Quilting makes the quilt

22 06 2014

Because I was making two baby quilts basically the same, I decided to take some photos to show how quilting makes the quilt and brings it to life.

A bit of background for quilting newbies…

While the term ‘quilting’ covers the entire process of making a quilt, it also refers specifically to the stitching used to secure the three layers together (the quilt top, the batting, and the backing fabric). This stitching can be very simple (straight lines in the seam lines — also known as ‘stitching in the ditch’ or SID), or can be very elaborate, with lots of stitching motifs or patterns enhancing the design of the quilt top and/or its fabric.

Quilting can be done ‘free motion’ (no markings, no rulers, no pattern to follow except what’s in your head or how you guide the fabric under the needle — think of doodling with the needle being a static pen and the fabric sandwich being the paper that you move under the pen… try it with a real pen and paper to see how hard it is!), or can be done using markings, rulers, and other tools. I reckon life’s to short to mark quilts 😉 so I prefer free motion quilting (FMQ), which means not all my lines are perfectly straight, not all my circles are perfect circles etc. I’m looking for an overall ‘feel’, not perfection, so I’m OK with slightly wonky lines — in fact, in some quilts I’ve deliberately stitched wonky lines for effect (see this one: https://rhondabracey.com/2014/04/21/community-quilt-137/).

Anyhow, back to the baby quilts…

In this first photo, I haven’t done any stitching to hold the layers together — I’ve only joined (basted) the layers together with pins, ready for stitching. If I only did SID, then those wrinkles and puffiness would remain with the quilt forever. You could iron them out to a degree, but essentially, what you see is what you’ll get once the quilt is finished. It doesn’t have a lot of ‘life’, in my opinion.


In the next photo (below), I’ve quilted the the three layers together quite densely, using a free motion spiral motif, with joining long U shapes (I was trying to emulate the hot sun on the African plains). The wrinkles and puffiness have been stitched out. While this quilting is quite dense (there’s not much more than a quarter inch gap between each stitching line), this quilt should hold up well to many years of laundering as the chance of the layers separating is pretty slim. You can still see puffiness in the cream band at the top — I deliberately didn’t quilt this area.


This final photo (below) shows both quilts on the line — the one on the left has no quilting, while the one on the right is quilted and is now ready for trimming and binding.


In my opinion, quilting makes the quilt, and brings it to life.

Baby elephants

22 06 2014

I have twin nieces in the US, both of whom are pregnant. No, they didn’t plan it that way! One is due in October; the other in December.

The one who is due in October has a thing for elephants for her nursery, so I decided to make a gender-neutral baby quilt for her in yellow, featuring elephants. And as I had enough fabric, I thought I’d make two at the same time, just in case the other twin got pregnant… And sure enough, she did! So now I’ll be taking two baby elephant quilts with me to the US in October.

I really enjoyed making these quilts — the pattern was super easy to put together (‘Little black quilt’ pattern available free from: http://www.meandmysisterdesigns.com/patterns/?id=9). Just 6.5 inch strips, with a reverse strip part way up, separated by two bands of sashing. I didn’t have quite enough of all the fabrics to use exactly the same in each quilt, so the fabric choices are slightly different in each. But that’s OK.

I also quilted them differently. For the first one, I made up a spiral motif with long U shapes, and outlined more elephants in the reversed panel; for the second I did all-over spirals, with bubbles/pebbles inside the reverse strip.

The charcoal grey elephants were fused on and then I blanket stitched around them in black. I stitched their ear shapes and toenails in yellow thread, and their eyes and tails in black thread.

Finally, I added a binding made up of multiple pieces of leftover yellow fabrics.

Oh, and the backing fabric was an alphabet print from the dressmaking poplins in Spotlight — it even has E for Elephant!

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

Auditioning fabrics

Interestingly, almost every yellow fabric I had had dots, spots, or circles of some sort!


Quilt 1









Quilt 2









The back on both


Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 0640 [a soft buttery yellow]); Robison-Anton (rayon, 40 wt, black)
  • Bobbin: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (white)

Community Quilt 149

22 06 2014

Every appliqued centre of this quilt was a ‘B’ word. My favourite was the banksia; I wasn’t quite sure about the very hairy baby in the bathtub!

How to quilt it? I started by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks, then around the appliqued pieces, then echo stitched about a quarter inch around each appliqued object/set.

I decided to do largish motifs in each block — I still wanted this quilt to have some puffiness. Finally, I switched to a blue thread and stitched deliberately wobbly lines along the sashing, with spirals in the corners and joins.

For this one I used quite fine thread — an 80 wt and a 100 wt in the top (with a 70 needle), and a 60 wt in the bobbin.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)












Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco Bob (80 wt, colour DB112); Wonderfil Invisifil (100 wt, colour IF311)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (white)