Exploding Heart QAL - Week 6

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Cue the streamers and balloons! It's the final week of the Exploding Heart quilt along!

Exploding Heart quilt along

You can find all of the previous quilt along blog posts here:

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If you're new here, hello! I'm Laura! I design quilt patterns, and I'm a self-proclaimed deal hunter! Be sure to join the popular Quilting & Sewing Deals Facebook group where I post sales, deals, and coupon codes from all around the web!

Exploding Heart quilt pattern

This QAL uses the Exploding Heart quilt pattern. Get the pattern HERE: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SliceofPiQuilts.

**The QAL has ended, but you can still sign up for my email newsletter!

Week 6 / 6

This week is all about finishing your quilt!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to watch this week's video!

This week includes several decisions: batting, thread, backing, and quilting design.


Batting choice is often decided by a mix of personal preference and how you plan to use the quilt.

I personally like and use Warm & Natural batting because it washes well and the texture is close to quilts I have used in the past. A similar option is Pellon's natural cotton batting.

Natural cotton batting

If you used a light or white colored background, then you will likely want to use a bleached cotton batting instead of the natural color like Hobbs Bleached CottonWarm & White, or Pellon's white cotton batting.

Batting types

If you've used a dark background color like black, navy blue, or deep purple, you might consider a black batting like Hobbs 80/20 Black. It does not have much lint and quilts very similar to other 80/20 battings.

Black batting

I have used Hobbs wool batting in several of my Exploding Heart quilts. Wool doesn't crease as much as cotton and it has a bit more loft. It's a great choice for any season, and makes a great texture in the finished quilt too.

Hobbs wool batting in an Exploding  Heart quilt

Of course there are many other types of batting that will work great too! I do watch for sales on all kinds of batting and post them in the Quilting & Sewing Deals Facebook group! Come check out the group!


Polyester or cotton? 30wt or 40wt or 50wt or something else?

When it comes to thread, use what works for you. I am definitely not the quilt police! If you're using a longarm, then 40wt polyester thread is a great choice! If you're using a domestic, then 50wt cotton thread is a great choice!

The smaller the thread weight number, the thicker the thread. So if you really want your quilting to show up, use a 30wt thread. If you want the piecing to take center stage, then choose 40wt or 50wt so the quilting does not take away from the design. The quilt pictured below was quilted using a pale pink 40wt Aurifil thread.

Free motion quilting

I personally use Aurifil thread for as much of my piecing and quilting as possible - both on my domestic and longarm. I use both 40wt Aurifil and 50wt Aurifil in my longarm - usually chosen by which weight has the color I want to use. The quilt pictured below was quilted in a bright pink 50wt thread.

Free motion quilting

As far as what color of thread you might want to use, I tend to say to use your favorite color! I used to always match my background fabric, but have recently thrown caution to the wind and choose a color from the focal fabrics. I'm thinking lime green, turquoise, or pink for the one below!

Exploding Heart quilt along final week


The back of a quilt is an opportunity waiting to happen!

If you want to use regular cotton fabric, you could choose a fabric with a large design that you might not find easy to cut up into smaller pieces.

Quilt back and label

You can purchase 108" wide backing fabric (I'd recommend 2 1/2 yards of that for this quilt), or you can purchase regular quilting cotton and sew two pieces together along the selvage. I'd recommend 5 yards of fabric for that method.

108" wide quilt backing

Another great choice is to use minky! Everyone in my family loves snuggling with a minky-backed quilt!

Minky quilt back

Quilting Design

Heart free motion quilting

When it comes to quilting, you must first decide if you want to do it yourself or send the quilt top to someone else to quilt for you.

Gammill longarm machine

Let's chat about sending it to a longarm quilter first!

A longarm quilter can quilt an edge-to-edge design onto your quilt (a design that is repeated over the entire quilt) or do custom quilting (different parts of the quilt have different types of quilting). Custom quilting requires much more time to complete, and will have a greater cost. Be sure to communicate with your longarm quilter about what type of quilting you would like. Some longarm quilters have batting for you to choose from, and others ask that you send your batting with your quilt top and backing. 

