Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quilting with Home Machine - My Way

Above is my Indigo Monochromatic top being quilted. For this design, I doodled on scrap paper, cut a template for a curve and used a medicine bottle cap for tracing a circle. I only traced the circle, the square in the middle and the curve -- all the feathers are free-hand.
  • First, I use x-large garden gloves with the little rubber bumps. They grip great and they go on/off real easy. Mine came from a local dollar store.
  • I also made my own sewing machine "drop-in" about 12 years ago and it is the greatest thing for home machine quilting. You need a flat space to work with -- larger than the small sewing machine area. This is a link to the "drop-in" -- if you check it out, notice how worn out it is!
  • Next, I use lots of safety pins -- all sizes (I am not a pin snob). I have a utility table (30 x 72 -- the top is about 3/4" thick) that stays at the end of my king size bed. I sandwich on the bed then my DH helps me slide the quilt over to the table.
  • I clip the quilt on the table with big paper binding clips. Big enough to get around the table. I am careful to stretch the backing and always start in the middle. After pinning all around the table, I shift the pin the sides, constantly making sure the backing is very tight.
  • To make the table taller (I am 5'7"), I added plumbers 10" PVC pipe on the legs.
  • A BIG step ... always pass your batting through the dryer with a small wet towel and NO BOUNCE -- you WANT the static cling!!! As you sandwich on the bed, additional static will build up while you are smoothing the layers. One of my friends uses a little wisk broom to smooth the layers.
  • Never roll your quilt -- always make sure it is loose on the table and able to slide around. I have also waxed the table top using spray starch. Go figure!
  • I practice a LOT of doodling with pen and paper. Junk mail has a purpose in my house.
  • Start small -- we have 2 cats, so I have made several 30 x 30 quilts for them to sleep on. I change them out constantly and throw them in the washer/dryer often. As your confidence builds, so will the size of your quilts.
  • Don't worry if you have a few tucks in the beginning. Keep a ripper close by and check the back often to catch the tucks as soon as possible. If you need to, re-position the safety pins after smoothing. When I first started, I also stitched in the ditch to hold everything together about 10 - 12" apart -- for example, around the big blocks, then went back and doodled all over the place.
  • Try and keep your stitches even. In the beginning, it will be hard -- but try this: Keep the "pace" in your head with counting techniques. 1-2-3, 1-2-3 -- like learning to dance. The rhythmic counting helps to stay focused. Also watch out for those curves. When you are driving a car and coming around a curve, you tend to slow down on the approach, then speed up going around (especially when you are familiar with the road -- admit it -- you do!).
  • Keep a sketch book of favorite doodles. I have also taken pictures of beautiful wall paper for inspiration. My I-phone is full.
  • My way is not the only way. Different does not mean wrong -- just different.
  • Can I do anything a long-armer can do? Probably not, but I like to try.
  • Do I want a mid or long-arm -- you betcha! One Day!
  • Now go have Fun!


Dora, the Quilter said...

Great post! I quilt with vintage treadles and do most of the things you do, especially minimal to no marking for quilting. I'm thinking we may be secret sisters! Just love your quilting!

Deborah said...

Jamie, your stitching is beautiful. You have inspired me! I have a pile of tops that are ready to be machine quilted. Not my favorite thing to do, but since I want the end product, I need to get at it.

FabricsNQuilts said...

This post has so many awesome ideas & tips. I am definitely sharing. Your quilting is FAB-U-LOUS!

Tiffaney said...

Thanks for all the wonderful tips and ideas.

Suzy said...


Char said...

Thanks for the tips, they're very helpful. I'm trying to break away from meandering everything.

JCnNC said...

Great quilting and a fantastic post. Loved all the details - wish I were as confident - younger would help also with the machine quilting. LoL Thanks for sharing Jamie - Judy C in NC

Kristen said...

Thank you so much for this! I have been following you for a long time and have admired your work. I refuse to let someone else quilt my quilts and know that I can, with practice, make my quilts beautiful with my home machine. I just need to practice and get to work doing it. I can't wait to get to work on another quilt today using your hints! Thank you so much! :)

Mary Lea said...

Jamie, your quilting is awesome:)

Quiltjane said...

Those feathers are magnificent. A long arm would make the quilting process easier for you but from the pictures you have mastered the home machine.

Sarah Craig said...

Great post, Jamie! Lots of really useful advice, and a good look into how you do your beautiful quilting! Thanks!

Lizziebeth said...

Beautiful quilting Jamie, you inspire us!

Vivian said...

Wonderful tips. I so wanted a long arm when I first really got big into quilting a few years ago. Since then, I have learned to do many things on my domestic machine and am not too worried about getting a long arm.

I do have a long way to go but I am have having fun.