Those annoying tie-offs…
I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of you on the road and I’ve heard you express your disappointment in the backs of your machine embroidered quilts.
Specifically, the Stipple blocks. So here’s an easy way to avoid those unsightly backs. Instead of hooping a quilt sandwich, hoop a quilt cracker.
What’s a quilt cracker?
I’m sure you’re familiar with the term, quilt sandwich – the layering of quilt backing fabric, batting, and quilt top fabric. But have you heard of a quilt cracker?
I coined this term two years ago (gee, has it really been that long ago?) when I wrote Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique. I needed some lingo to describe what materials to hoop for a specific technique (scalloped edges). But lately, I had an epiphany that a quilt cracker would be the perfect solution for those of you who do not like the backs of your machine embroidered quilts.
Here’s how I did it in my newest Stipple Collection: Bridge Club. I hooped batting and quilt top fabric in Snap-Hoop. You don’t have to use Snap-Hoop, a standard embroidery hoop will work fine for this technique. I followed the color sequences for the Spades block: quilted details, the outline of the appliqué area, tack down of the appliqué fabric, the outline of the second layer of appliqué, tack down of the second appliqué layer, and finally the decorative quilting motifs. Once the block was complete, I very carefully removed Snap-Hoop from the machine taking caution to hold the hoop by the attachment only. I wanted to make sure I didn’t move the fabric within the frame.
Then I placed the hoop upside down on the edge of a flat surface, extending the attachment off the edge. This position allows the block and frame area to lay perfectly flat on the table. I sprayed the wrong side of the quilt backing fabric with temporary adhesive and carefully positioned the fabric over the back of the hoop; fabric is right-side up. Since I’m using Snap-Hoop, I gently smoothed the fabric over the block. Too much handling might cause the quilt block to move from its original position.
I picked up Snap-Hoop by the attachment and carefully slid it back onto the machine. Before stitching, I checked the position of the quilt back fabric by feeling the top, right, and bottom of the hoop. If my hand landed on batting, then I knew the fabric had become dislodged. Smooth fabric meant smooth sailing!
I stitched color 1, the basting outline of the block. Now my back is firmly in position on the back of my quilt block. I can proceed as normal to piece the blocks together with my reversible piecing method. What’s normal? Trim all blocks ½” from the quilted motifs, and add front and back sashing to the front and back of the block to attach to the next block. You can see a video here of the technique and of course, all the detailed instructions are included in each Stipple Collection.
I am really enjoying the new Bridge Club collection. We first created the quilt in jewel tones with a black quilt top to really let the quilting shine. And of course, the addition of bling – crystals – really pops on the black background. But I like lots of different colors so I experimented with white and brights, earth tones, and a favorite shade of blue with yellow and pink.