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Tidying up the back of the quilt

A reader asks...

I'm new to quilting and am using a domestic sewing machine.

I used plain coloured fabric for the backing and to finish off a line of quilting I back stitched.


These back stitches have put little bumps on the back.

I can't cut them out because I'm afraid my thread will unravel over time with use. I've been told this makes the quilt "unfinished". I don't know any domestic machine quilters so am desperate for help.

When I come to the end of a line of stitching how do I lock the thread?

Julie replies...

First, let me do the happy dance on your behalf! You're quilting on your home sewing machine! Excellent!

In the future...

To end a line of stitching you can either use microstitching or actually hand-knot the thread tails and bury them in your batting using a hand sewing needle.

Micro stitching is simply stitching for about a quarter of an inch at the beginning and end of a line of quilting with stitches that are 25-30 per inch.

If the line of quilting starts or ends off the edge of the quilt, I skip these tiny quilting stitches because the stitches you use to attach your binding will also secure the quilting thread tails. I've written more about these two technique on the page Machine Quilting Technique for Free Motion Quilting.

Try patterned backings for camouflage...

I would recommend for your next quilts (yes! I did use the plural!) that you use a patterned fabric for the backing.

It's tempting to use a muslin or other solid fabric, but a pattern will hide any imperfections in your quilting. And don't think of this as just a "beginner's technique". Look at the backs of quilts in quilt shows and you'll find a preponderance of print fabrics on the back.

Onwards and upwards!

Don't let someone tell you that your quilt looks 'unfinished'. And don't think of removing those stitches now. You are better off moving forward with your next quilting project. You'll learn more that way...and have more fun!

If this is a quilt that's meant to be washed, go ahead and wash it. If you've used a cotton batting, there's a chance that it may shrink a bit, giving it that traditional puckered quilt look. The backstitching will be less noticeable.

Celebrate your achievement! You've done what many won't even try to attempt on their own. You should be proud!

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