Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Small Quilts: New Techniques

If you've followed me for any length of time, you will know that I love to made small quilts in between my larger projects. I love small quilts for lots of reasons; they challenge my piecing ability, they don't take a lot of fabric, they are finished quickly, and they are great for trying out new techniques.
Magpie Quilts
Square Table Runner
 I purchased my Brother embroidery machine, not just for the ability to embroidery some of the fabulous designs out there, but also to try to add some more advanced quilting designs to my smaller projects. This little quilt is just over 18" square. I scaled down one of my favourite 12" blocks, a friendship star and I substituted some four-patch squares for some plain squares.
Magpie Quilts
Layout #1
Originally, I was going to make a longer skinny runner with the blocks, but after playing around with them on my design wall, I changed my mind and made it square.
Magpie Quilts
Layout #2
If you don't have a design wall, use the floor or the top of a bed. Somewhere you can stand back and look at the overall effect of your arrangements. And be open to changing your design mid way through construction. Another way to look at your quilt is through a photo - take a quick snap shot with your phone and you'll see your quilts in a whole new light!
Magpie Quilts
Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
After piecing the top and layering it with a backing and batting, it was time to quilt. I normally do free motion quilting on my Janome 8900 machine and don't leave a lot of extra batting or backing around the edges as it's not really needed. BUT if you are going to use your embroidery machine, you WILL need extra fabric to properly hoop your quilt. I missed this step and had to add some extra fabric all around, but it would have been much easier to have the extra fabric from the beginning.
Magpie Quilts
Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
I picked a design I really liked from Embroidery Online #80185 (Geometric Quilting Motifs) and expanded it to fit my hoop. My squares were 6" finished and the quilting design on my embroidery machine was around 5.5" to fit my hoop size. Take care when hooping your quilt that it stays square within your hoop, don't stretch it out of shape. There's no need for stabilizer when quilting on an embroidery machine. You may want to machine baste with a long stitch to hold all the layers together (I used pins and removed them in the area I was working) plus a basting stitch around the edges of the quilt. I did not do this and had some issues with the quilt top and batting getting caught on the embroidery foot and flipping over, getting stitched down and having to do some un-sewing to fix it.
Magpie Quilts
Quilting on the Embroidery Machine
Start with a new needle, preferrably an 80 or 90 embroidery needle. Put in a full bobbin and carefully thread your upper thread. My machine allows me to centre the design easily to the centre of the block and when it's all lined up and centred, I started stitching. I repeated the same design around the quilt, centred on each block and each four-patch in the sashing.
Magpie Quilts
Friendship Star Quilt with Machine Embroidery Quilting
The design I picked left more unquilted space than I would have liked - next time I'll find a design that is more square than round. But overall, the process was straightforward and I liked the finished project.
Magpie Quilts
Friendship Star Quilt with Machine Embroidery Quilting
All in all, this was a successful try at a new technique and the quilted table runner looks great!

--Ann

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