Post 4 is here guys! I can’t believe how close we all are to beautiful quilted pillow shams – I hope everyone who is taking part is really enjoying themselves and learning lots of lovely new quilting skills. I am loving the conversations and support in our Facebook group too – as well as seeing all the progress pics too of course!
In Post 3 we learnt how to correctly piece our top and get it ready for quilting and now we take the next step. It is great if you have specialist quilting tools like a walking foot and quilting extension table but they are not 100% necessary. If you are concerned about puckered seams then have a look at how I quilted my Oceania sham at the end of this post for another, super simple yet equally lovely option.
Before we begin though we are going to fill up some bobbins. This photo may be slight overkill but it is a great idea to always fill 2-3 at a time – there is nothing worse than getting into a project and having to stop to wind a new bobbin. I predominantly use white or natural thread for everything I do and fill as many as I can at a time so I can sew without interruption for as long as possible.
For our first step we are going to place our top on the wadding and trim around it, leaving an inch or so all around the outside. This is to allow for any movement or stretching of the top as we quilt. Iron your top well, using starch if you prefer, to make sure it is lovely and flat.
This next step is completely personal choice but I really find it helps with the pinning process. I place the quilted top back onto the wadding, smooth it out well with my hands and then give it a good iron again. This helps to “stick” the top to the wadding and really make sure it is lovely and smooth. Iron from the middle out to avoid puckers.
Now we pin. I use curved quilting pins because I find them easier to use but again this is entirely up to you. Place a pin at each cross seam, making sure you catch both layers.
Note: You may have noticed we haven’t put a backing on this quilt sandwich. As it is going to be the inside of your sham I don’t see a point plus it is easier to learn when dealing with only 2 layers to smooth and keep wrinkle free. If you would feel happier adding a backing to this then please do.
Once it is all pinned you are ready to quilt!
These are the first 4 lines we are going to quilt onto our patchwork top. I have inserted a diagram before the step by step instructions to hopefully make it clearer than my pictures and words do. Of course in true piccolo style I still had to make it pretty lol.
Set your stitch length to 3 or longer. I find this helps with keeping your sham smooth and minimizing puckers as you stitch. You do not need to lock your stitches at the beginning and end of every row as this will be locked into the seams when you finish the sham anyway.
Find a middle seam and position your needle slightly to the right of it. This is called Stitching in the Ditch and will help secure your seams and prevent them from splitting with use. Slowly stitch straight down the seam keeping your needle a few mm away from it at all times. Remove the pins as you go. Stitch all the way to the end of the seam.
Once you have quilted the row, cut the thread and lift your presser foot. Turn your entire sham to the right, a quarter turn, so you are starting from the right side of the sham. Again take your middle seam and stitch a line just to the right of it, removing pins as you go. You will cross over the seam you stitched previously. Go slowly, using your hands to smooth the way. The longer stitch length will help minimise a pucker at that point but without a walking foot it may be hard to avoid.
Once you have finished stitching along the seam, cut the thread and left your presser foot. Turn the top another quarter turn so you are nowstarting from the bottom. You are now going to stitch along the same seam you initially quilted but on the other side of it. Finish that seam and turn another quarter turn, again finishing off the second seam you started.
Another quarter turn will bring you back to where you started and you should have 2 quilted seams that look like this.
Quilty Note: I find turning and quilting from each side reduces the amount of distortion to the top and keeps everything square. It is a great habit to get into as you tackle larger pieces.
Choose the next seam along in either direction and repeat the process going slowly until all your seams are quilted. Once all finished remove it from the machine and give it a good iron to remove wrinkles. It is amazing how much better it will look once you do that. If there are some puckers be careful not to drag the iron around and stretch them further but rather press as you did when piecing your top.
This can easily be the end of your quilting if you like as all seams are secure. If however you want to be fancy you can now quilt in diagonal lines as well. You will need to eyeball these and it does take a bit of practice to get them straight. Once the sham is on a pillow you don’t notice slight curves to the lines so don’t stress if they are not perfect.
Because your sham is already quilted and there is much less chance of distortion you can stitch a few lines before you turn the top. I start in the corner, quilt lines to the right until I run out and then turn and start again.
And there you have it! One quilted sham, ready to be finished off after Sunday’s post.
If you are worried that your machine and accessories wont give you a good finish quilting wise especially with seams crossing over – never fear! Quilting parallel lines is a fantastic way to quickly quilt a quilt and it is much easier too. Again make sure you turn your quilt so you are starting from each end to avoid distortion.
One of the accessories that came with my machine is this handy little guide bar that goes into the back of the foot. I wrapped mine in masking tape as it was a bit loose and wasn’t holding in place as the machine stitched. A big machine means a lot of vibration. Using my measuring tape I set the guide to be 1″ away from the needle and then used it to line up with the line I had just stitched.
If you don’t have a seam guide like this you can use masking tape to tape your lines and then stitch along side them or even use your presser foot and do seams approximately 1/4″ apart. This is a basic form of matchstick quilting and looks really effective although be warned it can shrink your top size significantly. I matchstick quilted my Color Brigade quilt and it looked wonderful although I needed a LOT of bobbins for a quilt that size lol.
And of course straight lines don’t need to be boring. If your machine has decorative stitches don’t be scared to use them. This stitch (#19 on my Janome) is becoming really popular for modern quilters as it gives a fantastic look for little effort.
Sadly it started to rain just as I finished my Oceania sham so I don’t have a nice completed photo of the top for you but I promise to update the post with one as soon as I can. Once I had finished quilting I decided to add some decorative trim around that gorgeous border print, I do love to fancy things up where I can and using simple quilting meant that I could.
So I think that is a wrap on our quilting post – hopefully I have given you the confidence to tackle this next step. Remember my golden quilting rules:
* longer stitch length
* go slowly
*start from all directions to minimize distortion of the top
* if in doubt simple straight lines work miracles
* don’t judge it until you have ironed it
I am wondering if this is the one time I need to add a video to my post? Personally I really hate quilting from videos but if it means you can see exactly my technique I am happy to help out. Leave a comment below if you want to me to brave the camera for the first ever time!
Good luck everyone – I will be in the group waiting for finished quilting pictures so I can be in awe of your progress!
The Patchwork Pillow Sham tutorial runs over 3 weeks and I will update links here as I post them.
Sunday 5 August ~ Tools for quilting and Fabric Selections
Wednesday 8 August ~ Cutting and laying out your top
Sunday 12 August ~ Piecing your quilt top
Wednesday 15 August ~ Pinning and Quilting your top
Sunday 18 August ~ Finishing off your quilted sham