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Readers Respond: Share Your Favorite Machine Quilting Tips

Responses: 17


Machine Quilting Tips

Seasoned quilters know that it can be difficult to become skilled in any new technique, especially if you don't have someone on hand to illustrate the process in person and explain all the little how-to steps. Machine quilting is one of those methods that we all seem to develop our own best ways to accomplish. I know that all of the new machine quilters in our community would love to hear what's worked for others. If you have a minute, tell us about any tips and techniques you use when you machine quilt, for either free motion or straight line quilting.

freezer paper - a quilter's best friend

Shapes cut out of freezer paper can be a helpful guide for free motion stitching. They can be ironed on half a dozen times times and the paper's edge provides a line to follow. Sew next to, but not through, the paper. Once the edge has been sewn you can peel the paper off to add details inside the outline if you wish. I have done fish, leaves, flowers, and curvy geometric shapes using this strategy.
—Guest fran

Walking foot and other tips

A walking foot is the ONLY way to do SID, I use the gun & the 'tacks to baste, they are very controversial but I have used them for years without problems! I wait till the tacks are on sale. I read an article by a machine quilter who said that if you leave the feed dogs UP you have 60% more control. She's right! I always quilt that way now. I also used a pice of heavy weight stabilizer, unthreaded my machine & stitched the design I wanted to use (with No thread) then used it for a stencil with my chalk duster. Then just stitched over the chalk lines. Since I am not an artist, it worked like a charm! Just relax & have fun with it!
—Guest sewin Sam

practice makes perfect

Sewing around the shapes on a printed panel is a productive way to develop your skill with free motion quilting. Because you have lines to follow, you only need to think about controlling speed. And the hours you spend on this form of 'practice' will be producing something useful.
—Guest fran auty

505 spray and fix

I swear by this product!! When I started learning how to quilt, I pinned and re-pinned and re-pinned and almost started to cry. I was so discouraged, I was ready to quit quilting. I was then introduced to 505 and my life changed. I have used 505 on small quilts to a double size quilt. It may seem expensive ( about $13.99 per can~ which will do one large quilt), but my sanity is well worth it!! Gotta love it!!
—Guest Sally

Machine Quilting Tips

I use a quilt basting spray for all quilts (so far up to lap size) and it works wonderful. The 505 spray holds very well and you can reposition the top or bottom if ripples appear. The key is to take your time quilting and not be in a hurry.
—Guest quiltedpainter

Take time with the sandwich

Make sure that you take the extra time to do the sandwich. On the bigger quilts, I put the top, face down on a table, batting and then the backing. This way, you can get the backing fabric without a crease - especially if you are on your own. I pin this as you would, from the middle to the outside. I then turn it over and pin the top like you would do normally. Before I quilt I take out the pins on the backing side. Seems like a lot of pinning and unpinning, but you make a beautiful sandwich, first time.

Machine quilting tips

I have the stitch regulator from Bernina and I really like it, but you still have to guide the material and watch your speed. The regulator just makes it easier, sort of like using cruise control on your car! But I'm still learning, it may just be that practice is, as usual, the answer.
—Guest Tina

Use fusible batting

I have had excellent results using Hobbs fusible batting for lap and baby size quilts that I do on my home machine. I fuse from both sides of the quilt. If it pleats, I just pull it back and re "fuse" it until I am happy with it. Then, I baste around the edges. Also, I work from the middle of the quilt, just so there is not so much fabric to handle.
—Guest 2boymama

Machine Quitling Tip

I like to use large safety pins to baste and I also use spray basting to hold the layers in place I start in the center of the quilt and work my way out in each direction. I also use an improvised version of Georgia Bonesteels lap quilting method. by dividing my quilts into sections so they are easier to work with, and then after all sections are quilted when I assemble I go back and quilt where the sections are assembled.
—Guest Deb

Machine quilting Tips

I find the basting method (holding together the quilt layers) I choose makes a big difference in minimizing puckering. Using safety pins every 4 inches or so is great on a small quilt. However, if you want to be sure the layers don't shift as you are moving, coaxing and repositioning the quilt as you stitch, hand basting is best. Start at the middle of the quilt and baste 1.5 inch stitches to the right leaving a thread tail long enough to baste the other direction. You will have to pick up the tail thread and rethread the needle to baste the left side. Repeat every 4 inches and then baste the length of the quilt to create a checker board. Just machine quilt right over the basting and remove it before adding the binding. This method takes longer than pinning, but allows fewer puckers. Try both and see which works best for you.
—Guest Mary from IA

Machine Quilting Info

Pin, pin, pin!!! I am meaning every few inches to place safety pins (a good Stainless steel type, & not real small). the more you pin the less problems you will have of the under-side puckering. Before you actually stitch the quilt, make sure the back is as flat and even as the front. Another good idea is to iron your top and bottom layers so there aren't any creases in the fabric before doing all the pinning. Oh, and when sewing, if the pins are in the way, move them out of the way or if you have finished filling with quilting stitches you can take & leave the pins out as you move along. When storing the safety pins, leave them open for next time (just be careful when picking them out of the container you store them in) Keep out of reach of children, we don't want any runs to the ER. I hope this helps, it did when I was learning.
—Guest Reggirl

Machine quilting question

Does anyone have the Bernina with the stitch regulator? Just wondering how well it works? (NOTE from Janet: I have a Bernina with the stitch regulator and have found that it's a big help to the consistency of my free motion stitches).
—Guest Carol

Machine Quilting Advice

My best tip is you have to remember to breathe and relax. I often tense up and forget to breathe while machine quilting. The answer is music. Linda Ronstadt is too fast, but anything you can sing along to will keep you relaxed and breathing. Rock of Ages is too slow but Revive us Again is just right. Find cheerful music and just sing your heart out. Your quilting will be smoother and the stitches more even.
—Guest SisterMTM@gmail.com

Machine Quilting Tips

Love my Janome 6600 for all quilting needs. To do a simple cross hatch design on a block, I use masking tape from corner to corner as my guide. After sewing a line, I pull the tape and place it next to the sewing line and continue. I have even used the tape on a queen size to sew from corner to corner, works great. On free motion, one needs to pull the bobbin thread up to the top by holding top thread, drop needle down than up and grab the bobbin thread. Hold both threads when beginning to quilt, going slowly and at a tiny stitch to lock them then continue sewing. When I free motion, I love doing a block by starting in the corner and going down, making loops from right to left on my way to the bottom corner. I repeat on next corner, making an X, then I fill in if I want. I like using 50 wt thread and an 80/12 microtex sharp needle. I was so intimidated when started, but it took practice and I am still learning. We are always learning in the quilt world. Hope this helped.
—Guest Claudia

Machine Quilting Adventures

You'll be amazed with how your confidence builds -- start out with simple straight lines determined by your quilt pattern and fabric. If your fabric choice lends itself to quilting around the designs, that is an excellent way to practice beginning free-motion quilting.
—Guest LJ Miller

Machine Quilting Advice

A walking foot for stitch in the ditch is the way to go. I also use a hem stitch (straight stitch that every 5 or 6 stitches does one zig-zag stitch) and I set the zig-zag to catch where the seam allowance is. That helps to "lock" all the seams. I also like to use the temporary quilt basting spray.
—Guest Billie 207

Machine Quilt Tips

I have a Pfaff Hobby Grand Quilter on a frame. My suggestion is to make sure you don't roll the quilt too tight. Also, I had to take the plastic insert out of my hopping foot because my thread kept breaking. Once I did that, I never had a thread problem again!
—Guest pahannan

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