Light It Up…or Not! A How-To From Gammill


Gammill Quilting Artist Karen Marchetti is here to show us why lighting is SO important–and how you might be able to see better with the flip of a switch!

When you are quilting, lighting is extremely important. Sometimes you need bright light, sometimes you need black light, and sometimes you need no light at all.

Let me explain and elaborate on this just a bit more. Some fabrics are tricky. When you add similar-colored thread quilting on them can become even more tricky. You can barely see what you are stitching, and that can create some difficulties.

I use the black light feature on my Gammill a lot. I also use no light at all, a lot. One time while doing some demo quilting at a show (I was quilting on a silver dupioni) someone mentioned that I didn’t have the light on. I explained it was fine, and that’s how I wanted it. They then proceeded to turn the light on, I again turned it off. Needless to say, I’m sure the person thought I was nuts as they just looked at me and walked away.

The distressing part is that many people don’t realize how lighting, whether bright light or black light, and sometimes the lack of light (side shadowing) can make such a huge difference while quilting. My Gammill is pretty awesome as it gives me the ability to switch between bright light, black light, and no light. Following, I will share a couple of examples – one using white fabric with silver markings and another using cream fabric with a painted white pattern.

Let’s begin with the white fabric and silver markings. Here is bright light (the way most people stitch):

Sept 1

You’ll notice it is extremely difficult to see the white thread. You can see, but you would have blinky-eyes and a headache in no time at all.

But look at the amazing thing that happens if you flip on your black light:

Sept 2
WOW, right? You are now quilting away – no blinky eyes and definitely no headache. One little thing to note, if your studio has a lot of windows and you’re trying to quilt during the brightest time of day, the black light won’t be as effective. It will still work and your eyes will benefit greatly, but the glow won’t be quite as bright as in the photo. I happen to stitch late afternoon and evenings, so by turning off the room light using my black light becomes extremely effective – it glows like crazy.

The next example is the cream colored fabric with the painted white design. Here it is with the bright light (again, the way most people stitch):

Sept 3

You can see the stitches, but quilting like this would hurt your eyes after a while.

Here is the same fabric with the black light:

Sept 4

What?!! Not what you were expecting? You can’t see a thing to quilt and stitching like this would definitely give you a headache.

But, if you shut the light out and only use room light (and/or side lighting) an amazing thing happens. You can see perfectly – are using the shadows of your stitches to see:

Sept 5

I could go on and on with different examples of how lighting plays a big role in your quilting and your ability to see the thread on the fabric. If you’re having issues with a particular fabric or thread, play around with your lights — you might be surprised!

Karen Marchetti, Gammill Quilting Artist

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[…] Light It Up…or Not! A How-To From Gammill […]

Ruth Sunday

I’m working on one of those now…I matched the thread so well it is very difficult to see it. At the moment I have to take some stitches out because the bobbin didn’t wind well and the tension isn’t good. I’m having fun trying to find the thread…