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Machine Quilting Techniques and Tips for Beginners

Quilting is a great way to materialize your creativity. Nevertheless, it is an art that demands enough control over the fabric movement. Here are a few tips that help you out when you head towards creating an eye-catchy masterpiece!

How to Prepare for Machine Quilting with Layering and Basting?

Basting is an important step while quilting and can be achieved using pins, temporary spray, hand marking, and others.  

Sandwich quilting requires you to stitch top, bottom, and middle tiers precisely. To do this, you need to align all these layers and baste them to avoid slippage and shifting. This can be done by pinning along with the layers at optimal intervals.

You can even manually stitch temporary long seams, spray a non-permanent adhesive or mark the pattern using a washable pencil, chalk, or marker. Besides, if the design involves only straight stitches, you can baste using the presser foot guide.

What Are the Requirements to Quilt on a Machine?

Machine quilting demands certain extra features in comparison to normal stitching. These include extra space, special threads, high motor power, special accessories, etc.

The machine you choose for quilting must include a powerful motor that enables it to sew through multiple layers with ease. This must be complemented with high-quality quilting threads and appropriately sized needles.

To further facilitate the process, you might require additional accessories like tailor’s chalk, washable marker pen, or dress marker pencils. Besides these, you can exploit extra workspace and your advanced sewing skills to work miracles!

Machine Quilting Using Walking Foot

Walking foot is an attachment that is provided to ease the process of quilting. You can easily substitute it for the usual presser feet of the machine.

The use of a walking foot ensures even feeding under the needle irrespective of fabric thickness. In this case, the top and the bottom layers of the cloth move simultaneously by avoiding shifting between multiple layers.

The result will be pronounced as a superior finish on the stitched fabric, avoiding wrinkles and puckers. This helps greatly while quilting rectangular grids that are void of sharp curves and turns.

Free Motion Quilting

Free motion quilting facilitates unobstructed fabric movement along any desired direction. This requires you to drop or cover the feed dogs designed to ensure straight cloth feeding.

While practicing free motion quilting, you can use a hoop to hold the cloth in place. Further, in this case, it is always better to feed the cloth using your hands instead of depending on the machine.

Nevertheless, high-standard free motion quilting demands consistent patience laden with loads of regular practice!

Tufting or Tacking

You can use a bar tuck or a closed satin stitch to anchor the quilt’s multiple layers together. Usually, these stitches will be spaced at regular intervals inter-spaced by a few inches.

Tufting or tacking is best accomplished by resorting to buttonhole twist thread or machine quilting thread. Furthermore, you can even do tacking manually.

The technique can also reinforce the ends of the buttonholes or the corners of the jeans pockets. Besides, sewing buttons along all quilt layers using a button foot also creates a mesmerizing design!

Crazy Quilting

Crazy quilt refers to an unordered way of quilting that exhibits no regular pattern repetition. You can use this technique to add a special touch to your masterpiece, ensuring it remains unique but attractive.

In crazy quilting, you can use decorative stitches such as feather, stem, chain, and buttonhole stitches to decorate the products.

Besides, you can even use velvet scraps, pieces of satin, embroidery patterns, and hand-worked fabric pieces to elevate the finished product’s beauty.

Machine Quilting Tips

  • Start quilting small-sized quilts like those for babies till you gain a good grip.
  • Initially, follow the instructions provided by manuals and videos exactly.
  • While quilting on the machine, use dedicated machine-suitable quilting threads instead of hand-quilting yarn to obtain good quality seams.
  • Practice regularly to gain proficiency in handling multiple quilt layers, preferably by increasing their number gradually.
  • Begin by quilting at a lower speed, a speed that is more convenient for you rather than the standard-setting.


1.Can You Do Quilting on a Regular Sewing Machine?

Yes, you can do the quilting on a regular machine by making use of the walking foot. The process is much eased if your machine supports free-motion.

Regular sewing machines are designed to deliver quality seams while sewing normally. However, this does not mean that you cannot quilt using them!

Quilting using regular machines is no easy job in comparison to that when done using dedicated equipment. Nonetheless, walking foot attachment supplied with most of the machines helps you accomplish straight-line quilting.

Besides, if your machine supports free-motion by dropping or covering your feed dogs, you can sew any desired design on your quilt!

2.What Is the Best Stitch Length for Machine Quilting?

The stitch length for machine quilting needs to be decided based on the type of cloth and thread. Nevertheless, 2.5 to 3.0 would work in most cases.

The best stitch length for straight-line quilting lies in the range of 2.5 to 3.0, especially when using traditional 50 wt 100% cotton thread.

On much thicker threads like 30 wt rayon, longer stitch lengths work well, and finer threads demand reduced stitch lengths.

However, the longer stitch length is more suitable for sparkling and shining threads, while shorter lengths are preferable for monofilament thread.

3.What Size Needle Do I Use for Quilting?

The needle size that suits a particular quilting type is to be decided based on the factors like the type of fabric, the number of layers, type, and thickness of the thread.

Machine quilting is best accomplished through the use of quilting needles that are specially designed for quilting. These are slightly rounded at their tips and best fit to be used on quilt sandwiches.

The most preferred size is 90/14, whose eye size fits most of the thread types. However, there are even 75/11 and 80/12 needle sizes that serve well.