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Thread: How do you handle big quilts on a home sewing machine?

  1. #1
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    I have been a member here for a while and seen some amazing tutorials and quilts. I don't have a long arm and will never be able to own one, (space and $). So I wonder how do the rest of us get those beautifully quilted large quilts on a home machine?

  2. #2
    Super Member ssgramma's Avatar
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    Lots of great info on Leah Day's site :-)

    http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.c...tart-here.html

  3. #3
    Super Member Annaquilts's Avatar
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    I am hoping to own a long arm some day but for now I do the quilting on a regular sewing machine. I had a similar question and got so many wonderful tips and replies. Here is my original post.


    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-94447-1.htm

    Cal King 10 feet by 10 feet
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  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    i have and love this book http://www.amazon.com/Quilt-Savvy-Ga.../dp/1574329006
    Diane does all of her amazing quilting on a DSM

  5. #5
    Super Member sharoney's Avatar
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    It can be done- I have done it many times! The pics above are good-
    And Leah Day offers good advice too- Daystylequilting

  6. #6
    Super Member Delta's Avatar
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    Good Morning. I quilt my own quilts all the time. you just have to roll very tight as you go along and I will pin the roll down to hold it while I am quilting. Just don't forget to re fix the back as you go. sometimes it still moves. good luck

  7. #7
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    Can you say "long armer"? I have done a quilt up to 60 inches. After that it gets pretty crowded.

  8. #8
    Super Member sparkys_mom's Avatar
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    I haven't done it but I'm convinced it can be done. Leah Day, Patsy Thompson, and Paula Reid all do it and I'm sure there are many more. Google them and I'm sure you will find a lot of useful information.

  9. #9
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    One method that helps a lot is splitting your batting. Found this technique in one of Debra Wagner's books years ago, and Marti Michell has a book out now that includes it (Machine Quilting in Sections).

    Basically you lay out your quilt sandwich, then peel back backing and top to expose the batting. Cut the batting a third of the way in using a wavy "S" shaped line rather than a straight line. Use a permanent marker to mark registration lines along the cut and also to indicate top right. This makes it possible to re-assemble the batting exactly as it was originally. Set the right one-third of the bating aside, and pin the unbatted backing and top together. Do the same for the left side of the batting (although might not be necessary depending on your quilting design).

    This reduces the bulk of the batting under the arm of the machine. Quilt the middle section, leaving about 6 inches free near the cut batting. When done with the middle, attach one of the batting sides. The book I recommended doing this by hand using a tailor tacking stitch, but it's also possible to do it with a long and wide machine zigzag or with the fusible batting tape on the market now. Smooth top and backing over attached batting and continue quilting.

  10. #10
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    I have a longarm now... but I didn't always have it. Before that, I quilted lots of big quilts on my DSM by quilting in sections. Get Marti Michel's book, Machine Quilting in Sections. She explains several different methods, and explains why and when you would use each of them. It's a wonderful book and the process doesn't take away from the piecing that you do the "normal" way.

  11. #11
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    I am reading your replies with avid hopes. I have read the book by Marti Michell about 3 times, also watched the Leah Day tutes from her site. One of my bigger problems is how to keep the bottom nice and smooth and also get the quilt to move under the quilting foot. I have tried the slider, and the slippery baking sheet without too much success. Anna I read your post and what is nesting?

  12. #12
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    The best gift I give my self is sending them out to the Long Arm pros. I just dreaded and quite frankly it took all the joy out of the process... craming all that bulk in and out of the machine.

  13. #13
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patdesign
    One of my bigger problems is how to keep the bottom nice and smooth and also get the quilt to move under the quilting foot.
    I heavily starch the backing fabric before creating the backing. Heavy starch stabilizes the backing so it doesn't pucker or stretch while machine quilting. Spray basting also helps keep the layers of the sandwich from shifting while you work.

