January Roundup: Beginners Guide to Free Motion Quilting - Roundup
February Lesson: Thread
February Lesson: Thread Roundup
Through my charity Quilting A Memory I get to work with all sorts of fabrics for families who have lost loved ones I have quilted with everything from mens vests to woolen kilts to satin wedding dresses. So far the only fabric I have had to say no to was a thick toweling dressing gown. So it might not surprise many of you to learn that I am anything but a fabric snob. To me fabric is fabric and fabric can be made into quilts.
I know there is a whole thing over designer fabric versus the cheaper prints you can buy at JoAnn's. But I also know that fabric lines who have produced cheaper fabrics for JoAnn's now have quilt shops begging for the same material.
Again my mantra is - if you like it - use it.
My other mantra is - if you are practicing - don't spend the big bucks. Your neighbors 1 year old baby is not going to notice that the train print is from JoAnn's rather than a designer beauty. Keep it cheap - your whoopsies won't hurt as much.
From a free motion point of view I can give you the following information with regards to fabric.
Solids will show off your quilting and all your mistakes. But once you feel more confident you will learn to love (or perhaps hate) them.
Busy patterns can sometimes hide any quilting you do on it. This can be an aid in the beginning when you are practicing but annoying when you do want your quilting to show.
Wool, flannel, fleece, velvets etc - use a thicker thread if you want the thread to show. If you use a finer thread (like So Fine#50 by Superior) your thread will be almost invisible and you will only see the texture created. You can play with thread thickness, contrasting color etc to either 'hide' or display your quilting in these thicker fabrics.
Correcting Quilting Mistakes
If you have made a horrible mistake that you can not live with - unpick the stitches very carefully - soak the area and massage the needle holes while wet a little to help them close up again. Let the fabric dry before re-quilting the area. Some fabrics do not recover very well from being unpicked - especially if your quilting is dense. But I do unpick - and I soak - and it dries - and no one notices (or no one has said anything yet!)
The choices of batting are about as far ranging as fabric and thread. It is very much about personal choice and experimentation about what you prefer. You can find batting in white, natural and black - and in various lofts (thicknesses.) There is a lot of useful information out there about batting:
Want a chart to print for your craft folder?
Batting Characteristics Chart by allpeoplequilt.com
Quick Reference Chart on Batting Options by allpeoplequilt.com
When choosing your batting you want to think - What and who are you making your quilt for? If it is a wall-hanging you might want the batting to be on the stiffer side. If it is for a bed - perhaps a softer drape? Are you using a special technique? For example Karen McTavish recommends a particularly puffy poly for trapunto work.
Bamboo is a relatively new batting that is available. I have not used it - but I understand care is very important it doesn't like heat and it has the lowest of all lofts (thicknesses.)
Cotton is favored for its soft texture. It can sometimes feel stiff after quilting but after washing and usage softens considerably.
Cotton/Poly blends are touted to have the benefits of cotton with more loft. Your quilting lines can also be further apart with a blend than with 100% cotton.
Poly is resilient and lightweight. A favorite I understand with people who ship and show their quilts at shows.
Silk - is your go to choice if you are quilting for a garment. Silk is the most expensive batting you will find.
Wool batting can be translucent. If you have a white top and your backing is dark or pieced with dark pieces - you will see color variation in the top of your quilt. I love wool - it is my personal favorite - but if I am working with a white top I will use a cotton batting or ...
... you can layer batting. I often use a cotton batting with wool batting on top to give a really lovely full look and produces a lovely heavy feeling quilt with a beautiful drape - but it then does give you a thicker wedge to be fighting through your machine.
Did you know some battings have an up and a down side? Placing your batting the right way up will help your needle have an easier time of punching through all the layers and ultimately provide a better finish for your quilt. APQS has a great article here than goes through several batting types.
Keep your batting scraps - you can use them for FMQ practice sandwiches or quilt as you go quilt or you can sew them together with long & wide zig zag stitch to make a big piece of batting! (You can also get strips that you iron together bits of batting to make them bigger - but I have never used this method.)
Talking of quilt as you go .....
When you are beginning on your FMQ journey. Don't start on a large quilt. Get used to quilting on smaller more manageable sandwiches (quilt sandwiches not marmalade ones.) This is why I think a quilt as you go method would be a great start for anyone starting their FMQ journey.
This months giveaway is :
Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern by Jera Brandvig. This is a really lovely book full of ideas, lovely photographs, different quilt as you go techniques and project ideas.
20 13.5" squares of Hobbs wool batting - which will be enough to get you started on a quilt as you go baby quilt. I love wool batting - its gorgeous and soft, natural with puff. I hope you will love it too.
To win this giveaway - please let me know where you buy your fabric from and what kind of batting you prefer. Leave your comment by March 30th - don't forget to leave some link/information that will enable me to contact you somehow.
(Please note: Giveaway will only be shipped within the US.)