Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Machine Quilting Obstacles (Otherwise Known as Puckers)

I know I hop, skip and jump around from project to project.  It is what it is. Progress in tiny little steps instead of leaps and bounds. Some of us actually work better that way!  I learned to stop fighting the expected methods of progress a long time ago.  My quilts and I are much happier with the new plan.*wink
Sandwiching a quilt top
This was what I decided to do yesterday.  Well, actually, I decided to do this sometime last week and then managed to put it off for a few more days out of absolute dread and reluctance.
Pin basting
I'm a hand quilter.  I might not be very good at it! but that's how I finish up almost all my quilts and have now for a lot of years.  The problem is, I'm starting to get quilt tops stacked up to the sky and I'll never be able to complete them if I just stick to the hand quilting program. (Insert very sad face. Really, really sad face.)
Learning to use my walking foot
You know I love the look of hand quilting, but priorities must be made. So now I have a walking foot which needs to be used so I can stop feeling guilty about the purchase price and also so that finished (but not yet quilted) quilt tops can stop haunting me in my sleep.  We won't even go into how much I need my beauty sleep. lol
Some MQ progress
#2 in the 9-patch series was chosen as my guinea pig. I decided to do some partial machine quilting and then leave some areas to come back and hand quilt later. I think I first learned about this approach from Little Island Quilting, but wherever it was--it's a great idea.  It could be just the sneaky way I need to eeease myself into the world of machine quilting.
A few too many of these....
I am facing some obstacles of course. Rome wasn't built in a day. In the span of about three hours yesterday I learned three extremely important things:
  1. I need to drop the feed dogs just a smidge.  Not a LOT, thank you very much.
  2. I don't pin nearly close enough or even stretch my quilt tops taut enough? Ahem. Perhaps I have gotten, shall we say 'lazy', with that part of the process...
  3. Slowing down is very, very good. The machine doesn't have to race across the top of the quilt at 80 mph. Woosah.....


  1. I sympathise with your predicament. I hand stitch the majority of my quilts, and so for me, hand quilting is a must. BUT like you, my 'waiting to be quilted' pile is glaring at me ..... Good luck with the machine.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one with quilt tops stacking up! I'd love to hand quilt them all too, but I doubt my hands will last that long. I like the idea of doing part machine and part hand-quilting. Best wishes with the puckers. I don't worry about them.

  3. As an exclusively machine quilting type person , I can tell you that basting is a massively important part of the process. I stretch my quilts across our pool table (which has a top on it ) and then I spray and pin baste (because I'm completely anal like that )

    I still get occasional puckers(especially if Im moving the quilt round a lot in weird directions while quilting )but for the most part it usually works out pretty well for straight line quilting.

    Good luck with the finish!

  4. I'm a pretty new quilter, and I've hand quilted two full size quilts. I tried machine quilting on a table runner and it doesn't look as good. I'm trying not to let tops accumulate. I only have two and hope to do them in July. Good luck with your hand and machine quilting on the same quilt. I never thought of that. Hmmmm

  5. I have four more quilts waiting in line that are tops finished - I'm still trying to decide if I will do any more straight line machine quilting or give up on it - I so feel for you :)

  6. Good learning lessons, less speed and more pins. :0)

  7. Oh do I remember those days! I still prefer hand quilting, but machine quilting has been a fun challenge for me!! As of now I prefer FMQ to using my walking foot. Yours looks great!! Keep it up!!


  8. Same here! I am actually a handquilter, but it takes so long and I can't leave all these tops unfinished. So I decide which one gets the handquilting treatment and which one will have a date with my machine. Made my first machine quilted quilt last year and even though it was far from perfect (who wants that anyway), I was pleased with the result and finished and now put to good use by the friend I gave it to. And that is what quilts are for, to be used and that cannot happen unless they are finished. So more machinequilting later on this year. I do not pin baste the quilts I machinequilt though, I spray baste them with 505. I used it on my first machinequilted quilt and loved it, and my Jacob's Ladder quilt is now spraybasted waiting to be quilted.

  9. I used to only hand quilt but after a lot of practice - and a stack of quilt top is just the thing for that - I now love Free Motion Quilting. Much easier than straight lines I find and more importantly lots more fun. Be prepared for a fair bit of practice though to get the desired result. Go for it!

  10. I like the idea of doing part machine and part hand-quilting, I make most of the straight lines in the ditch (invisible) and bind, then I take my time to hand quilt some visible designs.
    And like you I have tons of quilt tops stacked :(

  11. I agree pinning a lot and making sure the back is taut is important so no pleats on the back! I agree slow wins the race in quilting, keeps it neater and I am happier in the long run! just have fun with it and think the quilt will be done
    wish I could quilt all my quilts by hand but then I would only make a quilt every six months or so!

  12. That is such a gorgeous quilt!! I like a mix of machine and hand quilting. the machine quilting helps stabilise the quilt and the hand quilting adds character. I over pin. Pins everywhere!! If in doubt add more!!

  13. I also enjoy hand quilting and I love the look of it but machine quilting definitely has it's place as well. Sounds like you have found the best of both worlds by combining it on some quilts. It would really be such a shame to have quilts-in-waiting that never get finished and enjoyed.

  14. I just discovered Pinmoors. So much easier than safety pins. You use a long flowerhead pin, slightly bend it in the middle, and then stick a Pinmoor on the end. They have a website and I read about them through Leah Day. She has free motion help on her website.


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