Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Basic Quiltmaking Supplies -- Answers to Questions!

Wow, there have been lots of really great questions already!

Let's start with Susan's questions. (You can read hers here.)

Do acrylic rulers wear out? Absolutely! I've had mine for somewhere around four years. Its edge has seen much happier days. One corner is broken off. I've actually dinged it with my rotary cutter. The one I had before that sadly bit the dust as well. I am definitely taking advantage of the 50% off quilting supplies sale going on now at JoAnn's and getting myself a new one -- I've needed it for a while now, and there's no reason to wait any longer!

Rotary Cutting Mat: 24"x36" versus 18"x24". Bigger is better! There are arguments that you really don't need those extra inches. I contend that maybe you do. I have both sizes, but use my larger mat almost exclusively.

Here's why:
(1). I cut my yardage folded in half -- folding it basically the same way it comes on the bolt. Quilting fabric is about 44" wide. If you line up the folded edge on the 1" line of your smaller mat (has to be on the 1" line and not the 0 line, or you can't see the numbers and registration lines!), the selvage edge ends up covering the numbers on the other side -- in most cases. You don't want to cut blind. Yes, you CAN peek under the edge of your fabric to line up your ruler and still get a decent cut. But you risk moving your fabric out of alignment. Or, you could fold your fabric again and cut. But the more you fold your fabric for cutting, the more you run the risk of ending up with lines that aren't straight.
(2). On the larger mat you can do more rows of cutting without disturbing your fabric -- lifting and moving it so you can do additional cuts. The less you have to move your fabric, the more confident you can be that you are cutting accurately.
So, maybe it sounds like my reasons are purely for laziness. But I think using the larger mat saves time and headache. And it's pretty much a one-time purchase. Your mat will last you for years.
Will anything bad happen if you decide to use a smaller mat? I doubt it. If smaller is what you have, use it. If smaller is easier on your budget, go for it.

What brand of cutting mat is best?
I've only used two brands: Olfa and Fiskars. My first mat was an Olfa (they are the green ones) -- and it actually warped and buckled at the lines where I cut most often. This could be the result of obsessive over-use! :o) I now have Fiskars brand mats (mine are grey), and have used them for YEARS. I love them. I have never had a problem with them.

Where do I get sewing machine feet, and how do I know they will work with my machine?

GREAT question!!
First -- My machine is not a fancy-schmancy machine. It's not a longarm machine. It's not an embroidery machine. It is a basic machine. You can quilt on your basic machine. My mom's machine is around 40 years old -- she quilts on it. My sister-in-law has a basic machine, and quilts on it. My sister has a 30+ year-old machine, and quilts on it. The only special thing you need is the foot!

As Denise from NITTINFOOL suggested in the comments of Susan's post, take your presser foot off your machine and take it with you to a sewing machine shop. That way there will be no question as to what type of foot shank your machine takes. (For example, there is a Bernina shop in my area that is absolutely phenomenal.) Ask someone at a specialty shop who knows what they are talking about. Don't take it to JoAnn's. (Love ya, JoAnn's, but helping poor unsuspecting and unsure customers is not your forte!) If you need to go online to find what you need -- make sure you know the make and model of your machine, and what kind of shank your feet have (high or low). There's a wealth of information online, and I am confident you can find what you need!

A few other really great questions:

Walking Foot:
Nima asked about using a walking foot. I do not own one. I have never used one. (I can hear gasps of horror from those who love theirs!) I understand they are AMAZING for straight-line quilting. They will not do free-motion quilting.

Lynette mentioned she has been challenged to make a quilt this year! HOORAY!! DO IT!! Become addicted!! :o) Lynette, you mentioned you might tie your quilt. Is this because you are nervous about quilting it? Don't be nervous about quilting it!! Please, I am convinced you will be SO much happier with your quilt if you quilt it than if you tie it! You can straight-line quilt it with your regular foot!

EVERYONE: Please don't write off quilting as something insurmountable!
You can do it! :o)


Angie said...

I've always found piecing to be unintimidating, it's the actual quilting that chills me to the bone. I've never quilted anything larger than a throw blanket. I have an entire queen size quilt top completed, but it's sat for the last five years because I can't figure out how to maneuver it under my basic sewing machine. I tried rolling the edges up, but I couldn't reach the center and it was so bulky I had little control. Do you have any suggestions?

nima said...

Thank you so much for taking time to answer my doubt...

erin said...

awww...i'm jealous...i want to make my first quilt all over again!...(but i think i'm probably about 40-50 quilts too late!)

Miss Muffin said...

So, do I get this right - if I only quilt in straight lines I do not need another sewing machine foot than the regular one that I have got?
And ... this might sound a bit stupid but ... With two layers of fabric and all that batting in between ... might it not be too thick to actually fit through my sewing machine???

Anonymous said...

Great questions and answers. Thank you Care!

Stacy Marie said...

Thank you, thank you for this series...I have been scared out of my mind of making a quilt. I'm getting married in July, and I would LOVE to make a quilt for my husband and I to share, you're giving me the courage to do so!

Sew It To Me said...

This is going to be perfect for Vanessa-she is starting her first quilt!


Crystal Hendrix said...

This is so AWESOME that you are doing this. Do you mind if I share some of your information with a ward quilting class I am doing?

Tiff said...

I've only quilted with straight lines. but i want to do something different. i just discovered that my machine came with a free motion foot. i tried it out last night and i think i will love it but i think i need to seriously practice. it goes so fast, i had a hard time controlling it. i also have a feed dog cover. do i use that with the free motion foot?

Lynette said...

Thanks for the answer about tying versus quilting it! The main reason I was going to tie the quilt is because the group of girls I'm doing it with are tying theirs. But since I'm an adult I can do whatever I want! And I will! As I looked at the pattern, I was really thinking I'd like the pattern better as quilted than tied, so thanks for letting me know there's an option for a regular foot!

Lynette said...

Sorry, I have another question! I was looking at the manual for my machine (made in the 60's Singer Fashion Mate 237 I found at a thrift store for $10, and works great!), and it says I can free-motion stitch by taking the presser foot off and just move the feed-dog down with a cool knob. Is that possible to not need the free motion foot with some machines? I'm just curious!

Jessica said...

okay....I am joining you guys in making your first quilt ever...I have always wanted to, but just haven't had that push! So glad to be doing it with others~!