Susanne Woods, founder and publisher at Lucky Spool Media, compiled the Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making as an all-inclusive guide. Through the book’s 10 workshop chapters, expert quilters teach you modern quilt-making design principles, providing support as you practice a variety of quilting techniques and concepts. Including in this informative guide are 16 new quilt patterns. Susanne and Lucky Spool are sharing excerpts from the Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making in a weekly series at Sew Mama Sew.

Learn more about the book and find the first excerpt on Principles of Color here. Next up we have an excerpt from the second workshop on Working with Solids. This workshop’s instructor is LA resident Alissa Haight Carlton, co-founder and Executive Director of the Modern Quilt Guild. Alissa also leads the organization of the QuiltCon conferences held in Austin. She is a big proponent on working with solids and has her own line of licensed solids with In The Beginning Fabrics.

Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making brings an authoritative voice from modern quilting experts, putting that expertise in your hands for access and success any time!

Goals of the Workshop: Working with Solids

The second workshop in Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making just had to be solids, and Alissa was the obvious choice to write it. As a long-time proponent of using mostly solid fabric in quilt making, Alissa provides a complete visual guide to the types of solids available, offers advice on how to best use them in your own quilt designs and includes a beautiful pattern that also incorporates some improv piecing. Following on from Kari’s chapter on The Principals of Color, many of the lessons learned about hue, saturation and value are more easily seen when working with solid fabrics. Here though, Alissa presents some tips on straight-line quilting which she uses to play up the geometry in the pattern she designed for the book.

Straight Line Quilting
I straight-line quilt almost all of my quilts and have learned a lot from my experience. Here are some tips:

1. Spend plenty of time and energy on basting. The more thoroughly you baste, the less you’ll deal with the issues caused by shifting fabric.

2. Use a walking foot or your machine’s equivalent. This helps the layers of the “quilt sandwich” feed smoothly through your machine.

3. If your machine has an adjustable presser foot, adjust it so that it isn’t pushing as firmly as you would have it set for piecing. You want the fabric to feed through without being pushed around.

4. Think through the order in which you’re going to work your way through the quilt. You want to work from the center out as much as possible so that should the fabric shift, it can be smoothed.

An industrial sewing machine with a walking foot, like this 1600 series from Janome,
is a workhorse for straight-line stitching.

5. If you need to stop and start in the middle of the quilt, make sure you sew a locking stitch or two so that everything stays in place over time. When you stop and when you start, you’ll want to leave long thread tails. Eventually you will either trim them, or if this is a quilt that you want to go the extra mile for, bury them.

6. Putting in a new bobbin before you get started is worth taking the time to do.

7. You need a way to make sure that your first line is straight. I often find that I can use piecing as my guide, but if you don’t have that option, draw the first line with chalk or a fabric pen or use painter’s tape as a guide to follow.

8. One option for denser spacing between your quilting lines is to use the edge of your machine’s foot as the guide for each consecutive line you sew.

9. If you don’t want to quilt as densely as the width of your machine’s foot, use a quilting bar to create uniform straight lines any width you prefer.

Alissa created this beautiful pattern for the book. The improv piecing within one color family (blue) as well as incorporating a great shot of a contrasting color (orange) encourage readers to play with groupings of solid fabrics.

Lucky Spool’s Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making compiled by Susanne Woods (192 pages, $28.95, published in 2014 by Lucky Spool Media, LLC) has lots more information on working with solids, plus many other great workshops.