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Thread: Machine Quilting TIPS

  1. #1
    Super Member deranged_damsel's Avatar
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    I have been trying to get into machine quilting for years, dh bought me a new machine and the attachments two years ago and have been sooo hesitant to start anything because I feel like I dont KNOW enough.

    these "quilt for kids" have kick started me again, its something close to my heart, my baby was given a blanket in NICU. and I would love to make these quilts because I KNOW how special it can be.

    are there good books or tutorials you have seen??? patterns??? tips, that made you say "gosh I wish I had known that sooner!"???

    questions:
    different sources say different things about thread, does it matter? or is one type better for one thing and another another????

    do I need my sewing machine to be flush with the table??? if im doing baby size or lap size? how much harder is it????

    is the stipple design the easiest???

    do I HAVE to starch or can i just iron?

    so many questions. TY

  2. #2
    Super Member Lisa_wanna_b_quilter's Avatar
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    First a disclaimer -- I'm pretty clueless myself. I just finished quilting a throw quilt 55 x 70 ish on my cheapie Brother machine setting on a card table. Having your machine flush with the table might be easier but you can do it without that.

    Check out YouTube for videos of everything quilting. There are many showing how to do different designs and even some showing how to build a quick cheap table for "flush mounting".

    Don't worry. You will get tons of great advice on this board.

  3. #3
    Super Member sewmom's Avatar
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    I machine quilt all my baby quilts. Most of the time i end up stippling because i don't have to think about how i want to quilt it. for me figuring how I'm going to quilt it is the hardest part. It takes practice to get good consistant curves and to know where you're going so you don't end up in the corner with nowhere to go.(Don't ask me how i know this). SITD is fairly simple if you can stay in the ditch-i can't seemto. So i use a decorative stitch and sew over the seam. it looks better than my straight stitch and adds another decorative element.
    I hope this helps you. Practice is the key.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I found free motion pretty challenging at first. The easiest way to machine quilt that I have found is to use a walking foot and just make gentle curves from one end of the quilt to another. Unlike stitch-in-the-ditch, you don't have to watch closely to make sure you stay in the ditch (or near it). Unlike free motion, all of the stitches are made evenly by the machine. All you have to do is guide the quilt through from one end to the other. If you make these wavy lines in both directions you end up with a crosshatch design. If you are nervous about machine quilting, I think this is the best way to start.

    I personally always starch the quilt backing heavily because then I can be confident that I am not going to have multiple puckers and tucks in the backing when I turn the quilt over. My method is very easy. I mix a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch with water, put the fabric on the kitchen island and "paint" it with the mixture using a house painting brush, throw the starch-saturated fabric in the dryer, then iron with steam.

    Spray-starching the top is a good idea for the same reason; it helps prevent stretching of the fabric and the formation of tucks and puckers as you quilt. This is especially recommended if you decide to make your wavy lines running from corner to corner, as quilting on the bias increases those possibilities.

    I highly recommend spray basting your quilt sandwich to save a lot of time. For machine quilting, it is often recommended to safety-pin baste the quilt sandwich; however, I ruined an expensive Bernina walking foot that got caught up in a safety pin I didn't see to remove in time. Spray basting is just plain easier as well as much faster than pin basting.

    If you really want to free motion quilt, you need to make up several small quilt sandwiches to practice on first. Muslin or any scrap fabric and batting you have on hand. Make these practice quilts about 18" square or so. You will learn a lot about free motion quilting by trying it out this way way first. Most people have a steep learning curve with fmq. That's why I recommend doing real quilts with the walking foot and curvy line approach.

  5. #5
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    You know...I think that everyone works themselves into a nervous frenzy before they ever start to FMQ! Its really not that hard....RELAX....practice a bit on the front end and then just go for it. If you aren't perfect...who cares??? (Especially if you are making the baby quilts...they will be loved and used anyway) You will get better with practice! I think that everyone thinks they have to make quilts that are show stoppers...you don't. (Well...unless you are making a show quilt,which I've never done)...Most of us are making quilts to be loved...not to compete. Lighten up and go for it and most important...have fun doing it! Develop your own style...wander outside the lines....have fun!

    Thats JMHO... :roll:

  6. #6
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    I'm finding these tips very helpful. I finished quilting one of the quilts for kids on my regular machine. It took forever doing in the ditch.
    I have a question...when using the quilter/darning foot to free motion, do you have to drop the feed dogs, or does the hopping motion eliminate the need to do so?

  7. #7
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    You need to drop the feed dogs or if you don't have that ability...cover them up with either the plastic guard that came with the machine or cover them with some piece of stiff plastic and tape it down. Although some people do leave them up, I find it is much much easier if you put them down.....try it both ways and see what works for you.

  8. #8
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    Thanks, I can't drop the feed dog on this machine, nor can I find any guard plate that might have come with the machine, so will try taping the plastic on and see if that helps.

  9. #9
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I took a class on free motion and she told us not to drop our feed dogs. worked fine. i've forgotten to lower them at other times. in free motion i've done well on some quilts and had trouble with others. i never know if it is the batting or fabric or me.
    stippling is tiny, tiny squiggles that fill up the area quickly and pack it down. usually used on the background around your pieced blocks.
    Meandering is a larger squiggle done all over your quilt. much easier to do.
    if you still want to do free motion, make up some blocks to practice on. even if it's just muslin and batting with backing. it does take practice.

