Is that the quilt stitch look I want? Auditioning quilt stitch designs

Posted by on June 26, 2017

Some quilt tops speak to us and it’s easy to see a stitch design.  Then there are those that have us stumped.  We want to have our design pretty well set when we start stitching – if we don’t, we may be picking out stitches.  And I haven’t had anyone tell me that their favor part of quilting is ripping things out!  So, what are some ways to ensure the stitch design you’re thinking about is going to give the look we want without redoing?

Here are some of the techniques that I utilize.

Graph paper, pencils, erasers, and a copy machine.

  • My husband and I travel quite often so I have ‘ride time’ to create.  I sketch out the quilt top piecing/design onto graph paper and make several photocopies of my sketch.  The photocopies are the standard 8.5”x11” paper.  They travel easily in a folder for this type of create time.  I use a sharp pencil and begin drawing out a possible stitch design.  I only erase if I need to move a design element over – I don’t erase the entire design.  I set it aside and start a new sheet for moving forward with the designing.  Saving a previous design is helpful because sometimes I end up with elements from each trial design sketch in my final stitch out.  Just remember that the designs you are sketching are not exactly to scale and may need some adjustment when actually stitching on the quilt top.

Tracing paper, pencils, erasers, and a copy machine.

  • To sketch a design closer to scale, I take a black and white or gray scale picture of a section of the quilt top.  I use a computer program that allows me to print the picture in sections.  (I import the picture into a spreadsheet program, size it to the final print dimension that I want it, set the print margins to the smallest the program will allow, print the pages with the picture on it, remove the excess margins, and tape the picture pages together to have one, to scale, picture.)  Depending on your area, there are printing sources that will make large scale paper copies of a picture for you also.
  • I tape the picture to a flat surface and then tape tracing paper over the picture.  I note on the tracing paper reference marks and top, sides, etc.  I then start sketching my stitch designs.  Again, I don’t erase everything, I tape down another piece of tracing paper and start again.  These designs usually translate to the quilt top as closer to scale and don’t require much adjustment.

Plexiglass, dry erase markers, dry eraser, tape, digital camera

  • This is my go to sketch option when I already have the quilt loaded on the machine and I’ve spent some time removing stitching.  My plexiglass is sized to fit between my take-up rollers and is as long as I could find at my local hardware supply store.  I have a taped ½” border around the entire piece of plexiglass – this keeps me from accidently running off the edge with markers onto the quilt top.  I place the plexiglass on the quilt top where I want to design my stitching.  I draw my stitching design on the plexiglass and take a digital picture of it.  If I want to try another design I erase and start again, but always have the digital picture to refer back to if I want to go back to a previous design.

Heavy clear plastic, dry erase markers, dry eraser, tape, digital camera

  • This works well when you can lay the quilt top out on a flat surface.  I have a roll of heavy clear plastic that I taped over the edges on – to prevent the markers from going over the edge onto the quilt top.  I secure the plastic over the quilt top and use dry erase markers to create a stitch design.  Depending on the size of the roll of plastic you can move to a clean section and create another stitch design or you may need to take a digital picture, erase the design, and then begin your next design.

I know there are other tricks and tips to determine if your quilting stitch design will give you the look you want.  And not every technique will work in every situation. I hope the techniques I use will help you the next time you look at a quilt top and think, ‘I wonder….’


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , ,

What did I stitch on that quilt? Quilt Documentation

Posted by on June 20, 2017


Have you ever been in this position?  Someone says, “I really like the quilting pattern and the thread you used on Susie’s quilt!  Can you do that on mine?”  You think you remember what Susie’s quilt looked like, but you’re not 100% sure what quilt pattern was used and have no idea what brand or weight of thread was used.  This happened to me a couple of times when I first started quilting and had done some close family and charity quilts.  You notice I said a couple of times….

There are some basic things that I have found to be important to me for quilt documentation in case I want or need to duplicate a quilt stitching design look.

1.  What are the dimensions of the quilt?

  • Comparing quilt dimensions helps me determine if a re-create is feasible.

2.  What quilt stitch pattern did I use?

  • Is it free hand?  What style of free hand stitching; meander, swirls, loops, etc.?  What did I use for reference marks to keep the free hand stitching evenly spaced and sized?
  • Is it a paper pantograph?  What is the name and size of the panto?  Where did I start the panto; was it a full stitch out in the first pass or did I do a partial row stitch (stitching off the top/bottom of the quilt)?  How far did I start and end off the side edges of the quilt?  How many rows of design are down the quilt?
  • Is it a digital stitch design?  What size is the individual design?  How many repeats?  What is the spacing between the repeats?  Where did I start the design – off the side edge, over the top edge?  How many rows of design are down the quilt?
  • Is it an edge to edge pattern or a block by block pattern?  Are there borders?  If multiple borders, is each one stitched differently or were they combined?

3.  What thread/threads were used? (Defining information for the top and the bobbin.)

  • What brand of thread was used?
  • What type and weight of thread was that brand? (Cotton, poly, silk, metallic, 40, 50, 100, etc.)
  • What needle brand and size were used with that thread set-up?

There are several ways to document this information.

4.  It can be done digitally.  Create a document form to write in all the information and also add digital pictures.

5.  It can be documented by hand in a notebook.  Include all of the written documentation and add a sketch of the quilt design.

