Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Going Around the Bend


Not really, just couldn't think of a different post title. The only bend I am going around is this one -

Please, no comments about tension,
drunken lines, and the like.
The imperfections shine out in this photo.

That is a photo of the back of Singing the Blues. I realised that I love the orange thread, but I don't have enough of it. So I searched and I searched online for the same shade actually available to buy. I found it, but it does mean that I cannot complete the quilting until the thread arrives.

So I am going to pick your brains as well as pick out a few threads. Yesterday I talked about wrinkles and those of you who know more than me let me in on a little secret. When doing straight line quilting to always start from the same edge. This went against everything I thought as I always tried to alternate thinking that would balance things out. Obviously I am wrong because I took out a row of particularly bad stitching and did it again having taken the advice.


Other's of you were like me and didn't know this secret either. So, I was wondering, for all of us who live somewhere we can't get to quilt classes, or have circumstances that prevent it - would you all who know all impart some of your wisdom for us, please?!

Start from the same edge. Okay, we got that. How about stitch length. I seldom play with it, but got to thinking that a longer stitch length might be a good thing. Would it be a good thing? If so, how long is the right long? What else? What else should we all know to get by on the basics for straight line quilting?

Please tell all.

Susan

38 comments:

  1. I'm so happy to see you have your elephant bottom under control now!
    Great piece of advice about the direction of one's stitching and the difference it makes.
    Thank you for passing this tip on :)

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  2. I always thought you went from one end then the other. Could explain my elephants bum too! I think I read somewhere, that someone said to someone else, that they heard that you sew every other line, then go back and fill in the missing line. I'm not sure if this is true, and I've never tried it. How helpful is that?

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  3. hmm ... I don't know that "elephant bottom"-problem (the wonky lines yes sure).

    As for stitch length:
    2 for piecing
    3 for blend in quilitng + STD
    4 or even 5 for "I want to show off that beautiful thread"-quilting

    [teeny tiny pieces smaller then 1,5" sometimes get pieced at 1.5]

    Maybe your presser foot (or whatever foot you use to quilt) is pressing down too hard, so the top is transported at a slightly lower speed than back and batting. Who know's I'm not an expert.

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  4. Someone needs to test out Di's received wisdom! I'd really like to know how to improve my straight line quilting - which isn't all that straight most of the time but I'm relieved to say I barely notice once I get my nose more than a few inches away from it!

    My tip would be to look where you want to go rather than where you are as it seems to produce straighter lines for me! I am also hopeless at following a marked line so free hand everything most of the time!

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  5. Now I am totally confused! The last time I read on a blog that you should alternate to not getting wrinkles and slow down. So now you tell me starting from the same edge? I think about visiting Judith and take a class :)

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  6. Well, I always lengthen the stitch length when I machine quilt, sometimes to 3.5, sometime to 4 sometimes longer. I think about those hand stitches and I try to get a length that is more similar. The thicker the quilt - batting, fabrics, number of seams, the longer the stitch or the shorter stitches just pinch the quilt too much. I generally don't worry about the puckers that were troubling you yesterday because I want puckers after the wash. I tend to start in the middle spot and sew from top to bottom on that side then back to the middle and top to bottom on that side (which means I flip the quilt at that point) but that is because I am far to lazy to keep turning it. If you sew from top to bottom all the time like that you do risk distorting the square of that side of the quilt so I tend to also sew rather slowly and I hold the quilt smooth along with the presser foot just as I would to fmq which also tends to avoid the ripples you saw. I don't worry about the occasional jog either as I think it adds texture and interest and since I don't draw most of the lines and instead just use a guide my lines are never perfectly straight. I will let you know if I think of more.

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  7. I usually do every 2nd line and then go and fill in the species, and for quilting I usually use 3.5 stitch length, sometimes 4 with a thicker thread. For piecing I usually use 2.2 stitch length because that's what my machine starts on :)
    I really like that orange thread you used

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  8. I am no where near experienced, but things that work for me are a walking foot and spray basting. I start in the middle of the quilt and go from the same one edge to the other for the whole half. Then I flip the quilt and go from the opposite edge to the other. Depending on how much quilting I am doing, I then might go diagonal or cross hatch too. But, I always start in the middle. My lines are definitely NOT straight, but close enough.I use a 3 stitch length, but reading the comments I might try a little longer. I also look ahead of where I am going so my brain thinks in a straighter line. I think spray basting is my savior...I could never do the pin thing.

