Monday, March 9, 2015

Straight-line Stitching

I don't have a lot to show this week. Much of what I've been working on is for publication.

This week I straight-lined stitched a quilt. The design simply called for it. Honestly, I don't prefer to straight-line stitch. No matter how much I iron and pay great attention to detail during the spray basting process, I always come up with problems, such as the stitching pushes the quilt top too far, causing a wavy seam line or I have to ease in bulk. Although straight-line stitching is fast, easy, and doesn't tire you like free motion quilting, I do prefer to stay away from it.

When I was straight-line stitching, I started to think about quilt density. I stitched the quilt in a plaid like pattern, which left a consistent area of two inches unstitched. I reviewed the quilt over and over, thinking I could add more stitching, but I like the simple line of the quit. It worked. Plus, I already had areas that I had to 'ease' in and, really, I didn't want it to get worse.

Normally, I machine quilt my quilts quite dense, meaning within an inch. I love the feel of a dense quilt. It seems to be crisp and strong. Not quite the best words to explain the feel of a snuggly quilt. I'm at a loss of words of how to explain it. I know I love it, but once it goes in to the wash, it soften right up.

In quilting, we quilt with a quarter inch seam, but doesn't that quarter inch ever make you worry about the longevity of a quilt? I realize that many battings today, especially the cotton and poly blends have a quilt density of 10 inches. Wow, that's crazy to me. To me, the measurement is based solely on the technology of the batting. Meaning, it won't fall apart or beard within 10 inches, but what about the quilt top? I don't have much comfort that my quilt top will last as long as the batting.

There are ways to eliminate bulk and prevent the long seam lines from waving.
     1. Make sure your quilt tops have been iron flat.
     2. Baste well. Double check the straightness of the long seam lines.
     3. For extra credit (for spray basting), take the quilt sandwich to the iron. Yes, iron it. Start from the center and work your way out. Don't use steam. The steam can remove the stickiness of the spray baste. I don't worry about ironing out the quilt back, just the front.
     4. Throughout the stitching process, double check the quilt to make sure it is straight. There are times when you have too reset the quilt top, because the quilt top will move as you stitch.
     5. Work in one direction. For example, I start and stop at the same side for the whole side of the quilt. I don't flip flop sides. Some prefer to flip flop sides to distribute the ease of the quilt evenly, but it hasn't worked well for me.
     6. For borders, cut them cross grain. Cross grain has the least amount of pull.
     7. Perhaps the most controversial, I stitch at 3mm. The longer stitch length is much more forgiving than a 2.5mm when you desire the appearance of a perfectly straight seam line and for easing in bulk.

I hope these are helpful tips for you as straight-line quilt your masterpieces.

Retreating in 3 days,

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