Quilting Your Quilt Top
by Nikki Willhite
There are many ways to finish a quilt, but only a few of them that I consider frugal.
Hand quilting takes a lot of time. For that reason I do not consider it frugal. I am a very frugal person, and it takes time to run my household and life in a frugal manner. However, if you do have the time, hand quilting is inexpensive.
Another option you have is to send your quilt out to be quilted on a long arm machine. Again, that is expensive so I do not consider it frugal.
You can buy frames to use your sewing machine at home. They are large, cost money, and many people get very aggravated using them. If you do a lot of quilting, and have the room, you may want to invest in one someday.
The most frugal ways to finish your quilt is either to machine stitch it, which you can usually do in a day or two, or to tie it.
If you machine stitch your quilt, you can either do straight stitching with an even feed walking foot, so the fabric doesn't pucker, or you can do free motion quilting. You can quilt straight lines in the seams of your patchwork (called "quilting in the ditch") or you can quilt diagonally in the center of blocks.
The quilt in the picture on top, which was made with large squares, was simply quilted in the ditch. It was fast and easy.
Free motion quilting takes a lot of practice. However, if you master it, you can make a lot of curved stitches that look good on square blocks.
You can use whatever color of thread you like, but make sure it is a good quality thread. Some quilters like to use multi-colored thread for machine stitching the top.
Be sure and leave about 4 inches of extra batting on the sides of the back to make sure the top will fit.
The absolute easiest way to quilt your fabric is by tying it with yarn, pearl cotton, or embroidery thread. Tying a quilt is nothing more than threading a needle with your yarn, and pulling it down through the fabric and up again, cutting it and making a square knot. When you are done making your knows, you will want to trim the edges to about 1/2 an inch. You can do it on the right or the wrong side of the fabric.
Some yarn goes through fabric better than other yarn. I had one quilt that I tied that I had to use pliers to pull the yard through. Obviously, the thinner the yarn, the easier it will be.
No matter which method you use, be sure and pin the layers of your quilt securely together. I like to use wide packing tape to secure the backing of my quilt to my hobby tables. If I am doing a large quilt, I use binder clips on the sides of the table. Then I lay my batting on top, and over that my quilt top. At that point I get out my quilter safety pins and start pinning.
Occasionally I will use spray glue, with or without the pins, to help hold the layers in place. If you do not get the backing taunt, and firmly secure the layers, you will have puckers and wrinkles in your quilt that will ruin the appearance.
One last thought- if you are "burned out" when you finish your quilt top, just set it aside. Don't rush the quilting process. Set it aside, and come back when you are refreshed and ready to do it right. Never rush the quilting process. If you do, you will take too many shortcuts, and make too many mistakes to enjoy your handiwork.