tracks over previous stitching, less bulk. The 40 weight (on the green core) is the favourite for free motion machine quilting, the stitching will show just enough and definitely adds texture to the patchwork.  The 28 weight (on the grey core) is heavier and is best for bold quilting, when you want to show off “the stitch.”
  2. The 50 weight on the orange core is the #1 winner for the piecing of your quilt. It is so fine and strong and adds no bulk to the seam. This allows you to press your seams as flat as they can possibly be, adding to the accuracy of your piecing.

 

Happy Quilting!
Carola

Ruler Work – Free Motion Quilting

Thank-you for attending my lecture on getting started with rulers on your domestic sewing machine. I hope that I was able to answer a few questions and inspired you to jump in!

Tips for Getting Started:

  1. An extension table that attaches to your sewing machine is a must. The ruler & your hands both need a solid flat surface to the left of the needle. The sewing machine’s bed is not wide enough.
  1. A slippery sheet to cover the bed of the sewing machine. The “Sew Slip” has a non-stick top surface which is bonded to cured silicone. The tacky back holds the “Sew Slip” to your machines surface. “SewSlip” eliminates the drag on your free-motion sewing and quilting projects. Best of all, you don’t need to tape the “SewSlip” down to have it stay where you put it.
  2. Quilting Gloves are needed to grip the ruler and the quilt
  3. Attach gripper stickers to the underside of the ruler.
  4. There are many different rulers to assist you in your free motion work. Some are curvy, wavey, straight, angled, round, oval, large and small. For anyone just getting started, I recommend the Handi Versa Tool from Handi Quilter. This ruler is a multi-purpose ruler with a different angle and curve on each of its four sides.
  5. Rulers for free motion quilting are thicker than rulers used for cutting fabric with a rotary cutter. They are ¼” thick.
  6. The free motion quilting foot for Ruler Work is also thicker/taller than a standard free motion/darning foot. This foot is a must for ruler work. Standard free motion feet are “flat” (the area of the foot through which the needle passes) a standard foot may slip under the ruler with disastrous results! Important! Due to the height (thickness) of the ruler foot, make sure to NOT put the needle down while the foot is in the up position. The needle and needle bar may crash into the foot with damaging results to the machine, foot and needle!Test test test, your machine’s limitations.
  7. The ruler foot is adjustable in height. It is important to be able to adjust the foot to the height which allows the quilt to move freely under the foot. Secondly the foot can be adjusted to the optimum height for your specific sewing machine and ruler type.
  8. Download a pdf with suggested uses of this ruler: https://vw-handiquilter.storage.googleapis.com/…/HandiVersaTool-Instructions.pdf
  9. Watch this video to see a quick overview of the uses of this ruler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loB238ld_Vg
  10. Free Motion Quilting and Ruler Work go hand in hand. Use ruler work to add precise quilting to your Free Motion Quilting projects.
  11. You can purchase a “Generic” Ruler foot for your machine, especially when you sewing machine model’s manufacturer does not offer a Ruler Foot. Simply establish whether your machine is a “HIGH” or “LOW” shank machine. Once you attach the ruler foot to your machine, make certain that the needle will not hit the foot and adjust the height of the foot to suit your machine.
  12. Check out Patsy Thompson’s video on Youtube, she has lots of information about choosing a foot that fits your machine. youtube.com/watch?v=notnPk3A45s
  13. Liz at Janome has lots of information for Janome and Elna machines here:wordpress.com/2014/03/21/part-2-of-feet-accessories-for-elna-ruler-foot-for-free-motion-quilting/
  14. Google Instructions for the “BERNINA RULER PANEL INSTRUCTIONS PDF” to get the free download of the instructions

Tips for using rulers:

  1. Always have the presser foot in the down position before taking the first stitch. See #7 in the paragraph above, “tips for getting started.”
  2. Don’t press too hard on the ruler. Relax, let the little grippers you have placed on the underside of the ruler keep it from slipping. It only makes it harder to move the quilt smoothly.
  3. Use “three point pressure” on the ruler:
  4. Press the ruler down against the quilt B. Press the ruler gently against the ruler foot. C. Press the ruler foot against the ruler.
  5. Adjust the height of the Ruler Foot. There is a screw on the foot that allows you to raise and lower the foot. The foot should be as low as possible, while allowing the quilt to be moved freely under the foot.
  6. The foot will float on the quilt. If your machine is set to make the foot “spring” up and down, turn this function off.
  7. Proceed with caution: Whether the Ruler Foot is specifically designed for your machine or not, make sure to test all possible limitations.

