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Our favourite quilting tips

Everything from fabric choice to photographing your quilt…

We love quilting! It’s such a terrific worldwide passion, with thousands of people improving their techniques over decades as they brush up on their knowledge. Which doesn’t mean that you have to find everything out for yourself of course – which is precisely why we thought we’d share some of our current favourites with you…

As the song goes, “Let’s start at the very beginning…” – which is indeed a very good place to start!

How to choose the correct fabric

A great starting point is a recent post by Mary Kate Karr-Petras called Workshop Wednesday: How to Choose Fabric for a Quilt on the McCall’s Quilting blog.

Mary Kate recognises a position we’ve all been in – being daunted by the process of selecting suitable (and desirable) fabrics and the self-doubt that can result. Predetermined palettes provide a bit of a safety net, but sometimes they take the spontaneity or even creativity out of the process, leaving the end result as a potential disappointment.

So what she has done is assemble a number of videos that can really help to get those creative juices flowing – and they include

  • Best Fabric for Quilting
  • How to Read Fabric
  • How to Choose Quilt Fabric.

Getting to grips with zips

Now we’ve got you nicely warmed up, we thought we’d tackle one of the more difficult areas for quilters – the dreaded zip. Panic not! Help is at hand in the form of a really helpful article and video Zipper tips for quilters on the Quilting Digest website.

The video features Jennifer who provides and excellent zipper overview and shows her “no-hassle” sewing methods.

The bit that we really like is where she uses adhesive tape instead of pins to held everything together.

“Nothing can shift, making it simple to get perfect alignment of the fabric next to the zipper.”

The bit about effective use of the zipper foot is also particularly useful.

Puffy Blocks

Some of us hoard a certain amount of special fabric – just hoping for that inspirational pattern that just might surface one day.

This particularly splendid example from the Quilter’s world website is called Puffy Blocks Puffy Projects. The example given is based on a pattern by Chris Malone which was perfect as the author had plenty of pre-cuts saved as well as a whole container of 5″ squares.

The best bit of advice is to try a new technique by making a small project or part of a larger one first before diving in.

“I’ve found that most UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in my studio are projects that I really didn’t like once I’d worked on them a bit. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I’d simply played around with the concept a bit before jumping in.”

Photographing your wonderful quilts

You spend age making your wonderful work of art and want to show it off! You can’t always cart it about to show to friends and interested parties, so you do the next best thing – take a photograph. The trouble is, it’s often not a very good one, so people’s response to your masterpiece may be disappointingly lukewarm at best.

Not surprising really, so what you need to do is brush up on your photography, not your quilting!

And surprisingly, there is a website that can help you with this – Shoot That Quilt! It’s aimed at the non-professional photographer, so it’s decidedly un-technical.

The article has many useful sections, including

  • Hanging the quilt
  • The lighting setup
  • How to shoot closeups.

And a plug for our wonderful sewing machines!

If you have got to the stage where your next quilting purchase is a sewing machine, a wonderful Jaguar machine may well be the best place to look. Jaguar are an internationally recognised, high quality Japanese producer that works with most major brands. Unlike many other suppliers, Jaguar produces all of its machines in its own factories.

They also stock a wide range of sewing machine feet and overlocker feet.

Quilting: not everything you need to know, but…

Making the most of your sewing machine for quilting

We love quilting here at Jaguar Sewing Machine Central, so we’re always on the look out for some useful, tips, tricks and techniques to share with our colleagues and sewing groups.

Get in touch if you’d like us to cover a specific topic in a forthcoming article by the way…

Spinning seams

Right – to kick things off, we liked the simplicity and excellent photos of the blog entry How to ‘Spin’ Seams from the Cooking Up Quilts website.   Beth, a quilter and pattern designer, recently added this really useful tutorial.

“This is a helpful technique to use in a block where there are lots of seams coming together in one place – it can help to flatten the block and reduce bulk.”

She’s helpfully used a dark thread on the seams so that you can see what’s going on really clearly.

Perfect your quilting – without needle and thread!

One of the biggest challenges for the developing quilter is to be able to reproduce consistent, accurate shapes at will – training your “muscle memory” as it’s sometimes called.

We love Quilting Daily (why wouldn’t we?) and Tweeted a coupe of days ago about an outstanding piece by Brenna Riley Gates called Longarm Quilting: Making Muscle Memories.

Don’t panic by the way when you see the word “Longarm” – these methods are just as relevant if you have a conventional sewing machine!

