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Seam Quilting

Lesson 17 from: T-Shirt Quilting: Warm Up With Your Life Story

Diane Gilleland

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Lesson Info

17. Seam Quilting

Lesson Info

Seam Quilting

I'm going to switch up quotes on you this is a uh another sample I'm working on from my brother's t shirts it of a sports fan and I'm going to use this to demonstrate straight same machine quilting which is actually the form of quoting that I use most on these t shirt quilts even though it's not really the easiest form once you get the hang of it it's not that bad but it does provide you with the greatest level of security in terms of holding these layers together and if you plan to launder your quilt a lot I think straight line machine quote things the way to go and since we were talking a little bit about pattern earlier this is a good quilt to demonstrate this on I have no idea for on the overhead or looking ahead but if we get to the overhead that would actually be helpful when you have a t shirt quilt a lot of times the pattern that the blocks form is pretty random and so the question is what do I where do I quilt right? The easiest way to go about it is simply to follow the lines...

that air created naturally in the design so what I use very, very often as I used these columns as the first lines of quilting because they're straight all the way up and down right top to bottom so you khun so a seam on either side of that seem line at the column, and that makes a nice, straight quoting line that anchors the whole quote from top to bottom and, generally speaking, your quotes goingto have several columns, so that gets you a good basic foundation for your quilting. And then after that, what I'll often dio is all simply stitch what they call stitch in the ditch, which means just stitch right in the lines between blocks and that generally gives me enough quilting toehold, mike well, together nicely, what you're looking for is to have some form of quilting every six inches. And so, for a quote like this, you might notice that there are some blocks in it that are quite a bit larger than that. Not so down here, if I were toe on ly quilt along the same lines that have a vast area of the quote, that would be unquoted and that can end up just sort of punching in these layers can move around, especially during laundering. So a lot of times, what I'll do is I'll combine the straight line machine quilting that we're going to talk about with, like the machine tacking. Because that's, such an invisible form of quoting and I can plot for machine tax in the center of a big block and lock those in place, and they don't really interfere with the look of the rest of the quilting. I've done that, in fact, on quite a few quotes here. It's. Just hard to see, because those tax or so invisible so we're going toe, machine, line quilt, probably come back after our lunch break and do that just so you can see that happening. Start to finish before we get in. Before we go, I will show you just a few mechanics of this. So when you're doing this at home, I'm going to recommend you find the largest table that you can possibly work on. And I'm going to recommend that you place your sewing machine is far to the right side, as you can, reason being that again. Quilts are enormous and during machine quilting we need to keep this quilt supported everywhere so if I've got a big table and I've got my machine all the way to the right, I have all this table space to support the rest of the quilt and I've got a lot of space in front of me to support the rest of the quilt and as we'll see when we get into the quilting, that really helps keep things nice and smooth and flat so that's one thing to know about if this were a bigger sample, I could also show you just how much bulk even a lap size quilt creates so a lot of times when I am quilting on a quilt the size, not only do I have a lot of it's supported by the table, I have a lot of it on my lap as well because you don't want any portion of this quilt to be hanging I want to show you what happens when you do allow that to go on I have a slide if we can put that up so what I did here was I did have the opposite of everything I just said to you I took my machine to the other side of my table and I said to quoting lines and I made no attempt to support the quilted all I just let it hang see what happens is as the quilt hangs in any direction, the fabric starts pulling and making these wrinkles and the minute you so over those as you can see, they get locked in place and you get some crazy roman shade looking thing on the back of your quill. So we do put a ton of effort with machine quilting into just this idea of support. I've got to keep every part of this resting on something and it's flat as possible and then also, if you can get for your sewing machine one of these dandy things you will be very happy with machine quilting. Give me the technical name, the burning a name of this part please called sewing table and it comes in the box with most of our yes it's not true of every maker because the machine I had does not it's a separate they didn't gather once that are bigger for this kind of process turned eighteen by twenty four and they you have to no the model number of your machine, so it fits on your free arm correctly. But yeah, there are lots of fun ways to handle that. This is nice because it makes a very large flat surface for you quote, too be laying upon and as we'll see after the break, it's, it's just really all about keeping these layers a smooth and wrinkle free as possible and thiss piece really helps as you quote on a quilt it's very important to keep all parts of it supported by something whether that's a table or your lap because if a quilt is allowed to drag off the edges of a table as your sewing on it that'll shift the layers of fabric and it'll actually create a lot of wrinkling and pleading on the back of the quilt which you definitely don't want so when you machine quilt just like with any style of quilting and just like when we safety pin basted earlier you always want to start near the center and then work your way out to the edges and that allows again those layers to keep smoothing outward so for this quilt sample I'm working with here I am going to start by just sewing a straight line it's close to the center as I can get which will be right along the edge of this vertical scene because that's a great place to start machine quilting so what I want to do with that is position the quilt so that I can fit it comfortably through this little opening right here in the selling machine this becomes your you're kind of limited area and you definitely don't want to be stuffing