Monday, July 27, 2015

4. Stash and Dash - Quilt the Fabric and Soft and Stable

free sewing tutorial

Quilt the Fabric and Soft and Stable

We will need:

For this step we will use the 10" x 20" pieces of main fabric, lining fabric, and ByAnnie's Soft and Stable. We will also need thread for quilting.

We will also use these tools:
  • Sewing machine with walking foot and guide
  • Iron and ironing board
  • 90/14 topstitch needle (our preference, but not absolutely necessary)
  • Pins, strong yellow-top quilting
  • Basting spray (optional)
  • Clover Chaco Liner Pen Style Marker
  • Quilting ruler for marking lines - 8½" x 24" and a 4" x 4" are good sizes
  • Quilting glove such as Machingers
  • Thread clipper or scissors


To join the main fabric, Soft and Stable, and lining fabric by quilting through all three layers.

Let's get started. . .

1. Make a quilt sandwich using the 10" x 20" pieces of lining fabric (right side down), ByAnnie's Soft and Stable, and main fabric (right side up).

I find this easiest to do in two steps.

First I position the lining fabric on top of the Soft and Stable, smoothing it to get rid of wrinkles. 

If you'd like, you can use basting spray to hold the layers together. I used to have asthma and sometimes find that sprays irritate my lungs, so I usually avoid that type of product.

Although Soft and Stable is not a fusible product, I like to steam the two pieces together to smooth them and help them "stick" together.

quilt fabric

Then I flip the piece over and smooth the main fabric on the other side of the Soft and Stable, aligning it along the edges. 

machingers gloves

Press/steam it from the main fabric side to encourage the layers to stick together.

quilt fabric

Pin to hold layers together. 

Because the Soft and Stable has a softly-napped fabric lining on each side of the foam, it "hugs" the fabric nicely so you don't need a lot of pins. I place pins every 6" to 8", positioning them to that they face the outside edges.

Double-check both sides before proceeding to make sure that the fabric is smooth on each side, without wrinkles. Adjust pins as needed to remove wrinkles.

quilt fabric

2. Quilt as desired using a medium-length machine stitch. 

There are many options for quilting: you may stitch straight lines using a walking foot or you may stitch wavy, free-form lines using a darning foot. Straight stitching using a walking foot is easiest for beginners, so we chose that method.

Straight stitching doesn't have to be boring and there are several options for that, too. You can stitch lines vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. You may stitch in just one direction or in both directions to make a grid. You can mark lines or follow lines on the fabric. Each style yields different results. We'll show you two options: straight vertical lines and diagonal lines in a grid following the lines on the fabric.

Option 1: Stitching Straight Vertical Lines Using the Walking Foot and Guide

For this option, we'll stitch straight lines from top to bottom across the piece. This is the easiest method as we only have to quilt in one direction and, since we're following the grain of the fabric, it doesn't shift a lot.

You can mark lines for quilting across the entire piece, or mark one line to get you started straight and then use the guide on your walking foot, or use painter's masking tape to mark lines. Or, you can just "wing" it and stitch wavy, irregularly spaced lines. The choice is yours! Relax and have fun. 

TIP: This little project is small enough that you'll want to make more than one. We suggest that you try a different quilting technique on each one to determine which style you like best. Keep in mind that the fabric often "tells you" which style will look best.

For our project, we're going to mark one vertical line from top to bottom in the center of the piece. After we have stitched along the marked line, we'll use the guide on our walking foot to stitch the rest of the lines. We can adjust the guide to the width that we want. For this small project, we decided to stitch lines 3/4" apart. (We normally stitch lines between 1/2" and 1" apart, depending on the project . . . and how much quilting we want to do!)

We'll mark the center line using a Clover Chaco Liner Pen Style Marker. We chose the white chalk marker for this fabric as it shows up easily.

quilt fabric

Then we'll use the guide on our walking foot* to stitch the subsequent lines. That way we only have to mark one line -- —easy peasy!

*Note: Not all walking feet come with guide attachments. If your walking foot does not have a guide, here's a tip for a method that's quicker than marking all the lines: Position a piece of painter's masking tape next to the first stitched line and then stitch along the edge of the tape. Move the piece of tape to the next line and continue stitching until you've stitched the entire piece. How easy is that?