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  9. Wow, am I ever learning a lot from reading these comments - thank you ladies. And thanks to Susan for asking the question in the first place. :D

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  10. You are totally opening my eyes! I too have saggy elephant bottom at times and had no idea where it came from. I always thought that you were to alternate so that your layers didn't get all mal-aligned. The comments above this were very helpful, so thank you. (PS - I started exercising this week...but that's for my growing baboon bottom!)

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  11. I have just finished an apron (go on laugh, I quilted an apron ;-D) and I wanted to try straight line quilting. I had read you should always start from the same side when quilting whereas when you piece strips you go up and down to avoid the bowing that otherwise happens. However I have wrinkly elephant body parts too so quilting from the same side doesn't avoid wrinkles. I played with the foot pressure and that makes a difference. I didn't use a walking foot so that may be why it is important with the pressure. i used a stitch length of 3 on my machine.

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  12. Hey, I was just doing some Internet reading on this topic and the MQG blog said to watch the pressure of your pressed foot if you have puckers and such. Makes sense as it can push the fabric too much. Just something to keep in mind.

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  13. Hmmm loads of old nellies arses on my last one... You do realise that at the least 50% of that hidden in the crinkles after a wash or two, no?

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  14. I just read more comments, and was surprised to see the comments about the pressure on the foot. I always use the walking (or dual feed) foot for straight line quilting, I just assumed everyone did. That feeds the top layer at the same rate as the bottom layer so the pressure should not matter. Do use you walking foot or get one if you don't have one.

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  15. Start from the same edge each time, from the middle, working your way (and any puckers) out to the side edges. Stitch length about 3.20. Do a practice run on a sample fabric/wadding sandwich to see if you've got your tension right and if not, adjust accordingly. Use gardening gloves to allow you to grip the quilted area either side and keep the tension of your grip even on both sides, feel that the machine is making the stitches in a row rather than you pulling it (that bit's instinctive, you just feel it) and you're all set!

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  16. I completely agree about not knowing to ask when you don't go to quilting classes. I think when I finally decide to do free machine quilting I will take a class on Craftsy on it before tackling a big quilt.

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  17. You were right, these lovely ladies have got lots of great ideas, there are definitely some things to think about here Susan, so if you can figure out which one is "right" and get back to me, that would be perfect, no one wants to look at an elephants backside )on quilts of cours). : )

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  18. I usually use about a 3 or more on my stitch length and always use my walking foot if not FMQing (even when piecing) Think you still know loads more than me though ;o)

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  19. You've got plenty of expert advice without me confusing the issue more! Maybe it's a case of finding what works for you!? Good luck with the puckers!

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  20. Obviously going to say everything that they all said!!

    I always start in the middle and work to one end then flip round and repeat, so the huge wodge in the machine throat gets smaller not bigger.

    I piece with a 2.2 stitch length and usually 3.5 for quilting.

    Little puckers disappear in the wash. xxx

    Walking foot essential for quilting and attaching the binding.


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  21. You're too hard on yourself!! It is so very difficult to quilt a straight line! I think you did wonderful

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  22. I purposely quilt a wavy line and then you can't tell it's not straight.
    I spray baste, use my walking foot but loosen the tension slightly (from 5-4) and lengthen my stitch length to 3.2. I wouldn't call myself an expert though, so you might want to listen to someone else ;-)

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  23. Your elephant is getting younger! I use a 2.0 stitch length for piecing (smaller if I'm foundation piecing and even smaller if I'm doing teeny tiny f.piecing) and 3 or 3.5 for quilting, it depends on the fabric/wadding I'm using and the look I want. A sharp needle and a walking foot are essential for quilting (as is a sharp needle for piecing!) and I look where I'm going, not where I am. I start quilting in the middle and got towards the edge then turn it round and do the other side. Support the weight of the quilt (at the side and the back) and don't push the quilt through the machine, let the machine take it through! Oh, and faff with the tension as much as you need! I don't roll my quilt, I just shove it through the throat - I find rolling it makes it more unwieldy. Oh, and put a rolled up hand towel under your 'not my pedal' foot whenever you're using the machine - it'll balance your pelvis and means you don't get (as much of!) a stiff lower back. I also tend to have my hands quite close to the foot as I find it gives me more control over things. I'm sure I've forgotten something...oh, yes - chocolate! Eat plenty of it ;o)

