About Quilting with Machines

Key Takeaways:

  • Quilting with machines has a rich history that dates back to the early 19th century, when the first sewing machines were invented, eventually leading to the development of specialized quilting machines.
  • There are different techniques for machine quilting, including walking foot quilting, free-motion quilting, and heirloom machine quilting, each requiring specific equipment and steps to achieve a desired effect.
  • Popular methods of machine quilting include sashiko or running stitch quilting and art quilting, which allow for creative expression and unique designs that enhance the beauty and functionality of quilts.


Quilting with Machines: An Innovation in Textile Art

Automated techniques for quilting have gained tremendous popularity in recent times. This high-tech craft method stands out from traditional methods since it offers faster and more efficient ways to create stunning quilts. Experienced quilters have always been familiar with the process of stitching quilt layers together, but quilting machines have made this process far more effortless and time-saving without compromising quality. This article will explore how machine quilting can revolutionize the world of textile art.

Unlike hand quilting, which requires an enormous amount of manual input, machine quilting is a method where quilters use sophisticated, computerized sewing machines to create decorative patterns and designs on quilts. The use of automated designs and programmed stitches can create intricate patterns that elevate the overall look of the finished quilt. This method also enables quilt artists to take on more complex designs that would otherwise have been impossible to achieve using traditional methods. Machine quilting also lets quilters to save time and produce more quilts with unique patterns.

Embroidery machines are capable of exceptional stitch work, and some even come equipped with various embroidery pattern designs that aid in quilting intricate designs. Modern quilting machines are also programmable and can be programmed to carry out intricate designs like feathers, hearts, spirals, and other designs automatically, which helps the quilter to complete the quilt more quickly and with seamless precision.

It’s interesting to note that the computerized sewing machines used for quilting today have extremely accurate stitch counts, which leads to less fabric waste. This, in turn, leads to a more sustainable process of quilting, which is a win for both the environment and the quilting industry. According to “Quilting with Machines” by The National Quilting Museum, this method of quilting involves an effective combination of human skill and mechanics to create unique and beautiful quilts.

Machine quilting is the way forward for the present and future of textile art.


Looking back at the origins of quilting, one might be surprised to learn that it was once a hand-sewn art. In fact, early quilting techniques date back to around 3400 BCE, with evidence of quilted items found in ancient Egyptian tombs and ruins.

However, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that quilting began to evolve with the rise of machine quilting. During this time, quilt making became more efficient and accessible as technological advancements in sewing machines made it possible to produce more intricate and detailed designs at a quicker rate.

Join me on a journey through the history of quilting, as we explore the early quilting techniques and the rise of machine quilting.

Early quilting techniques

Before the advent of machines, early quilting techniques were practiced by hand. Artisans used needlework and basic materials to create intricate designs. They innovated with different styles with a limited set of tools at their disposal, from piecing to applique. However, due to its time-consuming nature, quilting remained an elite hobby that was mostly associated with the rich and famous.

Early quilters would layer two pieces of fabric and then add an insulating material such as cotton between them. Later, the layers were kept in place through stitching using needles made from bone or ivory. Different embellishments added variety such as using small scraps of fabrics sewn together known as patchwork or making blocks patterned according to taste.

It is believed that historical evidence indicates that quilting was introduced in Asia before coming to Europe in the sixteenth century where it gradually spread. In America during colonial times quilts were used for various purposes like bedding insulators or wall hangings depicting different themes.

About Quilting with Machines

A true fact found in the source states: “The traditions and techniques of early quilting can still be seen today through modern iterations“.

Who needs hand quilting when you can let the machines do all the work?

Rise of machine quilting

The use of machines for quilting witnessed a substantial boost, giving birth to the ‘rise of machine quilting’. With the invention of the sewing machine in the late 18th century and its spreading popularity by the 19th century, traditional hand quilting faced competition. The earliest machines used for quilting were quite basic but later models improved with faster speeds and innovations.

