Quilting ... 10 Tips for Better Machine Quilting
8. Plan ahead
Utility quilting consists of grid quilting, channel quilting and stitching in the ditch. Before filling in the quilt with a background grid, look at the seam lines and block formations. Plan the spacing and placement of the stitching lines to correspond with major visual landmarks on the quilt. For example, if quilting diagonal lines across a four-patch, the lines will look best if they intersect the patches at each corner. Sketch your quilt on graph paper and experiment with quilting placement. Use the sketch to plan the stitching route eliminating excessive tie-offs.
For continuous quilting motifs, unthread the machine, remove the needle thread and bobbin and needle trace the design on a doodle cloth until you develop a feel for stitch sequence.
Take your eyes off the needle. If watching the needle, by the time you realize your quilt is in the wrong place, it is too late. Instead, keep an eye on where you are going.
9. Get a grip
There are various gloves and "grippers" on the market for improving hold on the quilt. Experiment to find the one that works best for you.
As a general rule, hold the area that is being free-motion quilted as if your hands were a hoop. Stop the machine when it is time to reposition. Occasionally it is more efficient to hold "bunches" of the quilt in your hands to move it.
10. Continuing ed
Take classes as often as possible and indulge in reference books for your quilting library. If you have an opportunity to attend a quilt show, study the quilts on display. Make note of the things that make the quilts successful. Ask questions of other quilters, quilt teachers, and staff at your local quilt shop. Remember, quilting is a leisure time activity. Experiment with techniques until you find the ones that give you the best results with the least amount of frustration.
Tips from the experts
The following tips were gathered from quilting experts, award winners, authors and designers:
"My best tip for improving the overall appearance of the finished quilt is to hand baste it with water-soluble thread. I further baste by machine to anchor the straight lines in the top by stitching in the ditch with water-soluble thread."
"If I only could tell you one thing about machine quilting it would be that you must be comfortably in control of all three layers of the quilt sandwich and the best way to accomplish this is to use a Flynn Multi-Frame when you machine quilt."
"Be sure you are sitting high enough to be comfortable while you are quilting. Think about elementary school penmanship, fluid motions, and control."
"I quilt using the "fluff and stuff" method rather than rolling the quilt into a tight roll. The quilt needs freedom to move under the needle."
"Don't forget to breathe. Relax while quilting, remember this is supposed to be fun."
""Needles lose their points very quickly and are not the place to pinch pennies. When it comes to needles, if in doubt, throw it away."
Always looking for a creative outlet, Jennifer Gigas has found sewing to be her passion. From heirloom to embroidery to quilting, she's yet to find a technique she doesn't like. Jennifer began her sewing career designing custom children's wear and teaching fine sewing techniques. She currently works as an Educator for Bernina® of America, and has been an instructor at many national sewing and quilting conferences.
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