    Are you free motion quilting? What kind of foot are you using? And what kind of batting? If the batting is too high loft for the foot, the quilt sandwich may not move freely. A thinner batting might work. I use a "jumping" foot for FMQ -- a darning foot that has a spring in it so the foot jumps up with the needle. There is another kind of non-jumping foot that can be used for FMQ. Whichever you are using, try using the other kind.

  14. #14
    Super Member sparkys_mom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    One method that helps a lot is splitting your batting. Found this technique in one of Debra Wagner's books years ago, and Marti Michell has a book out now that includes it (Machine Quilting in Sections).

    Basically you lay out your quilt sandwich, then peel back backing and top to expose the batting. Cut the batting a third of the way in using a wavy "S" shaped line rather than a straight line. Use a permanent marker to mark registration lines along the cut and also to indicate top right. This makes it possible to re-assemble the batting exactly as it was originally. Set the right one-third of the bating aside, and pin the unbatted backing and top together. Do the same for the left side of the batting (although might not be necessary depending on your quilting design).

    This reduces the bulk of the batting under the arm of the machine. Quilt the middle section, leaving about 6 inches free near the cut batting. When done with the middle, attach one of the batting sides. The book I recommended doing this by hand using a tailor tacking stitch, but it's also possible to do it with a long and wide machine zigzag or with the fusible batting tape on the market now. Smooth top and backing over attached batting and continue quilting.
    What a neat idea! I've used the fusible batting tape to put batting scraps together and it works really well so I'd opt for trying that first. I was sorry that Amazon doesn't let you look inside the Michell book. I checked my library and they don't have it but they have another book by her that I've reserved just to take a look at how she writes.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Hattie Frances's Avatar
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    Thanks "Annaquilts" you show us it can be done - when I reach that point in quilting a quilt.

  16. #16
    Super Member Deborahlees's Avatar
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    It can be done.
    Sandwich very well
    Roll tighly.
    Use a Big Table
    Take your time.
    Walk away often

  17. #17
    Member brit_kitty's Avatar
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    I've always to date English paper pieced and hand quilted. Today I decided having read people on here talking about FMQ that maybe I should try this, I just have a regular machine. I found this Youtube link and was amazed how clear and concise it was, I went straight to my machine and tried it out, WOO HOO!!! now I have to start practising my FMQ. She gives some very good advice on how to work with a large quilt with a regular machine. Hope it helps.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39I5A...layer_embedded

  18. #18
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    I do it all the time...roll...roll...roll your quilt. It does get hard sometimes but I quilt king down to table runners.
    Debbie

  19. #19
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    Quote Originally Posted by patdesign
    One of my bigger problems is how to keep the bottom nice and smooth and also get the quilt to move under the quilting foot.
    I heavily starch the backing fabric before creating the backing. Heavy starch stabilizes the backing so it doesn't pucker or stretch while machine quilting. Spray basting also helps keep the layers of the sandwich from shifting while you work.

    Are you free motion quilting? What kind of foot are you using? And what kind of batting? If the batting is too high loft for the foot, the quilt sandwich may not move freely. A thinner batting might work. I use a "jumping" foot for FMQ -- a darning foot that has a spring in it so the foot jumps up with the needle. There is another kind of non-jumping foot that can be used for FMQ. Whichever you are using, try using the other kind.
    Yes when I screw up the nerve. Most of the time I have just SID with a walking foot and done it as separated blocks or larger strips. Yesterday I did some fmq on a cover for my machine (outline quilted around lots of flowers and leaves.) The batting I use is the 100 percent cotton from warm and natural and it is stabilized and thin (less than 1/4 inch which gives the quilt that older look when laundered) somehow so it doesnt shift that much, its the backing, so I will try the starch. The foot came with the machine and seems to work fine, its just the struggle to move anything much larger than a 20 inch square that kills my neck and arms. :-)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by catrancher
    Can you say "long armer"? I have done a quilt up to 60 inches. After that it gets pretty crowded.
    You do not HAVE to have a LA nor do you HAVE to pay someone to finish your quilts . It is perfectly doable to quilt any sized quilt on a domestic machine. As others have mentioned, check in Leah Day. Support tables, gloves, and a Super Slider are all I need to get great results.

