Monday, February 3, 2014

Quilting By Machine

I've been reading a lot about quilting with my embroidery machine lately and I've decided to take the plunge with the valentine table runner. First though I have to test out exactly how this might be done. After all there's a lot to consider - batting, backing and top make for a pretty thick sandwich to put through the embroidery hoop. What type of thread should I use in the bobbin and what type of thread should I use for the top? 

I made a few quilt sandwiches with muslin and marked them with the outside dimensions of the heart blocks in my table runner. Then I marked this to find the center. I have a few embroidery designs meant specifically for quilting in the hoop so I'm going to use those, no use reinventing the wheel with this after all. Here we go!

I love watching the needle do it's magic trick, absolutely fascinating each and every time and always a surprise!

Here's the first stitch out. Once it's done and I take it out of the hoop I always write on the test pieces so I remember what thread, stabilizer and issues I might have had. As you can plainly see I didn't get the placement right and design is off center. I'll have to do better than that on the actual piece if I want it to look nice. To tell you the truth that's been the whole reason why I haven't done this on a piece up to now. I haven't been sure that I won't mess up the placement and ruin a perfectly good piece of patchwork.

A different design stitch out. I'm showing this to you still in the hoop so you can see that it certainly seems to be centered in that darn hoop but still stitched out slightly off. And the thread broke!

Those first two tests where stitched with poly 40 wt thread in the top and bottom line bobbin thread. This last stitch out is with cotton thread. I wanted to see what heavier weight thread would look like. Would it look more "natural"?

Here's a design stitched in 30 wt cotton thread. As you can see I was much better with my placement but I do not like the overall look of this one, just too clunky. Plus the design is too small for the space I need to fill.

Finally, the back side of all three pieces. Ugh! The Bottom Line thread just did not hold up to the thickness of the quilt sandwich at all! I decided that I'll be matching my top and bottom thread and definitely be matching the color of thread to my backing. I'm going to need to hide a lot of mistakes!

Even though this isn't going to be perfect I'm gonna do it anyway. I've decided to stop being paralyzed by my self criticism. I'll never get better, never improve if I don't begin. It's only cloth after all not rocket surgery! 

Have any of you quilted with your embroidery machine? Any tips you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Angie, I know you've done a lot of machine embroidery. What do you think?

Linking this post to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Until next time,


  1. Hello Patrica, I am delighted to meet you. You blog is so much fun . . . without one once of boredom. I love that you quilt, sew, can , cook, garden and blog about all of them. I've been retired for going on four years and I am loving all the extra time to do the things I love and used to dream about. I'm a simple gal, being down on the warm earth with dirt under my fingernails is what I love in the Spring and Summer. In the winter I love to cook, quilt, sew, knit, etc. The main thing is to get up every morning happy to be alive and ready to enjoy what the day brings. I am your new follower and I'm thrilled to be tagging along on your country journey. I hope that you will follow me back.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

    1. Connie, Wow, I just visited your site and I can't believe how talented you are. I LOVE your drawings, now that's a talent I wish I had for sure. I'm following you back sista, see you in blog land.

  2. Hum, no I haven't quilted with my embroidery machine. I'm not sure I would even want to try. I find that many designs I use (and I buy not digitize) don't come out centered. In fact the last two I did I actually moved it so it would be better centered ... or at least what I thought was centered. Sigh. They were just kids shirts so it wasn't a big deal. My grands will love them no matter whether they are centered or not.

    1. You may be right Bonnie but this is a challenge I wanted to tackle to see if it would work on bigger projects. This far in I already know I'm not going to use this on anything larger than a table runner, lol. Still, I just love machine embroidery and want to use it everywhere!

  3. I really like your table runner---so pretty! Patrica, do you have the plastic templates that insert into your hoops? Using the designs you have stitched out, you can trace with a template marking pencil or regular pencil the design (centered) onto your plastic template. Then leaving the plastic template in the hoop---and finding the center of your blocks as you have already, hoop the table runner and using the traced template design plastic align the hoop, center plastic template over the center of your quilt block, matching all the reference holes in the plastic with the marks on your fabric ---and you should be centered using this method, The press down the top hoop. You may have to attempt hooping several times to get centered. Also, does your embroidery machine have the ability to move the embroidery foot around over the surface of the block until you find the center of the block. That is another way to center a design before you start stitching….Explaining the process is more difficult than I thought, So, maybe I'm confusing you more. I hope not. What machine do you have?

    1. Thanks for the tips Angie. I did work out using the plastic template and a print out of the design and moving my needle. I think the sew out is getting a little better but of course if the block is not exactly straight the design will not be exactly straight. This is really a steep learning curve for me for sure.


Thanks for your comments. I love hearing what you have to say.