This is the ultimate stitch sampler. First, let me make clear this is not my quilt. I took this photograph over 10 years ago at a local quilt show when photography was not nearly as far along as it is now. This isn’t a great photo, but it will serve the purpose for this post.
This is a fantastic utility quilt, made by a wise woman. The quiltmaker had just bought a new machine with a myriad of stitches she had no idea how to use. So she set out to learn how to use them by making a crazy quilt. She used up her scraps, and used every stitch on that machine over, and over, and over again.
You can be sure after making this quilt, she knew how to make her machine purrr. I haven’t looked back at this photo since I stored it, but I remember this quilt and how impressed I was at the investment this quiltmaker made in learning how to master her sewing machine. I was also a new mom who was rather envious of the time this woman had to devote to her quilting.
My how the days fly by. I now have two children, who are not so little anymore.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on getting the most out of your sewing machine. Make a date with your machine to get to know it better. Your quilts will improve, I promise.
Once you’ve created your general mini-stitch samplers, you should be well-prepared for any type of quilting you want to do with your machine. I still, however, create a small sampler before I quilt on a project. I need to see how those stitches will look on the fabric I’m using.
My generic mini-stitch samplers were on mostly solid-colored fabrics, but few of my quilts are that serene. They are alive with print and texture, and I don’t want my quilting competing with it. So I make a mini-quilt sandwich with leftover project fabric and I test my stitches.
The photo above was for a quilted purse I made – the Annabelle bag (click on the link to see the resulting bag and my post on how I made it). On the pattern photo the designer included specialty stitches, and I practiced those on my mini-sandwich. But I decided the stitches competed too much with the fabrics and I did freemotion quilting instead.
I couldn’t have made that decision without experimenting, and that resulted in a better-looking bag.
Last installment: the ultimate stitch sampler.
If you’ve created your first set of mini-stitch samplers, then I recommend you create a sampler experimenting with specialty threads and changing your stitch settings. I like using the thicker machine quilting threads from YLI and Superior, so I experimented with regular straight and zig-zag stitches to see the difference the threads would make.
Then I put in regular Mettler thread and experimented with stitch widths and lengths. I often do machine applique and and wanted to see what my favorite settings would be. Notice in these photos I meticulously labeled each line of stitching as to what stitch it was, the thread I used, and the width and length settings. Don’t leave it to memory. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately.
Next up: Practice on your good fabric!