Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quilting Questions & Anna Answers

I am following up on The Stitch that I posted last week to answer some of your questions taken directly out of the comments section. While I was trying as hard as I could to just offer my input on the actual stitch, I realize that there are always other questions that this leads too, and I'm hoping to help out with some of those here! I want to stress- this is only my way of making hand quilting stitches. This is why I am calling it Anna Answers. I am not an expert. I am self-taught. I am sucker for embroidery. I am busy. I like to do things efficiently. Even if that means that occasionally I don't do them traditionally. I like to do things that make me happy. I do not like to do things that make me annoyed. I love to hear how other people do the same things. Always. I do not assume that the way I do things negates the validity of doing it some other way. I also like being told I am wrong. I thrive on it, in fact. I want to be better at everything that I do. But some things I will always do the way I do them because of the happiness factor. All these little facts pile into why I do what I do and how I do it. And- sometimes I send out my quilts for machine quilting...just depends. Lots to say about a quilting stitch, I know. On with it then.

such.a.square

Martha asked... (and so did Abby) this is really, really, helpful. where do you get a quilting frame like that?

Anna Answers: I got my square frame at a local quilt shop in Franklin called Stitcher's Garden. I don't still have the packaging but I am pretty sure that I have whats called a Q-snap frame. Its a very simple design with curved removable clamps on each of the four sides. It pops apart at the corners too, which makes it easy to travel around with. They seem to come in several sizes, and even a stand up floor model (which I've never tried). Mine is 17 x 17".

Kandra
asked... (and so did Nima) What a great tute! Now, I wonder - what size/type needle do you use and any tips on picking out a good thimble?

Anna Answers: Hand quilting needles are very, very tiny and not suitable for use with the embroidery threads that I've shown in my post. I use embroidery needles, and sometimes crewel needles. I try to use the smallest needle size possible that still allows me to thread the eye without breaking the house cussing rules. To be very honest with you, I have a whole array of needles in my pin cushion and I will typically just grab what it is there, and seems to work the best. I would encourage you to buy a multi-pack of sizes and experiment. To be clear, the smallest holes you can poke into your quilt, the better.

With regards to thimbles, I jump between a few different types, but mostly use a traditional thimble for my "push through" finger. I do also have a rubber type thimble that I like (see that here). But sometimes, just like with garden gloves, I get annoyed and feel more efficient by not using the thimble and feeling the needle in my fingers, even though this gets my fingers sore after a while. In the tutorial where I describe how you poke the needle from the top through to the back until you feel the tip of the needle from the underside before angling the needle back up again through the top to make a stitch, feeling that needle tip from the underside against your fingers can be a little uncomfortable without the help of a little sticky finger tip thimble that I use sometimes (see that here). But again, once I got the hang of just barely poking the needle through to the back, and therefore not really poking myself so much, it becomes less necessary for me to use this type of tip thimble and more efficient to just feel the needle.


garden.stitches

L Johnson asked...Thank you so much for sharing these pictures and tutorial. I have been contemplating using floss on a black and white wall hanging quilt that i am just about finished with. Would it be wrong to use black on the white with black fabric pieces and white on the black fabric pieces? All the quilting I have seen is in one solid color thread.

Anna Answers: Well, without looking specifically at your quilt its hard to make recommendations. I have often employed the use of several colors of floss in one quilt, very often changing the colors based on what color fabric I am stitching into. I would guess that a black and white quilt might already have plenty of contrast, so as long as you think the opposite color stitching style would enhance the design and not compete with it, I say go for it. Its also good to take into consideration what your backing color(s) is and how the stitches will look on the back side. Personally when its one solid color on the backing, I love how different color stitches look. The example shown above shows one of my quilts where I combined appliqueing a large floral element with the quilting stitch step. So instead of needle turn applique, I appliqued and hand quilted in the same step. Other stitches shown on this quilt top are not hand quilting (as in going through all layers) but just embroidery stitches created in the quilt top making.


front.back

ana asked ...That's a really useful post - thanks! Do you have any shots of what the stitches look like from the back? It would be useful to have an idea of how they look for comparison to the front.

Anna Answers: Have a look above. In general, my stitches look the same from the back side as they do from the front side, if not just a tiny bit smaller. They are smaller due to the needle not always entering the fabric at a perfect perpendicular to the quilt angle. This is why its important to get your needle angle as straight up and down as you can so that the stitches on the back are the same size as the stitches on the front. Practice. Practice. Practice. Even just one stitch at a time. Practice.

quilt.stitch.mechanics

Robyn asked...Do you stitch the front and then stitch the back in between the stitches ... I'm confused

Jennifer asked...Great pictures and tutorial! One question though, how do I follow the line on the back of the quilt? I can use the pieces on the front to keep my stitches straight, but what about when I turn it over??

