Quilting Mistakes-A Machine Quilting Quick Tip
Good Morning, Quilters!
What should you do about quilting mistakes? Should you stop immediately and rip out the stitches?
Or should you continue quilting and fix it later?Or maybe you could leave the quilting mistake and never rip it out?
To rip or not to rip…that is the question!
I rarely-very rarely– rip out any machine quilting. When I’m machine quilting and stitch an area I don’t like, I mark the area with a flagged pin.
(Create your own flagged pins by adding a small piece of ribbon to a safety pin.)
Mark Now, Evaluate Later
Once the entire quilt is complete, I go back and evaluate the “mistake”. If the mistake still bothers me, then I rip it out and re-stitch. Most often, small mistakes in machine quilting are not noticeable once all of the quilting is complete.
One Thing I Usually Tear and Repair
I rarely re-stitch oddly shaped motifs. Once all of the quilting is complete, an errant stitching line usually blends in and looks just fine.
However, the one quilting mistake I do fix is bad tension. My eye is really drawn to areas where my stitches are too tight or too loose. Usually, I stop and fix this problem immediately because it requires machine adjustments.
More Machine Quilting Quick Tips
You can find all of the machine quilting quick tips by navigating to the top ribbon of the website–Machine Quilting >Quick Tips. ( I’ve added a fast link for this post: more quick tips HERE)
Want to get better at machine quilting? Today is the day! Allow yourself just fifteen minutes to practice machine quilting. If you can’t get to your machine–doodle!
What about YOU?
Have YOU been quilting lately?
Do YOU worry about imperfect quilting?
Would YOU be better off just putting a pin in it?
Are YOU and YOUR quilting perfectly imperfect?
We’d LOVE to hear!
Your Not Mary Poppins Quilter,
PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!
PS…Be sure to check out my books in my Etsy shop!
28 responses to “Quilting Mistakes-A Machine Quilting Quick Tip”
Yes! Perfectly imperfect….I’m going with that!
And let’s not forget “Finished is better than perfect!”
I agree, the only time I rip out is when the tension is messed up on the back. Otherwise, I just keep going. I agree with Bette: finished is better than perfect.
Waiting is an excellent idea. I did some dense quilting on a puppy applique to simulate curly fur, and it didn’t mesh with the rest of the quilting. The quilting was so dense that I didn’t want to remove it. Now that the quilt has been used and washed a few times, it’s become a real favorite.
This is very good advice, Lori. Always better to look at it later than pounce on emergency surgery.
I also use pins with ribbons for marking areas of concern. …. mine are mainly used with my quilt tops though, when I find seams that I am not 100% happy with.
I greatly dislike tension problems. I have mechanical machines and sometimes I just can’t get it right.
I usually notice discrepancies when my bobbin is getting low.
Happy Wednesday Lori. I always read, sorry I do not comment so often. I do love your enthusiasm
Perfectly imperfect, for sure Lol. Love the idea of marking areas with ribbon pins.
Thank you Lori. Sun shine is calling🤗
I love the imperfection of free motion. When I look at the perfect quilting from a long arm it just doesn’t do it for me.
I appreciated your article but your quilting is so beautifully executed and proportional. I find that if I quilt something that I keep looking at over and over again, it usually means I need to redo it. I don’t feel bad about that. I am not as precise as I will be in the future and know that. So, I do RIP out stitches if they keep bugging me. I like the ribboned safety pin! I am going to try that.
I rarely rip out quilting either. Yesterday I did and it was not fun. I had tried coaching with floss in a man’s beard and it did not work. This was on an art quilt. I ended up removing the beard and it grew some in the process, but that is ok. I may need to apply some color on the back as there are more stitches on the back than on the front. But my rescue worked, so I am happy.
I find ripping quilting harder than ripping regular seams. When I rip a regular pieced seam, I can separate the fabric and thus get at the stitches. That is not usually the case with quilting stitches.
HI Lori: I only rip if the tension is off. I first try out my stitches on a side scrap to be sure tension is balanced. I do this with every thread change. If I do quilt an “error”, I try to fix it immediately I may simply re-stitch and rip out the mistake later. I am a long time reader and follower who just also happens to quilt on a Longarm machine! Your advice is wonderful for all. Thank you. L
Hi Lori, I just finished a small quilt for a guild fund raiser. There are some mistakes, overall though it looks great. I learned that I should have planned the design better, but I am happy how it turned out!!
The other reason I will sometimes rip is if there’s a (big!) tuck on my backing. This is more a problem on my long arm and the ripping takes MUCH longer. Otherwise, I’m with you–imperfect lines, crossing over where it’s not meant to cross stay. Bad tension comes out and rather easily most of the time.
I like the ribboned safety pin, but think I would only pin areas that I definitely plan to rip out. The ones that are questionable, I would not pin and if my eyes are drawn back to that area after everything is quilted, then I may rip out. If I keep the pin there for me to decide later, then my eye will be automatically drawn to it and I would more likely need to rip it out. I only rip for tension issues too.
I suspect that your FMQ mistakes are far less egregious than mine.
