My favorite quilting tools have to be by far (after my machine) my seam ripper and my stiletto. When I’m not happy with the quilting I will rip it out. Particularly when it’s for a customer.
Basting…sometimes I baste and sometimes I don’t. That’s right, sometimes I just don’t baste. If a piece is small enough and I’m using cotton batting I won’t baste. My basting method of choice these days is spray basting. A large can of 505 basting spray sits on my sewing table When I first tried this I used too much spray and pressed too hard and ended up with wrinkly stuff. This is one of those cases where less is more and reading directions is key. Spraying the batting and not the fabric is essential. I know this method is still somewhat controversial as we don’t know what the adhesive will do to the fiber down the road. We use adhesives for applique without hesitation so my theory is just go for it.
For a long, long time I pin basted. I like this method as this gives me time to stretch my shoulders now and then as I have to stop the machine to remove the pins. Occasionally I will spray baste and add pins for good measure. My only problem with pinning is the whole crawling around on the floor bit. My carpet has some pile to it so I will sometimes get stuck. I have thought about bringing one of my mat’s down to use under the quilt…just hasn’t happened yet.
Thread basting. I think the only way I would ever thread baste is if I were using water soluable thread to baste. Even with paying attention to where the thread is I end up stitching over it and then trying to get it out later on.
Batting – My first quilt had polyester batting. The bearding drove me nutty. For the next several years I used Warm & Natural. At the time I was primarily a hand quilter with either bees wax or Thread Heaven, a size 11 or 12 needle and I was good to go. Reneé introduced me to Quilters Dream. I’m hooked. Their Request Loft (thinnest batt) is the best, particularly when making tote bags.
Recently I started playing with wool. I’ve wanted to give wool a try since I saw a field piece on Simply Quilts on the Cedarburg Woolen Mill. I was in Cedarburg a couple of years ago and am still annoyed that I didn’t stop in and get this batting. I didn’t stop to check out the Hinterberg frames either. But that’s a story for another day.
I’ve used Matilda’s Own, Hobbs Heirloom and Hobbs Tuscany and would and do use any of them in my quilts. There is a lot less stress on the shoulders moving this under the needle. I love the drape. I love that wool, unlike cotton, does not have a memory so when unfolding and hanging there won’t be creases that stay. I very much would like to try silk batting and will get there.
Needles I use primarily a 90/14 or 80/12 top stitching needle and will use an embroidery, sharps, metallic, microtex or anything along that line. It has to be sharp! Going through three, sometimes 4 layers means that the needle has to do some serious work. I do change needles either with a project or after about 6 hours. Sometimes this means I change needles twice in one day. Yipes, but well worth it though.