Soldiering On With Quilting

My quilt “Fortune and Fate” is now almost ready for a facing. I just need to decide if I want to rip out some stitching around fabric that’s ripply before I seal the deal. How did those ripples happen? User error, of course.

I am using wool batting simply because I had a piece just the right size. With wool you expect more puffiness than with cotton batting. I hadn’t planned to do much machine quilting on this piece. There’s hand stitching in and around each talisman, and in the border. The stitching in individual blocks is only through the top and batting. I wanted to hide my knots. In the borders I was able to hide the knots between layers before the final edge machine stitching.

Now, that puffiness has caused some of my “grout” stitching to be less than perfect but I can live with it. Before I stitched the outer edges I pressed the whole quilt to flatten it a bit. I even adjusted the presser foot to lighten the pressure, as I thought that worked better with a quilt sandwich made with wool.

While watching a Modern Quilt Guild webinar by Jacquie Gering on walking foot quilting, I congratulated myself on using my presser foot adjustment when Jacquie talked about it. She noted that quilting ripples, whiskers, and puckers often result from improper presser foot pressure. My smugness turned to consternation when I realized that apparently I have been misusing the adjustment all the years I’ve owned my machine. The real question was, should the pressure be heavier or lighter for thicker fabrics and quilt sandwiches? My intuition said to apply lighter pressure to a thicker fabric sandwich.

A Janome sewing machine blog says, “We recommend setting the pressure to maximum for light weight fabric such as organza and voile, medium for fabrics such as cotton and polyester, and minimum for heavy weight fabric such as canvas and denim.”

That brought me back to my Janome machine manual. Here’s what it says.

My manual says to sew normal fabric at a 3 setting, which is the last setting on my machine, and to set the dial at 1 for extra fine fabrics, which reduces the pressure. This contradicts the instructions given on the Janome blog, which I quoted above – maximum pressure for light fabrics and light pressure for heavy fabrics.

Ack! So, which is it? By the way, I decided to give my quilt a good press with steam and ignore the ripples. It won’t be in any show where such details might matter.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

9 responses to “Soldiering On With Quilting

  1. Kay Welch

    Yay for “not ripping out” – I resist “perfection” because it causes me such stress. Most people don’t see what we see as the maker. Once I relaxed about my making, it greatly improved. I was not aware of pressure foot settings, so I’m going to check my Janome manuals. Your “Fortune and Fate” is another beautiful finish.

    • I hear you about perfection being overrated. My personal nag is this. For decades I was a sloppy sewer, but I resolved to mend (ha ha) my ways so I try to sew as good as I can. The deal with the presser foot and walking machine quilting is that too much pressure can push the fabric forward and cause puckers, etc. Thus the need to lighten up. Which is where my confusion began. And I’m glad you enjoyed the quilt in question.

  2. You always surprise me with your imagination and skill. This is a lovely quilt! Thank you for the inspiration

    In my experience, even quilting cotton will get ‘tractor marks’ from the feed dogs if the pressure is set too tight. I can’t imagine sewing very fine fabrics with tight pressure. If the fabric won’t advance without a higher pressure, then I cut *tissue strips to place under the seams. This protects my fabric, gets it moving, and is relatively easy to remove when I am done.

    *Note: I use a weight or thickness comparable to pattern making tissue for this trick. Out of date patterns work great for this task.

    • First, thanks for the kind words. Second, I have used tissue paper when sewing slippery fabrics like vinyl, and chiffon. Now if I only had those old tissue patterns. I’ve painted many of the ones I did have and repurposed them for mixed media work. The newer patterns I have are on a heavier paper.

  3. I can’t decide if I like “Fortune and Fate” so much because of the striking composition and design or because you’ve used my favorite colors! Your hand stitching looks perfect and adds so much to this piece.
    As I read the presser foot pressure information it rang a bell, I can’t remember where I heard it before but it never stuck. I do remember the last quilt I quilted that had wool batting was completely covered in free motion design. That is one way to get rid of or avoid ripples. But as I recall you’re not a fan of heavily quilted quilts. That quilt was larger than I usually make, had a black background fabric, natural color wool, and it bearded… Oh, the memories!

    • Thanks for enjoying this quilt, especially since it’s made of your favorite colors. I’m hoping the wool batting won’t migrate through the top as most of the fabrics are tightly woven batiks. I had first hand experience with how tight when I did the hand quilting.

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