Anna Answers: I am answering the two questions above together because I think that they are really asking the same thing, and that is about the actual explicit mechanics of the stitch. While trying not to sound too obvious and also trying to answer what I think the questions are, the stitching style that I have shown is one that passes through all three quilt layers (quilt top, batting, backing) at once from the top of the quilt down through to the back and back up again. The above is a quick rendering that I did, that I hope illustrates this a little better. Also you should be able to perform the stitches with the quilt top facing you the whole time and not flipping over to stitch from the backing side.

If there is patchwork on the back of the quilt as well, obviously you might take that into consideration when choosing how to make your stitching design. You don't have to follow the patchwork lines from the quilt top, but could do a general all over design instead. You can choose something as simple as straight rows of stitching or there are handquilting guides that help you temporarily stencil a stitch pattern onto your quilt top. I just happen to like following the patchwork on the quilt top in some way.

Kris asked...Thanks for the beautiful and well done tute! You didn't mention basting....do you just start in the middle and not bother basting? I'd also like to know what size needle you choose with what size perle cottons. Thanks again!!

Anna Answers: For full size quilts, about twin size and up, I first safety pin the layers together (usually with the layers on the floor), then I hand baste with super large stitches both horizontally and vertically in several rows about 8 inches apart (sometimes still on the floor for this step which is kind of back-breaking so often I move to a large table or studio counter) then I quilt beginning in the center and before I do the binding.

Now, for smaller, as in baby-size quilts, I very often go straight from safety pinning to hand quilting, and skip the basting step. I just move the pins as I go to keep them out of the way of the frame. I have even been known to go ahead and bind a small quilt before I do the hand quilting, which was the case for both of the recent zigzag baby quilts. And sometimes I go about quilting without the frame too (GASP!). In other words, experimenting is a good thing to find your comfort zone. And while its important to get some things right to end up with something that you love, none of the perfection techniques should be so adhered to that you aren't enjoying it, or are too afraid to begin.

(To answer needle question see second question above.)
babyfolkdancequilt

And now- how about a baby Folk Dance quilt pattern!? Click on the link to download a 3 page pdf. Print page 2 on the back side of page 1, and then page 3 is your templates. Oh and all the pages should be landscape oriented for printing. We really want to make quilt kits for these, but the exact fabrics (namely the dobby dots) are becoming quite scarce here in the studio. In fact, the price of these goods went up so much to reproduce them, that I've decided to have the Square Dance and Pastry Line prints redone on the smooth voile substrate. Hopefully they'll be available end of May.

This was fun. Thanks for the dialogue, and happy stitching!!! xoxo, Anna Maria

81 comments:

  1. How nice of you to answer questions here on your blog for all of us. I love the quilting on the baby folk dance quilt. And I like your explaination of how you do what you like and feel comfortable doing. It is very liberating to "hear you say that.I am going to attempt to make a baby quilt and quilt it with the cotton thread. I love the way it looks! Who cares if the "experts" say I'm doing it wrong.

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  2. thank you thank you!! i think i figured out where i was confused - obviously i am not very experienced with this. i can keep the quilt top facing up, but decide if my first stitch goes down from the top or up from the bottom, while still looking at the top to follow the lines of the pieces - duh!! for some reason, i thought i had to flip the quilt over to start the stitch from the bottom (i am convinced i am losing half my brain cells to my breast milk!). i love your hand-drawn diagram - it really does help!!

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  3. Thanks for your answers on the stitches - I've only ever done machine quilting before, in fact (and this is probably a bit stoopid!), it never occured to me to quilt by hand. I shall definitely give it a go on the next cot quilt I make.

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  4. Thanks so much for this super detailed post! I just did a quilt by hand with embroidery floss and I love the look of it...I actually enjoy handsewing too :)
    I was wondering if I am the only person who doesn't use a hoop for quilting! Good to know you don't either sometimes :)
    I don't know if you've ever done a post on machine quilting but I'd definitely appreciate one as well. I just cannot figure it out...it just won't work for me, not one simple straight line (I don't have a walking foot though, so that is part of the problem I think).
    Ah well, handquilting is nicer anyway :)

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  5. Wonderfully illustrated.
    I still get stuck on hiding my knots, especially with the embroidery thread. It is so tough to get just the right tug.

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  6. I love handquilting but struggle a bit with the round hoops because the space you can work in is quite small and I am constantly having to reposition it. I love the look of the sqaure frame, thanks for the tip!

