Monday, January 31, 2011

some notes on stitching


This is the stitching on the quilt hanging out under my machine these days. 

This is how I did it:

You will remember from this post how I starched the muslin under the weaving really heavily first.  Now, the muslin is all covered, but it is now acting like a stabilizer for the thread work I'm going to do without me having to put a stabilizer under it. (I will definitely be doing this more and more in my quilts.)


I dropped the feed dogs on my machine. I put the free motion foot (this quilters best friend) on and took almost all the tension off my needle.

When I learned free motion quilting I was told to take all the tension off my needle. I have found MY thread work does not look as good when I use no tension and my threads don't catch quite right in the middle- which is where we want them to catch. So, I keep a little on there and it works for me.  I suggest messing around with your machine if you aren't already comfortable with how you set it up for free motion. (For piecing and general sewing I set my tension between 4 and 5. For thread work I usually set it just above the 1 and for full on quilting I set my machine just under the 1) Spend some time practicing first and finding what works best for your machine for which thread combinations and TAKE NOTES so you remember later.

 I also always start with my machine set to the needle down position.  Not all machines are lucky enough to have this feature, but I highly recommend it if your machine does. There is nothing worse to me than to take a quick pause to readjust your hands and the whole thing slides out from under the needle because it wasn't down.  Always put your needle down when you stop.

Then, I load my machine up with thread.


I am not all that persnickety about thread.  I like a heavier weight thread in my needle and a lighter weight thread in my bobbin.  AND I like for my threads to match in color as best as I can- I won't go buy thread if I can't find a match.  I make do with whatever I have. I'm also not particular about which brands are best. I have a large variety of thread and brands.  EVERYTHING GOES - even that old polyester if it is what I need.

I am lucky enough to be able to buy isacord from my father's company super cheap, and I LOVE it in my bobbin.  (I know there are quilters and embroidery lovers who are going to freak to know I love it in my bobbin, but it is so smooth and thin that it always works really well for me.  AND I am of the mindset you keep with what works for you.)

For the top of this one, I bought King Tut thread at DragonFly quilt shop in variegated red and variegated blue.


Then, I set to work.  I almost always start in the middle of whatever I am sewing and sew towards the edges. This helps to alleviate any bubbles in the fabric if there are any.

As for how I did the stitching.  I started by stitching a few squares with the thread of different sizes touching and then just kept drawing squares and rectangles making sure to close up any gaps I may create. I don't worry about driving over threads I have already sewn in order to get somewhere and I often have to backtrack.
Practice, practice, practice and as you can see in this picture my squares and rectangles aren't all even or neat and that my lines often don't hit each other, but I try, and I practice and I get better each time I do it and you will too.

Have fun!


  1. Hi Sarah, My husband sent me to your blog this morning because he had read about the thread. I just started using Isacord and I LOVE it! I use the variegated in the upper looper of my serger for a rolled edge with a tiger stripe, and I also like it in my sewing bobbin. The new Atl. Sewing Center, Quilter's Oasis in Duluth, GA has a huge selection of Isacord for those who cannot buy it wholesale. P.S. Love your new blog!

  2. Thanks Anita and Isacord is the BOMB!!! I am so glad you got some and are loving it. One day, maybe, I'll be able to sell it to you and you won't have to drive all the way to Duluth to get it!

  3. A~I don't know what you mean by "needle tension", I know there is bobbin tension, is the top thread tension?, I was told to lessen the pressure of the ? not sure what it is called, it's the knob that goes from 0 3, I think maybe downward pressure? , of the foot? halp, I keep trying to quilt, but it always looks like crap, I took a class and the woman said" peddle to the metal just go so fast you can't think about it", well that doesn't help at all. I am thinking I will take another class from a different person, and then maybe a 3rd too.