How to Bury Your Quilting Threads

Want to learn an invisible way to end your quilting stitches? I have a secret weapon: the self-threading needle.

If you haven’t heard of a self-threading needle, it doesn’t really thread itself, but it’s the next best thing! A self-threading needle has an open part at the top which allows you to snap the thread into it so you don’t have to struggle with getting your thread through a tiny eye. This notion comes in so handy when you want to have an invisible end to a line of quilting.

Now, in all honesty, I have to say that I don’t always bury my threads. If I’m able to start and stop my quilting stitches off of the quilt top - in the batting and backing - I’ll do this and there’s no need to lock my stitches, but, if it is a special project or show quilt, burying your threads is a must and this is where the self-threading needle comes in.

In order to have an invisible end to your quilting stitches, you need to leave additional top and bobbin thread to work with. You’ll take these threads and know them about 1/8” above the quilt top. Next you’ll take the thread tails and snap them into the top of the self-threading needle. Once they’re in, you will slide your needle back into the quilt sandwich, trying to go back in at or near the last stitch. Don’t take your needle all the way through the quilt - you just want to go into the batting. Slide your needle along inside the quilt sandwich and pop out about 2” away from where you entered it. Give a quick little pull on the thread and you should hear it “pop” into the quilt sandwich. You can now cut off your thread ends close to the quilt top.

See, I told you it was easy! For more information, click on the image below to see a video of how I bury my quilting threads.

This leaves such a nice finish to your quilting stitches, but it does take a bit of extra time. If you haven’t tried burying your quilt stitches, why not get a self-threading needle and give it a try?

Creatively,

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Quilting Before You Appliqué

I like to do fusible web appliqué or raw edge appliqué. It’s easy and fast, but the part I don’t like about it is quilting it. I don’t like having to work my way around the appliqués on the project. If you are doing a design such as crosshatching, having to stop and restart your quilting around the appliqué pieces can be quite time-consuming.

Why not quilt the background first and then add your appliqués to it? There are times when this method would work very well – and other situations where it might not be appropriate.

If you are doing a small, simple project, you may want to consider quilting it first then adding the appliqué. One consideration of quilting first and appliquéing later is that you will have to put the quilted project into your sewing machine to finish the edges of the appliqué pieces. If you are working on a small project, this shouldn’t be a problem.

If your project has embellishments, such as hand embroidery on it, this probably isn’t the best choice. The hand embroidery really needs to be done on an unquilted surface – it just isn’t as effective if you are embroidering over a quilted area as the two techniques will compete with one another and detract from the overall effect.

 
 

This method of quilting first and appliquéing second wouldn't work if you were wanting to accent the appliqué. In this situation, you usually densely quilt around the appliqué, pushing down the background fabric which allows the appliqué to pop. Obviously, the appliqué would have to be on the quilt already so you could quilt the background around it.

If you are making a big project, this method might work if you are using a quilt-as-you-go method. You’ll be quilting a section at a time and adding the appliqués a section at a time as well, so again, you won’t have a large quilt to maneuver through the throat of your sit-down sewing machine. 

If you have a large project that is going to be all quilted first, this method probably isn’t your best choice either. Once you had quilted the sandwich, you would then have to add the appliqués and finish the edges which means working that large, quilted project through the machine throat. While this is difficult enough, you may find that the appliqués not yet stitched down may lift off as you move the quilt around.

 
 

If you want to try this method of quilting first and then adding your appliqué pieces, keep these situations in mind and choose the one that will work the best.

Click on the image below for more information on when it’s okay to quilt first and appliqué last.

Have you ever tried this technique? Leave me your thoughts in the Comments below.

Note: This is the last blogpost for 2018. I’ll see you in 2019 for more quilting advice and tips. Have a very Merry Christmas!

Creatively,

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P.S. Do you want to enhance your quilting and become the best quilter you can be?  If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!


Best Tips for Adding Monograms or Letters to a Project

In a previous YouTube video, I showed you how to use the Monogram feature on the Janome MC9400 to create words or phrases. Since then I’ve been thinking about projects to which I could apply these. I thought that it would be fun to create inspirational phrases or personal sayings and then stitch these onto a project, such as a purse or tote bag. Since I’ve recently been making easy pouches, I thought that stitching phrases on them would be a perfect way to personalize them. I discovered that there are several tips that you need to be aware of when you are using the monogram feature on projects.