During that time, commercial fabric production began, which introduced fabric prints and patterns as a choice. This new availability increased machine-quilting demand as people could now afford more comfortable beddings that met their aesthetics.

As opposed to traditional hand-piecing techniques, where each block takes longer hours to get completed, machines could allow stitching blocks together much quicker. Moreover, this technological advancement also introduced various stitching designs with computer-aided technology that artists could not replicate by hand alone.

Machine-quilt styles can range from intricate handwriting-like stitches (“cursive writing”), geometric shapes stitched in creative arrays (“free-motion”) or running stitch patterns (‘Sashiko stitching’).

Quilting patterns like ‘crazy’, ‘diamonds’, and ‘log cabin’ became increasingly possible to quilt using new technologies such as long-arm quilters. The rise of machine quilting allowed for more dynamic options; giving more choices in color palettes, free-motion creativity and fast production; ultimately positively impacting quilt lovers everywhere.

Source: ‘Rise of Machine Quilting’ from www.quiltersunion.com

Get ready to put your foot down with walking foot quilting, the straight-laced technique that’s perfect for precision stitching.


As an avid quilter, I’ve experimented with various techniques to improve my quilting. One of my favorites has been using machines to create beautiful and intricate designs. In this part, I’d love to share with you my experience with quilting with machines.

One of the most popular techniques to machine quilt is Walking Foot Quilting. This method provides an even stitching that is perfect for straight-line designs. Another technique, called Free-Motion Quilting, allows for more creative freedom and intricate designs. Finally, Heirloom Machine Quilting, a traditional technique that uses micro-stippling and dense quilting to create elaborate designs.

Let me take you on a journey of each of these techniques and how they improved my quilting game.

Walking Foot quilting

Walking foot quilting involves using a specialized presser foot to facilitate straight-line stitching through multiple layers of fabric without puckering or distortion.

  1. Start by attaching a walking foot onto your sewing machine and inserting a new needle into the machine.
  2. Choose a thread color that matches your quilt top, wind the bobbin with matching thread, and thread the machine.
  3. Select a stitch length of 2.5mm to 3mm depending on your preference and begin quilting by moving the fabric gently through the machine at an even pace.

Another essential aspect of walking foot quilting is using appropriate batting inside your quilt sandwich as it can affect how smoothly your fabrics move through the machine.

Pro Tip: Always keep a steady pace while walking foot quilting to ensure consistent stitches throughout the entire piece.

When it comes to equipment required for machine quilting, it’s like starting a relationship – you need the right tools for the job.

Equipment required

For the required equipment to carry out machine quilting, there are essential tools and materials that must be readily available:

  1. Sewing Machine: A reliable sewing machine is necessary to perform any machine quilting project.
  2. Quilting Needles: They have a larger eye to accommodate thicker threads, and their sharp points can penetrate dense fabric layers.
  3. Thread: 100 percent cotton thread is the recommended option for quilting purposes.
  4. Iron and Ironing Board: To press seams flat and enhance accuracy in cutting and piecing fabric.
  5. Scissors or Rotary Cutter: For precise cutting of fabric pieces to size as needed for each project.
  6. Cutting Mat: This helps protect surfaces from scratches when using a rotary cutter.

It is also essential to consider having other non-necessary but helpful equipment such as gloves with tacky fingertips which provide extra grip while working with slippery fabrics.

When it comes to purchasing the required equipment for machine quilting, quality should trump quantity. Having durable tools will make the process easier, more enjoyable, and ultimately produce high-quality results.

Notably, having experience with some of the equipment used in machine quilting is advantageous during the selection process. Still, manufacturers’ guides provide information on what works best for specific project nature.

As you gather your desired collection of equipment required for your quilt-making adventure, do not forget always to keep them organized for easier access. It could mean investing in storage compartments that work seamlessly within your working space.

