Quilting on a Domestic Machine – Moving Around the Quilt

Kimberlee Tanner

How to Quilt on a Domestic Machine – Moving Around the Quilt

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when quilting on your domestic machine, is to figure out how to get the quilt under the throat of your sewing machine. By the time you add the top, batting, and back, there can be quite a bit of bulk. Pair this with a small sewing machine throat and it can become very overwhelming very quickly. This week, I share how I break down the quilt to easily move around it while quilting and keeping the least amount of bulk under the throat as possible.


Break the Quilt Down

This method is for a quilt that has an all over multi-directional design. Something like a meander, swirls, or loops. If I’m doing a linear design or something in rows, I’m going to quilt that in rows.

First, break the quilt into 4 quadrants. They don’t have to be exact, just know generally where the quilt splits in half both horizontal and vertical, and mark the center in your mind. If you need more of a visual, you can definitely use a special pin as a marker to aim for.

Start in the Middle at the Edge

I always start along an edge, but in the middle. Go from the middle of the edge towards the center of the quilt. You don’t have to do a straight line, but just move in that direction until you hit about the center. After you are in the center, head back towards the same edge of the quilt, eliminating the bulk under the sewing machine. You’ll finish out the first quadrant, then rotate the quilt and repeat for the second quadrant. Work towards the center, then return to where you started, working back towards the edge. Then repeat for the final two quadrants. This keeps any extra fabric moved towards the outside of the quilt. If you do the center last, you risk moving extra fabric into the center and could end up with pockets of fabric creating puckers that you’ll have to deal with.

When you use this method, you’ll find that the size of your machine and quilt don’t matter quite as much. You are only ever putting 1/4 of your quilt underneath your throat at any given time. A couple other tips to make it easier to move around the quilt on a domestic machine:

  • Place folding tables to the side or back of your sewing table to create as much flat space as possible. You want to eliminate drag on the quilt from hanging over edges.
  • Roll up the edge of the quilt that is under the throat, then unroll as needed as you move to the outside of the quilt.
  • Use quilting gloves to help with grip on the quilt as you move around.

If you are hesitant about quilting on your domestic sewing machine, start small and just go for it. This is a great opportunity to finish charity quilts. Choose a simple design like a meander and work on creating a solid path around the quilt, breaking it up into sections. Starting on a small baby or throw quilt can give you the confidence to tackle larger projects.

Learning to quilt your own quilts can be liberating! No more waiting on a longarmer or worried about budget to finish your project. If you have any specific questions, please ask!

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