Wednesday, April 9, 2014

More reader questions and another GG block

I love having the opportunity to respond to reader questions about how I do things. I'm not an expert but I'm more than happy to share with you what I do to to achieve results with which I am happy. The "I" part of that statement is critical. I worry very little about what others think about my work - I am more concerned with what I think if my work. I know my weaknesses and strengths and when I work I never compare my work to that of others. Instead I compare it to my own work. If I think I can or should do better then I try to do better. If I think I've done the best possible work taking into consideration all of the challenges and issues then I'm happy with the result! Soooooo, bearing all of this in mind I am pleased to respond to questions about what works for me!

I was asked to show the back of my Mom's Anna quilt that I quilted on my domestic sewing machine. Angie wrote that sometimes she gets too much puffiness and it doesn't quilt out and she was wondering what could cause this problem. There can be many reasons for the puffiness. If your quilt top doesn't lay flat it won't quilt flat so that is the first thing I would look at. However for me the main cause is usually related to the creation of the quilt sandwich. It is important that it be as well made as possible and this is what I do to achieve a well sandwiched quilt.

First I press my quilt back with spray starch. I find it keeps the back flat and smooth and it helps the quilt glide smoothly under my needle when I start quilting. I also press the top with spray starch. You can purchase spray starch or you can make your own for pennies a bottle! I've got a recipe under the tab Tips and Tutorials. In the picture I've got a bottle of gin; it should have been vodka! Oops! Oh well at lease you ca see the basic ingredients!

To baste my quilt I clamp the quilt back to a table making sure it is flat, taut and smooth. In the picture below you can see I use office clips to clamp it to the table. I start by clamping in the middle of the top and bottom. I then clamp one over from each of those. Next I clamp in the middle on each side and then place a clamp on either side of those. Every step of the way I am gently pulling the fabric to make sure it is taut. Once I've clamped the entire back I run my hand over the backing. If there is any movement or rippling in the fabric I pull and reclamp so that it is eliminated.

I next layer my batting making sure that it is flat and smooth and finally the quilt top goes on top.

I pin baste so that my pins are roughly 4" apart. I stitch in the ditch (SID) on every main seam so I bear this in mind when pinning; I don't want pins that will be on any of the main seam lines because I don't want to have to remove them as I stitch in the ditch. Removing pins too soon can introduce problems on the back (I learned that the hard way). I generally SID with Superior Monopoly on top and The Bottom Line in the bobbin. I like using the invisible thread on top because it disappears so if I veer off the seam a titch it won't show!

By following these steps I find that any puffiness is eliminated. Honestly the starch makes a really big difference so if you haven't tried it before you really should try it at least once!

In a separate email Angie told me she was curious to know of the SID lines show after the quilt is quilted. The answer is it depends. If the area is densely quilted they virtually disappear. If it isn't they can be seen. The following two pictures are the back of my Lazy Girl quilt. You can see the SID is barely visible in the first picture but it is visible in the second. Personally this doesn't bother me but if it did I could use water soluble thread for SID. It would disappear entirely when the quilt is washed.

Finally I would like to share my latest GG (Godstone Grannies) quilt block with you. There is no fussy cutting in this one! Phew!  I'm considering replacing the four hexagons in the center but will put off the decision until more of the blocks are made so that I can get a feel for how the quilt is shaping up. If I think this block need a little sparkle I'll change the four hexies and if is done!

That's it for today! Tomorrow I'm taking a day off to have some fun with my Mom. I'll be back on Friday with some hexie talk and more ideas for solving the puffiness problem that can happen when quilting! Until I post again, happy basting!
Karen H


  1. A great post, Karen! Lots of good information for us beginning/advanced beginning quilters. My problems are on the top, so I will pay close attention to doing my SITD and starching and see how I progress. Have fun with Mom! Your block is super.

  2. This is amazing!! Like the way on the table.
    Greetings Grit

  3. Great tip about using spray starch. Also I don't think I would have thought of using soluble thread :)

  4. Thanks for sharing the process Karen!

  5. This is how sandwich my quilts also and I agree the starching and binder clips really make a difference. I let my batting rest for a day also after spraying it with a light misting of water.

  6. Thank You for so... much useful information! Enjoy your day with your mother.

  7. Great Post and one should have it hanging where they work. It is your work and do the best you can and be proud of it. The tutortial is excellent and that is how I put my backing, batting and top together. Have fun with Mom!!(:

  8. Thanks for all the great information. Your quit is lovely and I like the middle blocks of the hexie.

  9. Thank you for the clear explanation of how you prepare your quilt sandwich. I have never used spray starch, but after reading your explanation, it really makes sense. I also like your tip about the water soluble thread.

  10. I need a bigger table!
    Mind you I have gin, well yes and vodka, although the hell with making starch with it : )

  11. Great advice. I'm going to give the starch a try. Thanks for another wonderful tutorial. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your studio. I could learn so much from just watching you, for a day......or two....or three.