Last summer I finished piecing my Feather Bed quilt top. While my husband was working out of town and we were joining him camping in our fifth wheel trailer, I made my quilt sandwich on a table under the pavilion in the campground and began ditch quilting. That’s right… while camping in a trailer. It meant daily set up and tear down of my sewing machine on the dinette, but with the long hours he was working and the lack of anything else to do in northern Ontario, I was grateful I had brought it along.
I decided from the beginning that I would ditch quilt each feather, and then hand quilt with perle cotton around the feathers to add additional texture. I was undecided, however, on how to quilt the background, so I left it alone. I don’t have a large throat space on my machine, and this makes free motion quilting on a large object difficult and honestly, stressful. Which is the opposite of what I would like my creative exploits to be. So, for large pieces I usually straight line quilt with a walking foot, and I am always pleased with the results.
For this quilt I used painters tape as a guide for line spacing, and it worked out very well. This tape is approximately 1.5″ wide, which is dense enough to hold the layers securely without being too busy or time consuming.
One drawback from not quilting an all-over design is that there are a hundred loose ends to bury, which is probably my least favourite way to spend my free time. However, when your child wants to watch Despicable Me for the millionth time, it can be a welcome distraction.
The procedure to bury thread ends is easy:
At the machine, when you are ready to break thread, take one more stitch and then raise the needle. Pull the top thread towards you, and pull upwards gently. This will cause the bobbin thread to poke through the quilt, so you can pull it through to the top of the quilt. I use the back of a seam ripper for this, just be careful not to cut the thread with the blade on the front.
Pull the bobbin thread out and clip the threads with scissors or a seam ripper about 5″ from the top of the quilt. Move them out of the way to continue quilting the next section.
Once the quilt is removed from the machine, hold the thread tails together and tie a knot as close to the top of the quilt as you can. I do this by sticking the tip of the self threading needle through the knot loop, and into the spot where the threads exit the quilt top. I then pull the threads towards the quilt to snug the knot against the top, and remove the needle tip.
Thread the self-threading needle with both tails (this is where you will be grateful for the self-threading feature!), and push the needle through the the quilt top as close to where the tails exited the quilt top as possible. Stitch into the batting and back out of the quilt top, about a half inch from the exit point, but do not pierce the backing fabric.
Give a gentle tug until you feel (and see) the knot disappear into the quilt sandwich, and then clip the tails close to the top. I use embroidery thread nippers for this task as they have a curved blade and easily clip very close to the quilt surface. I also like how they are spring action; kinder on my hands when there is so much repetitive motion.
Repeat until all your ends are buried.