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!

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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.

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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.)

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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.)


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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 color (for the more experienced quilter) or complimentary color (for the beginner quilter). Use the same color thread in your top and bottom bobbin.

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. There are however another three important factors to consider. These are stitch length, how to handle the quilt with your sewing machine and what to do with the feed dogs. Discover these tips and more by following the link in the signature below. Happy quilting.

Lenna Green is a textile designer who has been teaching patchwork, quilting, applique and hand embroidery for the past ten years. The Stitching Cow website is a visual feast for sewing enthusiasts who are looking for a new quilt or craft pattern to sew. The website also offers free useful information and helpful resources. To discover more tips for easy machine quilting go to

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