Sunday 29 March 2009

Stitch Size?

My current quilting projects ( 2 for FoQ and a workshop for QuiltWOW) are plodding along without much to show or share at the moment. So my thoughts returned to a post on BQL Yahoo Group a few weeks ago, asking about quilting stitch size - how to obtain that 'heirloom' 14 stitches per inch. As my stitching has grown (literally!), it made me question what the ideal stitch length is and what constitutes 'ideal'. My current average stitch size ( as show in TBL 'Gythion Glow' above) is about 2 per inch. I can however stitch much smaller. This is my first ever quilt project c. 30 years ago - I was determined to get the teeniest stiches and worked up to 12 or 13 stitches per inch ( counted on the top only). In those days, pretty much all that was available was 2oz polyester wadding which is easy to stitch through and the cottons I pieced were from clothing from jumble sales - not too tight a weave. I used a 8 or 9 between and the specialised 100% cotton glazed quilting thread 'Belding Lily' from US. I started off using a 18" wooden quilting hoop but when the rectangular ones made from plastic tubing came available,this became my favourite - it still is as it's easy to adjust the tension evenly. In the late 80's /early 90's I settled on about 8 stitches per inch for consistency ( it took 7 years to hand quilt my one and only double bed quilt based on medieval tiles !)
When I got my Bernina sewing machine and could achieve small stitches that way, I started to increase the size of my hand stitching for decorative purposes, using cotton perle and silk buttonhole thread. In the late 90's it was about 5 stitches per inch in 'City Girl Dream of the Sea' (below)
And 5 years ago in 'Serifos Storm'(below) I'd increased (or should that be decreased!) to about 3 or 4 stitches per inch

As part of the TIF challenge last year , I returned to using glazed quilting thread but in huge tacking stitches (1 per inch! ) - appropriate to a piece about barely being held together. Although, with practice, I could probably achieve very fine stitching again ,my preference now is for combination of machine quilting and BIG handstitching which feels right for the scale I'm working now ( ignore the quilt police!) I use chenille needles ( needed to penetrate layers of acrylic paint as well as fabric and cotton wadding). The key it seems to me is evenness and consistency and developing a rhythm that suits and is enjoyable.


Nellie's Needles said...

You're right, it does matter. It matters as to the effect desired or the demands of the materials. Not to preconceived standards.

I'm so glad to have access to the thoughts and to view the work/art of quilters around the world. Thank you for yours.

magsramsay said...

I should take more care with my titles. Having ' stitch size- does it matter' brought some inappropriate comments with links to video clips! Just as well I have comment moderation!

jude said...

the stitch itself is of interest. larger stitches and the texture created seem to more in focus these days, i think due to the increased exposure to ethnic textiles through the internet. i like different types combined...or at least that is where my focus is these days.