Hand Tying A Quilt
The first method of quilting to consider is hand tying a quilt. This is often considered the easy option but it can actually become a design feature of the quilt.
This is naturally a hand quilting option so the first thing is to thread your needle with suitable thread. Ordinary sewing thread would not be strong enough. Many embroidery threads would be too thick and would risk putting holes in your quilt (quite apart from being very difficult to pull through) so you need to use something in the medium range of threads. Personally I use about 3 or 4 strand embroidery thread. Deciding on the colour is a matter of choosing whether you want the knots to blend in with your quilt top or stand out from it.
Having threaded your needle, then, pull the thread so that the ends are level with each other and you will be sewing with double thread. Push your needle through from the top of the quilt and bring it up again about 1/4 inch from where the needle went down. Push the needle down again through the first point and bring it up again through the second point. This extra step to create an anchoring stitch is not essential but I find that it helps to strengthen the knot.
Pull through to leave about 2 inches of thread at the end. Cut the thread 2 inches from the quilt top and tie a double knot with the ends. Trim the threads if wished, but no closer than 1/2 inch from the quilt top or you will weaken the knot. That is honestly all there is to it, but now you have to think about where to put the next knot.
Some types of batting only require quilting every 8", but I feel safer with about 4" gaps between quilting. You could tie the knots near the corners of your patchwork quilt blocks or use them to make a design within your quilt blocks.
As you become more experienced at hand tying a quilt, you will find that it is possible not to cut the thread after each knot but keep making knots leaving loops of thread between each knot. Then when you have come to the end of the thread you can go back and snip between the stitches and tie the knots.
The second method of quilting is ribbon quilting which is a personal favourite of mine. Choose a ribbon that is only about 1/4" wide and one that does not have a texture that would be ruined by sewing on it, such as velvet, or one that has a design of pictures or something that would not be helped by having stitches running along the length of it. I usually choose a simple satin ribbon and let the colour provide the interest factor.
This method of quilting can best be used on smaller items such as bags and baby or lap quilts. Cream coloured satin ribbon on a brown bag or pink satin ribbon on a white baby quilt can look absolutely stunning.
Having layered and basted your three layers of quilt top, batting and backing fabric, use a fabric marker to mark straight lines on the quilt top. These might be in the form of cross hatching, chevrons, or even just diagonal lines on one diagonal only. Experiment.
Begin sewing in a corner or on the edge of a central line. Place the ribbon on top of the quilt top with the edge of the ribbon extending out a little beyond the edge of the quilt. Set your machine to zig zag with maximum stitch width and length and sew the ribbon to the quilt following the marked line carefully. At the end of the line, cut the ribbon a little past the end of the quilt and begin the next line of ribbon quilting. Always sew the lines in the same direction as each other or you may end up with some puckering of the quilt top or backing.
When you have finished sewing ribbon along all the marked quilting lines, sew a line of zigzag all round the edge of the quilt top to secure the ends of the ribbon to prevent fraying. Then continue with either binding if it's a quilt or sewing the seams if it's a bag that you are making.
These are just two of an almost infinite number of ways of quilting your quilt. One of them is hand quilting and the other is machine quilting, but both provide a really interesting finish to your quilt without taking up an inordinate amount of time.