Friday, April 11, 2014

Another GG Block and flattening the puff when quilting

Another GG (Godstone Grannies) block is finished. I like the block but feel that there is a little too much white in the three hexagons at the bottom. I would have preferred to use a darker fabric but I just didn't have anything in my stash that appealed to me.

So what's a quilter to do? Well this quilter took matters into her own hands. I hauled out my Sakura Pigma pens (a black Sharpie would have done in a pinch) and obliterated the offending bits! Here is the amended block; much better, don't you agree? It is a subtle alteration. I may go back and add a little more black but for now this will do!

Now back to quilting problems. Angie  asked me how I deal with puffiness on top. The first thing I will say (I've said it before) is that if a quilt top doesn't lay flat it likely won't quilt flat! Sometimes when constructing a quilt a block just doesn't quite fit and we fiddle with it until it fits. These blocks can be the problem child in the quilt and you may find that they either pucker or puff. The solution of course is accurate piecing! Some of the problem can be address with really good pressing and a little spray starch.

I've learned that sometimes the puffiness is simply an optical illusion. The first thing I do is gently smooth the area to make sure that it lays flat; if it does I continue quilting. Depending on the size of the area and the extent of the problem the solution can be to clamp the quilt snugly to a table. Remove a few pins, smooth the quilt and re-pin. Be sure to check the back to make sure it too is flat and smooth. Continue in this manner until you are satisfied with the results. If I notice some puff developing I will stop with the needle down and have a good feel around to see if a problem is developing. If it is I stop and do what I can to correct the problem. Another thing I do is have a plan for how I will quilt n area. My Lazy Girl quilt had open areas and what I did was pick a start point for quilting and then quilt out and back and forth. I never quilt all around the edge of the area and work into the center. I wrote about how I fill in the spaces on March 28, 2014.  Here you can see I start in the corner on the left and work towards the corner at the top.

I quilt down a little and then I'll quilt my way back to the left just below my start point.

Another thing I've found is to keep my work space limited to the area between my hands. I my arms are stretched out through the throat of the machine and beyond I loose control of the fabric and my work area.

There are times when there is a little puff that you just can't get rid of and the only solution is to quilt the heck out of it so that it flattens. There may be some little pleats that develop and if they really bother you cover them up. That is what my Mom did with one of her African quilts! Where there were puckers or where seams didn't match she covered them with killer bees! You can read about it here.

 If you have large open areas that will be quilted and you are worried about creating problems travelling over these areas why not consider thread basting by hand with water soluble thread? You can quilt right over the thread and when the quilt is washed the thread will dissolve. This is particularly helpful in areas that will have long flowing designs. Having to interrupt these designs to remove pins can affect the quality of the line and the stopping and starting can create little bloops in the line of quilting.

So there you have it - a few tips to help make the quilting process on your domestic sewing machine more enjoyable! My final tip is to make sure that the seams on the back of your quilt top are beautifully pressed so that they are all laying flat. Over the years I've seen many quilt tops that have seams that are not pressed flat and I always worry that when the quilt is sandwiched these seams will act as little tents that lift the quilt off the batting. When I was taught to embroider I was told that the back should be as neat as the front and this is something I strive towards when I make my quilt tops!

READER TIP: Carla of A Few of My Favourite Things left a comment that she gives her batting a light misting with water and then she lets the batting rest for a day or two before she uses it. I've got a king size batting for my quilt  81 The Giant Monstrosity so I'm going to give it a go when I'm ready to start quilting! Thanks for the tip Carla!

That's it for today! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H


  1. I adore the killer bees (that's not something I ever thought I'd say). Great tips and a great use of a permanent marker.

  2. Yesterday I used your tip of starching the backing. Thank you for that brilliant idea! It was just a small quilt but I will be using that tip from now on.

  3. I looked at you hexie block and wondered what was the problem. It looked fine to me. Then I saw what you did with the markers and thought wow!, I like it much better!
    Thanks for all the tips - when I get back to quilting I'll keep them in mind.