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  24. Hmm, I have my foot pressure dry light anyway, I piece at 2 and if I do straight line (me? Yes sometimes!) I lengthen to 2.5 or 3 at most. Also depends on wadding used thicker needs longer stitches. And then there's thread , fine smaller stitches, thicker heavier thread longer stitches. Make sure you use the right needle for the thread, and. Tend to use top stitch needles never universal ones.

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    Replies
    1. And everything Helen said above!

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  25. I used to do 2.6 but everyone seems to do 3 so that's what I do now and it's helped. I have been quilting today and yes, starting at the same end has helped too! I shall read your comments - thanks for starting a great thread :-)

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  26. Wow! I have learnt loads reading these comments. I think I have been doing it all wrong so I have plenty of options to try in getting straight line quilting right. Thanks for the post. Di x

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  27. I think that you know a lot more than you are letting on. Give yourself more credit, my friend.

    Stitch length is specifically dependent on each machine and on your personal preference in quilting. So play about with your machine until you have a good firm piecing stitch length - it's not so small that the tension pulls your fabric too tight, and not so loose that it has no integrity in holding together. I use 2.4 and it seems most folks use in and round this length too. For quilting I use 3.0 or 3.5, but this can depend on the thickness of the wadding and on how I want a particular quilt to look. Sometimes if I get a bit of puckering like you did yesterday it can be that my quilting stitch is too small and increasing it just a little can make all the difference. Also if you are quilting densely it can be useful to enlarge your stitch very slightly. It's just my experience, can't swear by it but worth trying.

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  28. Wow! I have just learnt loads!!!

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  29. I've learnt heaps too! For me the biggest thing is not pushing the quilt through - if I let the walking foot do the work I don't get puckers (much...) Stitch length 3.5, start from one edge. Will be trying some of the other tips too :o)

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  30. I've seen a couple of blog posts in the recent past on this subject.
    Nicole at MamaLoveQuilts says:
    http://mamalovequilts.blogspot.de/2012/01/10-tips-for-trouble-free-straight-line.html

    And Lily's Quilts says: http://lilysquilts.blogspot.ca/2012/12/how-i-straight-line-quilt.html

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  31. I have learnt lots reading the comments. I would say def use a walking foot, and now I think about it, I did my latest quilt with straight line quilting and started at the same side each time, but that was probably more luck than judgement! I keep thinking I need to get some quilting gloves too, to help me get handle of the quilt, especially if it's a large one. I think it will make feeding the quilt through easier. I will just have to wear them when no-one's looking, they don't look very cool do they!

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  32. You should always increase your stitch length for quilting. Usually 2.5 for piecing and 3-4 for quilting, depending on how big you like your stitches. Also your needle size may need to change: 70/80 for piecing, 80/90 for quilting. Never use a jeans needle for fmq. And always try to prevent 'drag' - keep the weight of the quilt up, even over your shoulder if you can. Jxo

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  33. Lynne had some good tips on her blog about a month ago: http://lilysquilts.blogspot.ca/2012/12/how-i-straight-line-quilt.html

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  34. Hilarious! AGAIN. Great photos.
    The esteemed Rita from RPQ uses 80/12 needle for patchwork piecing and a 90/14 for quilting.
    Her stitch length preference for straight line quilting is 4.1. Her amazing creations are at http://www.redpepperquilts.com/

    Her straight line quilting is faultless.

    I like Archie's Chocolate advice.

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  35. You know more than you are letting on I am sure!! I think this is great all these tips in the comments section. I think you should start a little series Susan of questions about quilting we were afraid to ask and get people to comment with answers or something! x

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  36. thanks for starting a great conversation. Finding out some great extra tips here.

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