Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Monday, July 26, 2010

Project 14 - The Final - Quilting

Up for discussion is ditch stitching.  Yes, I had a problem.  You see, for the other quilts I've ditch stitched using either an edge foot or an open toe applique foot with the Pfaff IDT (Integrated Dual Transportation) engaged, in other words with a walking foot.  This time, on a different machine, I encounted problems with the layers shifting.  Despite using a gazillion pins, I ended up with 'bubbles' in the centre and the ends of the seams.

Can you see those?  In everything I've read, I've can't remember ever seeing a reference to using a walking foot for stitching in the ditch.  Is it common for Pfaff-less quilters to use a walking foot when stitching in the ditch?  Anyway, I spent an evening unpicking the 3 seams I'd done and re-sewed them on the Pfaff without a problem.  No bubbles, no layer shifting.

For the quilting part, everything went well.  I encounted the usual problems with drag and hang-ups (jeez you'd think I'd have learned a trick or two by now), the familiar wobbles and glitches, which are getting to be less and less with each quilt I do.  This time, my major problem was with thread breaks. 

I checked the usual suspects - re-threaded, changed needles, cleaned lint, adjusted tension, but was plagued with shredding and breaking thread throughout the quilting process.  In the end, I suspect it was the thread I was using.  I usually quilt with nylon or monopoly thread on top and cotton in the bobbin.  This time I wanted to use cotton on top, for a change.  I chose a Gutterman Sulky 100% cotton 30wt 2 ply thread.  This thread constantly broke, shredding at the needle.  The back of the quilt is rather messy with all the restarts - I've yet to learn how to do this neatly!

Inside the sandwich is Hobbs 20/80 poly wool batting.  This is rather thicker than the usual cotton batting's I use and the quilting has a nice relief to it.  I'm debating whether to echo quilt in the blank spaces so the design will 'pop' out more.  My efforts at echo quilting haven't been great so far, so I'm a tad reluctant.

Tomorrow, the borders.  I was going to use the same designs on the borders, but now I'm thinking feathers.  I can see a cable/feather border happening here.



  1. Hi Lesley,
    Haven't posted for awhile, but you made a few observations that I couldn't resist commenting to. First of all, on page 105 of Heirloom Machine Quilting, you will see an open toe walking foot on the machine for ditch quilting. On page 104, first sentence of the paragraph we talk about a walking foot making ditch quilting easy. Sorry you missed this and had to pick out all that stitching. I doubt your Bernina came with one, as it was made before they developed the walking foot. I would continue to ditch quilt on you Pfaff and use the Bernina for other things. I think you will like piecing on the Bernina, as it has a beautiful stitch. It is a very old model without any whistles and bells, so it will be very different from the machines of the 1990's and newer that would be more like you Pfaff.

    Second, check the fiber content of the Hobbs batting. The do not make a 20/80 wool. It is either 100% wool or 80/20 cotton. I would guess that it is the 100% wool (it's made with Australian wool you know) because of the relief you are getting. I love wool, and it is very easy to quilt.

    The thread is an embroidery thread - the 2 ply indicates that. If you were using a 75 needle with looser tension, it cooperates fairly well. It will break if you stay in one place too long with the needle running. It is a very soft weak thread for embroidery and buttonhole applique. The lock off stitches will always show with the cottons -messy on the back.

    Now on to the kudos - it is wonderful!! Can you believe how far you have come in so short a time. I have quilters in my classes that have been piecing for 5+ years and are nowhere near where you are - and your quilting is taking on a life of its own!! I love the originality of the quilting patterns you choose and your workmanship speaks volumes for your dedication to learning. Job well done!!!!

  2. Hi Harriet!

    I must have read HMQ a dozen times - my retention is terrible. I re-checked the SITD technique in the wrong book! The Pfaff for ditch stitching from now on. I'm so used to the take up lever crashing down when the quilt hangs up on it, I can live with it now.

    I'm confused about the Hobbs batting. I bought it off the roll and was told it was Hobbs 20/80 poly/wool, the polyester being added to stop bearding. Next time, I'll check the label on the roll myself! You are right though, it's lovely to quilt with.

    I'm trying to branch out with threads a bit more, just to see... well just to play really. I'm doing the borders in a varigated cotton - 50wt no breakages. With every quilt I'm learning something new. Thanks for your input and help - can't wait to get started on Vol 2.

  3. Lesley,
    You can buy a walking foot for the 830 Record, and the Bernina walking feet are GREAT. I find there is less slippage with ditch quilting with the walking foot than with the IDT- and I have owned two Pfaffs in past years before my Berninas.

    I'm not a lover of the Sulky thread, the 30 weight diameter of the cotton thread you are using is too large for even an 80 needle and if you are using a smaller needle, the thread will shred. I have a fairly low opinion of the sulky 30 wt cotton as it does tend to fluff up machines far more than other brands, and you will find the 30 weight is very hard to get sitting nicely in in ditch because of how thick the diameter of the thread is. A finer thread is easier to hide. I've had quite a few students buy it from a chain store in town and have nothing but trouble from it for quilting even with a larger needle- on a range of machines. The breakage you experienced is not restricted only to you, and I think it is because it is made from poorer quality short staple cotton. It is rather coarse and is just not particularly nice thread- there are better options available around town- come see me at the Guild meeting!
    Please if you can, pack some quilts, and bring them over so I can take a closer look at your work- you really are coming along very nicely!!