Category Archives: Ask Alex – General Quilting Questions

If you have a question for Alex, please send it to DeeAAQ@hotmail.com

A pattern of Alex’s in McCall’s Quilting states that she chose to use reverse applique. Can you explain this method of applique to me?

To reverse applique you would have your two pieces of fabric. Transfer your main shape to the right side of the top layer of fabric. Pin the two layers together on both the inside and outside of the shape or marked cutting line. Carefully cut along the marked line on the top layer only. Then, using needle-turn applique method turn under the seam allowance of the inside shape and stitch to the bottom layer of fabric. Continue until you are done with the inside shape and then stitch the outside raw edge in the same manner with needle-turn applique to the bottom fabric. Remove pins and press.

How do you start to plan a new design? I would love to do one of my own.

When I start a quilt, three things need to happen;

The first thing that needs to happen is that I decide on the technique I want to use such as piecing or applique? Next I choose my block pattern. For example, if I had decided to do applique then I may choose to do the Rose of Sharon design. My third step is to choose a fabric pallet.

Once those three steps are completed I start making blocks and put them up on my design wall. As the blocks become neighbors, they direct the subsequent decisions. For example, do I vary the background fabric? Do I change the block size? Do I introduce another block?

All of this is a part of listening to your quilt as it takes form. That is perhaps the best part of making a quilt.

I quilt on my regular sewing machine. When I am quilting the first two thirds of the quilt is almost flawless and the last part has lumps. It is where I quilt one way then go the other way and where my seams meet one side is bigger than the other and it c

From your description it sounds like a basting issue. With machine quilting the rule of thumb is to pin baste starting in the center of your quilt and move outward about every four inches or a hand width apart. Most of the time shifting happens when the quilt has not been adequately basted.

When hand quilting feather wreaths, do you constantly turn the hoop so that you are always quilting toward you?

I work on a frame and use a thimble on my thumb when working away from myself. I do the same when working on a hoop. The book Hand Quilting with Alex Anderson is an excellent resource in answering your hand quilting questions. The photographs are very helpful and clear. Your can order it at www.alexandersonquilts.com.

When I layer my quilt for hand or machine quilting it is loose and I quilt in puckers. What can I do to keep the back smooth?

Place your backing wrong side up on our carpet or work surface. Keeping the fabric grain straight, smooth and stretch the backing taut and pin or tape down. Layer the batting on top of the backing. Smooth the quilt top, right side up, onto the batting. Pin or hand baste the three layers together spacing every four to six inches. Hopefully that should do the trick. There are more helpful tips and illustrations in Machine Quilting with Alex Anderson which can be purchased from her website.

I would like to add a cost effective cutting table with lots of storage in my sewing room. Do you have any ideas that might work?

Here is a great idea from Janice –
My husband and I were putting together my sewing room, and I had a
large low 9 drawer dresser I wanted to keep for storage. So, my husband bought
a hollow core paint grade interior door and glued it to the top of the dresser
with construction adhesive. The surface of the door came matte finish, so
nothing slides around, and the 32