You can quilt that out, right?

December 3, 2013

You can quilt that out, right? Riiiiight.

For machine quilters who work for others, those are famous (or maybe infamous) words! Even quilters who piece and quilt only for their own pleasure havelooked at a particularly wavy border or poufy quilt and have thought about “quilting it out” instead of “doing it over!”

We can’t make the decision for you about whether to get busy with a seam ripper and start tearing off that wavy border. And if you are in the business of quilting, you can’t afford to “remake” quilts for others or you’ll never get anything done! Here are two quick solutions to help you with the worst offenders.

Use a “fluffy” batting.

For wavy borders, consider using a batting with a little more fluff. Polyester batting, washable wool batting or some type of blended cotton/polyester batting will give the best results. Your goal is to “absorb” the extra fabric with both batting and quilting. You need enough batting to fill in and support the unquilted areas so the fabric doesn’t appear distorted.

Choose your design wisely.

Next, choose a design that distributes the fullness evenly across the border. The best choice for borders that wave is a style called “piano key” quilting–straight lines that start on the inside border seam and then move to the outer edge of the quilt (simulating piano keys)! This quilting style acts much like channel quilting on down comforters, trapping the fullness between each stitching line. The spacing for these lines is normally 1 to 2 inches apart.

For puffy quilts in general, the fluffy batting suggestion still applies. To tame areas with more “poof” than others, try spraying the batting section that will fall under the puffy area with temporary spray baste–just before the batting area rolls into the quilt sandwich. Use your hands to press the puffy quilt down on to the tacky batting section. This helps control the fullness when using pantograph patterns. If the area is extremely generous, you may wish to quilt a freehand design from the front of the machine so you can use your hand to guide the fabric fullness as well as the machine.

Happy quilting!