Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed last week’s preparation for machine quilting a small project on your home machine. This week, I’ll cover tips on doing the quilting now that you’re ready.
Tip#1 – Plan Your Design
Ever wonder what to quilt on a top? I have a trick I use. I either print a copy of one of the quilt blocks in the quilt top or draw one out on a piece of paper. Once I do that, I will draw out a quilt design that I can follow on each block! Here’s an example below:
The arrows on the drawing are showing which direction to stitch in to make this design in one continuous pass. You can also just do an overall meandering pattern like this:
This overall pattern is often referred as “loops and stars”. So whether you choose a custom design within each block or an overall motif, it’s good to decide before you have the quilt under the needle to save frustration.
Tip#2 – Practice
If you haven’t machine quilted before, or if it has been awhile since doing it, I recommend practicing on a scrap quilt sandwich. Even though I have been machine quilting for over 25 years, if I have not done it for awhile, I will pull out scrap fabric and batting, make a quilt sandwich and practice.
Doing this helps work out the “bugs”. It helps you to get into the flow of coordinating the movement of the quilt top with your hands and the speed of the machine.
Tip #3 – Ready the Machine and Your Supplies
Make sure your needle is fresh. I recommend using a quilting needle instead of the basic universal needle.
These needles are sharper than the universal needle to penetrate through the 3 layers of the quilt sandwich.
Next, I like to use an open toe darning foot because I mainly do free-motion machine quilting. If you are doing stitch in the ditch machine quilting or straight lines, I recommend a walking foot that will move all the layers of your quilt sandwich evenly. Here’s the open toe foot:
Finally, I can’t machine quilt without my gripper gloves. I use the Machingers brand gloves.
These gloves help me to evenly hold the quilt top surface I am working on tight but not stretched. This will help to avoid wrinkles, especially on the back.
Tip #4 – Thread and Time Saver
I like to use Aurifil 50 wt 100% cotton thread for piecing and quilting. These threads come in a variety of colors so you can find one that blends in the best with your quilt top. A time saving tip I have besides planning your quilting motif ahead of time is to pre-wind several bobbins, especially if you are working on a bigger project.
Now it’s time to quilt!
I will describe the quilting process here. It will help to read this first before watching the video below. Hopefully between these two things, the machine quilting steps will be clear and simple to follow!
The feed dogs on your machine need to be dropped. See your owner’s manual on how to do that if you have not done it before.
To start, pull your bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. To do this, put your threaded needle down in the spot where you want to begin and drop your presser foot. Tap your foot peddle so the needle comes back up, pull on the end of the top thread and this will draw the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. This is so the bobbin thread does not get caught in the stitching on the back and create a mess!
Next, start with a few small “locking stitches”. Since your feed dogs are dropped, they are not moving the quilt sandwich …. you have to. So to make these small stitches, just move the quilt top slightly while stitching. Since you are only moving it slightly, the stitches will be very small. Once you do these beginning stitches, you can now move on to the motif you have chosen. Be sure to move the quilt top at an even pace matching the speed of your machine. That is how you keep the stitches even (unless you are one of those lucky quilters who have a stitch regulator on your machine!). Once you reach the end of your design or are at a place where you need to stop, end with a few small locking stitches again. Snip the threads as close as you can to the quilt top as you can. Now you are ready to move on to the next area!
Here’s the video that shows what I have described above:
Here are some of my quilt motifs:
So that’s my brief tutorial on machine quilting a small project. I hope it has helped to inspire you to try it!
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The drawing will be on Tuesday, March 10th. ***We have a winner! Congrats, Karen Hickman!***