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  • Writer's picturePatty Sawyer

Avoiding the Frost Heaves of Quilting!

Here in Maine, its frost heave season! If you've never experienced frost heaves, you may not know what they are exactly. They are bumps...BIG bumps in our roads. They are caused by the upward swelling of soil during really cold conditions and from the ice which forms in the layers below the surface of the road. As one local Mainer quite nicely summed it up, "They are wicked nasty!" They can rattle your insides pretty well as you ride along and cause a lot of damage to your vehicle. It's challenging trying to avoid them and many times you simply cannot. They do eventually go away... as the ground thaws in the spring, leading to our next season, pot holes! (hmmmm...maybe a topic for my next blog!)

Anyway, as I was working on longarming a quilt this week for a client, I realized that we often experience frost heaves in our quilting as well. Bumps that often pop up at intersections, along seam lines and even in our bindings. Nasty upheavals of thread and fabric that cause a lot of damage to our machines, breaking threads and needles or leaving ugly molehills or holes on the surface of our quilts. So how do you avoid these frost heaves? Here's a few tips from some experts of our road frost heaves which I have adapted to help with our quilted frost heaves...

  1. Think ahead - use a finer thread when piecing, especially if there are multiple fabric intersections. The weight of the thread you use can make a dramatic difference in the bulk you experience at intersections.

  2. Be Vigilant - Keep a watchful eye on vulnerable spots such as seam allowances where fabrics can easily bulk up. Make sure they are not shifting as you sew over them.

  3. Promote drainage - this is where good pressing techniques can really help! Press consistently and completely! Perhaps consider pressing seams open to more evenly disperse (drain) the bulk. Slightly grading seam allowances can also help.

  4. Insulate with batting - the right batting may help smooth out those bumps. Consider one with a little more loft to help soften the blow of the needle and hopping foot.

  5. Raise the elevation - try raising your hopping foot to eliminate distortion when quilting over excessive bulky areas.

If you're experiencing frost heaves in your quilting, contact me to discuss how we can solve these issues together. I can show you many tips and tricks that can help smooth out your quilting journey. After all, the ride should be fun and the surface should be smooth.

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