A quilter once struggled with finding a suitable bobbin case that fits her sewing machines correctly repeatedly until she acquired one that worked perfectly. Properly researching these details made all the difference in their quilting journey.

Get ready to sew straight and narrow with these easy steps for straight line quilting.

Steps for straight line quilting

Straight line quilting involves sewing parallel lines along the length or across the width of a quilt. It is a simple yet effective way to add texture and dimension to your quilt. Here’s how you can achieve it:

  1. Prepare your machine – Attach a walking foot to ensure that both layers of fabric move evenly while stitching. Choose an appropriate thread and needle size based on the weight of the fabric.
  2. Mark your quilt top – Use a washable marker or painter’s tape to mark straight lines along which you want to stitch.
  3. Start quilting – Begin stitching from one end of your quilt and use the marked lines as a guide for keeping your stitches straight and even.

By following these steps for straight line quilting, your finished product will have a neat, uniform look with added elegance. For best results, remember to distribute the bulk evenly so that there are no visible tucks on either side of the quilt. Be patient while working until completing it as it takes time to achieve professional-looking results without any mistakes or reworks.

Experiment with different stitch lengths and widths to create interesting patterns and textures on your quilt. Get comfortable with adjusting tension settings if necessary and practice long stitching runs for smoother workmanship as well!

Get ready to unleash your inner artist with free-motion quilting, the machine equivalent of finger painting.

Free-motion quilting

Free-form machine quilting involves freehand movement of the fabric to create designs. A sewing machine is used to sew the top, batting, and backing together with a thread.

  1. Prepare the fabric by ironing it flat.
  2. Place the quilt sandwich on the machine and adjust the machine settings for the desired stitch length and tension.
  3. Lower the presser foot to keep the fabric stable while stitching.
  4. Using both hands, move the fabric back and forth in all directions to create a design.
  5. Avoid creating long unbroken lines as this can cause puckering.
  6. Practice on scraps before starting on your actual quilt.

Free-motion quilting allows for more creativity and personalization in designs compared to other methods such as walking foot quilting.

Using stencils or templates during free-motion quilting can help achieve more precise designs.

A true fact: The first recorded use of free-motion quilting was in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). (source: National Quilt Museum)

Get ready to stock up on supplies because these quilting machines aren’t going to quilt themselves!

Equipment required

To begin with, the necessary equipment required for quilting with machines may vary depending on the technique used.

  1. First and foremost, one must invest in a reliable sewing machine that can handle thicker fabric layers.
  2. Purchasing quality thread that is suitable for the chosen quilt top is essential.
  3. Having appropriate needles such as Universal Needles or Quilting Needles is crucial to prevent breakage and snagging while sewing.
  4. Finally, investing in a rotary cutter, cutting mat and ruler will ensure that all quilt pieces are cut accurately.

It is important to note that some techniques may require additional equipment such as quilting rulers or templates to create unique designs and patterns.

Interestingly, according to a survey conducted by The Quilting Company in 2017, over 90% of quilters who use machines prefer using cotton thread over other materials.

Get ready to unleash your inner artist as we dive into the step-by-step process of free-motion quilting.

Steps for free-motion quilting

Free-motion quilting involves an intricate technique of stitching fabric without the use of a feed dog. Let’s dive into the necessary steps and equipment required for machine quilting with free-motion techniques.

  1. Prepare your machine properly with a darning or embroidery foot, and lower the feed dogs to ensure that you will have complete control over the fabric during the process.
  2. Once your machine is set up, position your quilt sandwich under the presser foot with gloves for necessary grip.
  3. Begin making a few stitches in place or tie knots to secure your start point on your fabric before starting to sew.
  4. As you begin to stitch, move your fabric slowly and smoothly, using both hands to guide it around any sharp corners.
  5. Incorporate patterns and designs using loops or other shapes as desired while staying consistent in overall speed and stitch length through all areas.

Remember to practice patience and take plenty of breaks throughout this challenging yet exciting creative process.

