Jelly Roll Strip Quilt quilt-along: Part 5, Quilting
We are sooo close to being done with this jelly roll strip quilt! Are you excited?! I sure am!
And with our quilt sandwich all made, today we're going to start quilting. Straight line quilting is a great place to start when quilting for the first time. Though the technique is simple (and by technique I really mean just stitching along in a straight line), the results can be quite eye-catching and very modern!
To start, let's go back to our quilt sandwich and gently roll or fold it toward center from both edges (image above). We're doing this so we can easily move it to the sewing machine without messing up our quilt sandwich efforts. Also, I find it helpful to have the quilt rolled up like this while quilting the first few lines on to the quilt. (After the first few lines, I find it easier to work with a looser quilt.)
Now a few things to keep in mind while quilting:
- Make sure your sewing machine is on a large table with plenty of open space. We do this so our quilt doesn't hang over the edge of the table and distort the stitches and straight lines. (Quilts can be pretty heavy -- and if they hang off the table, your quilt will have a hard time moving through the machine. In fact, I'm guessing it won't move very much!)
- Look through your sewing machine feet, find your walking foot and use this one for straight line quilting -- or if you have built-in dual feed, select the proper foot and engage the dual feed for quilting. (I have built-in dual feed, so if you notice my foot doesn't look your typical walking foot in the pictures shown in this tutorial, that's why.) Your walking foot or dual-feed, along with your machine's feed dogs, will help feed your top and bottom fabrics evenly.
- Let's nose through your sewing machine accessories again, this time looking for a seam guide (see image below). You can also check your sewing machine manual to see if it's included. If you have one, go ahead and install it. We'll use this to keep our lines straight as we quilt.
- If you've never quilted before, make a small quilt sandwich out of some leftover fabric scraps (not the left-over jelly roll strips, though!) and batting and do a trial run. You can also do this to determine if you want to change up your stitch length or choose a decorative stitch.
- Get something to drink and put some of your favorite music on.
Load the quilt on to your sewing machine. We're going to start quilting in the center of the quilt. (That's why we folded the edges toward the center when we rolled up our quilt sandwich -- leaving a nice open space in the middle of the quilt for us to begin.)
You'll need to use your hands to gently support the quilt throughout this entire process. Don't pull the quilt top with your hands, though; your sewing machine will feed the fabric through. Your hands should rest comfortably to the left and right of your the foot/needle on the bed of your sewing machine.
When you take your first few stitches, make sure you backstitch to lock your stitch. You'll do this at the beginning and end of every new quilted line. Some sewing machines allow you to program an automatic backstitch, but if you don't have that, fear not... there's a special button for that (image above). You just need to take about 2-3 backstitches to lock it in. Easy.
Now, feed the quilt through in straight lines, using both of your hands to help guide the quilt. Make sure you don't let the quilt hang off the table edges.
You can space your lines any way you want. Mine are random, with lines 1/4" - 2" apart. You can use the right or left edge of your foot lined up against a jelly roll strip to help keep your lines straight (image 1). Alternatively, if you have a seam guide, you can move it to the left or right and line it up on a previous line or a jelly roll strip edge (image 2).
Quilt to your heart's content. Be sure to take breaks -- or do the quilting over the course of a couple of days. This is not typically something that can be done in a single setting. Quilting takes time!
I'll be back on Friday with our final installment of the Jelly Roll Strip Quilt quilt-along. We'll be making and attaching the binding!