  • If print pictures of the quilt design they can be added to the notebook.
  • Clear, plastic 3-ring binder sleeves can be used to store quilt documentation notes and printed pictures.  The 3-ring binder size can grow with your documentation or you can use divider tabs to section your creations into years or categories.
  • I often sketch stitching designs on graph paper and I like to include those sketches with the quilt documentation.  The plastic sleeves work well for this.

The documentation process doesn’t take that long once you decide what information you want to have for reference.  And, it can save time and frustration if you want to re-create a previous masterpiece!


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Shine a light – How much lighting do I need?

Posted by on June 14, 2017

By Sondra Reierson, TinLizzie18 Educator

When do you quilt?  I’m sure many of you will say, ‘Whenever I can!’  I’m the same way.  It may be 3:00 a.m. or mid-night or any time in-between!  And many of us tend to start quilting and forget everything else and quilt until the piece is complete or we are forced to stop.  My quilting room has some natural light and overhead lighting besides lighting on my machine.  Throughout my quilting day (I’m a quilt until its done person most of the time) I notice that sometimes it’s harder to see what’s happening with my quilting because of lighting changes.

So how much light should there be?  Do you find yourself squinting, get headaches after quilting for an extended period of time, are your eyes itching or blurry?  This may be an issue with how much light there is and the type of light.  What kind of light?  If you’ve purchased light bulbs lately there are many different kinds of bulbs and many kinds of light they give off; natural, soft white, bright white, etc.  For myself, I prefer a more natural light – it is easier on my eyes, I don’t strain as much.  So, I don’t block the natural light from my windows, but at 3:00 a.m. there isn’t any natural light.  I have natural light style bulbs in my overhead lighting, but the overhead lighting doesn’t compensate for the lack of extra natural light from my windows at 3:00 a.m.

There are several ways to compensate for this directly over your quilting area.  A lighting system that is mounted directly over the quilt frame is one.  These could be permanently mounted in the ceiling over the frame or as a stand that extends over the frame itself.  If your quilt area is a multi-purpose area, lighting that is repositionable may be your best investment; track lighting with positional fixtures.

If you don’t want to invest in a hard-wired lighting system, there are free standing lights that are on positional stands and can have the lighting style that is comfortable for you; natural light, white light, soft light, etc.  Photography supply companies have many options for this type of lighting. Or stand lights that can be found at hardware stores – just watch what style of light you use as some may get hot and you don’t want to get burnt or have safety issues.

If you don’t want to worry about constant changes in the lighting and you have light coming in through windows, you will need to block the light from the windows and then determine where you need lighting, the position of the light, and the style of light that is comfortable for you.

Whatever lighting system you choose for your quilting area, keep it from glaring, have it maintain a consistent lighting around your work area.  And remember to take a few seconds to look away from your quilting surface – look across the room for 10-20 seconds to help rest your eyes throughout your quilting time.  Let’s keep our eyes healthy and happy for our quilting time and beyond!


Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Does it hurt when you’re quilting? Let’s check your set-up!

Posted by on June 5, 2017


Many of us get into our quilting ‘zone’ and forget about everything else until the quilt is completed or we begin to hurt.  Let’s take a look at some of the things to check that may be causing you to ‘hurt’.

What height is my machine frame set at?  What should it be set at?  There are ergonomic guidelines (ergonomics is the study of the human body and its interaction with work activities) for a work station height that minimizes the stress on the body.

  • For precision work; work station height should be above elbow height (37”-43”)

For light work; work station height should be just below elbow height (34”-37”)

Because our machines sit on the frame we need to look at the height of the frame with the machine on it and how we are moving the machine.  Stand at your machine and see how your elbows are bent.  Are they at a 90-degree angle or slightly above or below 90 degrees? 90-degree bend on the elbow is a more neutral position and when our bodies are in a neutral position we aren’t stressing our muscles and joints – keeping the hurt away. Try adjusting your machine/frame height to have your elbows at a more neutral position for you.

How do you normally hold your hands when you quilt?  If your handles adjust, do you adjust them throughout your quilting?

  • When we keep our muscles locked in one position for extended periods of time they begin to hurt.  Changing our hand positions frequently during quilting will help.

If your machine handles are adjustable, pick a quilting motif that you frequently use and quilt it on a practice piece changing your hand position on each pass.  This will help you with muscle memory at various hand positions.

If your machine handles are not adjustable, try to see what other positions you can have your hands on the handles and practice to have the confidence to adjust your stance while quilting.

Do you stand throughout the quilting?  What type of surface are you standing on?

  • Is the surface hard; hardwood flooring, ceramic tile, concrete?
  • Is the surface covered; carpeting – with/without padding?
  • What type of footwear are you wearing?

When looking at our standing surface we want it to have some cushion.  This gives your body the ability to naturally sway and the cushion provides some shock absorption. Ergonomic rated mats are available at many retailers.  You may want to get one to try and then determine if it helps you or not.  Also, wearing footwear with support can help give this same cushion effect.  You may find that a combination of footwear and mats may work best for you.

Have you tried alternating between standing and sitting while you quilt?  There are adjustable height stools with castors that can get your arms and hands into the neutral position, and that you can move/roll back and forth as you quilt.

These suggestions are guidelines to help you set up your quilting process to keep you quilting happy and healthy for many years to come!


Filed under: Blog,Lizzie Support,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips | Tags: , , , , , , ,

<< View all posts

© 2018 TinLizzie18. All Rights Reserved.   |   2263 West 7800 South   |   West Jordan, Utah 84088   |   888.784.5818   |   Site Map   |   Legal Disclaimer   |   Privacy Policy