too much quilt in here so what I'll do is set up my selling so that I have less quilt to stick in that area meaning I would want a position the quilt this way so that I could be sewing that seem and have a much shorter area of the coil feeding through this opening. Okay, now we're just going to so basically from one end of the quote of the other, and we're going to so right off the edges because we're going to bind this in a few minutes and that's going toe take care of ceiling in this scene, the purpose of the seam is just toe hold the layers together, so when I start my seem here, of course, I have a whole lot more of the quilt hanging loose from the edge of the table. And so, as I said earlier, I'm going to support that right on my lap because I don't want any part of this hanging and you can really position these seems in any way you like there's, no rule here, you could set yourself up to stitch right right in the border between the two blocks if you wanted to, you could also position so that your sewing just a little on either side, you could use that quarter inch seam line that we've been using to sew pieces together or, heck, if it's easier, you could make that seem a little farther away and just line the edge of the presser foot up with the same line to you get to choose where you place the seem, so in fact I think I'll just keep this orientation right here I'm going to put the edge of my walking presser foot right against the edge of the fabric on the left side and I'm just going to go ahead and so so I do want to take a minute to get this is flat as I can and supported as I can, so what would be awesome is if we could show a shot from behind me of how I'm supporting this quilt because again I don't want this hanging I don't want any part of it drooping I want it all to be basically weightless think of it is making all of the quilt is weightless as you can and since this piece is about to go through this opening, I am going to start rolling that a little bit so it couldn't do so comfortably hi and I'll begin my seem here and with quoting seems I like too so a little more slowly so that I maintain some align that here now what's really important to do with these quoting seems is to stop frequently and rearrange your quote peace the quote pieces you all are selling on here in the studio of course they're pretty small and it's easy to maneuver those, but if we think about that idea of working at full size again you would imagine me to have, you know, large billows of quilts on my lap right now, there's a there's, a way, a lot of fabric here with a full size quilt. So I am constantly pausing my seems to re orient and flatten because I want to make sure that I can so this a smoothly as possible and any time you feel the slightest wrinkle developing justcause sewing, re flattened and start up again and pause multiple times, there are no prizes here for sewing a quilting seem all in one go, I promise you, and you'll generally end up with something that's a little bit bubbly. If you do, you can tell as I go, I'm just continually re adjusting the positioning of this quilt. You always want to just keep it so that it is flat, so you just maneuver it in any way you need to to keep that nice gladness going, and I've got another wrinkle developing here, so I'm going to take a minute to smooth that out, and then I'm just about to sew my way up to a safety pin here. So what happens in that? Moment is you just stop sewing, you can even see where the fabric has begun to bubble up around the safety pin a little bit. We pull that out, then that allows us to get the fabric flatter. We don't even need to put it back in because there are so many pins in the vicinity that it won't hurt anything to lose this one, and then I'll just continue sewing, and as you get more confident, if you have a speed control on your machine, you can crank the speed of a little bit, go faster, and I'll give the bottom of this quilt a little roll up so I can keep it as flat as possible. It's really just a process of constantly adjusting so right off the edge of the fab and there's that first kolzig line so you can see that from the back is nice and smooth, very different than the sliders showed in the last segment where the fabric was all pleaded. This has a nice, smooth parents on the back, which is exactly what we want. And on the front you get a nice, tailored looking stitched line that adds to the overall look of the quilt, and you can add another one on the opposite side if you wanted to or you might want to come over to this column and so the same distance in on this side again there's no hard and fast rules as long as you've got some kind of quilting seem every six inches then you can really decide on the placement of these seems yourself how's everybody doing with your machine quoting here pretty good everybody's like super constant cast fine every six inches full directions air just like if I have a block that's twelve by twelve and I've got a stitch on one side stitch on one side and topping bob I still need something in the middle right he would need something cause of you every six inches you want to have some kind of quilted point okay yeah coming from what you do you run out of bobbing thread in the middle of the line you're selling well new say some bad words so it's a great question actually really super glad you asked it because that is something a big thing to think about it certainly happens and if it does happen you can usually just start sewing with the fresh bobbing and so a couple stitches over where you left off and then pull the threads to the inside but instead of doing that just keep a close eye on your bobbin ifyou're we're doing pretty minimal quilting here so generally speaking if you just plan to start a full bob in at the start of the quilting process that generally takes care of any running out of thread that might happen if we were doing more complicated quilting than this, then filling yourself three or four bobbins is also a good idea and that way if you're getting ready to sew a quilting seem and you check your bob in first and it's running a little low, then you can just switch in a new one on the bombing is the thread that goes underneath the needle it's not the threat that you're putting from the top that's correct? Do you see how much you've learned about so I knew that one day you're going to make a quilt, I can feel it now jennifer is asking is any particular stitch length preferable for when you're quoting? I like to use a standard two point four depends on the machine a little bit too sometimes when I saw on an older machine, I'll even crank it up to three but make yourself a little test quote sandwich and try a few stitch lengths in that vicinity