On my sewing machine today: a Houses quilt I’m machine quilting to send to my aunt as a thank-you for hosting me and a friend last summer.
This quilt will be used in Vermont, which has a chilly climate, so I backed it with white polyester fleece. I laid the fleece out on my cutting table with the right side down, then put down the quilt top, right side up, and spray basted the whole thing with 505 Spray and Fix temporary glue. I will wash out the glue when I finish quilting and binding. (Learn more about spray basting and backing a quilt with polyester fleece.)
Then it was on to the machine quilting. For me, the first step in machine quilting is to stitch the quilt “in the ditch,” which means sewing the quilt layers together in the little depressions that run along the seam lines where the quilt top was pieced together. The red arrow in the photo shows one seam line I stitched in a Coins quilt I made last fall.
I start with the major seam lines between blocks. I work my way from the center seams out to one edge, then turn the quilt and work from the center to the other edge. Once the whole quilt is stitched in the ditch, I can add any fancy stitching I decide to do without worrying about getting puckers on the back of the quilt.
To make the job a little easier, I use a special sewing machine foot called a “stitch in the ditch” foot. As you can see, the foot has a little projecting fin that rides right in the depression along the seam line and helps me guide my stitches. Instead of trying to watch where the needle is going, I just watch that little front fin. You can buy this kind of foot for most sewing machines for about $15 U.S.
If you are really good at stitching in the ditch, you can make your quilting lines just about invisible. (I’m not usually that good, but I try to use a thread color that fades into the background and then call it good enough, however my stitching turns out.)
For this quilt, I used a white, 60-weight polyester thread from Superior Threads and Superior’s super-lightweight Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. I like Bottom Line because I can wind so much more of it on my bobbin than I can if I use a heavier bobbin thread. The fewer bobbins I have to change, the better!