January 2, 2011

Happy New Year! The tradition of kissing your sweetie at midnight on New Years gave me the idea for my topic of the week :-).

A kiss involves puckering and that can be a good thing:

But sometimes its better to pucker less:

This is especially true when machine quilting! Even if you use a walking foot those pesky puckers have a way of sneaking in on the top and on the back too.

Puckers appear when the 3 layers of the quilt sandwich shift under the pressure of the presser foot. Free motion quilting is one way to avoid some of the problem as the foot is not pressing down and thus things aren’t as apt to shift. But free motion quilting is not the answer for everone. So what can be done?

I’ve come up with a number of ways to minimize this problem. The first comes in on the pinning step. When layering your quilt, be sure the back is taut but not stretched. I’ve found the best way to do this on a small quilt is to use masking tape to secure the back to the table or floor (clamps along the edge of a table work well too). Once the back is taut, the batting and top may be smoothed on top and the pinning may begin. I’ve found this very helpful, but be careful not to stretch the back since this can cause the quilt to shrink up when the tape is removed and will lead to puckers on the front.

When pinning a larger quilt I prefer to use a simple frame made of 2 x 2’s, 4 chairs and 4 clamps. The frame is a great back saver. I may have to share pictures and directions for that in a future post, but if you’ve been in my open lab classes you already know how well this works :-).

Using a walking foot (sometimes called an even feed foot) for machine guided quilting is a must. This foot moves the top of the quilt along while the feed dogs move the bottom and this prevents a lot of the shifting, but it’s not always the complete cure.

I’ll share my favorite pucker prevention technique in my Thursday post. Until then do you have any suggestions to share?

PS Thanks to my family for humoring me in my pucker contest. I’m not telling whose pictured above, but it did provide a few giggles on Christmas Eve.


  1. Oh, to be smooched by you! Terrific lead into the subject, how clever you are!

  2. Very clever indeed!

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