Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tutorial - Spiral or circular quilting

Spiral quilting gives amazing texture and movement to quilts of all shapes and sizes.  It looks a bit intimidating but it is very easy and fun to do.

To get started, you'll need a couple of things:

  • a circle! I find a small dinner plate or small bowl is the perfect size to get started.  
  • a non permanent fabric marking pen
  • your walking foot
Take your quilt and lay it on a flat surface.   Decide where you want the center of the spiral to be.  This is a design choice so move your circle (i.e plate) around.    I like to do spirals that are not directly in the center of the quilt even if the quilt is square.

This quilt is called Doodle - see how I started the spiral in that gray x just off center?

This quilt is called Sparkle and is clearly a rectangle.  Starting the spiral off center worked great for this one as well.

First step is to baste and baste well.

Once you've decided where you want to start, take your non permanent pen - mine is a water soluble one - and trace a circle almost completely around the plate.  Leave a gap of roughly an inch.

Center your quilt under the needle at the start of your traced circle.  You want your quilt to go clockwise - which means the empty part of your circle is always to the left of your needle.

Sew on the line you drew.  Take your time, this isn't a race.  Don't worry if you don't hit the line exactly.  While you'll notice the imperfections while you sew, they will get lost in the overall design and be hard to ever find again.

Go around the circle and as you approach the one inch gap and your starting point, get started on the spiral by using the edge of your walking foot to go around again and again and again!

You are spiral quilting!!

Take your time though this process.  A bobbin is going to take you about 45 mins to empty.

  Take time to adjust the quilt and remove your basting pins as you go.

At some point in this process - whether you've started in the center or off center - you'll come to a part where your spiral goes off the edge.  Do a happy dance!

  Even though you aren't done, it will feel like suddenly you are making progress.

Each time you come off the edge, cut the threads and then start a new line of stitching continuing the spiral.

Once your spiral is all done, you need to come back and deal with that big empty circle that we left at the start.

And the view from the back

Position the quilt so that you are back at the place where you started.  This time, you will be going counter clockwise and the circle will be squeezed into that spot to the right of your needle.

It will get progressively harder to use your walking foot as you get towards the center.  Your options here are to move very, very slowly or switch to your FMQ foot.  (If you do the later, I'd suggest drawing out your spiral first.)

Other things to consider when you are quilting a large quilt on your domestic machine is to work to always keep the quilt onto the table - folding it over works.  This prevents drag and results in more consistent stitching.

A view from another angle.

I am just in love with my finished quilt Formation.  (The pattern will be available shortly.)

Even the back is fun!

Ready to give it a try?