JENNA’S INEXPERIENCED LEARNINGS FROM MACHINE QUILTING FOR MAKE BENEFIT FELLOW SEWING FOLK.
Machine quilting THIS MONSTER was such a challenge, but also so rewarding! I’ve learned so much! It’s not that I’ve never quilting anything before, it’s just that they’ve always been smaller projects: table runners, small quilts for wall-hangings, etc… This baby was about 6 feet x 8 1/3 feet.
I’ve already mentioned and linked to THIS POST BY SHELLY, but here it is again. Very inspiring words for anyone who needs psyching-up to take on an intimidating quilt.
But let me add some of my own advice…
- HAVE NO FEAR: You can do it on your machine, without any fancy gadgets. My machine is over 40 years old (as you can see in THIS PICTURE). I also did not use a walking foot (couldn’t get a friend’s to work on my machine), and I also made-do with a busted foot pedal:
I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this to encourage! Even if you have a dinosaur machine, just a normal pressing foot, and a foot pedal that falls apart with ever release of pressure, you can still do it!
- IT’S THE BATTLE OF THE BULK: Managing the weight of the quilt is 80% of the challenge, maybe more. I set up textbooks and cd-album cases to keep a nice amount of my quilt on the same level as the sewing surface. I also scooted an office chair next to my sewing station to hold some of the quilt that couldn’t be supported by the table. If you find you’re fighting against the weight of your quilt as you sew, you are already losing! Re-adjust and begin again.
- PICK A SENSIBLE QUILTING DESIGN: knowing that this was the largest project I’ve ever tackled, I picked a quilting design that would allow me the greatest chance for success. This meant picking a design that would let me work from the middle of the quilt towards the borders. I knew my basting probably wasn’t going to be perfect, so it was in my best interest to conquer the center before re-adjusting and approaching the borders.
I also picked a design that had my longest stitched lines be just 12 inches. I knew I could sew 12 inches with moderate success, and a lot of 12 inch seams turned into one fantastic (IMHO) quilt. For this quilt I was bordering each block, and then doing a little in-the-ditch quilting inside each block. I did three blocks worth of vertical lines, then I unrolled the quilt, re-rolled it, and did the three blocks worth of horizontal lines. It all went by a lot faster than I expected.
- PATIENCE: Set your expectations so that you willingly accept you will be removing stitches and also re-basting. Worse case scenario you get to pleasantly surprise yourself when you find all of your stitches are perfect and your basting proved fool-proof! That wasn’t the case for me, but I benefited from having a realistic outlook on how this baby would come together.
- Lastly, CELEBRATE!: This is hard work, so congratulate yourself on every block you complete. You’re doing something really amazing with limited resources, but you’re doing it! Way to go!
One response to “Jenna’s Lessons in Machine Quilting”
Jenna, I’m thrilled for you! Well done! You rock! I can’t wait to see the finished quilt! Happy quilting!