Installing the guide on the walking foot is easy. The walking foot for my Bernina 1080 includes a removable guide which slides through holes in the top of the foot. There is also a C-shaped adjuster with a screw that is used to hold the guide in place. 

quilt fabric

Position the screw unit on the back of the walking foot, loosening the screw enough to allow the guide to slide through the holes in the side of the foot. Slide the guide into the holes and tighten the screw.

how to quilt fabric

Attach the walking foot to the machine following the instructions in your machine's manual. 

how to quilt fabric

Measure the position for the guide using a ruler. To make this easy, I position a small 4" ruler underneath my foot, aligning the needle with the 1" line on the ruler. Then I move the guide to the line 1¾" line and tighten the screw to hold the guide in place.

how to quilt fabric

We are ready to quilt!

Positioning our hands flat on the fabric to smooth it as we go, we'll stitch from top to bottom along the marked line. Note that the marked line basically goes away as we stitch. Just the air from the needle moving in and out of the fabric gets rid of the markings. Isn't that easy?

how to quilt fabric

Clip threads at the end and re-position the top of the fabric under the needle, positioning the guide along the just-stitched line of stiching. This will position the needle 3/4" to the right of the previous line. Stitch from top to bottom, keeping the guide along the previous line of stitching.

how to quilt fabric

Clip the threads at the end and turn the piece 180 degrees. Position the fabric under the needle with the guide along the first line of stitching. This will produce another line of stitching ¾" to the OTHER side of the first line. 

Straight Line Quilting

Stitch from top to bottom, keeping the guide along the first line of stitching.

how to quilt fabric

Again clip the threads at the end and turn the piece 180 degrees. Continue stitching on each side of the line, alternating between sides until the entire piece is quilted.

how to quilt fabric

how to quilt fabric

Option 2: Stitching Diagonal Lines in a Grid Following Lines on the Fabric 

Another option for quilting is to follow printed lines on the fabric. This method is easy and fun because we don't have to mark anything or deal with a guide and the stitching highlights the designs on the fabric. Keep this method in mind when choosing fabrics for your project.

The lining fabric that we chose for our project is printed with a great diagonal plaid. So, for this piece we will stitch from the lining side of the fabric rather than the main fabric side. 

Because we want the main fabric side to look really good when the quilting is complete, we'll need to be a little more careful as we stitch. We'll want to check for wrinkles and puckers on the back side (main fabric side) of our piece. We'll also want to double-check to make sure that our tension looks as good on the bottom as on the top, since the bottom will be the top and the top will be the bottom. . . do I have you totally confused??

To further complicate this particular piece, we'll be stitching diagonal lines which means we'll be stitching on the bias. This can cause additional puckering and movement, so it's especially important to position your hands flat on the fabric and smooth it as you go.

We will start this stitching along one of the printed lines, preferably one that goes through the center diagonal of the fabric. 

Straight Line Quilting

After stitching the first diagonal line, we'll stitch on each side of that line, alternating from side to side until we've stitched all the lines parallel to the original diagonal line. By starting in the middle and working on each side of that, we can smooth out any puckers and avoid excess fabric shifting. 

how to quilt fabric

Here's another tip: Quilting gloves such as Machingers really help us grip the fabric and prevent our hands from sliding. (And just so you know, Machingers attract the dyes in fabrics, so "dirty" gloves are the sign that you're a great quilter -- it means your gloves have been well-used!)

machingers gloves

If you notice any puckers and wrinkles as you go, just use your hands to smooth the fabric apart. The wrinkles will go away. Don't forget to check the bottom and adjust the pins as you go, too.

machingers gloves

All of the lines are now stitched in one direction (from left to right). 

machingers gloves

We could stop at this point (see image above) or turn the piece and stitch everything in the other direction, too, creating a diagonal grid. 

TIP: If your piece looks a bit wrinkly and puckery, you'll find that stitching the other direction "solves" it. This is one occasion when more can be more!

Flip your piece over and see how it looks on the front. You might be surprised! On our fabric, the printed lines making the plaid design were not evenly spaced. This resulted in a combination of small "squares" and larger "squares" on the main fabric side of the quilted piece. Fun!

And there you have it! Two different looks for your quilted fabric, each done only with straight stitching. 

quilt fabric

Note how the diagonal stitching lines along the printed lines of the fabric really accentuate the plaid while the vertical straight lines de-emphasize the design.

quilt fabric

Next Up: 


  1. Is there any special reason you are quilting the length vs. the width? Am thinking the bag would be more amenable to rolling up. Just wondering.

    1. No special reason at all. It just makes it go faster doing longer stitches rather than shorter, less stop and go time. :)


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