The first step in any quilting project is to layer the back, the batting and the quilt top. What better place to do it than the living room floor!
I like to pin baste using extra long pins – not safety pins. I usually baste as if I was stitching. That way, when I take the pin basted quilt to the sewing machine and stitch in the ditch, I can whip the pins out really easily.
I stitched in the ditch around all the areas to be quilted. You can see it better from the back.
Now to get the first part of the quilt into the hoop. Using the grid that came with my BERNINA Jumbo Hoop, I laid the inner part of the hoop onto the quilt, making sure that everything I wanted to quilt was well within the hoop, and the hoop was straight on the quilt top. As long as the quilt is straight, I can move the design around in the machine to align it exactly where I want it.
In order to get the inner hoop into the outer hoop, I rolled up the quilt on the left and bunched as much as possible of the quilt up onto the top of the inner hoop. The outer hoop was placed on a flat surface just to the right of the inner hoop.
Now pick up the inner hoop, gripping the sides of the hoop and keeping the quilt reasonably taught across the bottom of the hoop. Plop the whole lot into the outer hoop and tighten the outer hoop to secure everything.
Sometimes it’s possible to get the quilt into the hoop perfectly straight, but more often than not a little bit of shifting occurs. It’s not a big problem if it’s not straight as you can always move the design around on the machine so that it is perfectly aligned.
Step through color #1 (don’t stitch it!) until you get to the bottom corner.
Put the needle down using the hand wheel on your machine and look to see how far the needle is from where it should be. In this case, it should be right in the intersection of the seams.
Move the design around in the machine until the needle drops down right on the intersection.
Now step through color #1 until you get to the top corner.
Put the needle down again (using the hand wheel on your machine) and look to see how far away it is from where it should be – in this case right on the intersection of the seams. It’s off to the left and slightly down.
If the first point is set correctly and the second point is off to either the right or left, then the design needs to be rotated. Repeat the steps above, checking the placement of the bottom and top points, until they are both as close as possible to being aligned vertically in the hoop.
Once the design is aligned vertically in the hoop it’s time to make any necessary adjustments to the up/down and left to right positioning. Make sure that the design is centered between the corners you are using to determine placement. In an ideal world, the design should be just inside all corners on the quilt top.
When you are happy with the placement of the design, skip over color #1 and stitch color #2, the actual quilting part of the design.
Repeat the above steps for each part of the quilt that uses the design in you have loaded into your machine.
Here’s a view of the back. I used muslin on the back of my quilt as it’s going to be finished as a cushion and won’t be seen. I noticed that the muslin got a little baggy – see the wrinkles in the unquilted blocks – but all the bagginess got flattened out during quilting. It’s REALLY important to make sure that you quilt is basted well before you start to do any quilting, whether it’s in the hoop or done free motion.
After quilting all the blocks down the center of the quilt, it was time to quilt the setting triangles and borders. Using my BERNINA Jumbo Hoop, I could fit two setting triangles and the adjacent border on the quilt top into one hooping. I stitched one design at a time, starting with the setting triangle (stitched twice) and then stitching the border (also stitched twice).
Here’s the view from the back. As I was using muslin for my backing and knowing that it wasn’t going to be seen in the finished cushion, I didn’t spend any time trimming the jump stitches on the back. If you’re making a project where the back will be visible, trim any jump stitches on the back after stitching each design.
The last thing to be stitched was the appliqué blocks. I switched to my BERNINA Maxi Hoop which would accommodate two appliqué blocks in one hooping. I had only one copy of the design loaded into the machine, placing it for the first block and then stitching it, then placing it for the second block and stitching it.
The quilting for the appliqué blocks goes fairly close to the edge of the appliqué shape but not right up against the edges. This leaves a little room for placement “forgiveness”!
All the while you are quilting your quilt in the hoop, make sure that you keep the edges of your quilt free from the hoop. This was the very last hooping that I did on this quilt – and there were quite a lot of them! Fortunately for me, once the cushion is complete nobody is ever going to see the back of the quilt, so I was able to use a pair of scissors to trim the batting and backing fabric away from around the stitching.
Here’s the finished quilt from the front…
and showing a bit of the back.
The trimmed quilt is looking totally gorgeous