  10. #10
    DJ
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    Super Member DJ's Avatar
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    I agree . . . practice then go for it! When I have done FM, as I'm actually donig it, I think I'm doing a terrible job, but when I'm done I'm usually pretty pleased with the result. You just don't see each and every little stitch that went awry.

  11. #11
    Super Member deranged_damsel's Avatar
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    Thanks Ladies

    Im a bit of a PERFECTIONIST :roll:

    I was given a lap quilt "not finished" and intend to ruin it and not something I care about :lol:

    I dont know why its so intimidating to make the leap from hand quilting to machine quilting :shock: maybe my hands listen to me when I yell at them and my machine is as stubborn as my two year old :lol: :lol: :lol:

    thank all yall

  12. #12
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    I just recently found my machine's serpentine stitch works well with FMQ. I put the feed dogs down and the FMQ foot on and guide the fabric thru. It makes a nice look.

    There's dozens of opinions on thread. Don't overthink it - just use what your machine likes!

  13. #13
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_MO
    I have a question...when using the quilter/darning foot to free motion, do you have to drop the feed dogs, or does the hopping motion eliminate the need to do so?
    You don't have to drop the feed dogs. It is usually recommended, but some quilters find it easier to control the quilt sandwich with the feed dogs up. Try it for yourself; you won't damage the machine!

  14. #14
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    [quote=Prism99]I found free motion pretty challenging at first. The easiest way to machine quilt that I have found is to use a walking foot and just make gentle curves from one end of the quilt to another. Unlike stitch-in-the-ditch, you don't have to watch closely to make sure you stay in the ditch (or near it). Unlike free motion, all of the stitches are made evenly by the machine. All you have to do is guide the quilt through from one end to the other. If you make these wavy lines in both directions you end up with a crosshatch design. If you are nervous about machine quilting, I think this is the best way to start.

    I personally always starch the quilt backing heavily because then I can be confident that I am not going to have multiple puckers and tucks in the backing when I turn the quilt over. My method is very easy. I mix a 1:1 solution of Sta-Flo liquid laundry starch with water, put the fabric on the kitchen island and "paint" it with the mixture using a house painting brush, throw the starch-saturated fabric in the dryer, then iron with steam.

    Spray-starching the top is a good idea for the same reason; it helps prevent stretching of the fabric and the formation of tucks and puckers as you quilt. This is especially recommended if you decide to make your wavy lines running from corner to corner, as quilting on the bias increases those possibilities.

    I highly recommend spray basting your quilt sandwich to save a lot of time. For machine quilting, it is often recommended to safety-pin baste the quilt sandwich; however, I ruined an expensive Bernina walking foot that got caught up in a safety pin I didn't see to remove in time. Spray basting is just plain easier as well as much faster than pin basting.

    If you really want to free motion quilt, you need to make up several small quilt sandwiches to practice on first. Muslin or any scrap fabric and batting you have on hand. Make these practice quilts about 18" square or so. You will learn a lot about free motion quilting by trying it out this way way first. Most people have a steep learning curve with fmq. That's why I recommend doing real quilts with the walking foot and curvy line approach.[/quote
    Thanks for posting this...I am going to try this..
    bopeep

  15. #15
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    I took a class from a lady who has won numerous prizes for her quilting. She told us that we could use a stencil (drawn on with either blue wash away pencil or pounce) and it is still considered fmq. I tried it and love doing it this way until I get more confident.

  16. #16
    Super Member sewNso's Avatar
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    just get going. once you start, that's the biggest battle. 'we are not quilting police on this site' i read not too long ago. loved that one.

  17. #17
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    sewNsew said exactly what I was going to say. I was always afraid of it until recently. One day I just decided to try it and it is fun. Now my sister has caught the bug. We are going to get an attachment-darning foot- for her machine next week.
    I started with just small curves etc. I just did leaves and acorns on my fall wallhanging. The other day I showed my sister how easy it was to do stars. Remember how we made them in school. i just did the same motion on quilt and it works.
    Once you stat your mind will go crazy with ideas.
    Relax and have fun.

  18. #18
    Power Poster sandpat's Avatar
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    Just think of it as "doodling" only instead of moving the pencil....you move the paper...with the machine being your pencil and the quilt being your paper!

  19. #19
    Super Member Barb_MO's Avatar
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    I jumped in and did FMQ on my latest quilts for kids quilt. some of my curved lines have some pretty sharp jags in them, but I didn't think the kids would mind so didn't rip anything out. It was fun. I do have problem with speed of machine coordination with hand movement though. Seems like when I'm having trouble with getting the fabric moved, the harder I press the foot pedal.

  20. #20
    CanadianLoon's Avatar
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    I was told to sew 'up' the fabric when stippling. Is that true?

  21. #21
    Super Member Margie's Avatar
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    I took a class and she told us to wear gloves (like gardening gloves that have "grippers" on them) to help move the fabric. Also, to use silicone spray on the machine bed so the fabric slides easier. I am still a little gun shy with machine quilting...but getting ready to "JUMP IN" after reading this thread :).

    Margie

  22. #22
    Senior Member renee765's Avatar
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    You guys are so encouraging! I've been afraid to try FMQ too, but after reading all your suggestions I guess I take the plunge and try a sample block to see what happens. Thanks!

    Renee

  23. #23
    Super Member deranged_damsel's Avatar
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    I have been at it! 8)

    will have to post pics when its done! wow! I guess there is no other way to learn than to just jump right in!
    full update in a week or so :wink:

    thank you so much for tips and encouragement

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