Nov 29 06

More on Adding Texture to Your Quilts…

If you are feeling seduced by all the beautiful threads and fibers on the market today, you should be! There are so many beautiful and striking fibers out there and these can add a new level of interest to your quilts, both visually and also through their tactile properties. If you are making a quilt that will be laundered, remember to pay attention to fiber content, or your piece may be transformed by washing…i.e. wool fibers which will become felted with washing. If you are making an art quilt or a wall hanging, then laundering issues fly out the window!

Threads and fibers like this are too large to fit in your top sewing machine needle, so the easiest way to incorporate them into your quilt is by couching them. To do this, I load monofilament thread in the top needle, (clear if the fiber is light to medium colored and smoke monofilament if the fiber is black or dark colored) and I usually use a cotton thread in the bobbin which matches the background fabric onto which I am couching. There are two ways to couch: 1. using the couching foot for your machine and you may couch this way with either a zigzag stitch or a straight stitch or 2. using your free motion foot. If you use your free motion foot, it’s best to have an awl or some type of thin, long, pointy object available with which you can “hold down” your fiber just before it enters the area by the needle. If you don’t own an awl, a bamboo skewer can work as a substitute. You may use either a straight stitch or a zigzag stitch to couch the fiber down.

If you are couching fibers over an area that has been appliqued by fusible web, you don’t need any stabilizer underneath because the fusible web acts as your stabilizer. But, if you are couching on any other area, you MUST remember to place a stabilizer underneath your fabric, or you will get that nasty puckering! If you dread removing tear away stabilizers, remember that you may use a lightweight polyester stabilizer or a poly/rayon stabilizer that will remain in the quilt. When I do this, I cut away the extra stabilizer outside my stitching area and once I have the whole top finished and in a quilt sandwich, I stitch just outside my decorative fibers w/monofilament thread and this will make that whole area “puff up.”

If you haven’t tried couching yet, go for it!! I thought this would be really hard so I kept putting it off until I had time to really focus on it. Once I finally tried it, I saw how easy it was! Try it yourself and it will open up a whole new world of design possibilities! You can do this!

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