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Quilt Tips From Quilters Around The World

Machine Quilting

When machine quilting on my home sewing machine, I sit well above my machine. I sit on a step stool - the kind that every 1950's kitchen had. It looks a bit like a baby highchair, but without the tray. The two steps fold up under the chair when not in use.

This higher chair forces your arms and shoulders down into a more relaxed position when you are manipulating your quilt. In a normal chair, the tendency is to shrug your shoulders up to your ears. It's very fatiguing on the body.

The first time I quilted on the step stool, I quilted for 2.5 hours before stopping. I was so relaxed that I forgot to take a break!

When I quilt with the higher chair, I tilt my machine BACK slightly by placing a tiny one-half-inch book underneath the front edge of the machine. Without this, the machine head blocks my vision from this higher vantage point. - kiskat in Texas

Whenever I am machine quilting using nylon thread, I put my spool of thread in a baby food jar on the table beside my sewing machine and thread it up through a binder clip that I have clipped on the lift up lid of my Pfaff machine and through the rest of the machine as usual. This provides the proper tension and I never have problems. - Sue in Ontario

I use gripper type garden glove for free motion quilting because they cost so much less, but the fingers are long and clumsy so I just cut off the tips. I can machine quilt and still be able to thread the needle, move a pin etc. The other bonus here is that if the fingertips are cut out, it forces you to use your whole hand to move the material, and reduces your risk for carpal tunnel syndrome which is much greater if you use only the tips of your fingers to move the quilt around. - Kathleen in Wisconsin

Wind serger thread to the bobbin on my sewing machine, I use a long drinking straw cut to just above the top of the cone and placed on the spindle. This works very well for me. - Mary in Colorado

When machine quilting, be sure to position your chair as close as possible to your machine - and still be comfortable - LEGS UNDER THE TABLE. If your chair is too far away, and you are leaning toward the machine to quilt, your back and arms will get very tired, or you might totally pull your back out.

I have seen people sit on the very edge of their seat, with their chair a foot away from their machine, to quilt.

When your body is not in its most relaxed position, it will show up in your quilting. When you lose control of your body, you lose control of your stitching.

I know this seems very simplistic, but it's the little things that CAN make a big difference in your quilting results. - kiskat in Texas

For the large spools which I can not use on my sewing machine, I use a empty tin can with a plastic lid about the size of the spool. In the middle of the lid I made a hole then I put it beside my machine. It works great, especially for invisible threads. - Lenie in The Netherlands

A product called Butler Gum Floss Threaders (available where dental floss is sold) is great to put the thread through holes in presser feet such as a 1/4 inch foot or one with small multiple holes for embroidery thread. It looks almost like a needle with a big eye but is very narrow and flexible. - Carolyn in California

I have found that the inexpensive gardening gloves with the little dots on the palm make good machine quilting gloves. - Lucy in South Carolina

Disposable latex gloves, like doctors and nurses use, make fabulous machine quilting gloves. They're usually available in a box of 50 for about $5.00 at the local drug store or discount store." - Katherine in Illinois

You can make your own machine quilting gloves. Take take a look in your sewing box to see if you have fabric for the feet of children's PJ's. Use Wonder Under to attach the fabric to an old pair of white gloves, and you will have your own machine quilting gloves. - Joan in Vermont

Want to try the new 'tiltables' but think that they are too expensive? Go to any hardware store and buy two door stops (wedges) in rubber. Push these under your machine to tilt it to any convenient angle. - Shirley in the U.K.

If you feel tense while free motion quilting, try humming! We tend to hold our breath when we concentrate and that makes us tense up. Humming forces us to breath rhythmically and therefore relax. It's a very simple thing that has made a big difference in the quality of my free motion quilting. - Sue in Georgia

When doing machine quilting, A firm, somewhat stiff backing fabric helps to prevent those annoying puckers, so if the backing you have chosen is soft, starch it first. - Kate in Wisconsin

When machine quilting or stitching applique, fill paired bobbins with your thread. Use one of the pair on top, and you can easily see if bobbin is running too low to finish a line of stitching without stopping to reload and start again in the middle. - Barbara in Arizona

Buy a lot of bobbins for your machine and thread all of your bobbins in commonly used colors before you start a project. There is nothing worse than breaking your concentration by having to stop in the middle of a project and thread your bobbin...AGAIN! It is a time and sanity saver! - Karen in California

Tired of stitching in a ditch? Get out your double needle and thread the needle only on the right and leave the left empty for a guide. This will give you a different look if you are a beginner like me. - Virginia in Washington

Whenever I am machine quilting using nylon thread, I put my spool of thread in a baby food jar on the table beside my sewing machine and thread it up through a binder clip that I have clipped on the lift up lid of my Pfaff machine and through the rest of the machine as usual. This provides the proper tension and I never have problems. - Sue in Ontario

Use white tissue paper for machine quilting designs. Cut tissue paper the size of your finished block x as many blocks in your quilt or the size of sashing and borders, trace or draw your own design onto the tissue paper with dark colored pen or pencil. Pin this to your block at each of the four corners and one in the center. The machine quilt right on top of tissue. When finished with each block the tissue paper tears easily off. This method saves time having to wash out pencil marks on finished quilt. - Barbara in Wisconsin

My husband bought a large package of gripper gloves at a surplus/discount store for a very cheap price and I use them to keep control of the material while I'm machine quilting.  They are much less costly than at the quilting stores.  - Sara in Michigan

When quilting with that nylon thread, the type that is as fine as hair, place a small piece of masking tape on the machine just above the needle.  When you cut the thread you have a place to stick it, so that it won't come out of the needle. - Carol in New York

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