Quilting basics: machine quilting

Sources: Pile o’ Fabric; Generations Quilt Patterns; Color Me Quilty

Tools needed

  • Walking foot: has its own feed dogs built in so you will have feed dogs above the fabric and below the fabric working together
  • Spare bobbins
  • Fresh needle
  • Table space to hold the rest of the quilt

Tidying thread ends

  1. Hold the end of the upper thread of the machine and use the manual wheel to take a single stitch
  2. Pull on the upper thread while turning the wheel to bring the bobbin thread up
  3. Tuck thread tails behind the foot (will tidy them later)
  4. Turn stitch length to very low and stitch about 1/4″
  5. Turn stitch length to normal and stitch your lines
  6. When finished your design, turn stitch length to very low and stitch 1/4″, then bring the bobbin thread back up same as previously
  7. Cut thread tails to a few inches long
  8. Bury thread ends
    1. Put thread ends through a sewing needle and pass needle an inch into middle layer of batting, then pull it out
    2. Snip remaining thread very close to fabric and gently massage/stretch to make thread disappear into batting

Anchor quilting

  1. Make foundation stitches
    • For a straight quilt
      1. Identify the centre-most horizontal and vertical seams
      2. If there is no seam in the very center, stitch the next one closest to the center, instead
      3. Identify the lengthwise grain of the backing fabric and stitch the seam along that direction first
      4. Turn 90 degrees and repeat
    • For a diagonal quilt
      1. Start stitching at 45 degrees from each corner to the opposite side of the quilt (you will end up with with 2 overlapping Xes)
  2. Check the back of the quilt for any tucks (a sign of improper basting)
    • If you find any, rip out the stitches, re-baste, and repeat above
  3. If all is well, continue with ditch stitching at seams joining quilt blocks
    1. Gently stretch a seam apart and sew just barely on low (less bulky) side of seam;  this makes the stitch invisible when unstretched
    2. Start just beside the centre line and work outwards, then rotate quilt 180 degrees and repeat
    3. Rotate quilt 90 degrees and repeat A and B

Decorative stitching

If you want to continue with decorative stitching, do it in this order:

  • Anything needing a walking foot
    Free motion design quilting
    Free motion background fills (tends to shrink the quilt top)

Avoid turning your quilt like a steering wheel when free-motion quilting.

Quilting patterns

  • Straight line quilting
    • Outline quilting: quilt lines parallel to seam lines, using edge of presser foot to stitch 1/8″ – 1/4″ from seam lines on both sides of all seams
    • Basic straight parallel lines: stitching at regular intervals
    • Random-spaced straight parallel lines
    • Grid perpendicular quilting
    • Cross hatch (quilting at 45 degrees)
    • Wavy/organic quilting (parallel wavy lines)
    • Straight line echo quilting: follows a pattern in the quilt
  • Free motion quilting
    • Meandering stitch: continuous line stitch that curves and does not cross over itself (like a flat pile of spaghetti)
    • Garnet stitch: a continuous line that can be curved or angled; line crosses itself to create loops
    • Pebble stitch: pattern of circles used to fill in an entire space

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