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The Cabin, Hiltingbury, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire (By Appointment Only)

Quilting F.A.Q.

What is Quilting?

Quilting is a method of stitching layers of material together.  Often a quilt is considered to be a bed cover whereby two layers of fabrics are sandwiched together with a layer of  padding or wadding in-between and held together by stitches. Quilting stitches are usually based on a pattern or design and can be done by hand, domestic sewing machine or the Longarm Quilting machine.

The origins of quilting can be traced back to the middle ages, and the word “Quilt” seems to have been first used back in the 1200’s in England. Early quilting in England was used to make bed covers which then became family heirlooms. As a technique, quilting is used in a wide range objects from clothing to placemats and historically padded jackets were worn under suits of armour to make them more comfortable.

The early settlers to America from England and Holland established quilting as a popular craft and it soon became a social activity where women would get together in a “quilting bee” to make bed quilts for young girls about to get married. The aim of the women getting together was to get the quilt finished in a day!

Quilting has a domestic history too and in Britain, it was most popular in the 17th century.  Many of the current English quilted items housed within the V&A collection are the work of women who were sewing domestically and often for special occasions, such as a birth or wedding.  Today, the pleasure of giving the gift of a quilt still exists and it has been an honour for me to have been a part of creating these gifts for special occasions. 

What is Longarm Quilting?

What is Longarm quilting I hear you ask? Well, if you have started upon your journey into the Patchwork and Quilting world you will soon have lots of different pieced quilt projects. Often considered the final step of the journey is “The Quilting” and as you may come to realise, quilting using a domestic sewing machine is not the easiest of ways to quilt your beautiful top. This is where the longarm quilting machine can come into its own.

Although much larger and industrial in style, the longarm quilting machine is very similar to your domestic sewing machines although the throat area of the machine has been extended; hence the term “longarm”. Unlike your domestic machine, the longarm machine has 2 sets of wheels which allow the operator more ease in moving the machine head around whilst quilting. This is the key differential between the two methods. Many quilters find they struggle with moving the quilt sandwich around under the needle on their domestic machines, whereas the longarm machine moves along rails and across a static quilt that is layered and attached to rollers on a frame.  This allows the operator to move the machine not only up and down, but side to side also. 

The process of loading the quilt onto the longarm machine is achieved by attaching the top edge of the backing fabric to the top roller and then mirroring the attachment of the bottom edge to a front roller.  It is imperative that your backing fabric is both square and taut. The placing of the wadding is next and this is lined up with the top edge of the backing fabric and is followed by the quilt top, which I prefer to allow to hang freely so that I can assess the quilt as I quilt it.

As longarm quilting has developed so too has the world of technology and today most new machines are built with an integrated digital computerised systems.  Some, like my machine, make use of an industry leading computerised add on system, called IntellQuilter.  With this new technology the longarm machine has entered into the new age of digital, however, whilst the operator no longer guides the machine along a paper pattern, the process is not as simple as loading the quilt, pressing the start button and heading off for a cup of tea (as I am often asked).  Some of the skills required by a longarm quilter are in understanding the quilt and the relationship between the different fabrics used, its construction, pattern choice/density and pattern drift plus row realignment to name but a few, and after 8 years quilting I am learning all the time – you never stop learning and nor should you.

What is Pantograph?

This is also known as “edge to edge” quilting, but mainly is where the quilting is over the whole of the quilt top (all over) this can be achieved by various ways ie; by using templates or using a laser or stylus to follow paper rolled patterns. The Longarm machinist can also use a computerised system which has limitless possibilities for pattern design.

The origins of quilting can be traced back to the middle ages, and the word “Quilt” seems to have been first used back in the 1200’s in England. Early quilting in England was used to make bed covers which then became family heirlooms. Quilting was also used to produce clothing that was light but also warm. Padded jackets were also worn under suits of armour to make them more comfortable.

The early settlers to America from England established quilting as a popular craft and it soon became a social activity where women would get together in a “quilting bee” to make bed quilts for young girls about to get married. The aim of the women getting together was to get the quilt finished in a day.

What is Custom?

This is where the quilter has been asked to enhance the quilt top by using their own design and creative skills. Some of the following are also considered to be custom quilting.

What is Stitch in the Ditch?

This one of the hardest stitches for the Longarm quilting machine. It is free hand, but with the introduction of the computerised system it has become a little easier, but is still as time consuming.

What is Outline or Shadow Quilting?

Outline or shadow quilting is exactly what it sounds like. “Outline” is stitching about ¼” inch around any focal point. “Shadow” quilting is following the stitching line about ¼” inch apart to the edge. This type of quilting really makes any focal points stand out.

What does Stipple mean?

Stipple is a stitch that looks like a jigsaw puzzle. These can be either large or small depending on individual choice.

What does Meandering mean?

Pretty well covers anything. It could be loops, connected to stipples, swirls. It is a very free form of quilting and can be beautiful.