Machine Quilting a Small Project
Today I started machine quilting some small projects, wall hangings to be exact. So, I decided to do a post and share some of my machine quilting tips.
First, basting is important. I use safety pins and remove them when I get to them. I baste about 3 inches apart, however, others may pin closer together.
Then, I plan a quilting motif. There are books that will have quilting motifs or sometimes the pattern or book you are working with will also have suggestions. I like to look at a block and imagine my quilting line and what will make my blocks look more interesting. For example, sometimes, I will print out a copy of my block and draw a motif on it to see if I like it. I will them lightly trace that motif onto the actual quilt top (be sure you are using something meant for marking quilt tops that will easily come out!).
This is an example of markings I make on a copy of one of my blocks to plan a motif.
Other motifs are "all-over" types. Sometimes I just like to meander with loops and throw in some stars.
Once I have my motif picked out, then I prepare for quilting. I load my machine with a new needle, generally one for quilting (check your quilt shop for machine needles made for quilting) and I pick my thread color. I like to use thread that blends well so I use Aurifil in the color "beaver". This is a really nice neutral color that blends well with a lot of colors.
I use a darning foot (usually comes with most machines). Either a closed toe or open toe will do.
The feed dogs on your machine need to be dropped.
Now, get ready to quilt! I use machine quilting gloves to help keep the quilt tight and smooth under my needle so as not to have any bunches on the backside. I generally start in the center of the quilt and work my way out.
To start pull your bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. To do this, put your threaded needle down in the spot where you want to begin and drop your presser foot. Tap your foot peddle so the needle comes back up, pull on the end of the top thread and this will draw the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. This is so the bobbin thread does not get caught in the stitching on the back and create a mess.
Then, you are ready to go! Start with a few small "locking stitches" and then quilt your chosen motif until you come to an end point. Be sure to move the quilt top along at an even pace with the speed of your machine to keep stitches even (unless you are lucky enough to have a stitch regulator on your machine!) End with a few small locking stitches. Snip your top and bottom threads, move to your next area to be quilting and repeat this step.
This is by no means meant to be an all encompassing lesson on machine quilting. I just wanted to share some of my tips. There a some great machine quilting and free-motion quilting books on the market. Check with your local quilt shop and even if they don't have one in stock, they may be able to order it for you. There are also many machine quilting blogs that have tutorials. Do a google search and you will find many. Lastly, check with some of your quilt guild members. You may have a machine quilting "artist" right there who can share her (or his!) expertise.
As always, Happy Quilting!