  21. #21
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    Pat,
    I LOVE your pug. We have two and they are the sweetest dogs :)

  22. #22
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    To starch the backing, I use a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo and water on the yardage before cutting and piecing. My method is to "paint" the starch on with a large wall painting brush until the fabric is saturated, unfold and toss in dryer, then iron with steam.

    What brand and model is your machine? I think some do not have a strong enough motor to handle using a walking foot on a large quilt. If there isn't enough power to the feed dogs, you could get the kind of problem you are experiencing. The only solution I can think of is to make sure that you *lift* the quilt up in front of the needle so you are feeding it from slightly above. That way there is no drag from the quilt hanging over the edge of your working surface. You would need to do stop and lift about every 10 inches so that the quilt is constantly being fed from above.

    The solution for FMQ would be similar except that in this case you need to make sure there is a foot of quilt "loose" in all directions. This is the nesting technique I think someone else mentioned. Before you ever start stitching, you make sure that the quilt is mounded up like a volcano crater in a circle about 10 inches from the needle (or however far your machine arm permits). You FMQ in the flat nest area inside the cratered quilt. When that area is filled, you have to stop stitching and re-arrange the quilt crater edges so everything is mounded enough not to create drag in the area of the needle.

  23. #23
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    Prism, my machine is a Brother 1500s made specifically for quilting. The arm is about 9 inches long and the height is about 6 1/4 to underside of arm, just a little longer and higher than the vintage Singers. It has a thread cut feature which works well with free motion work since you can simple put 2 or 3 stitches in at the beginning or end of a run. I think the problem with all this is that due to some old neck injuries (whiplash and resulting bulged discs) I just do not have the strength or stamina to push a big quilt around. I do have the machine in an 1980 table designed to hold machines so that the bed is level with the table and I have a small folding table that I put behind the machne cabinet to help keep the weight of the quilt from causing a drag. I had not heard of the nesting technique before, so I will have to try that on the next quilt I do.:)

  24. #24
    Super Member patdesign's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ladyjanedoe
    Quote Originally Posted by catrancher
    Can you say "long armer"? I have done a quilt up to 60 inches. After that it gets pretty crowded.
    You do not HAVE to have a LA nor do you HAVE to pay someone to finish your quilts . It is perfectly doable to quilt any sized quilt on a domestic machine. As others have mentioned, check in Leah Day. Support tables, gloves, and a Super Slider are all I need to get great results.
    Have slider, support tables, No gloves, guess that is the next thing on my list. Also have Martis book, which helped me to make the last one which i made in 3 sections then joined, but there was a lot of hand sewing on the back. I used the iron on tape (which I love) to butt and connect the batting.:)

  25. #25
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by patdesign
    Prism, my machine is a Brother 1500s made specifically for quilting. The arm is about 9 inches long and the height is about 6 1/4 to underside of arm, just a little longer and higher than the vintage Singers. It has a thread cut feature which works well with free motion work since you can simple put 2 or 3 stitches in at the beginning or end of a run. I think the problem with all this is that due to some old neck injuries (whiplash and resulting bulged discs) I just do not have the strength or stamina to push a big quilt around. I do have the machine in an 1980 table designed to hold machines so that the bed is level with the table and I have a small folding table that I put behind the machne cabinet to help keep the weight of the quilt from causing a drag. I had not heard of the nesting technique before, so I will have to try that on the next quilt I do.:)
    You might want to try quilting the way I do it -- standing up!!! I sit my machine on the cutting table and place a foam "table" around it to create a large flat surface (directions for creating the foam "table" are on Youtube).

    I find that I can quilt much longer standing up and don't get the shoulder and back stress that used to lay me up for days when I tired to quilt sitting down. I do have to wear good supportive shoes; otherwise my feet would hurt from standing so much. All in all, though, quilting standing up works ***much*** better for me than quilting sitting down!

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