Saturday 1 December 2012

Marking and Stabilising - Tutorial

In my previous post I showed you Allison’s beautiful appliqué quilt, and now I will share how I marked and stabilised this quilt and the order in which I did the quilting on it.
After loading and outlining the appliqué so the quilt was stabilised, I could roll forward to this point. I marked with chalk the external outline for the edges of the feathers.  I made sure that the width of the feathers remained consistent, and it was roughly half way between the inside and outside appliqué keeping a balanced feel.

Then I marked the stems of the feathers.

I quilted the stems, and some of the feathers before rolling forward and stabilising the quilt again by outlining the appliqué, and doing some of the McTavishing.  I had also by this time, done some of the McTavishing above the feathers.

I found the centre point of the appliqué and marked the outer edges of the centre oval of feathers then I marked the stems of the feathers.

I quilted the stems of the feathers and some of the feathers in the centre, continued the outer oval of feathers down both sides, and did some of the McTavishing around the appliqué to stabilise the quilt to this point.

The quilt was stabilised enough to allow me to roll forward to continue the feathers on the outer oval.  I referred to a print out of an earlier photo to make sure I was keeping the dimensions of the oval the same as the top of the quilt.

I rolled back and completed the inner oval.

I now marked the bottom part of the outer oval of feathers.     

I quilted the stems and the feathers of the bottom of the outer oval.  Note there is a small amount of McTavishing around the appliqué above the feathers - this was part of the stabilisation so I could roll the quilt forward to this point.

From this point I continued to stabilise the remainder of the quilt by outlining the appliqué and McTavishing in places to hold the quilt layers together.

I completed the quilting by rolling back and forward filling in the McTavishing in all the unquilted spaces and finishing off with the pebbles around the feathers.

As you can see, with a quilt that is as heavily quilted as this one, I don’t start at the top and do all the quilting at each pass.  If I did this, I would distort the quilt.  Rather I do enough to stabilise the quilt at each roll forward and then fill in all the gaps later. 

Ankle update - the boot is scheduled to come off in two weeks – horray! 


  1. Thank you so much for the mini-lesson, Desley. It'll be a few years still before I can get a longarm, but I soak up everything you guys share. Also, I imagine with heavy quilting that I'd get distortion problems with table-top quilting, too, even with basting, if I just started all gung-ho at one end and worked across. Good to see how you do bits and pieces to get the stability online first.

  2. that was really interesting.. thank you for posting such detail. Its this sort of detail that is often not included in books. If you ever have a traditional sampler to quilt i would love to see the process you used for custom quilting it

  3. Thanks for this great tutorial. What do you use to mark your quilts. Looks like chalk? I always love your feathers. So beautiful.

  4. This is wonderful. Very helpful.

  5. its a really pretty quilt, Desley

  6. Super tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing. Glad to hear your ankle is improving. How wonderful it will feel to be free of any casting. It will feel weird at first, but you'll soon be off dancing!

  7. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I have never seen this approach to stabilizing with quilting as you work your way across the entire quilt. I too was wondering what the method of marking is. Chalk? Absolutely stunning!!!

  8. Very interesting to see how long armers work, so different to a domestic machine.
    Have you used chalk to mark?

  9. Thanks for making the effort to share the process with us. It is very helpful, even if you don't use a longarm, especially the marking method.

  10. Really Interesting Desley, always wondered how you tackled such a project.Great Tutorial.

  11. Great info...thanks so much for the details.

  12. glad to hear the boot is getting off soon! thanks for the tutorial- I'm always concerned with how much stabilizing is enough I usually pin baste here and there if I need to roll forward, but mainly on small quilts. I will try to remember your technique for the future. :)

  13. Thanks for telling us how you quilted this beautiful quilt. I don't use a longarm machine but still enjoyed seeing the process.

    Glad you are about done with the boot but know you will still have to keep working with the ankle to get it back in shape. Continued good wishes for a full recovery.

  14. thank's always great to see what others do to design and mark quilts. This quilt is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your tutorial. ~karen

  15. Wow! Wow! Thank you soooo much!! What kind of chalk do you use? It looks like white shows on white. Is it plain ol' blackboard chalk? Do you sharpen it? I'm having a real problem finding a marking tool that works for me.
    Maggie in Arizona