1.     Create Your Phrases

Decide what phrases or words you want to add to your project and create these in advance. If you don’t know how to use the Monogram feature on the Janome MC9400, check out this video. If you have another brand of sewing machine, check your manual for instructions on how to create and save phrases. Creating your words first saves time and ensures that you have already made any adjustments to size or spacing that you need to do so it will be perfect on your project. I always like to stitch the words or phrases out on the same type of fabric or material that you will be using in your project. Once you make sure that everything is looking good, you can store these words in your Janome MC9400 internal storage or on a separate USB.

2.     Use fabric stabilizer, if necessary

When I made my pouch I was actually stitching on a quilt sandwich – top, batting and backing – so I didn’t need to use any stabilizer as this was thick enough to support my stitches. If you are sewing on one layer of fabric, you will definitely need fabric stabilizer. Don’t skip this step - it makes all the difference in the finished result.

3.     Decide where you want to add the phrases

When creating my pouch, I realized that there was no point in adding phrases to the bottom of it as this wouldn’t normally be seen. You could, of course, continue your stitching all around your project, but I didn’t think that this would be necessary in this particular case. By not stitching all the way around the pouch, I saved thread - and time!

4.     Remember the seam allowance

When you are making a project there will be seam allowances, so you need to take this into account when stitching. You want to ensure that your stitches will be on the project and not in the seam allowance.

5.     Determine the width between your lines of stitching

Decide the optimal spacing between your lines of stitching so you can ensure that your stitching will be seen on your project. Once you’ve determined this, mark your project with an erasable marker and ruler so you will have the same distance between each line of stitching. I like to use a Frixion pen for this, but any type of erasable pen will do. If your machine has a quilting guide bar, like the Janome MC9400 does, you could use this instead. For my pouch I used ¾” between each line of stitching.

6.     Use your walking foot

I found that using the walking foot and the AcuFeed Flex system on the Janome MC9400 worked very well for this application. It moved all the layers along evenly and ensured a smooth finish to the phrases. For more information on using the AcuFeed Flex system on the Janome MC9400, click here.

7.     Measure your monograms

Measure and record this for each of the phrases or words being used. You will need to know this when stitching onto your project. When I created my first pouch, I found that I could stitch some of the phrases more than once while others would only fit once across the pouch.

8.     Determine Your Starting Point

If you are making a pouch, you will want the stitching to start on either side of the zipper and then go down the sides of the pouch parallel to the zipper. This will ensure an even look to the stitching on the project. This may not be necessary, depending on the project on which you are stitching, but consider it before you start stitching.

Regardless of the project, you will need to make a mark on it as to where each line of stitching should start. You will want the lines of stitching to be centred width-wise on your project, so use an erasable marker to mark where you will start your stitching.

Click on the image below to watch a video on how I added monograms to a simple pouch project.

 It was really fun to use the Monogram feature on the Janome MC9400 to create personal phrases and then to stitch them on my own pouch. I think this would be perfect gift for your quilting friends. Stitch up a pouch, add some personalized monograms or phrases to it, and fill it with quilty goodness - which would include chocolate, of course!

Creatively,

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P.S. Do you want to enhance your quilting and become the best quilter you can be?  If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!

How to Build a Fabric Stash

If you’re a beginner quilter, you may not yet have a fabric stash, but you will! Let me give you some tips on how to start building a fabric stash.

When you’re first starting out quilting you may get overwhelmed when trying to decide what fabrics to buy. You may be worried that the fabrics you choose may not play well together. A well-balanced fabric stash will help with this.

There are several ways to build your fabric stash. Let’s go through some of them:

1.     Buy fabrics in collections. Fabric designers create collections where all of the fabrics work well together. The same exact colours are used in the various fabrics in the collection, making for “no thinking” choosing of fabrics. Designers ensure that there is interest in their collections by having a variety of design motifs and colours in them. If you want to add solid or blender fabrics to a collection, refer to the colour dots on the selvedge to get exact matches. You can’t go wrong choosing several fabrics from a collection and you won’t have to worry about the reds not matching ;)

 
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2.     Buy fat quarter bundles. Most shops will carry fat quarter bundles that have either been assembled by the fabric manufacturer or by the shop itself. These are great for projects calling for pre-cuts and, as with collections, you can be sure that all of the fabrics in the bundle will coordinate well.

