The Free Motion Quilting Project: Question Thursday #38

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Question Thursday #38

It's Question Thursday and time to answer your questions about free motion quilting! I'm sorry for posting this so late, but Josh has caught a cold and that combined with my Craftsy class launching...well it's never a dull moment!  This week we have two interesting questions from Karin at The Quilt Yarn:

How do you quilt through the Borders of a quilt?

Full question: I started quilting the border from the middle out to the right, facing the border and having all the bulk behind the machine. That, of course, meant that I then had to turn the quilt to complete the other side, this time with the bulk of the quilt in my lap. This was very awkward and created a few hassles with just having to manage the bulk. What is the best way to go about this?

Borders can be a bit tricky. On the one hand, they're right on the edge of the quilt and easy to get to, but on the other hand, it's still a quilt, and even on the edges all that bulk can be a bit tricky to handle.

But the way Karin described quilting it is exactly the way I quilt through my borders. Basically you start in the middle and quilt to a corner, working from left to right (counterclockwise) as you shift the quilt through the machine:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Starting in the middle, the border is being quilted from left to right.
Most of the bulk is behind the machine and the quilting motion is mostly sideways.
In the middle this works great and if you have flat tables, the quilt will form a diagonal direction as you see above.

When you get to a corner, push your quilt around so it is almost entirely behind the machine like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This generally works well, especially if you only have the absolute corner in the machine, and all the bulk pushed to the back.

As you continue from here to the right, just keep moving sideways, but keep the quilt up on the table so it's easy to shift.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The best thing to do is knock out your border in 1 or 2 quilting sessions. For really big or complicated quilts, I'll break it down into 4 sections, quilting through one side before stopping.

This way you work through the area quickly and it doesn't become the last remaining thing that drags on and on forever.

Which side of the border should I quilt next to avoid issues?

Full Question: I'm starting to get a bit worried about the the moment I am quilting wherever I fancy as the quilt is secured by quilting in-the-ditch, however after I had done the top border, I wondered whether I now should continue with the side borders rather than doing the bottom border first (I was thinking of doing Jagged Lines in the bottom to match the top a bit). The quilt itself is pulling in the batting and the border is starting to crinkle (as is the sashing).

I would work your way around the whole border as you go. For the sides, pick a stitch and work through it, then switch to Jagged lines as you'd planned for the bottom border, then quilt up the opposite side with another design.

I'm always hesitant to break borders up or to quilt one side, then go to the opposite. It won't be a problem as you quilt through the top and bottom, but it might cause issues for the sides.

If things really shift, you could have puddles and pleats around the corners of the sides because the extra fabric won't have any place to go. Of course, this isn't a huge issue and if your borders are relatively narrow (4-6 inches wide). If that's the case, quilt it any way you want as I doubt it will be a huge problem.

So that's it for the questions asked this week! On Craftsy, I've been really staying busy with the questions from my new class Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. Tomorrow I'm going to post more details about this class and how amazing the site is for learning and teaching.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. I just bought your class!!! I'm so excited:D Glad I got that 50% discount!

  2. I also just signed up for your class. I really enjoyed the session with Sadie who is new FMQ.


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