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How much machine quilting do I need?

by Connie
(Marietta, GA)

Should 12" squares be quilted within each square?


I have already stitched in the ditch, between each row of blocks.

Reply

Yes, I would definitely add quilting to each square.

How much depends on a couple of things.

First, check the package your quilt batting came in. The manufacturer usually provides a 'maximum quilting distance' right on the label.

If you no longer have the packaging or the batting was cut from a roll, I have a table that shows this information for several common quilt battings and machine quilting distances. For instance, if you've used Warm and Natural's 100% cotton batting, the company recommends quilting or tying up to 10" apart. To date, that's the furthest distance that I've found.

But there's another component to consider when deciding how much quilting to add.

If this is a quilt that will be used and washed...

...and especially if washed in the washing machine, and even more so if it is to be a gift to a non-quilter...

...add more quilting. And to be on the safe side, I'd add more than the package recommends.

Your quilting stitches take all the strain of holding the layers together.

The more stitches there are, the less strain is on each individual stitch. The less chance that the stitches will break. The longer the useful life of your quilt.

When a quilt is used frequently, like a much-loved couch quilt in the family room or one that does double duty decorating your bed and keeping you warm, there's just plain more tugging on the quilt. More wear and tension on all of the stitches.

A wet quilt is a heavy quilt...

Now, we all know how heavy a quilt can get when it is washed. And I don't know about you, but my everyday quilts just get thrown in the washing machine...no special treatment other than cooler water and quilt soap.

All that extra water weight puts more strain on your stitches. I can pop stitches if I'm not paying attention as I move the wet quilt from the washing machine to the dryer for a quick spin. A non-quilter probably wouldn't even consider taking it easy with a wet quilt.

Places to add quilting...

If there is an applique shape in each square, consider quilting around it to add both definition and more quilting stitches. If the 12" squares are solid—i.e. no piecing—then consider using the design printed on the fabric as stitching lines, using some or all of the lines.

Even if the quilt is intended to hang on a wall, I would add more quilting stitches...at least the amount recommended by the manufacturer.

Wall quilts need love, too...

A quilt, if it hangs on a wall long enough, will tend to sag. The sagging puts extra stress on each stitch. Again, more stitches equals less stress on each stitch. The longer your quilt will last. (You can reduce this sagging a bit by adding borders cut so that the lengthwise grain of the fabric runs from the top to the bottom of the quilt.)

Connie, I hope this reply has been helpful to you in deciding how much quilting is needed for your quilt.

Readers, you may have perfect idea or suggestion that this quilter needs! Please use the 'comment' link below to share your thoughts and suggestions. We appreciate it!

Piecefully,

Julie Baird
Editor

Comments for How much machine quilting do I need?

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Broken quilting stitches
by: Ann

From the Editor: Ann, your questions deserved more than a brief comment. I've moved it and my suggestions here...

Broken quilting stitches after the quilt is finished

~ Julie Baird

Quiters Dream Blend
by: k3n

Great advice Julie, just wanted to add that I regularly use Quilters Dream Blend batting, a 70/30 mix which is comparable to Warm and Natural but can be quilted up to 12" apart.

I agree that a quilt to be used can be quilted more closely - in my experience Quilters Dream Blend stays a lot softer than Warm and Natural even when quilted really closely.

Regards,
k3n x

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