Mini-Tutorial: Finishing top-stitching and machine quilting invisibly

So, you’ve spent time sewing, stitching and pressing and your lovingly handmade bag or fabric basket is nearly finished. Now you are top-stitching the completed seam, spending time ensuring that the stitching is neat and even, perhaps even using different spool and bobbin threads so that the you coordinate exactly with lining and outer fabrics. So no way do you want to back stitch or reverse stitch at the beginning of your row of top-stitching – if you are anything like me, you will want it to look absolutely perfect. Or maybe you are doing some beautiful machine quilting and your bobbin has run out, or your design means that you can’t hide the end of your stitching in the binding – this method will work for you too!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Firstly you need nice long tails of threads to work with – 5 or 6 inches is ideal. If you are machine quilting and you’ve run out of bobbin thread – just unpick a few stitches to create some tail to work with. If you are top-stitching, this is not the time to use the automatic thread cutter on your sewing machine!

The picture below shows the beginning and end of my row of top-stitching. You need to work on the wrong side of your project, so the first step is to pull the threads on the right side through to the wrong side. Pull on the bobbin threads on the wrong side, and the loops of the spool threads will appear – use a needle or pin to hook the loops and pull the threads through.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Here’s how it should look when you have everything through to the wrong side:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Knot the threads together in two pairs, like this. Obviously, if you’re quilting, you’ll only have one set of threads to worry about – yay, you’ll be done in half the time!

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Thread up one pair of the thread tails onto a needle with a reasonably large eye. This is a slightly cheaty short cut. If you are working with very fine fabrics or you are quilting and don’t want to make great big needle holes on the back of your quilt, you can use a smaller needle and deal with the thread tails one at a time.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Insert the needle really close to the knot that you made in this pair of threads, and make a long stitch back along the seam line:

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Pull the threads through and keep gently pulling until the knot disappears beneath the fabric.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

The stitchy jargon phrase for this is burying the knot. Only one lonely knot left to go now – and if you are quilting you are all done. Snip off the excess thread tails before you deal with the other knot.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Now you can repeat for the other set of thread tails, if you need to.

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

Mini-tutorial on finishing top stitching and machine quilting invisibly

And that’s that! Hope you find this a useful – old hat to many I am sure, but now I am teaching beginners I’m realising it’s definitely worth sharing these tips.

100 Days of Curated Colour – Week 2

One hundred days of curated colour header

Wow – it’s the end of another week of Colour Curation already…! It has been a super-busy few days for me, building up to a little family party at my house to celebrate what would have been my dad’s hundredth birthday. We had a lovely time sharing memories of our lovely dad and marvelling over the growth of various children (always a thing of endless fascination!).

But in spite of all the busy-ness I managed to put together another seven colour-curated fabric and haberdashery (and a few other bits and bobs that sneak in) mood-boards for my 100 Day Project (an Instagram art project – lots of people are doing it – check out #the100dayproject). My project is #100daysofcuratedcolour (and I’m trying not to feel annoyed that someone has piggybacked on my hashtag.. grump grump):

the100daysproject day 8

8/100: Design Seeds – Wanderlust: Courtyard Hues

the100daysproject day 9

9/100: Design Seeds – Spring: Spring Tones

the100daysproject day 10

10/100: Design Seeds – Autumn: Color Harvest

the100daysproject day 11 of curated colour

11/100: Design Seeds – Heavenly Hues: Color Heaven

the100daysproject day 12 of curated colour

12/100: Design Seeds – Color Collage

the100daysproject day 13

13/100: Design Seeds – Makers Hues: Color Studio

the100daysproject day 14 of curated colour

14/100: Design Seeds – Flora: Color Paradise

11/100 was the favourite this week amongst my IG followers. It’s a little bit mid-century, a little bit North-Norfolk-weekend-getaway, a little bit John-Lewis-furniture-catalogue, so I am definitely up there with the fans! I think my favourite is 10/100 though – the collection I’m calling ‘Virgina Wolf’s Drawing Room’. I am a sucker for that dusty vintage feel, that’s why I love French General so much… The Umbel fabric from Liberty is also one of my favourites, so it’s pretty irresistible to me.

This week I’m learning that it’s not just about the colours, it’s about the balance of colours in the collections. Three or four times I’ve looked at the collection I’ve put together for the photo and despaired, but added just one more piece which has brought the whole lot together. I will try and take some Before and After photos of what I mean next week. But a couple of examples from this week – 9/100 was unimpressive until I added the little purple cotton reel, and in 13/100, the grey wool was a last minute addition that seemed to bring a much needed balance. I’m learning that when I am working with a palette, you don’t have to use equal quantities of each colour. Writing that down, I feel like this should have been obvious…! But as usual with me, it’s in the doing that I’m learning. 🙂

Which is your favourite this week?