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How to quilt using your embroidery machine

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This is a basic tutorial for simple quilting in the hoop without marking your quilt top.  It is good practice if you ever want to move on to doing special designs in specific shapes, blocks and spaces.

For any design you decide to use I recommend doing a test stitchout on a sample quilt sandwich before doing it on the real thing.  This is the best way to test your tension!

Materials needed:

  • A basted quilt sandwich – mine is pin basted
  • Masking tape
  • A single-run quilt design - I get most of my designs from Embroidery Library
  • A printout of your quilt design with grid marks
  • Binder clips
  • Your largest quilt hoop

I use the same thread in my top and bobbin area when I’m quilting. No stabilizer!!

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Wrap some tape around the sides of your hoop sticky side out.  Don’t put tape on top of the clip that attaches the hoop to your embroidery arm. The tape will hold the sides of your quilt so you don’t have to worry about the clips popping off. EmbroideryQuilting-2208

Put some masking tape on the bottom of the hoop to cover the sticky area. This will prevent the hoop from sticking as the embroidery arm moves your hoop around.  The only sticky part you want is on the top of the hoop where the fabric will be laying.

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I also use binder clips when I can. Sometimes you can avoid using tape on the sides and sometimes the sandwich is just too thick to accommodate it. So I put some masking tape on the insides of the binder clips to make it grip the fabric better.

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Printing out your design can be done in most basic embroidery programs. I recommend printing the design using the hoop setting of the same size you’ll be using on your machine to quilt with so that your centering lines are the same.  Stitch Era Universal is a good, free embroidery program. I also use Sew What Pro for simple merging, placement and printout of designs.

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Look in your embroidery program and locate your starting stitch.  Mark this with a highlighter. Trim the printout to the edges of the stitching.

If you are just starting a new quilt I recommend beginning in the middle and working your way out. Don’t start on an edge. Treat it like you would any other free motion quilting project.

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I’m placing the design on a quilt that I’m working on. Part of the quilt is already quilted – you can kind of see it on the left and top edges. I line up my design as close as possible without overlapping and pin my design.

Here you can see the quilted edges I’m lining up with better.

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Now move your fabric around in the hoop until the starting mark on the printout lines up with your needle.

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Press down on your quilt sandwich so that the taped edges of your hoop grip the fabric.  Make sure to smooth out the area so there aren’t any bubbles, nips or tucks.

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I also clip the top and bottom edges of my hoop.  If your hoop is deep enough you can clip it so the clips stand straight up and down.  My design is mostly in the center of my hoop so I’m using my clips horizontally and it hasn’t interfered with the stitchout of my design. See what works best with your machine.

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Once you’ve secured the quilt sandwich to the hooped area remove the printout of your design.

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Start quilting your design after pulling up the bobbin thread.

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Closeup of one of the stitch out areas.

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Okay, so now you’ve quilted a bunch of your quilt and you have a lot of weird edges. What do you do about that?? I’ll show you!

Again line up your printout with the edges that are already quilted. It helps if you have 4-5″ of batting and backing on all sides coming out from the top. It gives you more room to play.

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Pin your design in place and start shifting your fabric onto the hoop.

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Line up your sandwich so that the starting mark is underneath your needle.  It’s ok if there isn’t any fabric there. We’re just lining up our sandwich in the hoop.

Smooth out and press down your sandwich on the edges so the tape adheres and clip the top or bottom where there is sandwich available to clip. It is best to have three edges clipped so the hoop moves the fabric properly.

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Now watch your needle on your machine as you advance your design. What you want to stitch out are the parts that touch the top of your quilt.  Skip the parts that aren’t sewing on the top of your quilt.

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Make sure to go slowly as the needle moves around the edge of your quilt top, you don’t want it to get flipped upside down and make you rip stitches out.  You may want to use some spray adhesive if you find this to become an issue.  I just slow down my machine and hold the edge down with a stiletto.

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Once you are finished you have a design quilted out to the edge!

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Feel free to comment with any questions – I’m happy to answer them. I hope you found this helpful!

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