The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting through Puckers and Pleats

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Quilting through Puckers and Pleats

Have you ever been happily quilting on a beautiful project and then suddenly have your fun time ruined by noticing a mistake on your quilt? This just recently happened to me as I quilted the outer border of my walking foot wholecloth quilt. The lines came together just right to create a perfect storm of pleaty, puckery fabric.


No, this isn't a huge issue. It's pretty minor to other quilting disasters I've experienced, but this quilt is going in a book and that creates it's own set of pressure and expectation. In short - I want it to be PERFECT! Why isn't it PERFECT?!

I don't know about you, but when I see an issue like this is like all my confidence drains away and I want to chuck the quilt in the trash and pretend it never happened.

But I didn't. I pulled on my big girl panties and got over it. Here's a video on what I did:


It sounds crazy to say that I suddenly can't see the issues now that the quilt is complete, but I really can't. I showed the quilt to Dad too and he struggled to find the two puckery corners as well. 

Ultimately I think the solution to any problem, any tricky area, any quilt that's turned from beauty to beast is to keep working at it. Don't stop, don't give up, don't get pissed off and moody and internalize it. Just keep quilting and by the time it's done, you'll wonder what you were making such a big deal about in the first place.

Now I'm off to prep up a second walking foot wholecloth because I'm very curious as to what caused this puckery issue. The only way to know is to try it again and see what happens!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

18 comments:

  1. Oh, the puckery of it all! I think your quilt turned out wonderful.
    I do have a question - what do you mean by "blocking the quilt?" I think I might be missing a step.

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    1. Blocking is a process after a quilt has been quilted to rinse out the starch and water soluble thread from basting, square the quilt up, and let it dry so it will hang perfectly straight and flat. I taught this technique in my Heart & Feather wholecloth workshop if you'd like to see a demo! https://leahday.com/products/heart-wholecloth

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  2. Hi Leah! Thanks for sharing. It's encouraging to know that someone as talented as you has the occasional issue and stays positive and carries on. As a beginner I know my work is very far from perfect but learning and improving is what it's all about right? I love that you are so down to Earth.

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    1. I'm so glad you like that I've been sharing my mistakes. I often fear I'll get a reaction like "Yeah, you suck. Why are you teaching?" but so far I've never gotten that comment! LOL!

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  3. Awesome job! I have enjoyed seeing how you made this quilt. I am not a professional but do believe you will find the answer to pleating in more precise and closer basting! Your sleuthing to find the answer to this problem will be helpful for large or small quilts. Thank you for your work and videos! So inspirational :D

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    1. You're super welcome! You're right - I do feel like a detective trying to sort out a big mystery!

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  4. Thanks so much for sharing your frustrations, Leah!
    I started posting all the bad with the good on my blog. I really feel like it can't just be me that screws up just about everything that I touch! lol
    ..and besides.. If I didn't post my screw ups I would hardly post at all, it seems. lol
    I'm interested in what was causing the puckering, too, but your quilting looks just great!!

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    1. Yeah, I'm definitely a lot more chatty when I just let it all hang out. Seriously, what's the point of trying to be perfect? I'd be stuck up in that ivory tower all by myself. I'd be pretty lonely!

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  5. The comment that you made over and over in the Craftsy class "It's not the end of the world" runs through my head all of the time when I mess up. I evaluate, regroup, and keep going!

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    1. I'm happy to hear that! I need that to run on repeat in my head too!

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  6. Thanks for posting this, Leah. I have enjoyed this series in particulare as there is a whole cloth in my future as well I too have had some issues with puckering and even pleating particularly toward the edges of my quilts. Two things have almost eliminate dthe problem for me. The first is basting spray. I know--- some quilters have strong feelings against using basting spray, but I have found it to be the most secure and reliable method. I will say that all products ar not the same.mSulky, which is advertised to be hypo-allergenic and to have a more focused spray is very irritating to my nose and thoat, even when My room was vy well ventilated. However 505 spray baste causes me no problem. I do know other quilters whose experience is exactly opposite to mine so I guess evey peson is different and trial and error will uncover the one that works best for you. The second thing that has helped my puckering issue is to stitch around the entire perimeter of my quilt before beginning to quilt. This will prevent stretching of the raw edges of the qult as yu manipulate it through the machine. I hope this is helpful. I love the way quilters are so ready to share these tidbits!

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    1. I do believe basting is apart of this, but I just can't bring myself to spray baste. I'm using a combo of pin basting and waters soluble thread to machine baste. I'll let you know how it goes!

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  7. Thank you for your post, Leah! Occasionally I have "wrinkles" in the fabric when I quilt, and it always irritates me. I look forward to your post after you've finished your research so I can learn how to prevent it!

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    1. I find it really annoying too. It seems to always be worse with my favorite wool batting too, so it's important that we figure this out!

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  8. Can you show us how you transfer your design to your fabric? It looks like a lot of lines to draw.

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    1. I just lay the fabric over the master pattern and trace the lines with my Fine Line pen. It is a lot of lines so we play music and audiobooks to make it less boring. For straight lines, I often use a ruler to make the lines nice and straight.

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  9. I may have missed this information in a former post. Is there wool batt in this wholecloth quilt or cotton? Thank you.

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    1. I'm using Hobbs Heirloom wool as the batting in this quilt. It's quite squishy which could have contributed to the ripples, but I really wanted it to feel soft and puffy.

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