Monday, February 20, 2017


Micro-stitching is something I like to do.  I like to cover the quilt with lots of stitches.  I like the way it squashes the background and lets the design puff out.  I sew slowly as that is the only way I can maintain control of my free motion quilting.  My followers are aware that I work on a domestic machine, and I have learned to put up with occasional wrestling matches between me, the quilt and the sewing machine.  I have made it clear that I am in control...except when I am not.

I got busy quilting my pretty design and planned to stitch a micro-grid in the center.  When I was ready to do that the approximately 1 1/4 in. center was a huge puff.  Was I going to be able to do it?  YES!  I planned to win this one and I will tell you how I did it.

Look at that puff in the center!  Urghhhhh.
I knew that I could not do it without marking.  Sewing straight lines is hard under any circumstances, but these were really short and close together with a real risk of running into the surrounding feathers.  Marking is my crutch so I did that first thing.  I lined up a 3 in. square ruler with the diagonal line on top of the straight fabric grain and the center of the design, then drew a line along the straight side of the ruler with a purple marking pen.  From there I could measure and mark additional lines 1/8 in apart.  Rotate the ruler 90º, line up the previous marks with the perpendicular ruler lines and draw the rest of the grid.  It has to be done carefully and with a light touch because the puff is not a firm base for drawing.

Diagonal line of the ruler on the straight of fabric and design
Grid drawn with removable pen marks looks nice to the eye so I am ready to stitch.  Slowly.  Stitch by stitch.  Grids require some backtracking so be prepared.  Put in an extra stitch at an intersection and turn right or left as required.  Stay out of the feathers!  Keep the machine going at at constant speed.  Move your hands carefully.  Hold the quilt loosely.  The thread is 100 wt Kimono silk from Superior.  When the quilt is finished and soaked, that thread will sink into the batting and the eye will see the texture more than the stitching.

Water spritz removes the marking. 
The stitching is not perfect.  I wish it was, but you have allow yourself some slack.  No one is going to notice the irregularities.  This is not a very important element in the overall design.  Using a ruler foot and straight edge, thick ruler might have made it more perfect, but that is a $100 outlay up front and a fair amount of practice.  Not ready to do that right now.  Sometimes when I start I will stitch to the right of a line and the next stitch to left of the line, which is not good.  Straight lines should not zig-zag!  When I make that big of a mess I will rip it out and start again.  This grid I did with no thread breaks - no additional stops or starts.

Sew a happy seam this week.  I wish you straight stitching on your straight lines.


  1. Looks pretty close to perfect to me!!!! Beautiful work!

  2. That is beautiful work!!

  3. I love this. As soon as the Toronto quilt expo is behind me I will be able to take more time and create work like this. For now I am more in commercial patterns creating mode.

  4. Wow. Very intriguing. Thanks for explaining how you do it, maybe someday I'll try this.

  5. Looks great! The eye does see the overall effect, not the small irregularities - it's a lovely design!

  6. I was wondering if it would be possible to achieve some of the ruler work without the ruler set up. You've convinced the answer is yes. Lovely work.

  7. Thank you for telling me it's okay to make lines to follow.