There are often longarm quilters near you! Ask at your quilt guild or local quilt shop for recommendations.

If you do not have someone near you, then here are my suggestions for longarm quilters you can mail your quilt top to!

Beth at Cooking Up Quilts is located in West Virginia and offers both edge-to-edge and custom quilting. Visit her website HERE.

The Longarm League has an interactive map where you can find a quilter near you!

Locations of Longarm League members worldwide

Each longarm quilter will have different designs for you to choose from. You can pick your thread color too!

If you'll be quilting it yourself on a longarm, you might opt to do your own custom quilting or ruler work!

Free motion quilting

You can also use your domestic machine to do the quilting! A walking foot would allow you to quilt straight (or straight-ish) lines and make some stunning designs!

Walking foot quilting design
Walking foot quilting in spiral

A free-motion foot on your domestic machine opens up many quilting possibilities similar to using a longarm.

Free motion quilting design


Once the quilting is done, you just have to bind your quilt! I bind all of my quilts by machine and add a quick label as I sew the binding too. Find the tutorial for how I sew my binding here: https://www.sliceofpiquilts.com/2017/04/machine-quilt-binding-tutorial.html.

Machine sewn binding

This quilt is a great one for using your leftover scraps to make a scrappy binding!

Scrappy machine sewn binding

I order my satin labels from HERE.


After your quilt is quilted AND bound, then you can wash the quilt when you're ready. I suggest throwing a couple Color Catchers in the washing machine with the quilt. If there's any bleeding, you can rewash the quilt several times with new Color Catchers. Once you're satisfied that there was no bleeding on the quilt or any other issues, then put the quilt in the dryer or hang it to dry if it's not too cold where you live! (**Note: If you use wool batting, you can wash the quilt in cold water in a gentle or delicate cycle, but you'll need to hang or lay the quilt flat to dry.)


**If the video doesn't load, you can view it here: https://youtu.be/EwRLRM1IoQw.


  • Commit to finishing your quilt! Order the backing and binding fabric, batting, and thread. Contact a longarm quilter if you will not be quilting it yourself.
  • Share a photo of your quilt top - or finished quilt! - on social media! Use #explodingheartQAL and #explodingheartquilt in the caption of your photo.
  • Search for #explodingheartQAL or #explodingheartquilt on Facebook or Instagram, and like and comment on several posts to encourage others that are sewing along! There are so many great quilts to see! 
Exploding Heart QAL

QAL Schedule

Let's all quilt along!


  1. This was a fun quilt to make. Thank you for the quilt along, it got me over the intimidation of all the pieces. As always, taking 1 step at a time made all the difference and I wasn't so overwhelmed. I will definitely make another.

  2. I haven't had a chance to start mine yet, it will problemly be on hold for some time. I have saved all the emails from you from the start. I was wondering if I could get back into those and watch the videos later on, when I get a chance to start this.

  3. Mine is done and de-threaded, ironed and waiting to be dropped off at my favorite longarm quilter. I used the remainder from the fat quarters and sewed then into strips for binding. I am matching the white background for the back, so I think I will go with a variegated thread. I will remember to post a picture when I get it back from the longarm!

  4. I love this pattern and wondered if this pattern comes in a smaller size -- I primarily do baby quilts with a few lap quilts so that i can quilt them my self. Would love to make this for the next baby on my list.
    Thank you.

  5. I was unable to complete this quilt during your quilt along due to family issues but I kept all of your emails to refer back to at a later date. I just finished this quilt. I have to say that this is one of the best written patterns that I have ever completed! I never needed to refer back to your emails. I cannot express how much I loved your pattern writing! It was so clear and precise. You didn’t have us complete unnecessary trimming. We trimmed the final block only. I will definitely recommend your patterns to my friends! Thank you!


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