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  7. I love my leather with metal insert thimble for my right hand, and I have to say ... the callous that grows on my left pointer finger from hand quilting is a battle scar I love to show off. Strange but true! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. This is not about the quilting, but the blue and yellow fabrics together made me happy!

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  9. Could you please tell me when your next book is coming out? I cannot wait to get it and sew something for my soon to be baby!

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  10. Beautiful work! I love reading your blog!
    Jen
    http://ahappycircus.blogspot.com/

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  11. As I am new to quilting I am finding all your suggestions and tips very helpful. I am going to make the baby folk dance quilt! It will be a good size for me to start with. We are beginning to have more of your fabrics for sale here in England.
    Thanks.

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  12. i SO agree with you on the doing things the way that makes you happy and not the way that makes you annoyed. my mom is a sewing teacher and does everything perfectly and i have learned from her but as a visual artist i put my own spin on things and tweak the way i make them:)

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  13. Turner Family~ We should be getting our first copies of the book here any day- but the official shelf date is May 3. And congrats! xo,Anna

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  14. Anna,
    Thanks for the Baby ZigZag Quilt pattern. We have a brand new grandson in the family and this is perfect.
    patsijean in Goodlettsville

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  15. thanks for such helpful posts, anna maria. i completely adore you for quilting your own way because it makes you happy. that is the best reason ever.

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  16. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [08 Apr 02:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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  17. You my dear are a sweetheart! It must have taken you a long time to prepare such wonderful answers for all the folks who asked questions! Thanks for making me smile :)

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  18. Anonymous10:58 AM

    What size is "cot quilt"?

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  19. Anonymous12:57 PM

    You are very kind Anna. I picked up quite a few tips from your "The Stitch" post and ready to tackle handquilting myself. Thank you - you are ever so patient too! ;-)
    Tricia

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  20. I've really enjoyed reading both entries on hand quilting. I've always been a bit worried about the whole perfection thing with hand quilting. Then I realized that I'm not a perfection type of person so why do I worry? I like how you tell everyone that this is how you do it and not necessarily the only or "right" way to do things. I agree that we need to find what works for us and gives us the end result that we are looking for.

    Thanks for giving of yourself to all of us.

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  21. Hi,
    Both posts were really good and handy to me, I just started a big quilt and since I'm not an expert, is always good to read all this tips!
    Thanks and I truly enjoy your blog and work!
    *Mariana*

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  22. What a nice post! Thanks for answering those great questions! I learned a lot!

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  23. Wow, that's a big job answering all the curious quilter questions. Obviously, this is an area of growth for everyone! One thing I find helpful is a Clover thimble with a lip on the end. It ensures that the quilter gets the right angle to push the needle through without straining any knuckles. (and is open ended so you can also have finger nails) I quilt 2-3 hours most days and once I found this thimble I had neater stitches front and back and no repetitive strain on my hands which is important. Good job on the drawing...perfect! As Spiderman always says...With great power comes great responsibility! Kathy (MO)

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  24. KimCraft1:29 AM

    Great work! Love your posts

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  25. Thank you! I'm so excited for the baby folk dance quilt pattern! I'm having my first baby and I can't wait to make this!

    thanks again!

    Alison

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  65. Anonymous8:44 PM

    My mother (now deceased) was a fabulous quilter with very tiny uniform stitches. I have several of her quilts that I don't know how to clean. Unfortunately, she used a #2 pencil to mark her quilts and you can really see it even though there is stitching over some of it. Do you have any idea how to remove all the penciling? I read somewhere that there is a special eraser for cloth but since she stitched over it, an eraser won't work. Thank you for any info you can give me.

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  66. Anonymous11:06 AM

    Question: I am making a 116" x 116" double wedding ring quilt with a scalloped border. I want to make a 2" biased binding. How much fabric do I need?

    Barbara

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  67. Anonymous8:43 AM

    i need a six inch piece of a rotary cutting mat and I don't want to cut up my big one. what could I use in place of the mat that won't dull mu rotary cutter?

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  68. Anonymous12:59 PM

    how many 10" layer Cake squares do I need to make a queen size quilt. The one shows is a 78x78 with 71 blocks for quilt and border.

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  69. At this time it sounds like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform out there right now. (From what I've read) Is that what you're using in your blog?
    Advertising agencies in Karachi | Advertising agencies in Pakistan

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  70. I am an "old" quilter - but I want to try the larger stitches on a quilt. I don't know what they are called AND I don't know whether to use pearl cotton or embroidery thread? I think the embroidery thread would break easier? I'd love to know where to find answers to these questions.

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