“Embroidery, Flannel and Fleece, Oh My!”

Last Monday, as I was packing up the baby package for my niece in Germany, she called and asked if she could request one more item for the baby:  a quilt for tummy time.  Her only request was that it be extra soft, extra fluffy and pretty.  It took two days of work but the quilt is now on its way to Germany!  I decided for the soft part of the request, I would make the quilt out of flannel and fleece.  For the fluffy part of the request, I decided to use two layers of Mountain Mist Light batting ( I should have used one layer of high loft batting, but I didn’t have any and I was eager to get this package on its way, so I used what I had. I did lower the interval of quilting from the package directions of every 5″ to every 2.5″).  For the pretty part of the request, I just had to wing it!  I have worked with fleece and with flannel but never together and never in a quilt.  I decided on a pattern of alternating 8.5” blocks with a simple binding around the edge.  The finished quilt came out as a 32”x32” square.  As I worked the project, certain truths became glaringly obvious.  Here’s what I learned.

To start this whole process I inserted a size 90/14 chrome coated topstitch needle. This did a beautiful job for my sewing and embroidery!
After I finished piecing the top, I layered one piece of fleece for the backing, then the two pieces of batting with the quilt top. The backing and fleece are about 5″ larger than the top, all around the perimeter to allow for the embroidery hoop I was going to use.
As I began pinning the quilt sandwich, I was already getting a lot of shifting in the fabrics. This called for extra pins!
Due to all the shifting of fabric while I was pinning, I knew I would need to use the needle down feature of the machine along with the dual feed feature.
I increased my stitch length to 3…
…and lowered my presser foot pressure from 6.5 to 3.
I clipped on my quilt clips to hold the fabric back and got ready to stitch-in-the-ditch down the center seam.
Even before sewing the first seam, I knew I would need extra pins in addition to my safety pins. I put these on either side of each ditch I sewed and they were really needed!
I used my favorite Sewing Stars foot for my stitch-in-the-ditch. With the extra pinning, the fabric stopped moving. Yay!
Once I had finished the first vertical seam, it became clear that my original pinning was going to be insufficient. I took out the original pins over the whole quilt and re-pinned each seam as I sewed it. This eliminated the fabric moving problem as the material was smoothed out anew after sewing in each ditch.
All the extreme pinning and re-pinning paid off with no wrinkles on the front or the back of the sandwich. It is very important to alternate sewing directions or you get extreme fabric skewing in this step.
I next stitched the perimeter so I would get no fabric movement during the embroidery process. First, I pinned each block through the backing and the batting only.
After pinning the backing to eliminate any possible shifting, I pinned the front about every inch along the perimeter. This fabric combination moves everywhere without a lot of pins! I then removed my backing pins before stitching so I didn’t run over any by accident. Again, I smoothed out the fabric gently as I pinned to eliminate any stray wrinkles or tucks.
When stitching the perimeter, I used the 1/4″ piecing foot that came with my machine. I could not use a foot with a metal guide. The guide would have sunk down into the fabric and just snowplowed, making a big mess. This foot rode on the top of the fabric and did not produce any tucks in the fabric.
Once all the seams and perimeter were stitched, it was time for the quilting. I used the 240×150 mm metal hoop since the quilt was too thick for any of my other hoops. ( HV hoop and the Pfaff hoop. )
I started embroidering in the center blocks and worked my way to the edges. I raised the height of my embroidery foot to accommodate the quilt’s thickness and made sure to turn off the thread cutters so I could hide my threads in the batting.
I did not need to use a water soluble topper on the flannel, but I did need to use it on the fleece. The threads sunk right into the fleece when I did my test embroidery.
Once all the embroideries were done and the threads were all hidden it was time for the binding.
Since my quilt was so fluffy, my usual 2.5″ cut binding didn’t cover the edge, so I cut my binding at 3″. I used clips to hold the binding as I sewed the finishing touches and found if I ran the edge of the clip on the edge of the seam, I got an even stitch on the back of the binding.
The finished product: Very fluffy, very soft and, I think, very pretty.

The biggest take away from this project was the extreme need for pinning and re-pinning. It was never a once and done. Also, the needle made a big difference along with the lowering of the presser foot pressure. For the quilting, I made no adjustment to the top thread tension as I usually do with cotton quilts. Instead, I used the same Robison-Anton 40 weight rayon embroidery thread for the top thread and the bobbin. Lastly, if you want your quilting design to show up on the fleece, a topper must be used.

Good luck with your projects this week! Happy Sewing!