Making a quilt by hand is an art form that’s been around for centuries. Though the process is labor intensive, quilting brings a great deal of personal satisfaction. Quilting can also be done with a regular sewing machine, yet to many this may seem intimidating. The process of quilting with a sewing machine may appear overwhelming, but once you get the basics down, it can be a relatively simple task.
The great thing about quilting with a sewing machine is that you can get large quilts done much faster than you ever could by hand. In general, it takes about five to eight hours to complete a quilt top with a sewing machine, compared to 10-15 hours by hand. There are several tools, techniques and fabrics that you’ll need to be familiar with before jumping into the process, such as choosing the right batting, quilting needles, fabrics, thread and of course the sewing machine.
The first step in the process is to choose the right batting. The batting is what will provide the quilt with loft. Quilt batting can be purchased at fabric stores and come in many different weights and sizes. Once you’ve chosen the right batting, cut the quilt top, backing and batting to the desired size. Be sure to cut the batting to the same size as the quilt top and backing.
Next, assemble the quilt sandwich. Place the quilt top right side up, followed by the batting and finish with the backing fabric face down. Baste the batting to the top and bottom fabric pieces with a hand quilting needle and thread. This helps maintain the layers and will prevent the batting from shifting during the quilting process.
Once the quilt sandwich is ready, thread your sewing machine with a cotton or polyester-cotton thread, depending on the fabric used for the quilt top. Select the appropriate needle for your machine, such as a 90/14 for cotton fabrics, or a universal needle for synthetic fabrics. Quilt-specific needles have slightly rounded tips to prevent them from tearing the fabric.
Begin quilting from the center of the quilt and work your way out, in order to evenly distribute the quilting stitches. This can be done in a straight line or in a decorative pattern – this is the part of quilting that offers the most creativity. Once the quilting is finished, trim the quilt sides, bind the quilt and wash the quilt in cold water. Let the quilt air dry to prevent shrinkage.
Choosing the right Fabrics
Choosing the right fabric is another important step in the process. Fabrics can be found in many different colors and prints, and some are designed specifically for quilting. Choose fabric that works for the quilt as a whole, rather than individual designs that don’t blend together. Once the fabric is chosen, cut each fabric into strips, squares, triangles, and other quilting shapes. As you sew each shape together, be sure to press the seams open with an iron before stitching the next piece in the quilt.
The Quilting Process
When it comes to quilting with a sewing machine, there are a few important things to keep in mind. When stitching the quilt, be sure to add a walking foot to the machine, which will help the fabric move smoothly through the machine. Also, use a straight stitch or a zig-zag stitch on the quilt top, and use a longer stitch length than normal. This will make it easier to pull out the stitches if necessary. And finally, it’s important to make sure the quilt is tight before quilting – otherwise, the quilting process can cause the quilt to fray and come apart.
Once the quilting is complete it’s time to add a few finishing touches. Most quilts require some type of binding in order to properly finish the edges. Choose a binding that complements the quilt, or create a custom binding with fabric scraps or leftover trimming. Once the binding is attached, finish up the quilt by adding a label or tag, which is especially important if the quilt will be given as a gift or passed down to future generations.
Specialty Quilting Tools
There are a variety of specialty tools available for quilting with a sewing machine. These tools make it easier to quilt, such as a walking foot that helps the fabric feed through the machine more smoothly. There are also specialized quilting needles, which have a rounded tip that helps prevent the fabric from being damaged during the stitching process. Other tools include a rotary cutter, an acrylic ruler for precise cutting, and quilting pins for basting the fabric layers together.
Although a standard sewing machine can be used to quilt, specialized quilting machines are available that are specifically designed for quilting. These machines can be used for both hand and machine quilting, and will provide the quilter with additional stitch options, larger bobbin capacity, adjustable presser foot pressure, and faster stitching speeds. Quilting machines will help the quilter create professional-looking quilts that are both durable and beautiful.
Quilting Tips and Tricks
Quilting is a creative process that can help you produce beautiful works of art. But quilting can be a bit tricky, so here are a few useful tips and tricks to help you on your quilting journey:
- Choose fabrics that coordinate, such as solids, prints, and stripes – try to avoid fabrics that clash.
- Take your time when cutting the fabric – it’s important that the pieces are accurately cut.
- Use fusible adhesive to help keep the layers of fabric in place while quilting.
- Choose a thread that matches the background color of the quilt – this will help the quilting stitches blend in.
- Always press the seams open before stitching the next piece in the quilt.
Quilting projects can range from simple, one-block quilts to complex, edge-to-edge designs. Start out with a few simple projects to get accustomed to quilting with a sewing machine, such as a baby quilt or a lap quilt. Once you’ve mastered the basics, explore other quilting techniques such as appliqué and paper-piecing. The possibilities are endless when it comes to quilting – the only limit is your imagination.
Once you’re comfortable with quilting, there are many project ideas you can try. Try out a quilted pillow, or make a quilt to serve as the centerpiece of your home’s décor. You could also try quilting a wall hanging, a table runner, or a quilted bag or clutch. There are so many possibilities when it comes to quilting – the only limit is your imagination!
If you’re interested in learning more about quilting with a sewing machine, there are plenty of helpful resources available. Tutorials, books, blogs, and online courses are all great ways to learn more about the art of quilting. Joining a local quilting guild or taking an in-person class are also great ways to expand your knowledge and make like-minded friends.