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How to Machine Quilt – video

How to Machine Quilt - a video tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This week we’re continuing work on my little doll quilt. Last week I showed you how to layer and baste the quilt, this week I show you how to quilt it on the machine.

I forgot to mention it, but I always use a walking foot when I quilt. I don’t think about it because I use it for almost all of my sewing, but it’s important, especially on a bigger quilt. The walking foot helps to feed the top and bottom layers through evenly.

I didn’t show the process of actually changing the tension on the machine, adjusting it up or down, sewing a few inches, checking the results, adjusting some more, etc. I showed the final results (so you can see how many tries it can take to get it right) but it occurred to me that I should tell you where and how to adjust the tension. On MOST machines (though certainly not all – that would make things too easy) there is a numbered dial on the left hand side – the side where the needle is. The numbers usually run from 1-10 and you normally sew with it somewhere in the 4-6 range. It doesn’t hurt anything to play around with the tension setting, so do some experimenting with two colors of thread and you’ll see how it works.

Here are all my posts about layering and basting your quilt, and the final round of quilting.

Here are all my posts about hand quilting and Big Stitch quilting. I don’t use these techniques with fusible applique or Quilt As You Go, but I LOVE using Big Stitch Quilting with my cheater fabric.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about binding and finishing your quilt.

Happy quilting!


  1. Funny you should ask Wendi. I have always had such miserable results when attempting machine quilting that THIS is the tutorial I needed. I gave up long ago and went back to hand quilting! Thank you!!!!

  2. lol I make poor quilts. You make it look so easy!

  3. patricia SAYS...

    thanks again and again for such clear instruction. and, yes please(!!), share a tutorial for hand quilting. (congrats on the 1000 followers!!)

  4. Becky – you crack me up!

    Mae – the trick is to make SIMPLE quilts. I love simple blocks, squares, and bricks. They let the fabric sing, they’re easy to make successfully, and they usually have tremendous visual impact. Plus – they’re fun to make instead of stressful.

    Patricia – one hand-quilting video coming up! But it will be a few weeks because I’ve been promising people we’ll get to garment sewing soon. 🙂

  5. This is a great video! I’d also love to see a hand quilting one. Thanks for all you do!!!!

  6. I’d love to learn about hand quilting!! I just found your blog today and I’m completely drawn in, just fascinated, truly. When I read that you’re “on a mission to teach people to sew”, I immediately bookmarked your page. 🙂 I borrowed my SIL’s sewing machine early this year and then received one for my birthday in April (yay!) I am self-taught and I can’t get enough of my sewing machine. I’m intending to poke around your blog to learn more … I find that pattern books (mostly) assume a lot of their readers and it is frustrating to constantly “google” things while sewing, when they’re not explained in the book.

    Also, I have watched many a “how-to” video (some good and some not so good) and I think you do a great job! You have a nice video voice, haha, and make things easy to follow, explaining just enough for it all to make sense!

    Anyway, keep up the good work … I’m going to watch your video now. 🙂

  7. Thanks Kari! I’ll definitely be doing some hand quilting videos, so stay tuned. And I’m glad the videos in general are helpful to you! I know just what you mean about having to stop and google things that aren;t explained. Except I taught myself to sew before there was Google. 🙂 I remember being so mystefied by the expression “turn and press.” Would it have killed them to say, “Turn it right side out and iron all the seams?”

  8. Loretta S. SAYS...

    Wendi – I don’t know if you are still monitoring comments here…I noticed that you only backstitched the very first “ditch” you started on. No backstitching needed in any of the other rows?

    • you don’t really HAVE to backstitch because all the edges will be secured with the binding when you’re done. But it doesn’t HURT to backstitch, and I do it a lot out of habit.

  9. Maria SAYS...

    I love all your videos!!!!!

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  10. Cindy SAYS...

    Can I use my machine to quilt my king size quilt if curved lines are needed?

    • Yes! It will just be a lot harder. Prepare to go slowly, take lots of breaks, and have patience.