Freeform Machine Quilting

Stumped by stippling? Check out this continuous line tutorial for machine quilters.

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Free-form quilting is a no-marking approach to machine quilting consisting of stitching free-form designs on a quilt. Free-form designs may include vines, leaves, flowers, stars, boats or toys, or the fabric itself may inspire a design. For beginners, it's best to start with a simple flower motif with large petals. Here's the process:

Materials and Tools:

paper
pencil
fabrics
muslin fabric
low-loft cotton batting
masking tape
safety pins
darning foot (free-motion foot)
90/14 needles: sharp, topstitch or quilting
100 percent cotton machine-quilting thread (40 or 50 weight)
metallic thread 
liquid silicone
quilting gloves

Steps:

  1. Apply six rows of liquid silicone to the spool of metallic thread to prevent thread breakage.

  2. Draft a continuous-line drawing without lifting the pencil from the paper. Practice the design four or five times.

  3. Practice machine-stitching the design on muslin fabric.

  4. Press the quilt backing.

  5. Tape the quilt backing around the perimeter (borders) with masking tape to secure it in place.

  6. Place cotton batting and the quilt top on the quilt backing.

  7. Pin-baste the quilt top, batting and backing in place with safety pins about 4 to 6 inches apart. Thread basting isn't recommended for machine quilting, because when the basting is removed the quilting seams could also unravel.

  8. Remove the masking tape and trim the batting ½-inch all around the quilt.

  9. Wearing quilting gloves, stitch in the ditch (grid quilting) with a north/south east/west motion within the blocks, and then free-form machine-stitch the decorative quilting. If the quilt is large, machine-quilt half of it and then rotate it and quilt the other half.

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