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Machine Quilting

by Nikki Willhite

There are several ways to secure the layers of of a quilt.  You can tie the quilt together with the use of fibers or thread.  Or you can send it out to a longarm quilter. This article deals with quilting with the use of your own sewing machine.  It is called machine quilting.

Machine quilting begins by securing the layers of your quilt together:  See Pinning Quilt Layers. After this is done, you are ready to start sewing.

In the picture below you can see my sewing machine placed on a folding table, and then another portable table placed by the sewing machine it to support the weight of the quilt during the quilting process.

A good walking food is what makes machine quilting easy.  I had a bad (or broken) walking food when I first started quilting and didn't realize it, My fabric would pucker as I traveled across the quilt, both on the top and bottom.

When I upgraded to a better sewing machine, in my case a Janome 1600P, I purchased the walking foot that came with the machine.  I could not believe the difference.  The walking foot just glided over the fabric, without disturbing any of the layers.  I found that I could even use fewer pins to keep it in place.

Machine quilting can be very easy if you have a sewing machine with a good harp (the space under the arm of the sewing machine from the needle to the right hand side of the opening), a built in thread cutter on your sewing machine,  and a good walking food.

In the picture below I am working on a lap size quilt. Notice that even with a smaller quilt, you need to stabilize the quilt while sewing by pushing a table behind your sewing table.  If you don't do that, you quilt will fall to the floor and make sewing difficult. It will also distort your stitches.

One of the reasons people give up sewing is that they don't like the look of their stitches.  If your stitches do not look good, see if you can purchase a throat plate with a single hole for the needle.  If the problem isn't your tension, a good throat plate will often give you a better looking stitch.

The same is true with machine quilting.  My Janome 1600P machine does two stitches only, but it does them well.  It does a straight stitch and has a free motion attachment.  It takes time to make your free motion stitches look good.  If you have the money and the choice, a sewing machine with a stitch regulator will do the work for you.

The sewing machine you use for machine quilting should have a good harp. The harp is the space under the arm of the sewing machine from the needle to the right hand side of the opening. A thread cutter is needed to cut the thread.  which you can't read under the folds of your quilt top.

Many people machine quilt by sewing along the seam lines, or making diagonal lines across the rows.   Quilt stencils allow you to mark lines on your quilt by pouncing chalk of the lines through the holes on the stencil or using a marking pencil.  Then you just follow the lines to quilt your project.

It takes a lot of time and practice, but learning to machine quilt your work is an great skill for every quilter.  Like everything, it may be hard at first.  With practice you will save a great deal of money learning this skill.

machine quilting

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