Tuesday, November 23, 2010

straight line quilting

I spent a good chunk of time quilting this quilt yesterday and got a good start today too...and then I ran out of thread. I had a kiddo staying home from school with crummies in his tummy (name the book!) so I couldn't go out for another spool of thread today. I did get all the rest of the quilt blocks cut out for Grandma M's quilt though which feels pretty good.

I had a reader ask me about straight line quilting the other day and I wanted to open it up for discussion here, if you all don't mind. I've quilted 3 quilts this year with straight line quilting, and it has mostly been challenging for me because of shifting problems. I did a baby quilt with horizontal and vertical straight lines on my new Janome and had significant shifting. I quilted my watercolor quilt on my 80s-era Viking but on the diagonal and the shifting was minimal. And this 9-patch, that I'm almost finished quilting, was quilted first diagonally and then horizontally and vertically, and I'm having shifting problems with some of the non-diagonal quilting lines. (I'm quilting it on the Viking.)

I feel like I understand why it works better on the diagonal because of the way fabric behaves and stretches and shifts on the bias, but it seems like lots of quilters do straight line quilting with the fabric grain that doesn't distort or shift the quilt layers, and I'd love to figure this mystery out and improve my straight line quilting skills.

So, my question is, if you are successful at straight line quilting, how do you do it? Do you use a special basting technique, special sewing machine settings, special sewing machine, period? Or is it something else I'm not thinking of? I would love to hear your tips and suggestions for successful straight-line machine quilting, especially if you can do it without the layers shifting!
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16 comments:

Leslie said...

my most important tool for sewing straight lines cause that is virtually all that i do is my walking foot. it is so necessary. it will feed all that fabric and batting through together and you will not get any shift or pull....you still have to set your tension and all that but just that thing alone makes a world of difference!!!

Anita said...

Hi Vicki! I've done some straight line quilting. One important question...are you using a walking foot (also called an even feed foot)? It gives you another set of feed dogs on top of the fabric. Also, how are you basting the quilt sandwich? I use adhesive spray baste called "505 Spray and Fix" and it is the best fabric adhesive on the market. My newbie quilting students just started quilting their pieces and they are doing very well with it--no shifting. One last thing--are you starting your quilting in the center of the quilt? If not, then are you quilting one line across then going the opposite direction on the next line? That's very important to keep the quilt from warping. Here is a post I did last week on edge to edge quilting: http://anitaheadyfiberarts.blogspot.com/2010/11/next.html
A walking foot plus good basting plus quilting from the center will keep your quilt from shifting. Check out Patsy Thompson's YouTube videos; #2 has a spray basting tutorial. Best of luck to you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Emma said...

I agree with Leslie. The other thing I do is change the direction of my pins. I always have the open end of the pin (the side that can pull the fabric a little bit) going towards the nearest edge, but I alternate. For instance, in a given row at the bottom of the quilt, the pins might be like this (L=left, R=right, D=down):

LDLDLDRDRDRD

Does that make sense? Always pinning towards the edge of your quilt and alternating pin direction can cut down on shifting. I don't usually have much problem with shifting and I'm just now starting to learn techniques other than straight-line quilting.

beth lehman said...

I'm so excited to read these tips - I haven't come across some of them yet..!! I have a Viking and spent most of the summer working on straight line quilting with a walking foot. The puckering was so bad that I have ripped out 2 quilts worth - and went on to other projects that I free motion stippled on instead! Somehow at the end of the summer I came across this... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox8qRhWF3CI It's all about adjusting the pressure on your presser foot - I HAD NO IDEA!!! But, I could tell it was happening b/c the puckers were all about pushing the top fabric too much - it would get pushed over another already made seam that had gone the other direction! So, adjusting that I think will be the fix - I just have to do a bit more ripping out first.

Spray basting only takes a little while and that has preventing any of the fabrics themselves from shifting.... The 505 Spray and Fix is worth it's weight in GOLD!

pat.hedrick said...

I too have an old viking. I recently bought a walking foot for it. I tried to straight line horizontal lines and ended up with an awful mess! I had to rip out the whole quilt. I was checking for wrinkles and puckers and did not notice how bad the quilt was shifting from side to side. The top had shifted off the batting and backing. I think these were my problem: the walking foot is the wrong one for that machine or I did not baste enough, and I did not alternate what side I started the quilting on. Ripping out is so heartbreaking <> for you.

Anita said...

Vicki, I just did a blog post on this subject if you're interested

http://anitaheadyfiberarts.blogspot.com/2010/11/walking-foot.html

beth lehman said...

Pat - check your pressure with the video I posted up there - it'll show you where it is. Also - great video on the spray basting wall!!! Thanks, Anita!

Vicki said...

Thanks everyone for the discussion. I do use a walking foot on both of my sewing machines. I pin baste, and honestly, I usually pin around 6" apart. And that is plenty for when I do free motion quilting; I don't have shifting issues ever when I free motion quilt. So I guess my basting could be really improved for better straight line quilting.

When I did my watercolor quilt, I did start in the center; for the current quilt I started in the center row but at the top of the quilt, if that makes sense.

I am kind of afraid of spray basting but I will definitely keep it in mind for the next time I want to do straight line quilting.

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

One more thing that I do is stitch in the ditch around the blocks/large areas before I start straight line quilting.

emkay said...

Here's a tip on pin basting: take the tiniest bite possible with your pin. Use the smallest pins you can stand and use a spoon or one of those pin basting sticks to secure them. 4-6" apart (the size of your fist) should be plenty. Stabilizing the quilt first will help too. Stabilizing is accomplished by sewing the main horizontal and vertical lines first - starting in the middle and going to the outer edges. Hope that helps!

teaginny said...

Spray baste AND pins.

L Johnson said...

I had the same question and loved reading everyones answers! Enjoy your Thanksgiving;)

Tina said...

I pin baste the whole quilt streching it our on the carpet and pining all around the edges with T pins to hold it in place while I put in the safty pins. Then I loosen the pressure on the pressure foot so it is not pressing down so hard, and make the stich a bit bigger. This has been pretty successful for me.

Candied Fabrics said...

2 words! Fusible Batting!

Abby said...

Beth - that link to Marguerita's video had me sitting on the couch with my mouth gaping open going "That's exactly what happens to me!" I love her videos! Thanks sooo much for pointing this out - I will check out my settings as soon as I get home!

Vicki said...

Oh wow, I finally found the time to watch the video linked above. I think that will totally solve my problems! I wish I had found it sooner! I loosen my presser foot pressure a bit, but didn't think it would work if I loosened it more. I didn't try it, though. Next project... I will try a sample and adjust my presser foot pressure until it is right!