Thread Journey: Process of Quilting, Part 1


This installment of Wendy Sheppard’s Thread Journey Quilt Along brings us through step one of the process of quilting. We are in such awe of Wendy’s skill and know that you’ll find lots of helpful tips within this post. We’ve loved seeing your quilts so far and can’t wait to see how everything goes with the quilting! If you’re sewing along and want to share your images on Instagram, please consider tagging Wendy (@ivory_spring), Aurifil (@aurifilthread)and #threadjourneyquiltalong so that we might share in your process! Have fun and happy stitching!

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Hello Quilting Friends, I hope you have been well. Today, we are entering into the next phase of our Thread Journey project. I certainly hope that you have enjoyed the journey. I know I have. And I have definitely learned new things as I make this quilt the second time around. You are probably ready with your quilt top, perhaps even sandwiched all ready to go!


I am happy to share with you today what my quilting plan for Thread Journey version 2.  I will have three other suggestions on quilting motifs if you aren’t quite sure what to quilt on your quilt center. Remember, you do NOT have to quilt your Thread Journey quilt the way I am quilting mine or suggesting how to quilt it. It is your quilt — Lady Catherine will NEVER know!

So, you see that I have pin-basted my quilt sandwich. There are many ways to baste your quilt sandwich. Just use the method of your choice. Some might ask why I am not using the spray-basting method… very simple, I try to be as natural as I can in my lifestyle because I have a little one at home. So, when I am pin-basting, I smooth out my layers, and start pinning from the center outward.


For this quilt, I am using 2 layers of batting: Hobbs Tuscany Wool on top (touching my quilt top), and Hobbs Tuscany Bleached Cotton on the bottom (touching my quilt backing fabric). I want my quilting to have a siginificant amount of poof! The theory is the cotton batting will put a stop to the poofing on the side of the quilt back, and thus pushing all the poofiness to the top of the quilt. Click here if you haven’t read about my 2 cents on batting.

Since I am using the poofy wool batting, I try to do any necessary marking before I pin. For the Ohio Star border, I am thinking for now to quilt circles and see how things look. I often use household items to mark my quilts. You can actually wait till the next installment to mark your quilt once you read about the options to quilt the Ohio Star section.


I had quilted ALL feathers, allover in the quilt center of my original Thread Journey. I used the tree branch as the “spine” for my feather plumes, and I would occasionally add more branches with my quilting.

I like that look a lot. So my plan is to do the same to the quilt center, except this time, I am throwing in pebbly background quilting in the mix. Here are the colors I will use from my Subtle Strings collection. I am quite excited to see how these colors will play out on the different fabrics in the quilt center.



Click here if you would like a quick primer on my thoughts on how I form quilt my feathers.


And with that, I fired up my sewing machine, and quilted the quilt center. I also outline quilted all the applique shapes as I went along.  As a result, the applique shapes take on a 3-D look. I would suggest outline quilting around the applique shapes to start even if you aren’t using a high-loft batting. It sort of gets you warmed up on things. Please feel free to warm up on a quilt sandwich scrap before jumping into the real quilt.

So I basically quilted feather plumes at various spots, and filled in with pebbles for background quilting.

Sometimes I am asked how big I quilt my feathers. For this particular sitution, it’s about 2-1/2″ in length for the largest feather I have quilted. From the ruler, you can also roughly the scale of the rest the quilting.


And here are a few really tight shots. Mainly I want you to see the subtle contrast of the Subtle Strings threads against the different fabric.

Now, you might not foresee your quilt being densely quilted, and you might not want to quilt feathers in your quilt center. That is perfectly fine! Feel free to try any of these motifs, or combine and use them, or anything else you have planned.

1. Nifty little “S” – This is my interpretation of McTavishing using a domestic machine. Click here to see my stitching path.


2. Pebbles – I like to mix in different sizes of pebbles (circles) — the visual effect is always striking when pebbles are quilted. Click here to see what I mean. I do want to note that the circles do not all have to be perfectly round. In fact, for me it’s impossible to quilt circles free-motion perfectly round. So I find pebbling is a really forgiving motif to quilt.


3. Sand dunes – I like sand dunes because it is echoing without the stress of keeping the distance even, and I can quilt the dunes far a part for a quick finish. Click here to see how to quilt sand dunes.


Friends, I hope I have been able to share with you a bit of thought process that goes behind how I quilt my Thread Journey. And to end our time together, I shall leave with you…

My “deepest and darkest” quilting thoughts with a happy ending:

I don’t know, I always feel a certain amount of uncertainty when I am getting ready to quilt my quilts. It doesn’t matter how many quilts I have made, I always get that feeling of worrying whether what I have in mind about quilting my quilts would pan out. If you have that feeling too, please know that I am right there with you! 🙂

And I have to say, many times I don’t end up quilting my quilts as I had worked out in my mind. And that’s perfectly okay — that’s when I really bond with my seam ripper.

But the happy ending is this – sometimes when you are right in the middle of it, you won’t think much of your quilting because you remember the mistakes you made. Walk away from the quilt for a few days, and then come back and look at it… you will see your quilt in a different light! Time and again, my students would fret about this mistake or that uneven stitch while they are quilting their piece… but after a while, they would pick up their work, and tell me, “You know, Wendy, it’s looking much better than I had thought.” Truer words have never been spoken!!!

So I hope you will take the plunge and give the quilting a try. Remember, the more you quilt, the better you will be — and most importantly, enjoy the Journey!

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June 2: Thread Journey: Quilt Along with Wendy Sheppard
June 16: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 1
June 30: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 2
July 14: Thread Journey: Quilt Construction, Part 3
July 28: Batting & Thread
August 11: Process of Quilting, Part 1
August 18: Process of Quilting, Part 2
August 25: Process of Quilting, Part 3

QBV03_PieceBlock_12_crop_smallWebsite — Instagram
Originally from Southeast Asia, Wendy came to the US for her tertiary education.  After her degrees in Chemical Engineering, she worked in research in a wind tunnel for a spell.  Nowadays, she is a stay/work-at-home Mom to a 7 year old.  Wendy’s designs have been featured in major quilting publications, both home and abroad.  She is also an author for Landauer Publishing, as well as an online quilting instructor.  She is passionate about encouraging quilters to enjoy their quilting journey.  During her free time, she loves to read history, and indulges in hand needlework.

ABOUT SUBTLE STRINGS: (Wendy’s 2015 Aurifil Thread Collection)

12 Large Spools of 100% Aurifil Cotton, 50wt
Colors included:
2310 – 2847 – 4060 – 2130 – 2715 – 5021
2210 – 2510 – 2886 – 2326 – 2423 – 5014


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