and see what looks and feels good to you. It looks like all of our ladies of selling we're not holy holies on picking something I am always having a change of money my star in the right that's the question how can I get but the decorative stitch say like the star and I'm in the corner how do I know that where it's gonna land? Yeah test so just okay it is you have to kind of consider how the stitches formed. Yeah, and the of the order of the stitch sequence. Ok, so it starts at the top of the stitch and ends at the bottom, and you've got all this other stuff in between, then you have to start on their head a few times, so you know which way it's going to go and where it's going to stop and start it ended in just like, just like a knock word enough place to drive me crazy so well, your big sam bureau operating there, I'm going to sew another straight quoting line on this piece and since it's on the opposite side of the quilt now I'm actually going to pivot the quill because I don't wanna have to feed all of this into that opening in the sewing machine to reach all the way to where that seem. Is lookout awkward that would become to try to manage all of that instead, what I'm going to d'oh is just pivot the quotes around side of the easiest reach for the seem I want to so and so inside of one head and sewed a nice straight seem inside this quilting line, I'll do the exact same mirror image thing on the other side. And again, I'm making a lot of effort here to be supporting the quilt at the start of the seam is really an important moment to support the quilt because that's, when you've got the least weight of it being able to be supported by the table and being able to be supported by the machine. And so this is the moment to make sure that you're utilizing your lap and that you're keeping this wait lists and that way you're seems, starts out nice and smooth and you get a nicer result. I strongly recommend the test sewing that debbie just mentioned with with any quilting just because it's nice to be able to get the feel of how the seams feel with all these layers before you're also managing the weight and bulk of the quilt. So the small pieces that you're all working on here in the studio or a nice size for that, and I even so together a few pieces just so you could so over some seams and kind of see how that feels, it's just a great confidence builder and I wanted to mention, too, we were talking on the break, and I mean in kelly, I have decided that they're going to go to a thrift store and get some like dollar pound t shirts and just make a practice quote using those before they cut into their good ones which I think is a brilliant idea. And then you can just give that to someone is a gift and pretend like you totally picked out the shirts. That's a question for debbie one of obvious is asking, would using the needle down function be helpful? Oh, I I'm mostly so with my needle to stop in the down position. That's just personal preference mostly, but if you stop with your needle down and you let go of your fabric, it doesn't go anywhere because your needle was in the fabric and it's it's holding it down. If you stop with your needle up and you let go of your fabric, you're reaching for a pin or or something. Your fabric may shift. And so, that's why I personally prefer to sew with my needle stopped down. Then we have ah, really cool feature on our foot control that if you just tap the the hell of the foot control, it pops the needle back up again. So it really makes it easy to work with when you get to the end of the seam and you want to lock the stitch and finish? Yeah, that's. Very good advice. Thank you. One other good point to make about machine quilting is that. Debbie heads that use the word fingertip control yesterday to describe how to guide fabric through the machine if you're selling blocks together and that's a really similar feeling to what you're aiming for with this machine quilting when your new added it's actually pretty tempting to try to use force, you know, if you don't feel like the quilt is quite smooth enough for you don't feel like the seams going down quite right to try really push it and make it do what you want, but that's just really going to lead to puckers on the back of the work, so always pay attention to the alignment and then just your very lightly guiding the fabric through the machine you're not pushing or pulling or anything like that and a little trick you can do that's kind of helpful is you can also use the sort of gentle outward pressure with your hands, so I'm exaggerating the motion, but what I'm really doing is I'm setting my hands on top of the fabric, but I'm just gently pushing them out word a little bit and it just helps stretch the fabric taught a cz you're selling, anybody looked at the back, so they're quoting seems yet how are things looking good? Surprisingly, not surprisingly, are on it. Very good so now I've got to quilting seems now I'm not going to make the time to quit this entire piece it does need a lot more quilting than this but I do want to show you one stitch in the ditch scene because that's a slightly different animal on give you some tips on that so if you guys want to attempt one of these is your next seem you're welcome to so what those are is that a seam that will actually follow the line between two blocks it's it's a much different animal to follow that line than it is to line up the edge of the presser foot or a guideline with the same and follow that way it's a little trick here to stitch in the ditch because you're aiming for this little precise line so if you want to up your chances of getting a really precise finish on that get a thread that matches the a place where you're selling and then it'll be really invisible anytime you're quoting threat is very contrast it shows more and then if you make mistakes there kind of neon flashing signs if you're new to it just go with the thread that's very neutral and it'll work great I'm going toe disregard everything I just said and I'm going to stitch a seam between this red and white section just because I'm using black threatened I want there to be some contrast and again I don't want to have to feed too much fabric through this opening, so I'm going to come in from this side now that machine limits you as to how big ultimately your quilt convened by not having enough room to get all the fabric that does that really is just really a question of maintaining yourself it's I don't believe it does and I'm gonna ask debbie to chime in on this after I'm done answering but it's not that this opening is terribly limiting its just that you always want to try to get the minute minimum number minimum amount of fabric that battle work minimum amount of