28 September 2011

Walk the {Quilted} Line

Dear walking foot: 
Where have you been all my life? And why am I just now learning to use one?  Crazy.
Do you know the difference between a regular presser foot and a walking foot? All I knew for the longest time was that if you wanted to quilt straight lines (and have them look good), you would need the latter.
 So what makes a walking foot so special? Feed dogs.
Because of a quilt's added thickness, one set of feed dogs is not enough. A walking foot adds an extra set to sit on top of the quilt, ensuring that all the quilt's layers are fed through the machine evenly. Otherwise, you get bunching.
I'm going to use my walking foot to quilt an autumn table runner. For this project, I want to do a bunch of random lines so I'm using Therm O Web's PeelnStick Ruler Tape to help me mark 1/2" pairs of lines.
Now, normally if I want to quilt straight lines I don't need to mark the lines--I use the existing seams or quilted lines as a guide for my walking foot. In this case, however, I wanted them to be a bit random, so I just laid the ruler tape down wherever I wanted and traced along it on both sides. (The whole point of marking these lines was to show me where to guide the needle and keep the lines perfectly straight.)
I started out by centering the table runner within grid lines on my cutting mat. Then, I laid the ruler tape down to split the center.
Using Crayola washable markers (a wonderful tip I learned from Lu), I drew along the ruler on both sides.
Then I added another set of lines a few inches away on both sides...
I still wanted more lines, so I rotated the table runner so that its bottom side lined up along a diagonal line on the cutting mat. I added more lines about 3 1/2" apart all across the table runner. There is no rule about where you should lay the ruler tape! Just wherever you want!
Once I was satisfied with the amount of lines, I started sewing. I used both hands to help guide the fabric and stay on the lines.
Next, I washed the table runner to remove all traces of the washable marker.  After it dried, I ironed it with starch. Ta da!