 
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3.     Buy blender fabrics. What are blender fabrics? These are fabrics that “read” as solid. They are usually a tone on tone print. They add texture to your projects and allow the eye to rest. If you only had fabrics with lots of different coloured patterns in them in your projects, it would be a bit overwhelming. This is why you need blender fabrics.

4.     Buy batiks. Some of my favourite fabrics are batiks. These beautiful fabrics are great for beginners as a true batik looks the same on both sides (or so close that your eye won’t be able to tell the difference), making them perfect for fusible web appliqué projects. Batiks come in an endless array of colours and designs and always seem to coordinate well with other batiks, no matter the colours in them.

 
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5.     Buy fabrics that contrast with one another. Contrast is as important, if not more important, than colour in quilt designs. Contrast brings out the design motif and without it you won’t see the design that you’ve worked so hard to piece or appliqué together. Contrast is often overlooked when you’re choosing fabrics, but is so important in making your quilt pop.

Click on the image below for more help in starting your own fabric stash.

These are some of the ways that will help you build a well-rounded fabric stash. What are your suggestions for building a fabric stash? Leave your ideas in the Comments below.

Click on the image below to watch a video showing you more about getting those important accurate fabric cuts.

Creatively,

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P.S. Do you want to enhance your quilting and become the best quilter you can be?  If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!


Be Realistic in Your Quilting Expectations

I recently did a fabric decluttering challenge in my membership group, The Quilter’s Way, and found that the members really enjoyed it. While I suggested that they only tackle a small part of their fabric stash in the challenge, some participants actually tackled their entire fabric stash. I had suggested only taking on a bit of their fabric stash so they would be able to accomplish the task assigned to them in the allotted time for that day (no more than 1 hour) to avoid feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. I was glad that they got great results and pleased that they didn’t feel overwhelmed because this can be a huge task. If you sometimes take on a project that makes you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, it might be because you haven’t been realistic in your expectations of what you can actually accomplish in the time allotted.

 
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The most important thing to do to avoid these negative feelings when working in your quilt studio is to be sure that you have realistic expectations of what you can actually accomplish in the time allotted.  

Let’s say that you wanted to clean up your fabric scraps. If you are like me, you have scraps spilling out of drawers in your studio (notice that I’m already assuming you have them in some kind of storage unit!). If you thought that you could sort, cut, and organize all of your fabric scraps in one hour, you would certainly be discouraged by your results at the end of that time! The reason for this is that you didn’t have realistic expectations of what you could accomplish in that one hour allocated for this task. You may think that you can organize all of your fabric scraps in one hour, but is this really a realistic estimate of the time that it will take? I don’t think so.

 
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Whenever you are considering working on a project or doing some task in your studio, you need to be realistic in how long it will actually take you – and then add on a bit more time. Why not try doing part of the task and time yourself to see how long it takes? Did you get as much as you expected completed in this time? Did it take you longer or not as long to do it? This will help you to determine what a realistic expectation is of what you can accomplish in the time period you’ve set aside for this task.

It’s also helpful to chunk out tasks into smaller sections. Using the scrap fabric organization project, if you decided that you were going to sort out your fabric scraps into colours, you might be able to do this in an hour, depending on the size of your fabric scrap pile. This is certainly a more realistic estimate of how long this task might take. By deciding that the only thing that you will do in that one hour is to sort your fabric scraps into colours, not only will you be able to finish that entire task in that time, but you will also have that feeling of satisfaction that comes with that accomplishment. A double win!

Click on the image below to watch a video for more information on realistic expectations in your quilt studio.

The next time that you want to work on a project, be realistic in the time you anticipate it will take to do it. Estimate the time it will take and add on some additional time. By doing this you’ll avoid feeling discouraged or overwhelmed in trying to finish them in a certain period of time.

Creatively,

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P.S. Do you want to enhance your quilting and become the best quilter you can be?  If you answered “yes” to this question, you need to join The Quilter’s Way. The Quilter’s Way is the only quilting membership site that includes both training and an active, supportive online community. Don’t wait another day! Join now.

P.P.S. Did you know that you can sign up to receive emails full of FREE quilting goodness? Click here to receive FREE content directly in your email inbox every few weeks from Chatterbox Quilts. I know you'll be glad you did!