Tips for Easy Hassle Free Machine Quilting

Here are my easy machine quilting tips for hassle free quilting.

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.

6 Adjust the stitch length so that it is a little bigger then normal and use a walking foot.
This is a special foot attachment that feeds the layers more easily through the machine.
This is a must for easy machine quilting.

7 If your quilt is large you will need to roll  up the edges and secure the roll with quilting clips.
Quilts can be heavy so another tip is to place a chair, small table or ironing board next to your
machine to help give support.Quilt from the centre out, working on a section at a time.
Sew in your thread ends.

8 Once you get more experienced you may want to try free hand machine quilting also
known as meandering stitch or stippling. This involved lowering the feed dogs on your
sewing machine which allows you to move the quilt top around under the needle to stitch
in a random design. Ideally lines should not cross over. My advice is to practice this
technique before starting on your quilt top.

I hope these easy machine quilting tips have shed some light on the quilting process
and that you now feel more confident to give machine quilting a go.