Monday, 28 January 2013

Things I have learned about Quilting


I am recapping over what I have learnt (sometimes the hard way) about quilting.

Firstly, quilts are not cheap - fabric is expensive often the fronts are cheaper than the backs, all your fabric scraps can be used for the front but the back needs to be a whole piece of fabric that you like, the quilt top takes a long time to make and scrimping on cheap backing fabric would spoil it, I have found double sheets are useful, especially if they are on sale, they are the right size and normally good quality cotton.

Its probably more cost effective to just buy fabric when you have a quilt planned that way you have all the colours but if you are like me, I am a kid in a sweet shop when pretty fabric are on sale.  I can find fabric anywhere!  Went to the Harrogate Flower show last year to buy gloves and gardening equip but came back with 6 fat quarters of pretty rose (see the garden connection) fabric.  It has sat in my projects basket for 9 months- couldn't bring myself to cut into it!

Quilting is addictive, once you start you are on the slipperly slope to a lifetime hobby.

Hand quilting is an ideal thing to do on in cold winters, there is nothing better than having a cozy quilt draped over you.  New quilting thread is bouncy and easily knots, I have started using vintage cotton thread, it doesn't bounce as much.  I buy my vintage thread off Ebay, my latest purchase worked out at 18p per reel, OK some of the reels might be part used but I have had some reel (sorry) bargains.  But beware, once you start buying vintage thread, you have to remember to stop when you have enough, it can be addictive!

Don't use cheap polyester thread, I was kindly given a lovely sewing box complete with loads of new thread in all sorts of colours, I did some blocks using  this thread but when I went to set the seam with the iron, the thread melted and seam fell apart.  It obviously wasn't cotton, it must have been polyester and poor quality so beware, test first.  All the books say  you should use 100% cotton but it is getting harder to find and a lot of the new thread is polyester, even the good quality ones.  Coats cotton from Boyes is 100% but its £1.35 for a small reel so vintage is cheaper and its fun when you get a bargain

This is some of my vintage thread in my lovely Sylko drawers.  Another auction find, the
 drawers have doubled in prices since I bagged this gem.

I use a vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine made in 1957 so you don't have to have the latest computerised machine with zillions of stitches on it, mine does straight stitch and that is it.

To match my vintage Singer machine, I have some lovely old Singer scissors (they are on the top of the Sylko box above) which I like to use, I sharpened them and they work well but the other day, for some reason, they became extremely stiff to use, goodness knows why, they don't have an adjustable screw holding the blades together but the blades were tight together.  I was going to put a tiny bit of oil on the hinge bit but thought that was a bad idea, oil and fabric don't mix.  Then I had a brain wave, remembered that  a joiner once used a pencil to make a door catch work better, he said that the graphite lubricated so out came my pencil, scribbled where the two blades crossed near the holding nut and hey presto, working scissors again.

Basting/tacking the quilt, I found this handy little tool, it puts tiny tags through the material instead of having to baste.  It seems to work OK and saves loads of time.  If I do baste, I use my large cutting mat under the quilt so that the needle glides underneath and doesn't damage my dining room table or stick into the carpet if I am doing it on the floor.

When cutting out, keep all your scraps of material, it is surprising what they can be used for.

YouTube have super demos on - if you want to learn quilting - have a look.

A quarter inch foot is essential, invest in one, I have tried doing accurate seams using the markings on the machines throat plate and using a seam guide screwed to the machine but it is loads easier with a foot, I bought one for my 1957 Singer Featherweight, its got a guide on it, it works a treat is is much quicker to use.  A walking foot is useful too, I use mine for putting the binding on but haven't as yet used it to do the top stitch quilting as I love to do this by hand.

Quilts make super presents for those special people in your life.

Lastly, don't forget to make a label for your quilts with your name one and date - it makes them more special.



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