Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Easy Machine Quilting Tips

Looking for some easy machine quilting tips?

You're excited, you've just finished your very first quilt and you're very pleased with yourself. And rightly so!

But then you're struck with the realization that the quilting process is ahead of you. You start to panic. You have no idea where to start? You couldn't bare the thought of making a mess of things at this stage. Not when you have invested so much of your time and effort into this project, not to mention money.That would never do.

Sure you could take the easy option and get a professional quilter in but really you want to have a go yourself. You want this quilt to be your masterpiece from start to finish. And fair enough too, I totally understand how you feel.
So where do you begin?

Here are my tips for easy machine quilting.

1 Ideally choose a backing fabric that is wide enough for the quilt top, consider the colour and pattern of the fabric. Choose it to match the colour of your quilting thread and if you are new to machine quilting decide on a patterned fabric that will be forgiving.

2 Press your backing fabric and quilt top. If you are using a cotton or wool batting it may need pressing as well to get out any fold lines. Trim any lose threads, these can shadow through if quilting over a lighter fabric. Depending on the size of your quilt, tape the backing fabric to the floor or table right side facing down. Place your batting over the top and then your quilt on top of this. Your backing and batting should be bigger than your quilt top.

3 Take time preparing your quilt, by this I mean that you need to decide whether to baste your quilt, or to pin all the layers together. As a general rule hand quilters baste their quilts in a grid fashion using a needle and thread and machine quilters prefer to pin. Use safety pins and  pin every 10-15cm (4-6"), starting from the middle and working out.(yes you will need a lot of pins for a full size quilt and yes your fingers will probably get sore)

4  In most cases easy machine quilting does not involve marking out a pattern on your quilt top, it can be done in sections using your quilt design as a guide. If you want to quilt a shape, you will need to transfer your pattern onto your quilt before attaching all the layers together. Do this with a water soluble marker or tailors chalk, lead pencil can be difficult to remove.

Most easy machine quilting involves stitching in the ditch (this means following the seam line). Or you can quilt straight or curved lines by sewing your first line of stitching and then follow it with a special bar to space the following lines. (look in your sewing machine accessories compartment and you may discover one of these)

5 Once you have decided on a overall quilting plan, consider your thread choice. Use machine quilting thread which is slightly thicker than ordinary thread and choose a contrasting colour (for the more experienced quilter) or complimentary colour (for the beginner quilter). Use the same colour thread in your top and bottom bobbin.

These are five of my top easy machine quilting tips. Read the remainder of the article and discover another three tips for easy machine quilting here

I hope these easy machine quilting tips have shed some light on the quilting process and that you now feel more confident to give it a go. Happy quilting.
Warmly Lenna
PS For more helpful information visit the resource section of


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice Miss Jenkins!! I am just about to start quilting my very first quilt. I am very nervous. Will try and post a photo of the finished product!! Cross your fingers!! Thanks again, Andrea (Kennedy)

Jackie Davis said...

Thanks for the encouragement post! I just started and it's goign ok so far! I started with stitch in the ditch. Someone gave me a 'cheater cloth' (printed baby quilt) fabric and i used it for trying to freehand my machine quilting and it's had it's good areas and some not-sew-good, but we have to start some where and practice!
jackie (at

Metanoia said...

If pinning, use a soup spoon to help lift the points to close. It doesn't lift the quilt layers and you can pin twice as fast without hurting your hands at all.

I have a corner table now which supports the quilt, but otherwise use an ironing board because you can adjust it to suit your table height.

Wish I'd found a guide like this when I started out. I've just finished my third quilt.

kerri said...

Thanks so much for the advice. I have 2 quilt tops finished and sitting in the cupboard because I haven't known how to proceed to the next step. I guess there's no escaping the 'first one' is there?

Kacie R. said...

I have only hand-quilted my quilts so far, but every time I see posts like this one I get inspired to try to quilt on my machine. You make it sound so simple and your quilts are always so beautiful! :o)

I linked to this helpful post on my blog. Thanks, Lenna!

Julie said...

Well I'm going to be starting my first quilt, well a useful one anyways. I have wanted to know how to quilt other then tie and your post came in the nick of time.
Thank you for taking the time to teach.
Merry Christmas.

jenni said...

Have my first quilt top done and getting ready to finish it. These are just the tips I needed for some confidence in finishing it up! Thanks!

Mrs. D said...

Great tips for machine quilting.

Wow, I sure love the photo of your quilt with the colorful dots on a white background. How are the dots applied? Heat set? Do you have a tutorial on this quilt?

I started following your blog today.

Mrs. D



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