Pro Tip: Use different types of thread to add texture to a project. Testing thread tension beforehand can help avoid mistakes while practicing new threads. Even rulers and templates need love, and they’ll get it from your free-motion quilting.

Use of rulers or templates

The technique commonly referred to as ‘ruler work‘ utilizes specialized tools to guide the movement of the needle and fabric, allowing for precise and consistent quilting designs.

  1. Start by selecting a ruler or template that complements the chosen quilting pattern.
  2. Place the ruler/template on the fabric and adjust it until it sits securely.
  3. Hold the ruler/template in place with one hand while guiding the stitching line along its edge with the other hand.
  4. Reposition the ruler/template as necessary to complete each segment of the design, ensuring that all lines remain smooth and uniform throughout.
  5. Finish each pass by tying off or burying threads as needed.

Ruler work can be used to create intricate geometric or stylized patterns that might otherwise be difficult to execute freehand.

It’s important to note that certain types of rulers/templates may require different needles, foot attachments, or presser foot settings for optimal performance and safety.

According to an article published in Quilting Digest, using rulers helped many quilters gain confidence and accuracy, minimizing errors while preserving creative expression.

Heirloom machine quilting is like giving your quilt a fancy dress for a special occasion.

Heirloom machine quilting

When practicing heirloom machine quilting, quilters use specialized equipment including long-arm machines or mid-arm machines. These machines are equipped with a range of stitching options, allowing quilters to create unique designs and patterns. Additionally, quilters may choose from various threads, fabrics, and other materials to design a personalized quilt that is both beautiful and functional.

One important feature of heirloom machine quilting is the use of complex stitching patterns that can be repeated throughout the quilt’s design. These patterns may include feathered wreaths, geometric shapes, or other intricate motifs that add depth and texture to the finished product. Quilters who specialize in this technique often spend years perfecting their craft and developing new patterns and designs.

For those interested in trying out heirloom machine quilting at home, it’s essential to invest in high-quality equipment and materials designed for this purpose. In addition to investing in specialized machines and tools, beginners may want to start with simpler stitching patterns before branching out into more complex designs. By practicing regularly and learning from experienced quilters in the community, anyone can develop the skills needed to create stunning heirloom quilts using modern sewing technology.

Get ready to create quilts that will be passed down through generations with the timeless technique of heirloom machine quilting.

Definition and technique

Machine quilting involves various techniques and one of which is the artful process of heirloom machine quilting. This method requires a combination of traditional hand quilting techniques with modern sewing machines. The technique itself revolves around creating unique designs that include scrolling vines, intricate cross-hatching, and feathers by using echo or shadow stitching.

To achieve this fascinating effect, quilters need to use high-quality materials such as batting, thread, and fabric that complement the desired outcome. Apart from this, quilters need to use specific equipment like walking foot attachments and specialty needles that cater to different fabrics.

Unique details about Heirloom machine quilting include the fact that each stitch is done meticulously by hand-quilting while keeping in mind different types of fabric and thread combinations. Quilters may face challenges in terms of mastering this skill as it takes time to learn its technique. It is necessary to understand the basics first before creating complex patterns.

Enthusiasts who love heirloom quilts should explore the art form through machine quilting as it preserves beautiful designs while saving time. Just because technology has been integrated into it does not mean it no longer caters to traditions. It’s a perfect balance between old and new styles!

Get ready to invest in some serious quilting equipment if you want to master the art of heirloom machine quilting.

