Quilting With A Domestic Sewing Machine

I’ve been looking at quilting with a domestic sewing machine for some time now. Like the majority of us crafters, I don’t have the money nor the space to buy a dedicated quilting sewing machine – as much as I’d like to.

Here’s everything I’ve learnt when it comes to quilting with a domestic sewing machine that will hopefully give you the same fantastic results that I’ve had.

Start Small

Though I started small for my first quilt I still made some errors in the process so here I am to stop anyone making my mistakes. Don’t rush into quilting a large quilt that you can’t hold in 2 hands without struggling. I would suggest a small size like a crib/cot size or smaller.

If you are completely new to quilting I would create a couple of small test pieces the size of a place setting/placemat and try out different techniques on those first. Working with small sections or designs is a great way of building up your confidence while using a domestic sewing machine for quilting.

This quilt was roughly 35 x 50 inches and though it wasn’t very large, it was too much for me to try and handle. Leading to me making mistakes and struggling with the weight.

Drop The Feed Dogs

These, as you may know, are the 2 small tracks that are on the base of your sewing machine. They are like a very small row of mountains and they grasp hold of your fabric and feed it through while sewing. When you drop these you will have the freedom to go at your own pace and I have noticed I don’t get as much bunching with the fabric with them down.

This has to be one of the key points to make it possible for using a domestic sewing machine for quilting, it creates ease and agility while sewing.

If you can’t drop your feed dogs turn your dial to 0 and this should work the same.

Start Randomly

I really build myself up to fail and my first time quilting was no different. I tried to do too much and achieve something above my level. Saying that there is no reason for not aiming and challenging yourself but remember to build yourself up to that challenge. 

Along with not using you feed dogs, this technique will really help create smoothness and ease using your domestic sewing machine for quilting.

Use test pieces or your actual quilt and try being really free with your quilting. Using a meander/random approach can be a lot easier to manoeuvre and control while quilting.

The quilting technique is also very forgiving when it comes to small puckers and folds within the fabric. I also like this technique as it is great for learning stitch length and control over your quilt.

Pin, Pin and Pin Some More…

I knew many quilters used safety pins to keep the layers of the quilt together and it made complete sense. Though I can honestly say I struggled, whether I need a little extra practice or patience I am not sure.

This is a great way to save yourself from being prodded to death and keep your layers in place. Smooth out your layers, iron them so that you feel they are getting flattened out together if it helps.

Pin at every intersection, block corner and point you feel you need to, to hold it all in place. If that doesn’t work for you try fusible wadding. I believe it is less well known in the UK but is highly used and recommended in the US. It bonds the layers together using glue and is fixed with the iron. It is also a great advantage that you don’t have to stop to take pins out.

Don’t Underestimate The Back Of The Quilt

I again made this mistake, I used plain white cotton for the back of my quilt and you can see every mistake going and there was quite a few!

The best thing to do is find a busy fabric, the busier the better. The busy design of the fabric will help the odd nip in fabric to blend in better so the smaller mistakes can be forgiven and you don’t have to be as hard on yourself.

Here is a picture of the back of my first quilt attempt… as you can see lots of little mistakes. It also, in my opinion, doesn’t look attractive and white will get worn and dirty very quickly.

Research, Watch And Learn.

Don’t underestimate how much you can learn from seeing someone else do it. I have a couple of quilters on Youtube that I subscribe to and watch often. Before starting I watched quite a few videos on how to do the particular quilt block I was looking at and how to do certain steps. I really wanted to know how people make their quilt from the very beginning to the end.

I picked up some really good tips and learnt a lot from watching others work. You can also pick up some ideas of other tools you may want to try out.

I am currently looking at getting a larger cutting mat, a frixion pen and a spinning mat. 

There is a whole community of quilters out there that are lovely people ready to help anyone in need. They may even have a trick or two for using a domestic sewing machine for quilting. I am yet to find a local group of people to meet and learn from but there is time.

If you have liked this post and now are excited to get your domestic sewing machine for quilting let me know in the comments below. If you are planning on starting a quilt let me know what block you are doing and your colours.

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