Saturday, 14 July 2012

Quilting Decisions

Hi Hazel here! After all the excitement of my daughter's wedding I'm finally coming down to earth and today got back to sewing. I dug out a modern quilt blocks inspired by 'Quilting Modern' and stitched them together. Here is the quilt top layered and ready to quilt but where do I start? Here are a couple of close ups of the blocks:

I love stitching free motion quilting curvy designs but I think this one needs something more geometric so I think I may do some echo quilting and see where that takes me. In  'Quilting Modern' a similar quilt is quilted in an overall large zigzag which I think looks great. 

How would you quilt it? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Now what about thread? Do you have a favourite type of quilting thread? I have a pretty good stash of polyester and rayon machine embroidery threads which have a lovely sheen and come in an enormous array of colours including variegated shades and are reasonably priced:
I particularly like Madeira's Polyneon range. Remember to unwind some thread on your quilt top to judge the effect - these can look rather startling on the spool but are a bit more subtle in a single strand! The variegated spool at the bottom right is Superior 'Rainbows' which is very shiny and bright - another lovely thread. Some people are surprised that I use polyester thread  as I always use cotton for piecing but I don't have a problem with it for quilting if it gives the effect I'm looking for.

I think my all time favourite quilting thread is Superior's King Tut- a gorgeous silky smooth Egyptian cotton which sews beautifully on the machine. It comes in a range of 100+ colours, subtly shaded solid and wonderful variegated shades. This is more matt than the poly and rayon threads:

It's often difficult to judge the colour of threads in the shop as they have a plastic wrapping which reflects the light. Consider investing in a thread wrapped shade card for our favourite brands:

They make internet shopping so much easier too!

All the above threads are 40 weight. Remember that the smaller thread weight number the thicker the thread. 40 weight is a medium thickness, 30 weight is quite a lot thicker and 50 or 60 is a fine thread. I use a fine cotton for piecing e.g. 60 weight YLI soft touch or 50 weight Superior Masterpiece because these make a flatter seam for patchwork. I also use these threads in my bobbin when I use the quilting threads above through the needle. Why? Well when you do free motion quilting you will sometimes stitch a few stitches on the spot at certain points in a design and a thicker thread will make noticeable bobbles on the quilt back whereas a thin thread won't.  I generally try to match the colour of the bobbin thread to the top thread. Here's the hand dyed quilt backing:
I think any colour thread will blend with this! 

What type of needles do you use for quilting? I like to use a topstitch needle because it has a sharp point for penetrating the layers, a larger eye than a other needles and a groove down the shaft which lets the thread run smoothly. The large eye is also great if your machine doesn't have a needle threader! You can  get topstitch needles which are titanium coated and last five times as long as normal needles and I love these!

I buy most of my threads and needles from Barnyarns in Ripon. I can visit the shop near the canal, send hubby off to walk the dogs along the towpath so I can browse in peace, then meet him back at the lovely deli opposite Barnyarns for a cuppa and a bacon butty!! Barnyarns do have an extensive array of threads etc on their website too.

I'll be back soon with pictures of the quilting. In the meantime please share your quilting tips with us by leaving a comment below.

Happy Stitching!



  1. I love the quilt top Hazel. I agree that some echo quilting would look better than curvy designs. I find choosing the thread to be very difficult. In my last piece I decided to use a coloured thread in the cream spaces that echoed the colours in the flying geese. Yuk! It looked terrible. I think I would choose a pale variegated thread, but I would try it on a sample before putting it on the actual quilt top! Once bitten!

  2. I love the quilt Hazel. How about pebble-ing inside the rectangles, then echoing outside them and allowing the echo lines from each shape to overlap others, if you see what I mean.

    As for thread, well Big Bertha just loves King Tut.

  3. I love what you did. The geometric shapes looks fantastic. I've learned something you from new about quilting every time I visit your blog. Thanks so much.