Machine quilting

Machine quilting

Machine quilting is the subject about which I receive most emails.  This is going to be a series of articles looking at preparation and how to machine quilt basic background stitches.  There will also be articles covering more advanced quilting designs.

Preparation is hugely important – time spent preparing your quilt will pay off handsomely in terms of a much more flat quilt.  In most of these articles I have used my domestic sewing machine, but more recently I have bought a longarm quilting machine (affectionately known as Minnie).  Some of the articles cover projects that I have quilted on her.  You will find that a lot of the principles and designs apply to both machines.

I won’t pretend that I am a great machine quilter.  However I do practise a lot and find out as much as I can about different methods and aids to help with machine quilting.  Over the course of this series of articles I hope to give you the confidence to try your hand at machine quilting.  There are techniques that you can try to minimise the things that can go wrong.  I can’t emphasis enough how important practice is.  Make yourself a sample panel of two layers of fabric with one of wadding and quilt on it as often as you can.  Click on the title of each article to see the full article.

Machine quilting articles

Preparing your quilt

Machine quilting basics

Meander quilting

Stitch in the ditch quilting

Stipple quilting

Echo quilting

Quilting the pinwheel quilt with McTavishing

Crosshatch quilting on the jack in the box quilt

Stipple and geometric quilting on the Morris quilt

Designing quilted rope borders

How to quilt rope borders

Machine quilted simple flowers

Feather wreaths

Figure of eight designs

How to machine quilt clamshells

How to machine quilt small circles

Machine quilting the cat quilt

How I machine quilted the Hawaiian quilt

Machine quilting the jigsaw puzzle quilt

Machine quilting the batik, penguin and peacocks quilts

Quilting with embroidery

Longarm machine quilting – an overview

Machine quilting sampler quilt

Straight line quilting

Cross hatch quilting

Alternate stripes quilting

More straight line filler quilting

Pickledish quilting design

Pebble quilting

Machine quilting loops

At the moment I am experimenting with Inspira quilting needles.  I’ll let you know how I get on with them!

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  1. Hi Rose. I have had a very busy with my Grandchildren the past summer, So rushed through emails. but suddenly realized i had not received any new patterns etc from you for a few weeks , I found your Batwing pattern from Aug 18th and read you had changed to alternate weeks for full quilts to other items. I seemed to have lost you after that so just signed up again, I look forward to your articles( even though I have 3 quilts on the go at the moment) and love hearing about your travels. and look forward to catching up soon..

    • Hi Elizajane. I’m sorry that you’ve had problems. Sometimes the emails don’t get through for whatever reason and then the system deletes them after a while. Anyway, I’m delighted that you’re back.

  2. Rosie Collier says:

    Hi Rose, Thank you for you informative website. I am fairly new to quilting and although I had pieced together several lap quilts I had only used stitching in the ditch and have been trying to find more information on the quilting itself as they say ‘it’s not a quilt until it’s quilted’. It is good to see a range to patterns to quilt as well as the basics of how to quilt, so a heartfelt Thank you for your clear explanations. I had quilted one single quilt previously but since I didn’t know how the quilting traditionally looks I had gone for each square being different pattern with a linking theme of circles and using free motion stitching. Not traditional but I am happy with the result.

    • Hi Rosie. I’m so pleased that you’re finding my website helpful. I would agree that a quilt needs to be quilted – it holds the layers together as well as being decorative. The quilting that you have already done sounds very ambitious – well done.

  3. What wadding would you recommend my quilt looks a bit puffy. And would you recommend using spray adhesive. It was my first quilt and I used green and white patterned with white slashing. The churn dash design. Thanks.

    • Hi Lesley. I’ll just copy the reply I gave you last time. I don’t use spray adhesive myself, but it does help to keep your layers together.

      Hi Lesley. I don’t live in Ludlow any more – I moved to Birmingham about a year ago – just the other side of Kidderminster! I think that it’s unlikely to have been the wadding that caused the puffiness. Waddings do vary in loft (thickness), but as it’s your first quilt I’d be inclined to suggest that it’s more likely to be the layering. You need to spend some time making sure that your quilt top is very flat and that you pin the layers together with lots of pins, smoothing from the middle all the time. You also need to smooth the top as you’re quilting – again from the centre outwards. Hope that helps.

  4. Marilyn Larkin says:

    G’day Rose,
    By now you will be settling into your new home. When I was navigating around your site, I discovered all your quilting tutorials, WOW, thank-you for posting them all for us. I had no idea you have been so dedicated to complete your quilt tops too, such a great achievement. I am going to enjoy watching all of your quilting tutorials on our dull wintry days. I hope you will be able to sort everything out in your new home quite quickly as I feel you just might get withdrawal symptons if you are segregated from your machines for too long. Take care.

    • Hi Marilyn. I still have many, many quilt tops to complete, but I hope that I can show you that quilting can be done on ordinary domestic sewing machines. It’s very satisfying. I’m hoping to begin sewing again tomorrow – after a whole week without being able to do any sewing!

  5. Caroline says:

    Hi Rose

    I’ve just finished making your Peace Garden quilt. I’m really pleased with it but now have the problem of deciding how to quilt it.
    Up until now, I have hand quilted but I’ve been practicing doing free flow quiting with the darning foot on my machine. I’m feeling more confident using this method so would like to machine quilt it.
    Please can you give me some quilting ideas which would look nice on this pretty quilt?
    I really enjoy your weekly quilts and have learnt so much from you.
    Thank you for your inspiration.
    best wishes

    • Hi Caroline. My apologies for the delay in replying to you. I think that when I quilted the Peace Garden quilt I just did a fairly loose meander quilt all over because I didn’t want to detract from the quilt design. If you are new to machine quilting, it is also a very simple design to do.

  6. Hi Rose, just wondered what kind of markers you use to mark your quilt pattern? I have tried numerous but find a lot of them don’t run smoothly on the fabric.

  7. Hi Rose, just saw your great quilt as you go only using the machine video. This may suit the project that I am doing and I wonder if you would mind sharing how much bigger you cut your backing squares than each front of block?

    • Hi Sue. Generally about 2″ wider all round. I’ve answered in full on the machine quilting basics page. Apologies for the delay.

  8. Jane Handy says:

    Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information and inspiration. My sister and I have hand sewn a king size hexagon quilt and I am to quilt it on my new sewing machine! We have put in so much effort so far and I am quite worried about spoiling it in my attempt to complete it. I have practiced on an old pillowcase with polyester wadding inside it and it was pretty good just using a decorative stitch to outline a chosen section of hexagons in a sort of lozenge shape. I think I may stick to this plan, although I was sorely tempted to do more overall stippling. However, I can see that the decorative stitching works very well and probably compliments the complexity of the hexies more than stippling would. I have a bit more time to contemplate all of this as I still need to apply a sashed edge. This is our first foray into quilting – and we make a BIG one!!
    Thanks again – your hints, tips and instructions are beautifully clear and concise.

    • Thanks, Jane. Your quilt sounds beautiful – you certainly have jumped in at the deep end with a king size quilt. Good luck with the quilting.

  9. Just beginning to machine quilt. I have been a hand quilter for many years. I am finding it difficult in knowing what design or motif I should use on my quilts. Is there a general rule of thumb or should I just use any motif on any pattern?

    • Hi Becky. No, you need to think about the design and plan it before you begin. Same sort of ideas as you will have used for hand quilting – is it a filler section or a main section, which parts do you want to emphasise with the quilting and so on. Now I come to think of it, I have articles on the practicalities of machine quilting, but not really on choosing. I’ll try and do one over the next few weeks. rose

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