Machine quilting is a growing choice to create unique designs and motifs for a skill passed along to the next generation of quilters.  Historically their construction was only for warmth and necessity. While women, and some men as well, fashioned pieces of cloth together for a covering, they took pride in the work they created.  In fact, competitions and contests began to take place more than a hundred years ago to discover who could craft the best ones.

When quilting began these wonderful models of skill and talent were hand produced. Although working with a machine was an option for some, lots of people who worked on them took the time and patience to fashion it without one which gave the surface of the material a different texture as well as the end product a special look and feel. They used a  unique ability  for the work they accomplished. Although the road to the product is slightly altered, the outcome is typically just as precious and awe-inspiring when you use a machine to shape one.

When I was younger I worked on these extraordinary pieces of art with my grandmother and her sisters. My elders’ ability to form these extraordinary creations was heart stopping and the product took your breath away with all of the work done by hand. My small and insignificant contributions to the pieces made gave me a feeling of pride, even though it was difficult to see where my small piece of input actually made a difference when we finished. I wanted to continue this tradition with machine quilting.

The next generation of quilters will have the same opportunities to make masterpieces if done correctly using the next step in technology. Trading a needle and thread for a sewing machine doesn't necessarily have to take anything away from it. In fact, it will add an extraordinary factor if done correctly.

Quilting with this method is a wonderful way to take the techniques and lessons learned from another generation that constructed them by hand in a new and exciting direction. These are some tips and techniques to keep in mind to make your product an ultimate success.



For any one quilting considering working with a sewing machine for construction, use a rather thin batting. A thick one will generally show bunching and buckling of the cloth as well as making it difficult to maneuver and work with. You do not want to fight with the materials you will be using. A smoother surface makes it visually attractive and fits everything together easier and more appealing.

Cotton or polyester are some of the easiest types to work with for a successful outcome. Make certain all the layers of cloth and batting are securely together before you begin.


Our grandmothers did not have an enormous amount of choices to select from when it came to making their coverings, but we do. Again the cotton or polyester for outside of the product are wonderful. Adventurous or challenging textiles are magnificent and extraordinary to see in a finished piece. With a little practice and know how anyone will be able to use any type of textile with this method of construction.

There are craft stores, fabric retailers and other speciality shops with a focus on quilt shoppers and give us millions of designs and of printed or plain goods to choose from. Online resources are wonderful as well. Many of the specialty shops even have it pre-cut and measured to simplify construction. With pieces pre-cut and measured to perfection, adding easy directions and diagrams makes finishing one in little more than an afternoon a very real possibility.

Some of the harder ones to work with are silk and satin. These are generally reserved for more experienced persons with a high skill level in this form of construction. If you are feeling adventurous, give it a try. Characteristically these are more expensive so go slow and do not forget to practice on smaller sections before taking on a larger project.

Needle and thread

Make the thread  a matching or contrasting color depending on how much you want the stitching to stand out. Generally the pattern you choose will make the final determination. Use a needle a tad larger than the normal needle for the machine for a project. This will produce an easy flow through the layers. You will cut out any bunching, pulling and puckering  when you use the correct one.

If you prefer a different kind of stitching other than the norm, such as zigzag, it works out okay. In fact, since each one made is typically unique using an uncommon kind will make it even more so.

Make the settings for the tension and the length of the thread fall in sync with the cloths you have chosen. Experimentation is necessary for a lot of newbies to discover what will work best. For experimentation use a small basted combination of your fabric, backing and batting. Avoid back stitching you work.

Make certain you snip any threads to make it look as neat as possible. Anything done by hand can be performed with a machine, even applique and other preferences. Some people will even combine the methods, depending on the pattern chosen. Intricate piecing like using buttons or beads will need a hand needle and thread technique instead of machine quilting.

Differences you will discover

Using this kind of formation cannot duplicate the needle and thread assembly for the same patterns and designs. However, fabricate your own inventions which have the ability to be produced this way.  In fact, you should use various configurations which may differ from the traditional method which complement your products. You can use the smoothness you get working this way to enhance unique shapes and outlines to form your covering.

Do not be afraid to make a mistake. Errors are bound to happen and correctable. It is best to catch a mishap early and avoid ruining the entire project. A seam ripper makes removing the stitching easier.

These have a tendency to last longer than those that are hand stitched. They are stronger at the seams for machine washing and wear and tear on them. If you are crafting one for display purposes only this is not a factor. However, most are made for their actually use or their intended purpose of bed linens and coverings.

Generally arrangements and outlines like diamond grids, simple contours or even echo type shapes are wonderful. Free form kinds of arrays work magnificently for these types of assembly.

Working with applique is beautiful put together this way, but it takes up to five times more thread or even more than hand crafting the same borders.

The presser foot

Get a feel for the sewing machine you will be using and change or adjust how you craft the tops of these coverings to make them work out beautifully. Usually, working with lines which are long, straight or even curvy all function well using the presser foot. Taking your time when making other than straight lines is necessary. Remember, the speed of the needle and thread with technology is enormously faster than working the same pattern with a needle and a thimble. It is comparable to riding a bike versus driving a car.

If you are using intricate type forms or free-form creations remove it for the best results.

In conclusion

This form of building and constructing quilts is moving these works of art in a new direction. This is a good place to go with the next generation of artists fashioning wonderful pieces that show off a great deal of talent. It is easy, new and exciting for anyone that wants to give it a try. Whether you choose to do it for fun, a hobby or even to make a living from what you will produce, it is surprising what you will be able to make.

There is no right or wrong way to make it work, but there are techniques which certainly make it easier and will make the final outcome more to your liking. Remember, you can combine hand sewing with the machine work on many designs.

Not only is the entire process speeded up considerably, but it unlocks new possibilities and alternatives for the next generation that carries on the tradition choosing this path.

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