My Best Machine Quilting Trick
This is my best machine quilting trick. It’s easy to do and it looks great. I’ve done it most often on smallish quilts but I’ve used it on a throw-size quilt, too.
I tried it for the first time on this little red quilt, which is a free pattern just for my readers. Such a simple idea! You won’t have any trouble executing this as long as you have a walking foot for your machine.
I took photos as I was quilting my swap quilt for the Modern Quilt Guild in February. So here’s the process for a small quilt.
Attach a walking foot to your sewing machine. Test your top and bobbin threads on a sample to be sure everything is working properly. Layer the quilt top, batting and backing and baste the layers together.
Mark a gently curving line across the quilt top. I started out using a flexible curve, above, but I’ve had better luck just sweeping my hand in a gentle curve with a chalk mechanical pencil. Since I had both dark and light fabrics here, in the end I went with a paper guide instead.
Tape two pieces of paper together so it is large enough and then cut a nice gentle curve. Pin the paper to the quilt sandwich.
Guide the edge of the walking foot along the edge of the paper and quilt the first line. Remove the paper.
Use the first line as a guide to quilt subsequent lines, spacing them equally. I moved the needle to the right until I had the distance I wanted between the lines. You can also use a seam guide (comes standard with most machines).
The spacing is up to you, but I think 5/8″ or 3/4″ between each of the lines is about right for a small quilt most of the time.
Continue adding lines, equally spaced, until that portion of the quilt is filled up.
The second part is to determine where an opposing line might look nice. Make a decision, mark the line or create a paper guide as before and quilt the first line. I try and curve this line differently from the first one. The idea is to oppose the other line in some way.
Use the first line as a guide to quilt the rest, just as you did with the first set of lines.
Create a third set of lines so that all of the quilt is covered by an undulating grid. It’s magical when you see this start to happen.
Things don’t always go perfectly. When they don’t, just relax and take out the stitches as needed with a surgical seam ripper (Havel’s is what I use). It goes quickly.
I am not sure if I stopped at this point or what, but this is the last photo I took of this quilt. Then I swapped it so I can’t even check. I don’t like what is happening at the bottom right but maybe the deadline was looming or something. You’ll improve with practice. I think the problem is that I let the lines become too far apart.
What I really love is how the shapes in the grid change. In some places they are square, and in some they are diamonds, and in some places they’re really wonky. It gives you a reason to keep looking at the quilt, which is always my goal.
Next month, I have a patriotic quilt design coming out in Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. It suggests an American flag so I wanted the quilting to convey the idea of waving in the breeze. When I am able, I’ll show you how I used this same quilting technique on that throw-sized quilt.
I hope you’ll give today’s method a try and send me photos: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for checking out my blog post!