Take a breath and start quilting…

“Take a breath” was a phrase used more than once in the Australian series, “The Code.”  Well done, one season, six episodes.  For Xena fans, Lucy Lawless (from New Zealand) is one of the stars.  I give it five stars.  If you love cyber-hackers and government intrigue, this is for you.

Pardon the brain drain, I almost skipped the rest of my practice session for the Cotton+Steel challenge table runner.  I guess I took a break or slept or something.  I saw some quilts by Jacquie Gering where she did matchstick quilting with letters in relief.  I thought she had a tutorial on this but I cannot find it so I decided to plunge in and figure it out myself.  First I just free-handed “+ poly” and quilted back and forth around the letters.  You can see my marking using the Frixion pen which will disappear with heat (and return if it gets cold enough).  I just went up and down over the top of the plus sign, down the side, and then up and down underneath.  I used a contrasting thread so you could see it more clearly, then switched to neutral thread on the muslin.  Using matching thread makes the lettering more subtle but it still shows up.


After ironing the marks away, you see the letters in relief.  I left the inside of the “o” unquilted so you can see how more defined the letter is if you quilt inside–see the “p.”  As you can see, it’s much easier to keep a straight line if you mark it or have a line of stitching to go to.  With the blue stitching, you can see that I take a couple of stitches for the turnaround, cranking the needle by hand to keep the shape around the letter’s edge.  The more narrow the quilting the more defined the letter.  Just keep in mind that you want to be fairly consistent with dense quilting throughout the entire project.

So, onto the real thing.  I used white Thermolam batting, a thinner batting often used in clothing projects.  I did not want any loft.  As you can see my little flap is more noticeable now.


I’ll be doing matchstick quilting throughout this project, with straight lines apprx 1/8-in apart.  I was using up some less expensive cotton thread for practice, which tends to be linty, so I cleaned out the bobbin area, added a drop of oil the night before, put in a new quilting needle and threaded up Superior Tailor Made 27 poly thread.  This is a large cone so I used the cone holder.  I like to quilt with Schmetz quilting needles–they seem to work best in my Janome.  Klasse needles are ever so slightly different in length and did not work as well for me.  I think a lot of things are geared for Bernina these days.  I still prefer my Janome and dread the day when it gives out on me.  I hope I won’t have to get a job to buy a new one.

For the first section, I stitched down one long edge, across a short edge, up the other long edge and across the other short edge.  This gave a little design at each end.  The photo is from my practice piece so you can see it better.  I have my stitch length set at 3.0, which translates to apprx 8-stitches per inch.  TIP:  Focus on the foot edge rather than the needle and be sure to check the back to make sure you have no tension problems before you go too far.


Next, I tackled the larger blue section.  I marked a two-inch diamond grid with chalk, using the 30-degree line on my ruler and then sewed on these lines.  The grid stitching helped to baste this section evenly and prevent stitching in unwanted folds, which would probably occur if you started at one end and went across to the other end.  Then I started again in the middle, stitching a vee-formation between the grid lines.


Center stitching.


Okay, I’m really liking this matchstick quilting.   When you get close to a grid line, you need to eyeball the last row of stitching.  I was zipping along using the edge of the walking foot and the stitching was too close in one section and too far away in another.  This did not show as much on the front so I would not necessarily have had to rip it out and restitch, but I did.  Now, you are not supposed to point out your mistakes, but you don’t have to make the SAME mistake as I.  I’m sure you’re perfectly capable of making your own!

Next I stitched the pieced section.  It is interesting that even with contrasting thread, the quilting does not take away from the print fabrics.  I finally stitched navy on white, even though I had slowed my stitching way down to a crawl to prevent that.  C’est la vie.  I also had a little trouble with backstitching.  I hope that newer models have an on-off button for backstitching as sometimes you need both hands to hold the fabric.  Aagghh.


So I only have the two white sections left to quilt before finishing up the bottom blue section, which will finish spelling out the name of this project:  “Cotton+Steel+Poly.”  Poly wanna cracker?  Bwawk.  I’m so outta here.  Stay tuned for the end of this project.  Spoiler alert:  I’m going to make a double-fabric binding, navy on the front, white on the back.  And I’m here to tell you, this technique does not lend itself to bias binding.  I did it for my curvy placemats and it was really tedious to sew on as it was no longer a nice stretchy bias.  Later, dudes and dudettes.

About bycandyp.com

Hi—I’m Candy P. I live in beautiful Northwest Arkansas and write this blog about quilting. I love the entire process of quilting from design to piecing and appliqué, to free-motion quilting on my Janome. I have been sewing since I was five and started quilting in 1991 with a group in NE Minnesota. We used cardboard templates and scissors and did everything by hand. I have since made traditional quilts, donation quilts and Quilts of Valor; I’ve done paper piecing and foundation quilting but now really enjoy improvisational piecing using scraps from my stash or my hand dyed fabrics as well as making art quilts. I am also currently trying to finish any and all unfinished projects. I am so far behind I can never die. I have always been a maker, a sewist and needleworker, running the gamut from hand embroidery to macramé, knitting, crocheting, crafts, book binding and mixed media projects. I have taught a lot of classes including fabric painting, origami, and calligraphy, Dancercise (who remembers that) and my own exercise classes. When I’m not in the garage dyeing fabric or in my studio, I’m at Zumba or walking on local trails and photographing art or whatever catches my eye. I currently belong to Crystal Bridges, AQS, The Quilt Show, NWA Modern Quilt Guild and the Van Go-Go Girls (a local art quilt group). I occasionally make it to the piano and the golf course and enjoy cooking with my husband and generally wreaking some kind of havoc with my daughter. You can read my previous blog at Kandykwilts.blogspot.com and here (previously icandyet.com) but you cannot read my blog as northwind at The Quilt Show, apparently lost forever. I write about my current projects, mistakes and all, and often tell you what products I use (with no compensation). I am open to suggestions about blog posts and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about my projects or posts. Comment or email me.

Posted on May 25, 2015, in quilting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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