Tag Archives: quilting tips

Ask the Panel

11 Mar

I love panel quilts. They allow you to get on with quilting without having actually to make a complicated quilt and they give you scope for experimentation without worrying about messing up a quilt that took hours to piece or wasting time on a bit of calico that you don’t know what to do with when it is finished.

I also once went on a thread painting course that was a bit of a waste of time but when I started to use a longarm I realised that panel quilts were the ideal material to practise on.

On this one from SusiBee I did mostly echoing and swirls because it was one of the earlier ones I did. A few wiggly lines for the water and Bob’s your Uncle.

This one allowed a bit more definition with a bit of thread painting on the icebergs and mountains. It is not dense but it is the same technique.

This one gave a lot of scope for echoing and a touch of thread painting but the next one takes it to the next level. The giraffe is my favourite.

Once you get the hang of the panel the next stage is to make a panel into a quilt with some simple borders in matching fabrics..The same criteria apply in that you don’t waste hours of piecing if it all goes pear shaped but so far it hasn’t. You get a full sized quilt made quickly and very difficult to get wrong. There are no points on these, no misshapen blocks and no running out of fabric on the last block. A word to the wise – always measure the pieces, never just add a strip and cut to size afterwards. You will get wavy borders and they are a real pain to quilt.

Panels help to learn techniques and also allow you to get control of the machine instead of it controlling you which is the way it appears when it is brand new. Try it. It’s much more fun than calico and a lot less nerve-racking than a pieced quilt when you are practising.

Top Tips for the Novice Quilter – Tip The First

3 Oct

A couple of years ago on the way back from an overseas assignment the Big Cheese and myself did a tour round New Zealand’s  South Island. Not being a slouch when it comes to sniffing out a quilt shop I did just that and  bought some local fabrics to make into a memory quilt. I was making this and thinking about how I learned to do various techniques when I realised that there might be people out there who could benefit from a few things I learned along the way. Experienced stitchers may want to go off and do something quilty at this point as they might otherwise get bored.

I decided to do a simple showcase quilt as the fabrics  all feature something that says ‘New Zealand’ to the viewer and chopping them up would spoil that feature. The whole point about a showcase quilt is that it tends to frame the fabrics a bit like a picture. This in turn means that as the quilt comes together seams have to be matched. In this particular piece I gave myself extra grief by having whole rows with seams that had to be matched. I did not despair, however as I have a technique for just this problem.

Framed squares ready for joining.

Two framed squares lined up ready to be joined.

If my squares do not have to sit in one direction I often turn them 90 degrees so that the seams are not actually right next to each other. Here is an example. If you look closely you can see the seams in different directions on the borders. Then you only have to worry about the seams between the blocks.The best way to make sure your seams line up is to pin them very carefully. Look at both sides as you do this and put a pin  at rightangles when you are sure the two seams line up.

If you use an ordinary sewing machine to stitch your seams leave the pin in until you have finished sewing over that point. If you have it at rightangles your needle should go over it.

I make life more difficult for myself by overlocking all my seams as I find they are stronger and don’t come undone as some did in my very early experience of quilting. I sew a short length on my normal machine first to keep the seams aligned when I come to use the overlocker.

Seam anchored before overlocking.

Once stitched this  gives  several rows of joined squares that then have to be stitched into a whole top. The same applies again with the seams. Line up, pin and stitch.

Then the joins should look like this.

The photo is a bit blurry but you get the picture.

With this technique  a bit of patience and a deal of concentration your seams should line up beautifully.