fabric through it because it's just a great deal easier to maneuver, but people quilt a king size bed quilt on a machine the size all the time it just means you're coping with more fabric in this area and you have to be a bit more vigilant that this little section here around your needle is flat but it's it's absolutely doable. Did you have anything to album? Sorry not going to end if you've used police or sweatshirt material rather perhaps to ship does the thickness as well is that going to impede you? Perhaps perhaps you're starting out adds a little bit of bulk definitely, so that will kind of take up more really in here that's that's a great point, yes that's the fast answer yes you can quill big stuff in a standard size sewing machine like these there are bigger machines out there ten inches from the needle to the head twelve inches and if you get into a long arm you're talking twenty four inches and so that makes life easier with a larger size quilt work with but you know we don't all have those opportunities so this works just fine uh some people roll their quilt I always found that difficult because I'm not a very big person and and that role gets very heavy and so from ricky tim's who's a wonderful quilter he said he puddles his quote like what do you mean by puddle you like but the whole thing in then then just wrapped the heavy loose around so that it's out of his way but he wraps it around this side of the machine when it's that big and and it works for me I like that better cause I don't have toe hold it all. So another great tip along those lines is if you can put your quilting table up against a wall which is what I do at home then you never have to worry about part of it kind of coming forward and flopping over the front of the table and dragging the wall keeps it there and I do that at home all the time and love that tip they were dragged to decide a different cause I have a long dining room table s so I have to the table does this way so my machines here so I have the length of the table as opposed to the side how can you turn your machine around so that you can work the length? Probably I just didn't know where you feel like you get more drags it like after the cool keep swapping over and you keep more consistent on the side it's going to change according to how you position the quote for the section that you're faulting on because, like right now, I don't I don't have too much happening on this on the side of the machine, the whole length of the quilt is longer, so I would have more pressure here, but if I'm sewing up on all the pressures on the side so it just changes according to how you spin the quilt around, okay? So stitching in the ditch let's do that real quick here now in this case when we when we did the first quoting lines, we just showed off of both edges of the quilt, but of course here we're starting to sew in the middle of the quilt, so we're going to need that lock stitch first, so the first thing I'll do is go ahead and sink my needle and bring my press her foot down so my needle is right at the point where these two pieces of fabric meat and then I'll hit the lock stitch button, and so my three and then all proceed forward and for stitching in the ditch. I really like to proceed slowly, because it's, easier for me to aim some so ists find that it is actually easier for them to stick fast and keep this alignment in the ditch, so I would definitely recommend the proverbial test sewing in this case, see how your hands like to work. I could probably get a tiny bit faster than that it's kind of a zen exercise the stitching in the ditch you have to get very, very focused. If you're going to watch tv while stitching in the ditch, you got to make it an extremely boring program that you don't want to pay attention to. And then, because we're headed for the edge of the quilt at the end of the scene, we don't have to lock stitch again because we're just going to catch that in the binding intimate. So then the great thing about a stitch in the ditch is that if you do it well, it's pretty invisible. And the bad thing about a stitch in the ditches if you go off line a little bit and your threats contrast, ng it's really going to show up? I went off in a little place here, but I'm going to give myself a free pass on that how you mentioned invisible stitching there but is invisible threat good for this? Do you really want to be able to see the thread? You know I'm not a fan of invisible thread myself, but there are plenty of people who are the invisible threads or generally made of ah synthetic and so I find them to be a little stretchy they're certainly not that easy to thread in the machine because of course, it's hard to see what you're threading and I don't know to me they just they have a little bit of glint that like an artificial glint to them that I'm not nuts about. I tend to like a nice cotton covered polyester threat for quoting and if you're not sure what color to pick, you cannot go wrong with either black or a medium or light gray, depending on how light or dark your t shirts are that's really going to blend with just about any color and your quote seems well, pretty much show up like these do, which is kind of mohr of ah shadow line than a prominent line of stitching so it doesn't matter whether or not this is again a viewer question I so every quick quilting line from top to bottom or can I? So in either direction so I was going to get halfway through and then turn and go in the other direction do not recommend that I think as long as you're working center out, then you really could approach that, you know, some vertical and then some horizontal would be fine aa lot of times I'll do all the verticals and then all the horizontal xcx, but all start both passes in the center and work out, but you could combine them, and this long as you were working out from center you, it would work on what specific foot are using still with the walking foot and in fact, with quilting, especially the walking presser foot is what you want because it we're moving a lot of layers through this machine all at once. We really want that presser foot helping them all go through at the same rate so that things don't shift around while rick wilting what's the difference between straight sewing and stitching in the ditch. Really only that stitching in the ditch occurs right in the fine line. You see the line between two pieces, right in the scene. That's, it's like the ditch where the two pieces of fabric meet. At that scene, where a straight line stitching occurs on the surface of the quilt, it might line up with the same line. But it's. Not inside the same line, which hopefully makes sense. Thanks for always good to get that one in, thanks to him.

