A Different Method to Quilt in the Hoop

Hazel Tunbridge from Graceful Embroidery shares her new technique for in-the-hoop quilting.

When it comes to embroidering quilt blocks there are so many options to consider. The correct stabilizer and batting must be selected for the sandwich upon which the embroidery will be completed. When I digitized the Jacobean Sampler Quilt Blocks, I developed an alternative method to embroider the blocks in your hoop. This requires two types of stabilizers, and a little extra patience.

See the difference between these two stitch outs. On the right, sections of the embroidery are lifted above the fabric, much like the look created by a long arm machine after a quilt is constructed.

Embroidery is completed without batting and backing fabric. One layer of a Stitch N tear stabilizer is hooped, and another is floated on top along with the fabric (I used silk dupioni). Layers are held in place with a careful puff of temporary adhesive.  These designs contain basting stitches to hold everything in place before embroidery begins.

I prefer to wrap my outer hoop with cohesive bandaging to hold stabilizer in place.  If your hoop has clips to hold the hooping in place do use them too.

Stop embroidery before quilting stitches and satin borders are created. Remove the hoop from the machine, but keep embroidery hooped! Turn over the hoop and place batting remnants or a wool mat that fits under the embroidery to support it while you work. (You may want to prepare a little 200 mm x 200 mm or 260 mm x 260 mm block comprised of several layers of batting.)

Save your hands if you are prone to aches and pains! Just snip the larger jump stitches first and the clusters of threads between the elements. Then remove each layer of stabilizer separately and very carefully, trying not to pull on the embroidery. Nobody will see these ends because they will be inside your finished quilt sandwich.

I find the point of a seam ripper helps me lift between the layers. It is important to cut just inside the basting stitches as shown in this photo, so that the embroidery is still well supported. We are going to stabilize the embroidery again.

Now before the batting and backing are floated underneath the embroidery, check that nothing has moved. You need to make sure that the stabilizer is still tight in the hoop. I carefully released the screw on my hoop very slightly so I could gently tighten the stabilizer. Remember to re-tighten it.

Place a layer of batting against the back of the hooped fabric. Cover with a layer of soft mesh stabilizer, like Sulky Soft N Sheer. Use sticky tape to hold them in place, flat, and return the hooped project to your machine.

Run the basting stitches again in a different color. Watch to see that they are in the same position as the original. Now you are ready to complete the design.

This method of quilting in the hoop gives fantastic results and may be appropriate for other machine embroidered quilt blocks you have in your collection. To check whether a quilt block can be embroidered in this manner, make sure that the quilting stitches and borders are completed after the main embroidery. If they pass under any of the embroidery this method will not work.

Get the Jacobean Sampler Quilt Blocks set for a special price until June 21.

Happy embroidering from Hazel at Graceful Embroidery!