How to add quilting to a quilt

This post is one in a series this month about making up a quilt from the quilt blocks posted one a month all through last year. Last week I wrote about making a backing and layering up the quilt. The next step is to quilt it. This is a huge subject – whole books have been written about this! However, I’d like you to be able to quilt this particular quilt, so here goes.

I’m going to suggest that you begin by quilting ‘in the ditch’, which means in the crease between two pieces you sewed together to make the top. It is good practice to start quilting at the centre of the quilt and work outwards towards the sides. After each line of stitch, cut the threads leaving a tails of about 3″. These will need to be stitched in later.

So begin by stitching top to bottom down the right-hand side of the vertical sashing that’s just on the left of the central blocks.

Next stitch top to bottom down the left-hand side of the vertical sashing that’s just to the right of the central blocks.

Now stitch down the far side of the left-hand vertical sashing strip and down the far side of the right-hand one.

After that, stitch all round the inside of the border.

I then chose to emphasise the sashing strips by stitching down them again, this time stitching a quarter of an inch (6mm) in from the first row of stitching.

Quilting stitches on a quilt

Now add stitching running across the width of the quilt, for example across the top and bottom of the twelve different blocks (see above).

Now you can start to quilt around the edges of the patterns made within the blocks. Only stitch once along each line – try and plan carefully where you will stitch so you don’t have to stop and start too many times.

A quilt block, showing how it has been quilted

Finally, decide how you want to treat the borders. In this quilt, I decided to quilt a series of straight lines parallel to each other, which I marked out first with a chalk marker.

This is how to stitch in the loose ends of thread:

1 You need an easy-thread needle, like the one shown, where you only have to pull in the threads from the end of the needle (rather than thread them through the eye.

An easy-thread needle

2 Take the loose ‘tails’ to the back of the quilt by tugging gently on the thread at the back, which will make the top thread from the front appear as a loop. Insert a pin into the loop and pull it through. Pull both threads into an easy-thread needle.

Using an easy thread needle

3 Then thread them into the quilt, through the wadding (but not out of the front!) coming up an inch or so away.

Burying a thread when quilting

4 Pull the threads through and then snip the ends off, close to the surface of the quilt.

Cutting threads

I have a special quilting foot on my sewing machine now, which helps me quilt without making tucks on the back, but you can quilt successfully with an ordinary foot. Take it nice and slowly. Wearing gloves which have non-slip palms (specialist quilting gloves – or even cycling gloves) on your hands will help you. Holding your hands on either side of the presser foot and applying a bit of tension on the fabrics will help to keep things smooth.

Next week: how to trim and bind your quilt.

A quilt entitled 'Make a Quilt in 2019' on the back of a sofa

Let me know what you think!

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