Monday, January 28, 2019

2019 Free Motion QAL: Part 2 Stabilization & Catch Up

Welcome to Part 2 of the 2019 Free Motion Quilt Along featuring Lewe the Ewe fabric panel by World of Susybee!
I'm so excited to share this quilting time with YOU and my dear friend and mentor Wendy Sheppard of Ivory Spring

Thank you for joining us. 

If you're just tuning in to the QAL it's not too late to join in the fun.  We're very early in the process and there's plenty of time to jump on board.

2019 FMQAL Schedule:    

Jan 7:  Announcement Post  
   Jan 21:  Setup, Planning, Basting  
🠞 Jan 28:  Stabilization Quilting or Catch Up 🠜
Feb 4 & Feb 11:  Inside Center Panel
Feb 25:  Top and Bottom Rectangles
March 4:  Top and Bottom Squares
March 11:  Left and Right Panels
March 18: Narrow Sashing
March 25:  Outside Border
April 1:  Binding, Labeling, Hanging if applicable

These posts outline Fabric & Notion Supplies necessary for the QAL.

As mentioned in the announcement we'll be referencing Wendy's awesome book, Stitching Pathways, to help create our motifs and get accustomed to the process of Free Motion Quilting.
Additionally, I'll be using my thread collection, The Subtle Sampler, for most of my stitching.

Looking for more details about the supplies necessary to quilt along, click here. 

Need to purchase supplies ? 
Check with your favorite local shop or 
visit our Participating Shops link == > here.

Did someone mention Giveaway?
Click "here" to learn about our sponsors & available prizes.  
Be sure to visit regularly to see updates to the Prize Packages.  

Stabilization or Catch Up

What is stabilization? 

Stabilization is part of the quilting process that focuses on stabilizing or keeping square the 3 (or more) layers of the quilt prior to beginning to free motion quilt them.

This step is done after basting and is considered part of the quilting process.

It generally involves quilting straight stitches in or around a block - but it could also be done by free motion stitching in or near an applique ditch.  

If quilting a block-based quilt I would consider stitching in the ditch of each block (or, in my case just outside of the ditch) as part of the stabilization process.

For a quilt with many borders -- stitching near or in the ditch of the quilt borders would be considered stabilizing the quilt. 

Here are a few examples where I've stabilized or top-stitched on other Susybee panels.

~ Lief the Caterpillar ~

On this Lief baby quilt I top stitched along the bottom border in white.
It looked so nice I decided to stitch 2 rows of white.

Also -- I top stitched inside of the black sashing with a black 12wt thread.
Stabilization helps keep the quilt or subsections of the quilt "square" -- it keeps them from getting wonky during the quilting process.

~ Zoe ~
One of my favorite Susybee Characters...
I stabilized this growth chart quilt with top stitching.
I stitched around the first 2 small borders.
Love the look!!
 Here's another view...

One Thing To Note: 

Before you begin your stabilize stitching be sure to baste it well -- otherwise -- you may have trouble with fabric gathers as you near the inside edge of your stabilization quilting.

See my basting recommendations in Part 1 -- Click here!

Also note... stabilization is not always necessary and not all quilters do it.  

For me though I really enjoy the stabilization step. 

Some of this LoVe comes from wanting to use my awesome stash of luscious Aurifil threads!!

Another reason I enjoy this process is because I've released myself from having to stitch "in the ditch". 

 Instead, I use that beautiful 12Wt thread and stitch next to the ditch.
 It's so much easier and the thread looks awesome !!

Here's a sample on the Lal the Lamb Growth Chart for World of Susybee.

Let's talk details...

When I want the stitches to show I choose
Aurifil 12Wt Cotton Thread!

I love working with it.

It's heavy and has amazing luster and shows-off a beautiful top stitch.

For this quilt I decided to use color #6722 from The Subtle Sampler

To successfully top-stitch with Aurifil 12Wt  you'll want to have a Superior Titanium Coated Top Stitch Needle size 90/14 or 100/16.

The Top Stitch Needle has an elongated eye and a shaft down the front of it!
Trust me...  this needle makes a
-- HUGE --
difference for top stitch and free motion quilting.

If you're experiencing any trouble at all with your stitching this needle is a MUST HAVE!
In the bobbin I generally use Aurifil 50Wt thread because it's more economical than heavier weight threads.

That's right, for the same price you get more yards of Aurifil 50wt on a large spool (1422 yards) than any other weight..

  Also -- that fine weight thread makes your bobbin last longer!

I stitched most of this project with Aurifil 50Wt color #2312 in my bobbin. 
You'll find this weight and color in The Subtle Sampler.

This color goes nicely across several different top thread colors.
It's my favorite bobbin thread weight and color.

NOTE:  You might find the 50wt too fine for your style of top stitching with 12Wt.

A good indication is thread breaking at the needle or under the throat plate.
 In this case try a heavier weight thread in the bobbin -- I would go one weight thicker with Aurifil 40wt.

Next -- Use a walking foot for your top stitch. 

Some manufacturers call them even feed or dual feed feet. 

They're made to walk multiple layers of fabric through the machine without bunching or pushing.   

Top Stitch with your feed dogs UP.

Set your machine to a Straight Stitch with a length of 3.50 or more -- this way you can admire the beautiful stitches coming your way.

On this panel I decided to stabilize around every panel square or rectangle -- but not along the outside edge. 

I stitched on or near the dotted line on the white edge of the panel squares.

To get started with your straight stitch quilting be sure to bring the bobbin thread to the top.

Set your stitch length down very low (I set mine to 1.0) and take 5 or 6 stitches at this length.

Now set the stitch length back to 3.5 or higher and continue stitching around the design. 

*  Stitch Slowly *

The Aurifil 12 wt thread is a hand embroidery weight thread -- it's not made to take high tension or high speeds.  

Take your time and admire how beautiful those stitches are.

When you  make it around the entire square or rectangle and are nearing the beginning small stitches,  stitch over them with a few of the 3.5 length stitches.

End your stitching by setting your stitch length back down to 1 and taking another 4 or 5 stitches to lock them in place.

Move on to the next square or rectangle and repeat the process:
Bring bobbin thread to top
Set stitch length to 1
Take 5-6 stitches 
Set stitch length to 3.5 
Stitch around the area...
Finish off with 1.0 stitches to lock.

Isn't it beautiful?

Don't worry about the spacing as it relates to the black dots on the panel. 

The Panel prints are rarely ever perfect -- just do the best you can.  
NO-One will notice.

I use my Machingers gloves during this process and take care to ensure my fabric does not have a drag.

The Walking Foot and Long Stitch Length will work wonders if free of drag.

Here it is - the entire panel with the Stabilization Top Stitching done!

Sew Much Fun!

Well -- that's a wrap for this weeks session.
Be sure to jump over to Wendy's Blog and see what she's up to this week.

If you have any questions, please leave them below -- I'll be sure to respond as soon as I can.

Happy Stitching!


Learn more about how to use various thread weights in these Facebook Live Sessions
hosted by Aurifil at International Quilt Market: 

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If your Shop, Group or Guild is looking for programs or workshops I would love to hear from you.

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  1. I love this Karen. It is so exciting to see this develop into such a beautiful piece. Just in time for Spring!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Just finished stabilizing using your suggested Aurifil 12 wt thread. Turned out beautifully!!!I have never used this weight before but I will now.
    LOVE IT!!!!!!! Thank you for posting this project. So fun!

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