It's my turn on the #keepcalmbrithop organised by Jo Westfoot of The Craft Nomad, thank you so much Jo for organising such a fun event and allowing us to all get to know one another better during these difficult times!

I'm Sarah and I'm a modern quilter, fabric designer, podcaster, Instagramer and pattern designer. I wanted to tell you a bit about myself and what I do, and then I'm going to share some of my top tips for machine quilting, which I hope you'll find useful.

It's hard to know where to start describing what I do. I make quilts and small projects for magazines and online publications, and I often write quilting related articles too. I teach locally and further afield (when we're not in lockdown!) and there's nothing I love more than connecting with other quilters. I'm also the founder of the Great British Quilter Instagram Challenge and I've have launched 2 Aurifil thread boxes. This is my latest box, that contains 20 twelve weight threads.

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Most recently my debut fabric collection GBQ Back to Basics for Dashwood Studio has just gone on sale and I'm still pinching myself that it's in shops and people are purchasing it!

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I'm also the host of the Great British Quilter Podcast, and in 2019 I interviewed 8 fabulous guests. Series two was due to start recording last month, but due to the Covid 19 situation, sadly that is all on hold for now. But it will happen and be worth the wait, I promise!

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I host the social media for a fabulous company called The Quilter's Planner, and if that's not enough, I also design and sell quilt and project patterns and super glittery project pouches in my Etsy Shop. It makes for a fantastically busy life, which I love, and no two days are ever the same.

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So that's enough about me. I thought it would be fun to share some of my top tips for machine quilting with you. With these tops tips, you'll be quilting happily in no time.

5 TOP TIPS FOR MACHINE QUILTING

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1) Walking Foot

Most sewing machines come with a walking foot and this is essential for evenly feeding your quilt sandwich through your machine. I like to use a long stitch length and highly recommend experimenting with some scraps made into a quilt sandwich to get a length you're happy with.

2) Hera Marker

A hera marker is my best friend. I use it either free hand or with a ruler to score the lines or curves I want to stitch. It just leaves a crease and you don't have to worry about washing it away or leaving chemicals in your work. I wouldn't be without it! But if a hera marker won't do the job, I'd recommend a chalk pencil.

3) Use the best quality thread you can afford

For me, Aurfil is the thread of choice, for several reasons. First of all, they use premium cotton, and it's always best to use like for like with fabric and thread. So if you're using cotton fabrics, you should use a cotton thread. Aurifil threads come in a range of thicknesses, and I love the 50 weight for quilting. There's also plenty of thread on each spool, which is brilliant for quilting as it just goes on and on! Aurifil thread also has less lint, so you have to clean your machine less often. Finally, they have a wondeful range of colours, including varigated threads and metallics, so there really is a colour and thread for every project.

4) Use a seam guide for wide, even quilting lines
A seam guide is really useful for a wide but accurate distance between your quilting lines. If you have no idea how to use yours, type the model of your machine into Youtube along with 'seam guide' and there's sure to be a short tutorial. Once you're set up, all you do is align the end of the quilting guide with a line or previous line of stitching, and stitch at even intervals. It's key to keep your eye on the seam guide, not the needle to ensure straight, parallel lines.

5) Quilting gloves are your best friend

I always use quilting gloves to quilt my quilts. These lightweight gloves are great because they have rubber grips on the palms, enabling you to get a really good grip on your quilt and stop it slipping. I find it makes me feel in control of the quilt, and not the quilt I control of me! You can purchase them inexpensively or even use a lightweight pair of gardening gloves. Anything that helps you grip your quilt is a good idea.

 

So that's my tips, I hope they help! To make sure to follow the rest of the hop, you can find the schedule below.

Saturday, 28th March:  Jo Westfoot | The Crafty Nomad
Sunday, 29th March:  Amy Ball | Coffee Rings Studio
Monday, 30th March:  Jo Hendy | Villavin Crafts & Retreats
Tuesday, 31st March:  Nicola Dodd | Cake Stand Quilts
Wednesday, 1st April:  Rachel Colcannon | Rachel's Textiles Studio
Thursday, 2nd April:  Lou Orth |  Lou Orth Designs
Friday, 3rd April:  Sonia Spence | Fabric & Flowers
Saturday, 4th April: Fi | Pins & Needles Grayshott
Sunday, 5th April:  Sarah Ashford | Sarah Ashford Studio
Monday, 6th April:  Abigail |  Cut&Alter
Tuesday, 7th April:  Karen Lewis  | Karen Lewis Textiles
Wednesday, 8th April: Joanna Kent| Crafty Quilter
Thursday, 9th April:  Jo Avery |  Jo Avery Stitch
Friday, 10th April: Round Up Post | The Crafty Nomad