Equipment required

To effectively utilize different machine quilting methods, a range of specialized equipment and tools is necessary. Below are the essential elements required for successful quilting with machines:

  • A sewing machine that has high-quality features and capabilities suitable for the preferred quilting method
  • Sewing machine needles suitable for different fabric types and needle sizes compatible with the machine’s model
  • Quilting thread of high quality such as cotton or polyester, which is sturdy enough to hold the fabric layers together without breaking
  • Bobbin thread that is abundant enough to last through long sewing sessions, and matches the top thread in color for even stitching results
  • A range of presser feet such as walking foot, free-motion foot, or open-toe foot designed explicitly for different sewing techniques.
  • Rulers or templates to achieve precise seam allowances and design layouts

It’s also important to maintain these machines’ cleanliness and lubrication levels regularly. A spare set of needles, bobbins, thread spools should always be accessible.

When choosing a sewing machine brand most specific models come with unique features tailored specifically for quilting. Some critical aspects to keep an eye out are throat space size, stitch quality overlines per minute (SPM), integrated feed dog control mechanisms among others.

Pro Tip: Keep your equipment well-maintained & invest in user training on running various mechanical components inspections frequently.
Unleash your inner artist with heirloom machine quilting designs that are meant to be admired, not just snuggled under.

Quilting patterns and designs

Machine quilting techniques offer immense flexibility in terms of quilting patterns and designs. Various traditional as well as contemporary quilt designs can be achieved through these techniques.

Free-motion quilting utilizes the quilter’s sewing machine and involves moving the fabric underneath the needle in any pattern desired. This technique offers infinite creative opportunities, resulting in unique designs every time. Heirloom machine quilting is executed with a walking foot or darning foot on a sewing machine, which facilitates repetitive patterns like straight lines, crosshatching, or stippling.

For more complex designs, rulers or templates are used to ensure precision in free-motion quilting. Artistic Sashiko or Running stitch quilting can create mesmerizing patterns that resemble Japanese embroidery creating a sculpted effect and depth to your quilt.

Innovative and intricate heirloom patterns add grace and beauty to traditional quilt blocks. Apart from these popular techniques, there are also improvisational methods like medallion spiral, paper piecing and strip piecing that can yield unique results.

While employing various quilting methods to make unmistakable arrangements, it is vital for quilters to remember to keep a balance between aesthetics and functionality by selecting stitch types appropriate for batting chosen. Join the ever-growing community of quilters exploring new patterns on all sorts of mediums- apparel, home decor accessories- the possibilities are endless!

From traditional Sashiko to artistic expression, these popular machine quilting methods add a personal touch to any quilt.

Popular machine quilting methods

When I first started quilting, I didn’t know that there were many ways to do it with a machine. Now I realize that machine quilting has become a popular option for people who want to create their projects quickly.

In this part of the article, I want to focus on two popular methods of machine quilting:

  1. Sashiko or running stitch quilting
  2. Art quilting

I’ll highlight what makes these techniques unique and explore how you can add your own personal touch to your quilting projects. According to Craftsy, a popular crafting website, both of these methods have their own advantages and have unique outcomes.

Sashiko or running stitch quilting

This technique involves the use of a traditional Japanese stitch known as sashiko or running stitch quilting. It is an intricate process that results in beautiful and intricate designs on the quilt’s surface. The technique is characterized by its even stitches, and it was originally used to reinforce and repair worn-out fabrics.

Along with its functional purposes, sashiko or running stitch quilting has evolved into a decorative art form that can be used to create unique patterns on fabrics for various applications like clothing, bags, and quilts. This stitching style typically creates parallel rows of stitches, with equally-spaced intervals between them. Modern interpretations incorporate different colors of threads or even mix patterns for contrast.

One exciting detail about this technique is that it often uses natural-colored fabrics such as indigo dyes on cotton cloths commonly found in Japan. With variations among objects woven by different regions and makers in the country, it creates an alternate design outcome every time.

Sashiko or running stitch quilting originated during ancient times when fabrics were rare and valuable commodities due to high costs. Houses would collect scraps from old garments and put them together through mending using this stitching style creating a fusion of texture and color while structurally reinforcing new-born fabrics.

Get ready to step up your quilting game with art quilting, where creativity and fabric collide into beautiful masterpieces.