We were intrigued by this idea – and by trying it ourselves have come to realise that you can improve your quilting techniques far more quickly by NOT using  a needle and thread. Sounds weird? Actually, it’s remarkably straightforward – one of those “Why didn’t we think of that?” type things…

Brenna quotes Dawn Cavanaugh’s lesson – muscle memory – from the APQS Longarm Certification (Sponsored by Fons & Porter) course she teaches.

This technique is something that you can practice watching TV – never a bad thing! Although it now looks as though you won’t be able to do it whilst watching the Great British Sewing Bee(Don’t get us started on that – it’s just too sad!).

Brenna observes that “To be a successful quilter, you must make your muscles remember what it feels like to make smooth curves, flowing lines, and graceful shapes over and over again.”

Make the most of those leftovers!

We’ve always got a lot of those of course – and were wondering whether we really need to bin them all. So we had a little look around and found a wonderful article by the redoubtable Sherri on the A Quilting Life blog.

Her excellent article How To: Scrappy Quilt Binding Tutorial shows that some really engaging results can result from reusing those leftover bits and pieces. It’s a clever piece, enabling the reader to imagine themselves sorting through scraps, colours and patterns, showing how to respond by what they have to hand.

“I was pretty happy with the look…so glad I went with scrappy for this quilt instead of with just one color or even with a scrappy version of one color.”

We’re definitely scrappy binding converts now!

Sewing machines for the new and experienced quilter

Featuring the wonderful quick threading system. The unique DQS (Digital Quick-threading System) has now been introduced to the UK. All current models come with a three year parts and labour guarantee and the 100% satisfaction guarantee.

The Jaguar sewing machine range »

Five essential quilting tips

Avoiding the pitfalls and concentrating on the enjoyment of sewing…

We love the internet! There are so many useful hints, tips and cautionary tales for all of us who love sewing. 

We thought we’d round up just a few of our favourites as an indication of the wonderful array of help and guidance that anyone with a computer, smartphone or tablet can access.

So here, in no particular order are five of our current favourites.

1) The lurking safety pins!

Before you start work – watch out for those safety pins warns the Dummies website.

“If you have pin basted your quilt together, you must remove the safety pins as you approach them. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to stitch over a safety pin. Not only does stitching over them make them difficult to remove, but it’s dangerous! You could easily break your needle, sending a fragment of the needle into your eye.”

2) The quilt sandwich

No – it’s not an excuse for an early lunch, but some invaluable advice from the wonderful Linda Matthews Creative Cloth website which shows how proper preparation can really brings huge benefits and time saving – and help ensure that your quilting nears perfection.

“Before you begin machine quilting, you should ensure that your quilt is properly sandwiched and basted. Time taken for preparation beforehand will prevent problems occurring during the machine quilting process.”

3) Hide your mistakes!

One of our go-to websites is of course Craftsy. They have an excellent article 10 Beginner Tips for Successful Free-Motion Quilting – some of which show you how to ensure that you have a marvellous end result – even if you might be lacking a little confidence.

“By using multicolored “busy” fabric prints, all you will see is the texture of your quilting rather than any less-than-perfect stitches. Choose a thin (50 weight or less) cotton or polyester thread for machine quilting in a color that blends in with your quilt top.”

4) Picking the right quilt colours

Deciding on a really effective colour scheme for a quilt can sometimes prove to be really challenging. Paying close attention to the fabric is a great way to start, according to Nicole on the Mama Loves Quilts website.

“Fabric designers have already done the hard work of selecting colors that go together beautifully. Letting the fabric be your guide in color selection makes it easy to choose a color scheme for a quilt.”

5) Why should you make your own quilts?

Jessica Skultety starts an excellent tutorial on making large quilts on your home machine with six reasons why you should make your own on her excellent Quilty Habits blog.

“You will finish a quilt from the very beginning to the bitter end. That is a huge accomplishment!”


Get in touch with your hints and tips!

Let us spread the joy with our fellow sewists by emailing us details of your favourite tips. We will of course include information about you and a link to your website – and add it to our Twitter and Facebook pages as a thank you!


The Jaguar range of sewing machines and overlockers

Of course we’d love you to indulge your passion for sewing on one of our wonderful sewing machines. If you’re ready for a new machine, bear in mind that all Jaguar machines feature the Digital Quick-threading System (DQS).

Just guide the thread directly from the spool to the needle area through a single groove and thread the needle by simply pressing the threading lever!

Jaguar Sewing Machines » 

Jaguar Overlockers » 

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