Overcoming Quilting Machine Fear


You just bought a quilting machine and you're scared to use it. Maybe these comments from my family of first-time users will help you with that fear.

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Overcoming Quilting Machine Fear

My daughter has finally taken up quilting! (yeah!) She and her husband made a queen size quilt and decided not to quilt it on their domestic machine, but instead to bring it to my house to use my quilting machine. They, and their three teenagers, all used the quilting machine for the first time. Here's what they want you to know.

Overcoming Quilting Machine Fear


The quilting machine is the way to go for a big bed quilt. Loading the quilt is no worse than laying it out on the floor and it's a whole lot easier than basting. The machine holds the layers in place and keeps it flat and steady.



They said that it is easier to let the quilt be your guide while quilting. They reported "a small piece focus", but movable. When the adults had completed their Christmas gift, I put a donation quilt on the machine for the teens. It's a good rule to always start with a donation quilt in using a quilting machine for the first time.


The teens reported that while it had the same function as a sewing machine, it is more free flowing. They thought that more movement made better designs and patterns.



The oldest teen is artistic and had no trouble with leaves and flowers right from the git go.



"Nana," she said, "you could do this!" She supervised the younger two in trying to make a similar pattern to the one she did, so that the donation quilt wouldn't look off balance.



It did, of course. As a rule, you wouldn't let more than one person quilt on a quilting machine, but as with all siblings, everyone needed a turn.



When we first bought our machine, we thought that using rulers or pantographs would be easier than free motion quilting. We were told that that wasn't the case and soon believed it. So, here's a hint: you can begin free motion quilting by writing letters such as "e" or "f" on the quilt. A good technique on a scrap "sandwich" made for practice is to write your name. You've only done it thousands of times and your muscles know how.


We didn't use any of these beginner techniques with our family. They dove right in and loved it! You can too!



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A temporary method of holding the quilt Sandwich layers together while you finish assembling it. This can be conducted using Basting Sprays, pins, clips or temporary stitching called a Tacking Stitch or Basting Stitch.
A term sometimes used for unbleached muslin, dating from the nineteenth century when printed fabrics were generally imported and plain fabrics were generally manufactured domestically.
Free Motion Quilting
Method of quilting where the feed dogs of a sewing machine are lowered or covered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle.
Traditional description of a quilt: a sandwich consisting of a Quilt Top, Batting (filling), and a Backing.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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