Are you new to machine quilting? You may have made tied quilts for a while and now want to explore machine quilting. I’ve seen a lot of advice given for how to machine quilt but I think most of it lacks a couple of points that are important for successful machine quilting. If you are having some issues or maybe just don’t know what needle to use, these can help.
I’m going to give you six tips for straight line machine quilting. However, if you are especially having problems with puckering or tucking on the backs of your quilts or skipped stitches on the tops of your quilts, there are easy solutions to these problems in the following tips.
- Use a Walking Foot. If you’re trying to machine quilt with a regular presser foot, you’re going to have problems. Invest in a Walking Foot (sometimes called an Even Feed Foot) if you don’t have one. A walking foot will make your fabric feed evenly on the top and the bottom, not just on the bottom like a regular presser foot will. There will be no bunching up of the fabric when you use a walking foot. Each manufacturer has a walking foot to fit their machines.
- Use a Quilting Needle. This makes a difference. Don’t use a Universal Needle, which has a slightly rounded point, for machine quilting. Although it can work just fine and you may not have any trouble, quilting needles are better for machine quilting. Quilting Needles are made for a reason! They have slightly heavier shafts and a sharper point to get through thick layers of batting and intersecting seams. If you are having skipped stitches sometimes, a Quilting Needle can eliminate this problem. It can also help a lot with any tucking or puckering on the back of your quilt.
- Use a Heavier Needle. I piece with an 11 needle and I switch to a 14 when I begin my machine quilting. Makes a BIG difference! Many people do not switch up a size when they quilt. Your quilting will be easier if you use a heavier needle. I like to buy these packs of Quilting needles by Schmetz, which contain the two sizes I use most often, 11 and 14.
- Decrease Your Presser Foot Pressure. If your machine has this adjustment, use it. My Janome is set to 5 for regular sewing, but I switch it down to 3 when I start quilting. It makes it easier for the quilt sandwich to move through the machine. This can also help with any tucking or puckering on the back of your quilt.
- Use Quilting Gloves. These gloves are grippy and will be a revelation to you if you’ve been quilting without them. They enable you to really firmly hold on to the quilt as you move it through the machine. Plus I believe they help prevent any oils and dirt from your hands in getting on the quilt as you are quilting it. These are the kind I use but there are many different manufacturers.
- Change Your Needles Often. It’s never good to let your needle get dull. This can cause problems – like skipped stitches – and needles are cheap. Some people change their needles every time they begin a new quilt.
These are tips that I feel will help you immensely, especially if you are wondering why you might be getting tucks on the back of your quilt or skipped stitches. Give them a try on your next quilting project.
SOME HELPFUL LINKS:
Ever have a needle laying around and you don’t know what it is? Stop guessing!
How to Identity your Schmetz Needle by the Color Band
Have a great week!