Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ditching the Quilt

Well, I missed blogging last week by visiting my granddaughter in Pullman, WA, and had a wonderful time with her and her mom.  When I got home I got smacked with numerous things that had to be done:  get another load washed before winter forces me to the laundromat, clean house (urghhhhh), complete repairing my mother's beautifully painted but damaged trays, sort out my sewing shed before the snow flies, etc...and thus no time to write.  Yes, my sewing shed is where I keep my stash and it is outdoors.  Not terribly convenient in cold weather, but protected and out of my way when I don't need it.

In spite of all that, I maintained my sewing routine of 2-3 hours a day driving the Baby Lock and got started on the quilting of my quilt.  I used two layers of batting:  Quilter's Dream cotton "Request" (low loft) and Quilter's Dream Wool.  The wool is wonderful to quilt as it gives beautiful puff to the quilting, but where you want to smash it down as filler it squashes tight to accentuate the main designs.

I ran into an interesting problem that was new to me.  I first stitched-in-the-ditch (SID-ed) the lengthwise and crosswise seams, then the diagonals, each from the center out.  When I looked at the back I discovered that the backing fabric was puckered along only one direction of stitching.

No photo.  You know what a puckered stitch line looks like!

TIP:  Sewing the initial lines from from the center to the outside keeps the quilt from getting pulled unevenly.  This applies to both the grain lines and the bias lines.  The goal is to keep the quilt as square (or rectangular or circular) as possible.  Blocking the finished quilt can straighten it to a point, but being careful at this early juncture makes it easier.

 I suspect that the puckered line may have been on the lengthwise grain as it has the least give.  Solution:  I ripped out that line, and since it went through the middle of a long point, I stitched in the outer seams of the point (dark turquoise in the photo below) to anchor that part of the quilt.  This worked because there was more give on the slightly bias angle.  As I quilted the filler of that point (to make sure my design idea was going to work) I discovered that I liked that the seam in the middle of the point was not stitched down, so I ripped out all the lengthwise and crosswise SID and stitched in the ditches of the outer seams of those four points.  Mission accomplished.  Pucker gone, ready to roll!

Center line (straight grain) of point not SID-ed.  Outer edges of darker fabric stitched down.
Filler on one side of dark fabric not done yet. Note that the corner remains at 90º angle.

TIP:  Sewing garments taught me the importance of fabric grain.  Remember that it is just as important in quilts.  I don't worry about it in paper piecing because the paper holds everything firmly as you work.  However, once the quilt is layered you might have to work around the strength of the grain line and the fluff of the batting while still maintaining its integrity.  By all means keep the straight grain of the top and the backing aligned and un-puckered.  Your quilt will not hang straight if the grain lines are not straight lengthwise and crosswise.  Puckers may ultimately become unsightly tucks as your quilting proceeds.

A spiral quilt has many paper pieced seams to create the gradations that make it so unique.  I have found by trial, error and lots of reverse sewing that it is best to SID along every single seam.  This keeps the straight lines of the spiral straight.  I have tried in the past to stitch a design across un-ditched seams and found that the seams pull, and ultimately my design gets interrupted by those seams popping up so the whole thing is a scruffy mess.  Somehow, if those seams are nailed down first, a subtle design across them works nicely.  Don't ask me why!

Right side not SID-ed.  Left side stitched down.  In this photo the visible
difference is subtle, but significant.

Once the SID is done I can work fancy quilting designs, and that gives the added bonus of getting rid of those pesky safety pins.  I can also work anywhere on the quilt, as opposed to working only from the center out, because the whole quilt is stabilized.

Tester SID-ed then quilted with feathers.
I find the back different and intriguing.

By the time I post this I will be finished with the SID.  I am glad as I find it tedious and tiresome.  However, it is a great way to learn to free-motion-quilt lines, either straight or curved.  It also makes the rest of the quilting much more fun.

Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you straight, un-puckered seams.


  1. What thread do you use for ditching. You can answer In a future blog. Thanks

  2. Have fun with the quilting. Looks like you got all the hard stuff worked out.

  3. Hello Mardi,

    This is a many faceted project! Puckers are such a pain, but once the quilting is going well it's such fun to see the quilt taking shape. Love the quilting!

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv