Choosing Right Materials
Quilting is an enjoyable craft that involves piecing together fabrics, batting, and backing material to create a warm and elegant quilt. When choosing fabric for a quilt, an appreciation for color and pattern is necessary, but other important considerations include the quality of the fabrics and their weight or thickness. Quilts need to withstand daily use and washing for years, so a good quality fabric — usually 100-percent cotton or a cotton blend — is essential. If a fabric looks and feels too thin or flimsy, it’s best to leave it on the shelf. Batting is the layer of insulation in the middle of the quilt necessary for warmth and insulation. A low-loft 100 percent cotton batting, or a blend of cotton and polyester, is best for quilts made using a sewing machine. Backing is the layer of fabric on the underside of the quilt. Backing must be wide enough to cover the entire quilt once it’s assembled.
Getting the Right Machine
In order to do quilting with a sewing machine, the right machine is necessary. Most home sewing machines are adequate for making smaller quilts, but larger machines are needed for larger quilts. It is important to ensure that the sewing machine has the correct type of feed dogs higher up on the throat so that the quilt can be fed through the machine in a forward motion. It is also important that the machine has adjustable stitch length and that it can handle multiple layers of fabric and/or batting. Investing in a reliable sewing machine that is sturdy and runs smoothly will ensure that quilting projects are more enjoyable and result in an overall better finished product.
Getting the Cut Right
Accurate cutting is key when doing quilting with a sewing machine. Having sharp scissors, as well as a rotary cutter and cutting mat, will allow for precise cutting of the material and batting. It is also important to prepare the fabric before cutting. Pre-washing the fabric will enable it to shrink before the quilt is finished, thus preventing puckering and puckering of the fabric when it is washed.
Piecing the Quilt
Once the fabric is cut, it is time to begin piecing the quilt and joining the blocks together. It is best to use a straight stitch when joining the quilt blocks because it creates a strong and tight bond between the blocks. Before stitching the blocks, it is necessary to star the quilt and then join the half square triangles, quarter square triangles, and other block design together.
Using the Right Tools
To ensure that the quilt is properly finished, it is important to use the right tools. Quilters must have a needle threader and needles specifically designed for quilting. This is because quilting requires thicker thread that creates a strong bond between the pieces. It is also beneficial to have a quilting machine foot and quilting hoop to ensure that the fabric layers are in position and remain in place while stitching.
Adding the Finishing Touches
Once the quilt is pieced together, the next step is to add the quilting lines that connect the different blocks of the quilt. This can be done either free motion quilting by guiding the quilt pieces with your hands, or machine quilting which is done with the use of a quilting frame or frame-less hoop. Finally, binding is the last step in the quilting process. This involves attaching binding fabric around the edges of the quilt sandwich, sewing it in place, and then hand-stitching the binding to the back of the quilt to secure it.
Care and Storage
Treating quilts with care and storing them correctly will ensure that they last for many years. It is best to hand-wash quilts using a mild detergent and air dry them flat when possible. If the quilt must be machine-washed, use a gentle cycle and the lowest temperature setting. If a quilt must be machine-dried, use a low temperature setting and keep it at a short time interval. Lastly, it is best to store quilts in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight, as strong sunlight can cause the colors to fade over time.
Other Creative Ideas
Creating quilts with a sewing machine is a great way to express creativity. With the right materials and knowledge, it is possible to make quilts in any shape or size. Some creative techniques to explore with quilting are edge-to-edge quilting, custom quilting, quilting with different textures and weights, using decorative stitching, and using colored fabrics to create exciting and unique quilt designs.
Pros and Cons of Machine Quilting
Machine quilting has its advantages and disadvantages. For starters, machine quilting tends to be easier, faster, and more accurate than hand quilting, which is especially helpful when making large quilts. Machine quilting also allows for more precision, as well as the ability to easily create intricate patterns and designs. On the other hand, machine quilting can be more expensive than hand quilting, and it can take a long time to learn all of the techniques. In the end, it is important for quilters to consider their time and budget when deciding whether to hand quilt or to use a machine.
Threads and Needles
The right threads and needles are important when using a sewing machine to do quilting. It is important to choose a strong thread that is made of high-quality filament fibers. Quilting threads should also be strong enough to hold their shape and remain intact after multiple washings. When it comes to needles, quilting needles are specifically designed for quilting with a sewing machine, so it is important to use the right type. The size, type, and sharpness of the needle all make a difference in the outcome of the quilt.
Dealing With Bias
When quilting, it is important to be aware of the fabric’s bias or “stretch.” Bias refers to diagonal lines running across the fabric that provides a degree of elasticity, which can make it difficult to sew accurately. To reduce this stretch, use basting stitches, gentle pressure on the fabric while sewing, and lightly starched fabric, as this will help to keep seams straight and true.
Planning and Marking
Planning and marking are essential steps when quilting with a sewing machine. After choosing a quilt pattern and picking out fabric, it is important to plan exactly how the quilt will come together. This can involve drawing or sketching the quilt design and marking the borders, the blocks, and the quilting lines. It is also important to keep measuring and trimming the blocks regularly to ensure accuracy. Using a transparent ruler or an acrylic ruler can make it much easier to measure and mark.