I’ve heard that the Amish work a mistake into their quilts, because only God can create something perfect. So, I refer to my mistakes as “my homage to the Amish”. 😉😇
This is actually a myth. I have asked my friends, who are former Amish, and they laugh. They are not so proud that they can be perfect like God. Mistakes creep in for them also. We are in good company.
I love this attitude! It applies to every endeavor we undertake!
I only rip out if there is a really noticable bad jag in my stitching.
I especially appreciated this discussion — thank you! I quilt for others on my longarm, and I do wonder sometimes what to do about small mistakes or burbles in a quilting line. I tear out stitching that bothers me. . . but, as you said, only things that will catch the eye. No one else is probably ever going to see every inch of a quilt the way you do when quilting it, so I don’t tear out the things that will disappear from view.
And since computerized quilting came in, because I don’t do anything computerized, I have decided to appreciate any small inaccuracies as part of a hand-guided custom quilting effort . . . not perfect because human-made. That is not only very freeing, but I have found that my clients are happy with what I do. And I take Angela Walter’s advice to quilters — don’t point out your mistakes. I’m glad to redo anything that’s going to draw the eye and seem a mistake. Otherwise, it’s part of the quilt.
First, love your blog, and have devoured all your archives, too.
Second, thanks so much for this tip!! I needed to hear it.
I’m teaching myself (with aid of your and other blogs and books) to free-motion quilt on my Bernina 770QE.
I have thus far made EVERY mistake – wrong tension, wrong color thread for project, wobbly figures, tangle of thread on the back, wrong motif for the space…
But it is such a fun hobby, I am willing to keep making mistakes just for the joy of it.
So again, thanks for saying it’s okay to be imperfect. We perfectionists need to hear that.
re: tangles on the back. Try brining your bobbin thread up to the top and hold both needle and bobbin thread for the first few stitches.
Been holding the two threads for couple years now with no birdsnests !..Until this week…have had 14 in past few days. I have changed everything out and cleaned and cleaned..At a standstill with current project. Anyone have any other solutions? Taking in for servicing is out of question…400 miles for the two trips to drop off and pick up 2 weeks later. Manual says due to inside plastic parts, do not oil.
I just want to say your work is exquisite!! And I rarely rip!
I make lots of different mistakes.
I just finished binding a large Christmas table topper done in a double Irish chain pattern. The foreground is a very pretty red/green combination with holly leaves, cardinals and fir branches. The background is white. I’m mentioning this because I decided to do stitch-in-the-ditch quilting with green thread on top and using my stitch-in-the-ditch foot. (I had always done SID with a walking foot on previous quilts) Well off I went, happily stitching away and did fairly well, sort of, it was a little challenging to keep my eye on the ditch but I persisted. So I did a couple of rows then pulled it out from under the machine to look. A-a-g-g-h-h! It was horrible. For some reason or other, possibly my 68-year old eyes, I simply wasn’t able to keep it in the ditch and there was green thread showing up on white background all over the place. It took quite a long time to pick out all that thread and I should have stuck with two principles I learned long ago:
1. If you’re going to try something new, TEST it first! (I get impatient and want to go, go, go!)
2. I love working with color, but most times it’s better to stay with neutral thread. I should know better, especially as I’d used neutral in in my bobbin (go figure). If I’d used a neutral on top, I’d probably have left most of it just as it was and only redone the glaring errors.
Yes, I’m “perfectly imperfect” too and quite content to be so. Trying for perfection all of the time is EXTREMELY hard work. If God doesn’t expect that of us, why do we expect of ourselves?
So it’s back to my walking foot and neutral threads as I use most of the time.
Ok then, on to my next project!
You are a very reassuring teacher Lori, thank you.
Great comments, with your ribbon marker I can be reminded to repeat the new design element so it becomes part of the overall plan, not just a one-time error. Then the whole top blends together. That helps me in deciding whether to keep or rip, I would have fewer “ribbons” if I tested initially though!
I had a beautiful table runner that I free motion quilted before I had a clue as to what I was doing. For some reason my stitches were so tiny along with the terrible quilting. It lived in a drawer for several years. A good friend wanted me to quilt something of hers. For payment she ripped out all those tiny stitches! I certainly got the better part of that deal. I re-quilted it and gave it to my mom for Christmas.
Usually mark with a straight pin and stick myself later! Will use the safety pin idea from now on! Trying not to be a perfectionist, because I never will be. But love your designs, Lori, and am using at least 3 of your leaf designs on a quilt I am doing now.
Regarding not wanting to drive 400 miles to get a sewing machine fixed: I had purchased a Singer at a big box store for about $10 more than a repair would cost. Recently I shopped on Amazon; I got about a $500.00 Brother for $150 (estimate) It has many many stitches and I love it. The only thing wrong with it was the needle threader. I heard at a fabric store that these things are not covered by the guarantee because they break all the time. I have one on my Bernina that DOES work, but not every time. I try 3 times, then I go ahead and thread the needle instead of wasting time with the automatic threader. I’ve been sewing for about 60 years. It doesn’t bother me to thread a needle. PS wet your needle, and you thread should slip through easily.