Machine Quilting

Things You Must Know About Machine Quilting

Machine quilting as the term suggests is quilting done by using various machines and tools. Quilters often prefer machine quilting to hand quilting when tops are to be quilted, since the work is done faster. For the more artistically inclined quilters, machine quilting is a means to express their artistic urges. Machine quilting can range from almost invisible stitches used for outlining the quilt blocks to a mélange of threads and stitches producing artworks of various types.

Machine quilting is of two types. Machine guided and free motion. Machine guided quilting is used for straight and slightly curved lines and free motion quilting is used for all other patterns such as feathered stars. But there are no hard and fast rules. Some quilters use free motion quilting for even straight lines while others use machine guided quilting for feathered wreaths.

A little practice is all that is needed to become a good machine quilter.

What are the equipments needed?

Sewing machines: All kinds of sewing machine, old or new and big or small, with some modification can be used for machine quilting. The opening between the motor and the needle of the machine matters. The larger the size of this opening, the easier it will be to work on a large quilt.

Quilting of large quilts on small machines is done in sections, which are then joined. A point to be remembered is that the small motors running small sewing machines are not designed to run non-stop for a long time. In free motion quilting, which requires long continuous runs the motors should be stopped regularly to allow it to cool.

Needles: The sewing machine needle though least expensive, is very important. Each new quilting work should use a fresh needle and replace it as soon as the work shows deterioration. Sewing a large quilt may require several needles.

Different types of thread require different needles. Machine quilting requires a sharp needle to pierce the fabric and batting. For quilting with special threads such as rayon embroidery thread or metallic thread, needles designed for these special threads should only be used.

Thread: The best threads that match the quilts will give the best results. There is a wide variety of threads available to choose from. Rayon or metallic threads are best suited for wall hangings while 100% cotton threads are best for baby quilts as they need frequent washing. The monofilament nylon or "invisible" thread should be used with white and light colored fabrics and a smoke color for use with all other color fabrics. However, since monofilament threads carry the risk of choking babies and young children, 100% cotton would be a better choice for those quilts.

For most machine quilting, the bobbin thread used should be fully cotton. Generally, threads are matched to the fabric used on the back of the quilt, but it is not a hard and fast rule. A heavy thread unsuited to a machine’s needle can be used in the bobbin. For best results, use high quality long staple cotton thread. Do not use waxed thread designed for hand quilting, since these can damage the tension discs on a sewing machine.