Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Art Quilt Free-Motion Quilting

This is another UFO I began a few years ago.  It is a beautiful pattern by Toni Whitney, Poppies.  I am generally not one to use fabric kits but her fabric choices are perfect for the quilt is a gift for my sister's birthday.  Shhh...it's a surprise (unless she reads this post :)  You can find this pattern, and many other beautiful Toni Whitney pattern designs, here.

I had done the hard part of the pattern of cutting out the fusible web pattern pieces.  I fused the pieces to the background and here it is ready to quilt.  I LOVE to quilt more than I like to piece.  Having been an embroiderer, I know it has to do with working with colored threads and the flowing lines. I am sharing my art quilting technique here.

Free-motion quilting can be a bit intimidating to the new quilter.  I find that the most intimidating factor is concern that a piece will be flat and square when completed.  I have a few preparation steps that help to ensure a beautifully quilted piece.  When the preparation is well done, I am only left with concentrating on the fun of stitching.  Yay!!!

I begin by cutting my backing fabric and batting approximately 4 inches larger than the quilt top.  When centered and basted, that allows for 2 inches larger on all sides of the quilt top.  I spray baste.  I cannot say enough with how much easier this is than working with safety pins.  I have been using Sullivan's Quilt Basting Spray for years and find it to be the best.  I have tried several others but none that I have tried compare.  Spray basting is easy to do with small wall-sized quilts.  I do recommend having cardboard or a plastic tablecloth (what I use) under the quilt to catch the overspray as it is very sticky.  I also spray lightly as not much is needed (and I get less overspray).

Now the fun part of selecting threads.  When I began quilting (and for many years) I was a thread snob and only used cotton thread.  I got over that to vary the colors and sheen that I desired.  I tend to match thread to fabric fairly closely.  For this quilt, I selected the two green cotton threads for the stems, the purple  60 wt. polyester thread for the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting, and the shiny copper polyester for the poppies.  The copper thread is darker than I would normally select but I wanted some drama added to the flowers.

With thread in hand I could now begin quilting.  On smaller quilts, I baste the edges of my quilt as shown here.  This keeps the quilt from shifting and keeps it square.

I begin the quilting by doing stitch-in-the-ditch in the borders.  This anchors the quilt to again keep it from shifting.  The purple thread was used for both sides of the purple border as seen here.

The quilt is now well secured and the real fun can now begin.

Quilting order is determined by quilting pieces that are behind others first or back to front.  The stems in the back were quilted first and I progressed to the front stems.  All of my stitching is fairly close together.  Close stitches look more uniform to the eye, whether they actually are or not.

I also do my best to quilt all pieces that require the same thread color so that thread changing is limited.  With the stems done, I then quilted the poppies as they are in the forefront.

With the applique quilted, it was now time to decide on what design to quilt in the border.  The trick to having a quilt lie flat when quilted is to have the quilting balanced throughout the entire quilt.  This small border might have gotten away without some quilting, but I had concern that it would flair.  With chalk I drew some stems.  I didn't need much quilting and this is just enough.

The quilt is now quilted, trimmed, and ready for binding.  Have you heard of single-fold binding?  That is the binding style I will use for this quilt.  I will demonstrate that next.

As I close, I share this saying on this metal placard in my quilting room.  It makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Love and blessings,

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