Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quilting a spiral ~ what worked for me


I wanted to make note of these things for my own future reference, but hopefully you'll find them useful as well:
  • Baste your quilt well.  You will handle the quilt a lot and want the layers to stay put.  Also, quilting in the same direction around and around the whole time has the potential for a lot of shifting if your basting is insufficient.  I used a lot of pins but spray would work as well.
  • I found this printable spiral template at verykerryberry and found it to be very useful.  I wanted to be sure that I began with a properly started spiral and this did the trick.  The template doesn't look like much but it is all you need to get going in the right direction.  I printed it smaller than actual size because I wanted 1/2" distance between my quilting lines.  From there, I actually placed the paper template in the center of my quilt, affixed it with painter's tape, and sewed through the paper and the quilt with my machine unthreaded.  Then I traced over those stitching lines on the quilt with a washable marker and was good to go.
  • Use your walking foot.
  • Start with a very short stitch length!  I went all the way down to 1.5 (on my machine, 2.5 is the default stitch length).  The beginning of the spiral is the trickiest part and when following a very tight curve, a short stitch length is really important.  For the first few rounds I was literally sewing two or three stitches, then raising the presser foot and adjusting the quilt a bit, then a few more stitches, etc., just to be sure I was following my marked line.  Also at the beginning especially you will want to take it really slow.
  • I wanted my lines to be close together and I didn't want to have to use the guidebar for my walking foot (I hate that thing, mine doesn't stay put.) so I moved my needle position as far to the right as I could and then used the left edge of my walking foot as my guide. 
  • As I went along and the spiral grew and became easier to sew, I gradually increased my stitch length until I was up to a 3.0 on my machine, which is what I normally use for straight line quilting.  Unless you look closely you'd never know that the stitch length varies throughout.
  • You'll eventually get to the point of having a full spiral that goes out to the edges of your quilt, leaving the corners unfinished (the point I was at in the above photo).  From here you can just quilt one corner at a time, continuing in the same direction that you quilted the rest (clockwise in my case) and continuing to follow the edge of your walking foot as a guide (or your guidebar, if you're using one).
I hope you'll give this a try sometime.  It's a really fun (once you get past the first few rounds...) and striking way to quilt a quilt, adding lots of interest and texture.  I'll definitely be spiraling again in the future!
 

29 comments:

Kate said...

That looks amazing! I love the colours as well. I've seen a few spirals here and there, but I don't know if I'll do something like that. We will see! Seeing this makes me want to!

liz said...

I love the way this looks and have admired it in many quilts, but I don't think I could do it on anything much bigger than a placemat! And the center is intimidating. Thanks for your tips!

Live a Colorful Life said...

Thanks, Heather, for these very helpful hints!

Alison said...

I definitely want to try this soon! :)

Krista Robbins said...

Thanks for the post. I've been wanting to try this!

Linh said...

I' haven't done spiral quilting before but when done right like yours it's breath taking .

felicity said...

You did it all with a walking foot?! WOW!!! Fantastic!

Debbie said...

Well it looks beautiful and good for you for writing this all down for future reference and for the benefit of others wanting to try it. VERY cool!

Cherilyn said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing all your great tips!

nicole said...

Thanks for the tips Heather! I'm still in the middle of a spiral quilting session that has been going on far to long. I wish i had this advice when i started! But i'll definitely make use of it on the next one!

Izzy said...

Thank you so much for these tips! I really want to try this and your tips will come in handy when I do.

Adrienne said...

These tips are awesome! I have always wanted to try this but was not sure where to start. Think I will try on a mini!

DeborahGun said...

thanks for the great tips. One day I will try this!

Carla said...

Thanks for all the pointers ; )

Caroline Heinrichs said...

Thanks a bunch, I appreciate your thoughtful approach to your process so other can understand you!

Erica said...

Thank you for the tips, especially the one about shortening the stitch length, I would have never thought of that!

Suzanne said...

Fun! I definitely want to try this sometime!

Suzanne said...

Fun! I definitely want to try this sometime!

Patchwork and Play said...

Your tips have given me the confidence to give this a try Heather! Thank you for sharing your expertise! I love your rainbow spiral!

Sarah Elliott said...

This is great. I'm bookmarking your post for future use. I can't wait to try this!

Svetlana said...

thanks for the tips, your quilting looks absolutely amazing Heather. I have to give it a try one of these days, I especially love how you started the spiral, I find that part to be extremely tricky.

Kirsten said...

Your spiral quilting looks amazing Heather! Thank you so much for these great tips as spiral quilting is something I would love to try!

Poppyprint said...

Excellent tips!! Your quilting looks fantastic!

Fran said...

Your quilt & the spiral quilting look amazing, thanks for the tips, I'd love to give this a go!

Holly said...

This looks fantastic, Heather! Thanks for the tips, I hope to try spiral quilting for the first time soon!

Samantha said...

great tips Heather! Thanks for sharing :)

Claudia said...

Thank you so much for your tips. I have been collecting information on spiral quilting because I am so keen on trying it. Your tips are a wonderful help. Thank you!

Katherine said...

Great tips!

Could stare all day at this pretty quilt. :o)

Kimberly said...

This is way too stunning, Heather. But you knew that already, right?