Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pinning to Machine Quilt

Here is the table that I am using to pin baste the Double Pinwheels Quilt. It was a table my DH's office used. When they were downsizing, they sold office furniture to the employees who wanted something. We got two of these tables. My DH built a base for the other, and it serves as my cutting table. The base brings it up to the perfect height for saving my overworked back.

In this picture, the center of my quilt is already quilted. Now I'm getting ready to pin the outer pinwheel border. I will quilt the cream inner border after the pinwheel border is quilted. The reasons for that...I'm using a stencil to mark the inner cream border. I didn't want to quilt it with lots of pins in the quilt. Once the pinwheel border is quilted, the cream border will be more stable and won't need any pins at all.

This table is about 30" x 60".

The quilt top, batting, and backing really stick together. To get the pinwheel border in the proper place, I had to lift it off the batting and let it lie down again. In some places I could swipe my hand across it and see that it was flat. Others needed firmer measures. One of the nice things about laying it on a table is that you can see that the edge is relatively straight. I don't get a ruler out or anything, but you can see that the dark brown outer border is straight "to the eye".

I don't use tons of pins, but I use ENOUGH. That varies from quilt to quilt. Since the inside of the quilt is already quilted and I'll be machine quilting at high speed, I only put 2 pins per 7" block here. I put them in the same place in each block so that my brain gets the "pin ahead" message while I'm quilting so I don't hit one and break a needle. I do not sew over pins.

Notice that the pins have large glass heads. That makes it easier to grab them quickly while machine quilting. I usually pull them out while I'm quilting (I don't stop).

Why am I blogging all these details? Because it's payback for all the tips I've gleaned from other quilters from reading their blogs. It IS possible to machine quilt on a domestic sewing machine (DSM). When I sent quilts out for quilting, I only had them stippled because I didn't want to spend money for the fancy quilting. This is a time-consuming process, but I think it's worth the money saved and the satisfaction of knowing I did it myself.

One more note on machine quilting. I am more choosy about my quilt BACKS these days. I make sure I can use threads for the top and back that are fairly close in color value. It is annoying to not be able to get the thread tension perfect. One of the quilts I did recently (hanging head in shame) had dark brown thread on the top and cream on the back. I could not get the tension perfect, and it nearly drove me to insanity. I kept getting brown dots on the back, then cream dots on the front. Even the most minute adjustment on the tension knob reversed the polka dots. Fortunately, after washing, the threads somehow miraculously went back to their proper places and one would never see the dots. It was hard to hold my breath the whole time the quilt was in the washer and dryer though.

I'd be glad to answer any machine quilting questions. I am by no means an expert, but I do quilt all my own quilts, a few by hand, most by machine.



Marilyn R said...

Your quilt is beautiful! I have never used straight pins to pin baste a quilt as I know I would stick my self to death with them! I do have to stop and take the safety pins out, which of course adds to the quilting time. Thanks for sharing your quilting tips!

Eileen said...

OH, Joan, this was great for me. I am just trying to learn the machine quilting way and can't seem to get out of the way I would hand quilt them. Your instruciton is good. Never thought of just pinning the middle of the quilt, quilting it and then on to the rest. I have put a quilt up today on my blog asking for help.
I have the pounce only in white and never have been able to get it to work on my darks. That blue shows up good.