Art quilting

One method of machine quilting is creating intricate and artistic designs with fabrics. This is often referred to as ‘art quilting’, where the quilter uses different fabrics and colors to produce pieces that are visually aesthetic. In this technique, the quilter does not follow a specific pattern but instead creates their unique designs.

The art quilt maker often incorporates various textures, colors, and techniques to create a unique piece of artwork. It involves layering fabric, then utilizing free-form stitching or embellishments to give depth and dimensionality to the quilt’s composition. The process of creating an art quilt is more spontaneous than traditional quilting methods.

Art quilts are often created using non-traditional materials such as beads, ribbons and even recycled clothing items which makes them eco-friendly. The end result can be hung on a wall like a painting or displayed in a unique way rather than being used as a bedspread.

Art quilting has gained popularity over the years with artists displaying their work in galleries around the world because it offers new possibilities for self-expression and serves as an exploration of different cultures through textiles.

In history, art quilting was considered unconventional until the late 20th century when textile artists began experimenting with modern machines to create abstract designs that were once not possible by hand sewing methods.


When it comes to quilting, machines have proven to be a valuable tool. With their ability to create intricate patterns and speed up the process, they have become a popular choice for quilters of all levels. Using machines for quilting can save time and produce high-quality results. It is important to consider the type and capabilities of the machine before making a purchase. Additionally, proper maintenance and practice can ensure success with quilting machines. Investing in a good machine and taking the time to learn how to use it can lead to a satisfying and efficient quilting experience.

Some Facts About Quilting with Machines:

  • ✅ Machine quilting involves stitching through layers of fabric and batting using a sewing machine. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Walking Foot quilting is a technique that uses an even feed attachment for stitching in straight lines and avoiding puckering. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Free-motion quilting is a technique where the feed dogs of the sewing machine are lowered, allowing for more control over stitch length and direction. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Heirloom machine quilting is a more advanced technique that uses smaller threads and needles to create intricate designs with contrast between shapes and negative space. (Source: Team Research)
  • ✅ Modern quilting, including machine quilting, has grown in popularity due to the recognition of quilting as an art form, advances in technology and social media. (Source: Team Research)

FAQs about Quilting With Machines

What is machine quilting?

Machine quilting is a technique of stitching rows or patterns through layers of fabric and batting using a sewing machine, similar to old-style hand-quilting.

What is the history of quilting with machines?

Quilting or stitching together layers of padding and fabric may date back as far as 3400 BCE. Regular sewing machines have been used to hold layers since they were invented, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that machine quilting became popular. In the past, quilting was primarily a practical technique for insulation, but it is now a popular hobby.

What are the techniques used in machine quilting?

To begin machine quilting, the three layers of the quilt are temporarily basted with safety pins or basting spray. Two techniques commonly used in machine quilting are Walking Foot and Free-motion quilting.

What is walking foot quilting?

Walking Foot quilting is stitching in a straight line. An even feed walking foot attachment replaces the normal presser foot to avoid puckering by advancing multiple layers at the same rate as the feed dogs of the machine. This technique can be made easier by using slow sewing and a walking foot.

What is free-motion quilting?

Free-motion quilting is a process of stitching the layers of a quilt together using a domestic sewing machine with the feed dogs lowered and a darning foot installed. The operator controls the stitch length and direction of the stitching line by moving the quilt with their hands. It can be done in any direction, allowing for curvilinear or straight patterns.

What is heirloom machine quilting?

Heirloom machine quilting is a more advanced quilting technique using a sewing machine. In 1985, Harriet Hargrave coined the term heirloom machine quilting. Small needles and threads are used to create detailed and complex patterns. Quilts with heirloom machine quilting usually include background quilting that fills negative space around the design, creating contrast between shapes and flattened background space using stippling, echo quilting, repeated patterns, or geometric grids. Intricate quilted designs produce three dimensions on the surface of the quilt through the play of light and shadows.

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