For example, height restrictions: Inspect the back of the Ruler Foot. Notice the clearance at the back of the foot to the quilt. Is there enough room for the ruler to fit against the back of the foot? If not, you will never place the ruler against the back of the foot.

Is the needle aligned with center of the opening in the Ruler Foot? If not, move the needle to the center position.

If the needle is too close the front or back of the Ruler Foot’s opening, consider that this foot is not suitable for your machine. This should not be a problem if you chose the correct foot for your machine.

  1. TEST putting needle down in the fabric when you are ready to quilt: Either turn the fly wheel manually to sink the needle or press the “needle down” key. If the Ruler Foot is in the up position, the needle bar (above the needle) may hit the foot. This can happen because your machine was not designed to function with such a tall foot. Easy and simple remedy: ALWAYS LOWER THE RULER FOOT BEFORE SINKING THE NEEDLE INTO THE QUILT.

DO this test your machine manually, (don’t press the needle down key)If the needle bar hits the foot, always make sure to drop the Ruler Foot into the down position before using the “needle down” function or whenever sinking the needle down into the quilt.

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting

Free Motion Quilting – Top Tips for Success

 

These notes are a companion to my lecture. It is recommended that you attend my lecture to get the full meaning of the following notes

Extension Table – An extension table that attaches to your sewing machine is a must. Your left hand needs a solid flat surface to the left of the needle. The sewing machine’s bed is not wide enough.

Quilting Gloves – A must. Afterall, it is your hands that control the stitch length. The stitch length will be erratic if your hands slip

Sew Slip- Free Motion Slider:A slippery sheet to cover the bed of the sewing machine. The “Sew Slip” has a non-stick top surface which is bonded to cured silicone. The tacky back holds the “Sew Slip” to your machines surface. “SewSlip” eliminates the drag on your free-motion sewing and quilting projects. Best of all, you don’t need to tape the “SewSlip” down to have it stay where you put it.

Drop the feed Dogs – If you leave them engaged they tend to fight against you when you kove the quilt sideways and backwards

The backing and batting should be at least 2” larger all around the outside of the quilt. This will give your hands something to grip. If there is little to no extra batting and backing, you will not be able to do your best stitching around the outside edges of your quilt.

Your frame of mind: If you are a novice, take on this new experience like a five year old kindergartner. Be excited, and proud of every stitch. Be proud of every scribble, as you progress, your scribbles will become calligraphy!

Like a pilot working towards his license, you need to put in the time. As the hours pile up, so will your skills.

Now that I have convinced you to get started, here are the secrets for success:

  1. The machine must sew at about ¾ speed, quite fast. (This can be set on the speed control slider or button)
  2. Engage the needle down function
  3. Bring the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt, hold onto the threads, sew a few stitches, stop, snip the threads and continue to stitch
  4. Your hands must move at a steady but slower speed.
  5. Never let go of the quilt while you are sewing.
  6. Only quilt between your hands, not above your finger tips or below the palms. Simply “STOP” re-position your hands, and continue stitching
  7. Never rotate the quilt while you are stitching. Although you may be practicing on a small piece and you see no reason why you shouldn’t rotate the fabric, keep in mind, once you have a large quilt in your machine YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ROTATE THE QUILT WHILE STITCHING. So don’t develop a habit that will make you feel uncomfortable and awkward.
  8. Tackling a very large quilt in a very small machine: Start in the middle of the quilt and stitch towards the right only. Give the quilt a ¼ turn and start back at the middle. Repeat a total of four times until you have the center of the quilt done. Then quilt the remainder of the quilt in a clockwise manner.
  9. More on the subject of speed: When Quilting to a point or around a corner, do not slow down how fast you move the quilt compared to how fast you are stitching. If you do, the machine will place several stitches at the point or at the corner. This is manifested on the underside, looking like mini French knots!