Are you ready to get started with machine-quilting? If so, great! If not, don't worry about getting behind. A quilt is supposed to be a fun, relaxing project, not a chore. Take your time and do it when you can.
This step will probably be your most time consuming. If you get tired of machine-quilting, set the quilt aside for a while and come back later to work on it. I have never quilted a piece in one sitting. It is usually a 3-4 day project for me.
My plan was to have a cool little video for you to watch, but I couldn't figure out how to post it here on my blog. That would have been ideal, but I think photographs will be OK too.
The first thing you need to do is to get your machine ready.
If you don't already have a free-motion quilting foot, you will need to buy one. Mine cost about $10 at a sewing machine store. You will need to get one that works on your particular machine.
First step, attach it to your machine:
Second step: Lower your feed dogs (check your sewing machine manual for the how-to on this). Lowering these will allow you to be in control of moving the quilt under the needle, rather than the machine moving the quilt:
If you have never quilted before I suggest that you make a practice sandwich before starting on your actual quilt. My piece is about 12" X 12" and it has a backing, batting and a top (the red fabric):
Your machine can be on automatic settings for machine-quilting.
Put your piece under the sewing machine, very close to the edge of the quilt ( on the fabric).
If your machine has this feature, set your needle to the "down" position. This will mean that every time you stop stitching, your needle will be down in the fabric, keeping it in place securely.
Now, take 4-5 stitches in one place, without moving the needle. This makes a knot:
Now you will start "meandering". You decide how big you want your design to be. Simply go up, down, side to side, without crossing over a line. When you are ready to stop, simply sew close to the edge and take 4-5 stitches in one place to create a knot.
It is OK to sew fairly quickly on this step since that will help to keep the stitches even and tight:
Now, let's move on to the real quilt-top. Don't be scared. :)
If your quilt hangs off on the left side of your machine, place a chair there so you can rest your quilt over the chair. This will keep you from having to carry the weight of the quilt while you sew:
You can roll the excess on the right side of the quilt to keep it in place:
I generally work on a small area at one time. Once I finish that area, I readjust my quilt and my hands and move on. You can quilt all the way to the middle of the quilt, or even to the other side of the quilt by doing this:
This is what you want to see:
Be sure to check the backside of your quilt regularly to make sure your stitches look nice. I did a huge area before realizing what was happening. All I needed to do was re-thread my machine and remove the stitches and start over:
Now all you need to do is stitch the whole quilt. Take your time. Enjoy the process. Don't expect perfection.
The first quilt that I stitched like this is TERRIBLE. Really, it is. But we use it all the time and I love it. I just don't look too closely at it.