bernina, machine quilting, quilting, tutorials

Quilty Questions Answered

Quilters always have questions and I’m always happy to answer! I put a call out on my facebook page asking for questions then mentioned here that I’d answer quilty questions.

Lucas Moon Over Manhattan 39 x 34First up from Betty Jo: “Since I know you are a Bernina girl also, how do you set your tension for using metallic threads when you are free motion quilting?”

First thing I do is use a polyester thread in the bobbin, generally Bottom Line or So Fine. I find that cotton tends to pull the metallic to the back of the quilt as it’s kind of grabby.
Next I use a 90/14 top stitch needle or metallic needle. The right needle makes a huge difference.
As for tension settings generally set the machine to somewhere between 0 and 1.5. Yes this is a range and not a specific setting. Ranges make things easier to tweak if the tension isn’t quite balanced.
One thing to note is that batting has an effect on tension – cotton batting like cotton thread is a bit grabby and will pull the metallic towards the back of the quilt. I am a big fan of wool and silk batting for competition quilts and a good polyester batting for non competition quilts.

zen tangleNext question from Susan: “How have you found doodling productive…I look at my doodles and wonder if they will amount to anything

Couple of things Doodling is always productive even if it doesn’t look like it, especially when it doesn’t look like it. I use doodling to try out new quilting motifs or design quilts. I doodle both with both my dominant and non-dominant hand. This helps with the machine quilting since we use both hands when we quilt. I don’t worry what my doodling looks like, I just do it. When I sit to quilt the quilting is so much easier. I get the stitching path.

Just keep up with the doodling and stitching!

And this weeks final question:

From Elizabeth: “How do I get over my terror of free motion quilting?

This is the best question ever. And deserves an in depth answer.

Just sit and stitch! Seriously this is the best way. Keep that Karen Carpenter tune in your head, “don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing”. Get some solid black or your favorite color, some very contrasty thread, a good batting sit at the machine and stitch.

Doodling helps a lot. Blank books and Sharpie pens are perfect for doodling. Scrap paper and a pen or pencil work just as well.


Happy Quilting!


1 thought on “Quilty Questions Answered”

  1. I just jumped in and started quilting. I figured no one in my family cared about perfection. Perfections comes later. So many that belong to quilt guilds or spend time watching quilting programs are being intimidated by the skills of a few. Quilting history shows us that the women before us quilted just for the pleasure of process and excepted the imperfections as part of the process. So just jump in and quilt for the fun of it.

Leave a Reply