Class Materials

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Bonus Project Cozy Pet Quilt
Bonus Project Pocket Graphic Pillow
Bonus Project Scrappy Trivet Potholder
T-Shirt Quilt Class Workbook
Getting Ready Guide

Ratings and Reviews


This was a really fabulous class with an excellent instructor. It took us from a pile of t-shirts through every step to a finished quilt. There was a lot of time spent in design which was great, since t-shirts are highly variable in color and design. The second half of the class was all about basics, including information on backing, batting, and quilt top. Then making the "sandwich" with several options on basting. And then quilting (fancy, which was discussed but not included), hand tie and a couple of machine quilting options. Then binding. Each step was explained and demonstrated. Options were very often given, with easy, non-stressful techniques encouraged. This was a excellent class and the instructor was really awesome. Questions were anticipated and thoroughly answered. The instructor was always helpful and pleasant. This course expects some basic sewing machine knowledge, but you definitely do not have to be an quilting expert to enjoy this class and end up with a wonderful quilt.

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Diane Gilleland is a fantastic teacher. One of the problems I always face with quilting classes is that the teacher seems to forget that everyone is at a different ability. I love the way Diane goes slowly enough for beginners while at the same time adding tidbits of information that even an experienced quilter could appreciate. Her "laid back" approach is appealing and non-threatening, which made for a very comfortable learning experience. It is such a wonderful idea, to be able to save the memories of your t-shirts, by making them into a comfy quilt.


Diane was fantastic! I am fairly new to sewing and have taken a tee-shirt quilt class before, but Diane's class was so much more informative, helpful, easy to understand and professional. I can't say enough good things about the class and how impressed I was. This was my first visit to creativelive, you can be sure it will not be my last. Thank you

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