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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fonts for Quilting Text

Here are some of my favorite fonts to use when quilting text.  When we write text on our quilt and use it on our quilt top or in place of quilting it is called free-hand machine embroidery.
Depending on the font,  I will use a zig-zag stitch for a calligraphy effect, OR, I will use a thick thread (12wt) and just a straight stitch.   Both options are done free-motion with a darning foot.

 (click photo to zoom-in/closeup) 

So what does one look for when choosing a font for text quilting?  What aspects of a font make for an ideal free-hand machine embroidery?

  • 1. The lines that make up the font are a similar width.   

It's difficult for us to recreate with thread the various widths made with a calligraphy pen or marker  We can use a wide zigzag stitch and by pretending your quilt is the paper, and your needle is the "PEN," we can give somewhat of a calligraphy effect, but it will NOT be the same as what is on the font.  If you do the zigzag stitch then that is just your creative vision.  So it's still best to just choose a font that uses the same width throughout the font.

  • 2.  There are not many stops and starts,  

It's unlikely you'll find a font in which the letters are all attached.  For machine quilting, we want as FEW stops and starts, (or KNOTS) as possible.   Just keep this in mind when choosing a font.

  • 3.  Simple is best.  

Some of the most beautiful fonts include lots of curly-Q's and beautiful decorative swirls and whirls.  But that's not really going to look best when transferred to thread on your quilt.   Plus it's a pain in the butt!  So we should look for a font that is SIMPLY beautiful.

Here are some examples of text in my past quilts:

4 memorial quilts I made using this gentleman's clothing, Ford fabric, and photos.  Each quilt contained "sayings" and nicknames in the borders.  Each of the sayings were unique to the quilt's recipients (the 4 siblings.)  The borders were done with a 12 wt thread and straight stitch.  The center/middle section that contained the name was done with a zigzag stitch.  
Here's a link to the thread I used on amazon:  

For this quilt I wanted the initials to look like a monogram.  I used an extra wide zigzag stitch.  

The text on both of these quilts were  done with a medium zigzag stitch

for this advent calendar I used a 12wt thread by wonderfil called "spaghetti"
Here's a link to the thread I used on amazon: Spagetti Thread, Eggplant

Since the name on this child's clothing quilt was somewhat large, I decided to use a font that looked more juvenile.   I would typically stick to cursive but I like the way this turned out.  It was worth the extra knots.  

For Isabella's clothing quilt, I wanted something that looked more modern and elegant.  Again worth the extra knots ;c)  

I include free personalization with all of my T-shirt quilts.  

I DO want to do a tutorial on how to actually do the text on the quilt.   Stay tuned for that sometime in the near future!!