September 2001 Our most popular pattern yet.
Drawing with Thread:
the Fine Art of Machine Quilting
You ask for it, and here it is. Learn to free motion quilt
by following patterns that have been stitched by Caryl. Included
are a dozen of Caryl's most popular practice quilting patterns.
You can follow them with your hands, stitching on paper to
learn how to quilt each pattern. We also include three pages
filled with Caryl's best tips and instructions for successful
free motion machine quilting. Go to our internet store to
see which patterns are included and a detail of one of the
patterns in a real quilt. Buy
it in our Internet Store with Secure Credit Card shopping
Frequently Asked Questions
Answered by Caryl Bryer Fallert
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thread do you use for your quilting?
- I'm having trouble
with nylon thread snagging when I machine quilt, any suggestions?
- The Nylon Thread Rumor
- Any suggestions for
machine quilting with metalic or other specialty threads?
What kind of batting do you use in your quilts?
Answer: My favorite batting is Fairfield Cotton Classic,
which is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. It's nice and flat and easy
to handle for machine quilting. It has a glaze on the surface that
clings to the fabric sandwich if you steam it before you baste. This
prevents shifting, which allows me to do less basting. I have tried
several, but by all means not all of the others battings on the market,
and I keep returning to Cotton Classic. I tried Fairfield's Soft Touch
100% cotton, which I love working with, and will use in any and all
quilted clothing, but I found that I like the little bit of loft that
you get from Cotton Classic better for my quilts. I made a decision
several years ago not to use any more 100% polyester batting in my
quilts. I find cotton and cotton classic a much better choice for
a number of technical and aesthetic reasons. 1. it never beards, 2.
it can be blocked flat with a steam iron after quilting, 3. it doesn't
shift and make puckers while you are machine quilting. 4. it just
feels better. I know that there are a number of cotton and cotton/poly
battings on the market, and I'm sure some of them are very good. I
just haven't tried them because I know ahead of time that the Cotton
Classic will work, and I don't need to experiment further.
For my three dimensional High Tech Tucks quilts, and for a few of my
heavily machine embroidered fabric collages, I have used 100% wool army
or navy blankets. These are available at army/navy surplus stores.
They are very heavy and dense, and so quilts that are dimensional or
distorted by heavy stitching can be blocked absolutely flat, and the
weight of the wool with remain flat.
Do you use the new basting sprays in your quilts?
Answer: I do use the sprays for temporarily holding my
paper templates in place while I'm piecing. I like plain old 3-M Photo-mount
the best. I've been bringing the Sulky non-toxic stuff to my classes
because it will not asphyxiate us in the workshops, and it comes in
a little can that doesn't take up much room in my suitcase. It disappears
as soon at you hit it with a hot iron however, which is actually a disadvantage
for my piecing methods. I haven't used it yet for basting a quilt for
#1: I live in Chicago, and the likelihood that the weather would be
warm, not windy, and not raining on the same day that I needed to baste
a quilt is pretty remote. I don't want to spray that stuff around inside
my studio. When I spray my paper templates in the winter, I put them
inside a cardboard box in my little studio bathroom, spray them quickly
while holding my breath, and then close the door, and let the ventilating
fan run full blast for several minutes before retrieving them. This
would not be practical for a whole quilt. In the summer I take my paper
templates to my outdoor dye studio and spray them on the table with
all the window and the garage door open. This space is much too dirty
to risk spreading a quilt.
#2: Most of the quilts I've made recently have been relatively small.
I use Fairfield cotton classic batting, and if you steam the quilt sandwich
the glaze on the batting with cling to the fabric and act almost like
basting spray. If the quilt is a little larger, I put in safety pins,
but I don't really find that they get in the way. I just remove them
as soon as they get close to the area where I'm stitching.
I think spray basting is a great idea, and I will probably try it sometime,
but so far it just hasn't been practical.
Do you block your quilts to make them hang straight? If so, how do you
Answer: When I finish a quilting, I lay the quilt face
down on my (clean) rug, and steam it with a steam iron. I'm not really
ironing it, just barely touching the iron to the back of the quilt.
The pile of the rug prevents the relief pattern of the quilting from
being flattened out. Once the quilt is blocked flat, I lay it on a huge
cutting board on my black and white tile floor, and square it up. Click
for larger image
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