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So You Wanna Make A Quilt…Part 7- Quilting


Part 7- Quilting

At this point I am sure you have a couple questions running through your head….How do I actually quilt this thing? or Am I going to ruin this quilt top that I just spent so much time working on? Let’s look at the purpose of quilting and how to do it first and guess what…you are not going to mess up anything!

Quilting serves two purposes for a quilt; function– it actually holds the quilt together and form– the texture and beauty it adds to the quilt.

You can quilt your quilt by hand or by machine. I learned how to quilt by hand…that was the way my grandmother quilted. Now, I primarily quilt on my sewing machine, but I usually have at least one hand quilting project on standby for when I feel like it. I am going to focus on machine quilting techniques, but a lot of these apply to hand quilting also.


A few tools you may need to quilt your quilt are:

Walking Foot or Darning/Hopping Foot for your sewing machine.

Marking tools- rulers, chalk, disappearing pen, water soluble pen, frixion pen, hera marker.


Painters Tape

Machine Quilting Gloves

Quilting Needles

Antique Quilt

Antique Quilt- Crosshatch and Feather Quilting

You will need to look at your quilt and plan out how you want to quilt it. For beginners a simple straight line design or grid is a good starting point. It is helpful to mark these designs on your quilt top before you baste it…no pins in your way at that point. They make quite a few great tools to mark your design on the quilt. You have to experiment a bit and find the one you like the best. Here are a few Pro’s/Con’s to help you make up your mind.

Chalk, Pro-comes in several forms and can be easily removed when you are done. Con-can disappear on you if you keep brushing against the design.

Disappearing Pen, Pro-removes itself! Con-can disappear too rapidly depending on humidity. You should always test this first.

Water Soluble Pen, Pro-design stays put. Con-you may have to wash your quilt to remove it. You may not want to wash every quilt.

Frixion Pen, Pro-this is removed by iron, very easy. Con-these marks have been known to reappear in different temperatures. Maybe not best for a show quilt!

Hera Marker, Pro-this plastic tool makes a crease in the fabric to mark lines and is easy to use with nothing to remove. Con-you cannot do very intricate designs, just straight lines.

Painters Tape, Pro-this low tack tape is great for marking lines and you can sew on either side for uniform widths and is easy to remove and reuse. Con-this tool also doesn’t allow for very detailed designs.

Another great tool for marking quilting designs are stencils. Theses are thin sheets of plastic with designs already cut out and ready to mark with your favorite marking tool.


Time to Quilt!

You have got your design marked and now you are ready to go! What next?

If you are quilting basic straight line designs, the use of a Walking Foot is a must. You will never regret buying one of these feet for your machine.

When quilting you have a lot of layers going through your machine and sometimes the top layer is not being pulled through at the exact same rate as the bottom layer, this can lead to some slight shifting and can cause puckers in your quilt. A walking foot has an extra set of teeth that grab the top layer and your machine has the feed dogs on the bottom to grab that bottom layer….now they are going through at the same speed = beautiful even stitches!

Walking Foot

There are a million ways to quilt your quilt, but here are a few basic quilting designs you might like to try.

Stitch in the Ditch Quilting

Stitch in the Ditch Quilting

Stitch in the Ditch(SITD) – quilting along or inside the seams of your patchwork.

Echo– outlining basic shapes in your quilt and repeating that design several times.

Crosshatch– evenly spaced grid lines that cover the entire quilt, usually on the diagonal.

Straight lines– these can be evenly spaced or even a little wonky for a more organic feel.

Antique Quilt

Antique Quilt- Straight Line and Echo Quilting

Sewing Machine Needles…

An 80/12 Universal, Microtex or Quilting needle are all great for machine quilting. Microtex and Quilting needles have a slim, strong shaft which leaves a smaller hole in your fabric and can penetrate multiple layers in seam areas. If your quilt sandwich is extra thick you may want to use a size 90/14.

Sewing Machine Needles

Taking Your First Stitch

Holding the end of the top thread, hand turn your machines needle until it pierces the quilt and comes back up. The top thread should grab the bobbin thread below and pull it to the surface of your quilt. Now, holding both ends of the two threads, take a couple stitches in place. This will lock your threads in place so that your quilting will not come undone. Finish your line of stitching by locking them in place again and then snip your thread tails. This process is the same no matter what foot you are using on your machine.



You may have to increase your tension while quilting vs. piecing. Test your stitches first and make sure they are even on the front and back of your quilt.

Tips for Starting…

As a general rule you will start near the center of your quilt and work outward. There is a slight pushing effect when quilting and if you start on the outer edges and work inward, you can end up with a puffy area in the center of your quilt.

It is helpful to quilt along the basic grid work of your blocks/borders first to stabilize your quilt sandwich and then go back and fill in your designs.

Roll and scrunch up the sides of your quilt to fit it through your machine. You need to keep the bulk of the quilt from pulling against you while you quilt. I do this by keeping the area closest to me piled up on my chest and the sides rolled up.

Use your hands to keep the area approaching the needle flat and smooth to keep from getting puckers or folds in your quilt.

What about Free Motion Quilting?

For this technique you use a darning foot or hopping foot on your machine, your stitch length is set to 0 and your feed dogs are typically disengaged. You are basically turning off the forward motion that your machine creates and you are the one who moves your quilt through the machine. This allows you to stitch in all directions and the possibilities are endless! This technique is a little more advanced and requires a lot of practice, but don’t be shy! Get a few simple designs under your belt and then give it a go. You never know, you might be a natural:)

darning foot

Darning or Hopping Foot


Relax! and give yourself a break…it doesn’t have to be perfect:) We are our biggest critics, so try to have fun and I promise you will get better.

Click HERE to find parts 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5 and 6 of the Beginner Quilting Series, So You Wanna Make a Quilt…

See you next week for Part 8- Binding.

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