Video – How to Machine Quilt a Big Quilt on a Standard Sewing Machine

I know. You look at that mass of quilt and you look at the space under the arm of your sewing machine and you think, “No way!”

You’d be wrong.

You can totally quilt a big quilt on a regular sewing machine.

I’ve actually quilted king size quilts on my machine – though in this video I’m demonstrating on a twin size.

First, watch this video showing the basics of machine quilting. That video uses a little doll quilt as a sample – easy to see and get a feel for the process – but it doesn’t answer the question you really have about doing the same thing with a bed quilt. That’s what I tackle in this video. So watch it now.

Important! See that little black bit behind the presser foot on my machine? That’s my walking foot. I forgot to mention it in the video – but it’s pretty critical. You really can’t machine quilt without one – it’ll end up all puckery and you’ll be sad. :-(

And what if you want to quilt lines that don’t follow the seams of the quilt?

Tape – my friends. Painters tape.

Using Tape as a Quilting Guide

On the Flower Beds Quilt I wanted to quilt a diagonal grid over the whole surface. I laid down a strip of masking tape to guide my first line. See how the edge of the tape intersects the corners of the blocks? (That’s what those red circles are showing.) That helps me get a perfectly straight line. Quilt right along the edge of the tape.

Using Masking Tape as a Quilting Guide - detail

Then remove the tape.

You only need to do this for the first row of stitching. After that each row serves as the guide for the next.

I usually just eyeball the distance between rows, but in case you want a little more precision – check back next Tuesday. I’ll have a new video showing you a nifty little gizmo to help you stitch perfectly parallel lines.

Happy quilting!

Best,
Wendi
applique wendi

6 thoughts on “Video – How to Machine Quilt a Big Quilt on a Standard Sewing Machine

  1. Cherie

    What an awesome video! You are a good teacher. I was wondering what quilt pattern you are using in the video? It is super cute!

    Reply
    1. wendigratz Post author

      Thanks – it’s just a scrap quilt with no pattern. I think I might put one together though – and release it as a free pattern later this year.

      Reply
  2. Lacy

    I just signed up for the newsletter and am looking through your site for the first time. This is the first video I watched and I wanted to let you know how impressed I am and how much I am looking forward to learning from your videos and instructions. What a great resource!! Thank you!

    Reply
  3. Melanie

    Hi Wendi–

    Love the clean layout of your site and your very helpful videos. Thank you! Two questions for you: I’m about to do my first machine quilting, and I’m using a great, but plain, 20 year old Pfaff machine. I’m going to stuff and fluff. You’ve inspired me!

    First question: Do I need to turn the quilt each time I sew a line of quilting? (So I would sew bottom to top, flip it around, and then sew top to bottom–I’m doing a queen size quilt, which is why I’m hesitating on doing this.) Some women in my local quilt shop insisted I do this. Others rolled their eyes and shrugged their shoulders. What is your opinion?

    Second question: when using a walking foot, do I need to lower the feed dogs on my machine?

    Third question (sorry–just thought of another): I want to do a simple grid. Each block is 9″x9″. I was going to divide each block in half, sewing lines at approximately 4.5 inches. I was thinking about using your painting tape idea to get the correct distance. Do you think that 4.5″ is too far apart (the same WatQS–women at the quilt store insisted I do not quilt further apart than 4″)?

    Thanks for any thoughts/suggestions!

    Melanie

    Reply
    1. wendigratz Post author

      1. I don’t turn my quilt at the end of each run – I just keep going in whatever direction puts as little quilt under the arm of the machine as possible. Some people find they get some distortion that way, and turning it minimizes it. That makes sense – but I’ve never had a problem with it so I don’t do it.

      2. Don’t lower the feed dogs when you use a walking foot! The walking foot is like adding feed dogs to the top of your quilt – you want the two “grabbers” to work together to feed the top and bottom layers through at the same rate.

      3. How close you quilt depends on what brand of batting you’re using. Look on the package – it should say somewhere. Some battings require quilting every two inches, some every four. My favorite (Warm & Natural) can be quilted every 10 inches – though I often quilt closer than that because I like the crinkly look that you get from dense quilting.

      Hope these help!

      Reply

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