The Quilt of a Thousand Swear Words

Have you ever wanted to cuss up a storm over a sewing mistake? I certainly have.  

My most recent “moment” was about a month ago when I discovered the mangled back-side of a quilting job in progress. I had been using some lovely, cuddly fleece for the back of a baby quilt. Despite my careful basting (sticky basting spray and all), the fleece had stretched while I was moving it around in a free-motion swirl design. In a way, I wasn’t totally surprised because the fleece had made the quilt thicker and heavier, thus more difficult to move around. The back was bunched up in several places and just looked ghastly to me. After little Olive washed my mouth out with soap, I picked up my seam ripper and went to town picking out stitches for the rest of the day. So frustrating! (I was finally able to quilt it properly, but I kept thinking that there must be an easier way to quilt the soft backings.)

This situation was on my mind as I attended Quilt Market a few weeks ago. When I came across the Robert Kaufman Cuddle booth, I got the opportunity to talk with one of the designers and ask her about any quilting tricks or tips when dealing with these “soft” materials. She had several brilliant suggestions, and the overall idea was to ditch the detailed quilting when using soft materials. Instead, I will show you how to do what I call invisible quilting.

Meet my latest “experiment.” This nature-inspired quilt uses greens and browns with a splash of tangerine and rose appliqué silhouettes to make it a little more feminine. What do you think?

First I basted the quilt with a snuggly (white) chenille for the back. 


After basting, make sure the quilt layers are pinned together with straight pins instead of the usual safety pins I recommend.


The idea is to insert little stitches throughout the quilt. I have placed red ‘x’ marks to show where I plan to insert mine so you get the idea. You can use tailor’s chalk or something that will easily wash out if you want to mark where you will stitch.


Set your machine to its zig-zag stitch and activate the “needle-stop down” feature.


Use 1.5 width and zero length on the stitch settings.


For demonstration purposes, I’m using black thread on a scrap but I would recommend choosing a thread color to blend in. Then, stitch three zig-zags. (The needle should move six times but since there is zero length you won’t actually see any zig-zag, just a thick mass.)


Clip the threads. It will look like this:


White thread was the obvious choice for me on the actual project considering the front and back materials and you could not see the stitches when I finished. Brilliant! The quilting is certainly not as fancy as usual, but it is a really simple and practical way to get the job done.


I’m sharing this tutorial at some of these great link parties!


  1. Ruth

    June 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Any shots of the back? Maybe those will come later. Cute…and of course, a wonderful idea. I still like the title of "quilt of a thousand swear words, though." Maybe the quilt design for such a quilt could include symbols like $#*!! for each of the 'thousand' swear words. HaHa. (Me, thinking literally). Fun to read your posts, always.

  2. Deanna

    June 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    My FAVORITE product when machine quilting (and I do a lot of pieced tops with that awful and cuddly minky on the back) is a spray adhesive baste.

    It's an adhesive that washes right out…there's many different brands, and an average can lasts me a few crib sized quilts. I 'spray' baste the top and batting, the the back to the previous layers already basted.

    No pins. No mess. Pretty slick, if you ask me! 🙂

    Good luck!

    Love that quilt, by the way!

  3. Aubrey

    June 5, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    I love the way it turned out…so maybe it was worth all those words??? 🙂

  4. Wendy

    June 6, 2011 at 5:36 am

    It's such a lovely quilt. I love the Mackintosh-esque roses.

  5. Ashley

    June 14, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    haha love the title : ) made me smile…looks awesome !!!

  6. Dana M.

    July 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Okay, so make sure I have this right, the ONLY quilting you did was to do the zigzags?
    Beautiful quilt.

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