What is “Echo Quilting"?

Start with the word, “echo.”
An echo is:

  • a repetition of sound produced by the reflection of sound waves from a wall, mountain, or other obstructing surface.
  • a sound heard again near its source after being reflected.
  • any repetition or close imitation, as of the ideas or opinions of another.
  • a person who reflects or imitates another.

I think of echoes as being very similar to ripples in the water after you toss a pebble into it. 


Let’s translate that idea onto cloth or paper. Grab a piece of paper and draw a simple shape, like the blob shown here.
Next, take your pencil and go around it one time following the shape of the blog. Don’t worry about absolute accuracy in width, just do it. Now do it again. And again. Now imagine doing that with a needle and thread! That would be echo quilting!

The fun part of echo quilting for me is that I don’t have to mark my lines in advance. The freedom that provides is delightful! I am echo quilting the quilt that is currently in my hoop right now. I quilted around the edge of each applique shape once, approximately an eighth of an inch away from the edge of each shape. Once that was completed, I began the process of going around again, this time about a quarter-inch away from the first stitching line. And again. And around again. 


There will come a time in some projects where you will work yourself into an area and wonder how you are going to get out of it. Take a close look at the area in the photo below. Can you see where that happened?


There are no hard and fast rules about how to tackle a situation like this. You just do it as you think it would look best for you. I try to stick to echoes that are about the same width as I go around, but again, I don’t really worry about absolute accuracy. When this quilt is all finished, you won’t look at it with a ruler in your hand, and it won’t be noticeable.


What are you working on that could use some echo quilting?

The quilting above is stitched with Presencia 40 wt. thread, color #207, available at www.HandQuiltingSupplies.com .

Untangle Your Thread!

One of the most common complaints I hear from hand quilters has to do with thread knotting up as you are sewing.  Thread needs to be able to hold a knot, but it should hold a knot that YOU put there, not one that it creates all on its own.

So why DOES thread knot? There are several  reasons.
·         Static– remember static cling – walking around in the winter with a sock stuck to the back of your sweater?  Or, like my high school English teacher back in the day who was caught walking down the hall in January with her skirt hiked up in the back, exposing… things that shouldn’t be seen?  If the air is dry where you are sewing, the motion in and out of the fabric can cause thread to cling to itself, thus creating knots.  Try some beeswax or Thread Heaven on your thread and see if that helps.  It will provide added strength and conditioning that can help.
·         Dryness– same as above
·         Twisting– When thread is wound onto a spool by a machine at the manufacturer, it causes the thread to twist.  Some thread will twist more than others.  I have found that If I thread several needles at a time (perhaps a dozen) and stick the needles into a pincushion and let the thread tails relax, my thread will produce fewer knots.  Try it!
·         Age – The age of your thread DOES make a difference!  It can become brittle, rotted, and will easily knot, twist and bunch up.  It can also snap if you are sewing and give it a little tug, so be cautious using older thread!  Get yourself some new, high-quality thread.  See if that doesn’t make a difference for you!
·         User error – I worked for a while as a technology director for a local school district, and “user error” was the most common problem that we saw.  That is, the problem is not caused by anything technical.  Rather, it is a problem created by the user him/herself.  User error is found in sewing as well.  As you are sewing by hand, the way that you stitch and pull, stitch and pull actually TWISTS the thread and eventually will create a knot.  The best way to prevent this is to 1) use beeswax or Thread Heaven on your thread to coat it, AND every 6 to 10 stitches, stop for a second, let your thread and needle dangle, and then start stitching.  As your thread dangles, it will unwind and reduce your chances for tangles.
Here are a few more tips found in an article from Thursday, 31 May 2012 at:
1.       Always thread the end you’ve actually cut from the spool into the eye of the needle. 
2.       As you hand sew, pull the thread in the direction you are sewing. 
3.       Hand quilters will roll the needle between their fingers as they stitch in the opposite direction of the twist of the thread.
4.       Cut you thread into lengths no longer than about 18″ to 20″.


Published by Caron Mosey of www.HandQuiltingSupplies.com 2014.
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Social Media for Quilters: Facebook

I read a decent article today called “Essential Facebook Etiquette: 10 Do’s And Don’ts by Michael Poh.  It is well worth a read, and it got me to thinking about how far we have come with technology.  When you think about quilters in history, don’t you picture ladies sitting around a quilting frame stitching?  What do you suppose they are talking about?  Probably a lot of gossip flying around the frame: he did this, she did that, did you see their house kinds of things.  Oh yes, comparing of recipes, who has a better quilting stitch, which shop has the newest fabric on hand, and what the next quilt will look like when you get around to it. 
Times have sure changed!  Not that many quilters sit around a frame together to stitch.  Our lives are so busy with family, work outside the home,  cleaning and laundry inside the home, and sitting in front of a computer or with a phone or tablet on our lap.  And quilters aren’t just women, either! Lots of men quilt!
Today’s crazy world now includes television, computers, tablets, cell phones with texting, Facetime, instant messaging, and group chat.  Facebook and Pinterest have taken over many hours of the day for lots of quilters, and they came about so fast that we really haven’t stopped to think about what it means, or how to react.  Do we NEED etiquette in Facebook?  Are there rules?  Guidelines?
I try to use my gut instincts to help me know how to react.  I’ve learned to think them through, however, because sometimes it’s all too easy to just act quickly and really make a mess of things.  Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.  True story…  An acquaintance in my town invited me to “friend”  her on Facebook, so I did.  She started selling chocolate candy through a company as a home-based business, and every single day of the week I got Facebook post after post about how yummy the chocolate was, and how much I really needed to buy some from her.  I sent her private message after private message asking her to please cease and desist.  I begged her to not use her Facebook friends as her target for chocolate sales.  I told her that I had bariatric surgery, can’t eat sugar, and chocolate use to be my addiction and I was trying to stay on the straight and narrow path.  It didn’t matter.  I eventually got smart and decided that nothing was going to change her, but I didn’t need to have those posts in front of me every day.  I decided to end our Facebook relationship and pulled the plug.
Notice I didn’t say that I sent her a nasty note.  I didn’t talk about her to all her friends online.  When I decided to pull the plug, I just did it quietly and without fanfare. 

One thing about Facebook that we need to be cautious of is that we are quick to react and unfortunately, nobody sees our facial expression or tone of voice when we “speak” online.  Without hearing a sound, we read someone’s words in our head in the tone of voice that we expect they would be using if they were in the same room an arm’s length away.  And that can get us into trouble.

There are a plethora of quilt groups on Facebook, and it can be a lot of fun to be a part of one… or two… or three.  Find a group that you think might be a good fit for you, and click to join the group.  Spend some time reading through the posts before you do anything.  Get a feel for the group.  What are they like?  What are they posting?  Read the group’s guidelines not just once, but several times.  If you agree with what you read and what you see, then introduce yourself to the group; just don’t come on too strong!
Every Facebook group has a feeling to it.  Some are chatty, some share a lot of news, tips and suggestions.  Some groups want to see every quilt you have ever made, and others are more finely tuned to a particular style.  Some groups feature a BOM (Block of the Month), and some do swaps.  But be careful!  You are likely to be carefully monitored if you agree to participate in a swap, and if you don’t follow through, it might just make it hard – if not impossible – for you to ever join a group or swap again! 

Think before you post.  Don’t react too quickly.  Don’t insult anyone, be kind, be a good listener, and always ask yourself these questions:
If it isn’t, then proceed to the next step:
Enough said.

Published by Caron Mosey at Michigan Quilts! 2014.