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Free Motion Quilting with an Embroidery Machine

We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Embroidery, Sewing Machines, Sewing Tips

Yes, you CAN free motion quilt with your embroidery machine! Join us for our  hands-on “Edge to Edge Quilting with Your Embroidery Machine” class.

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When embroidery machines first arrived in our sewing rooms, the hoop size was only 4” x 4”. These machines were usually used for simple embroidery on clothing, pillows and adding names and monograms to a towel.

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I have seen a person use a 4” x 4” embroidery machine to quilt a twin size quilt. She actually quilted four twin size quilts!

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The beauty of free motion quilting embroidery designs is how quick they are to embroider. It always takes longer to hoop the fabric and then maneuver the entire quilt into the embroidery machine, then it actually takes the embroidery machine to embroider out the design. Definitely, no time for coffee breaks with this technique. These designs will only take 2-4 minutes to embroider depending on how big your embroidery hoop size is. Back when the hoop size was only 4” x 4”, a design run time was 1-2 minutes tops.

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When handling an entire quilt at your embroidery machine, you will need to stay seated while it is embroidering. You will need to keep a watchful eye that the large bulk of the quilt sitting between the needle and the inside of the machine does not get in the way of the stitching. Be sure to set the embroidery machine in the middle of a cleared off table to help keep the weight of the project from restricting the hoop from moving freely during the embroidery process.

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When it comes to thread choices, think like a quilter. This is the time you can take your embroidery hat off and switch back to cotton threads, variegated threads and threads much thicker than the traditional 40 weight embroidery thread. When using a thicker thread, a Topstitch needle will be the needle of choice. When regular machine quilting, a Topstitch needle will nicely handle the three layers of the quilt sandwich and handle when the quilting line pounds through the intersection of multiple triangle points or squares.

Crank that baby up!

Thread tension will need to be adjusted too.

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Back side of quilt looks just as good as the front!

Since embroidery machines are automatically set to pull top thread to the back side, this is the one time the top tension will need to be made TIGHTER (higher number). Crank that baby up! Depending on the thread choice for the back of the quilt, that will determine what the tension will be. No matter what the top and bobbin thread combination is, the goal is the stitch to loop identical on the top as is on the back.

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Our hands-on Edge to Edge Quilting on Your Embroidery Machine class has become very popular. Bring a small lap size quilt, your embroidery machine and learn all the embroidery techniques needed to have endless embroidery free motion quilted quilts. You may never send another quilt out to be professionally quilted again!

You will be working through the techniques found in Amelie Scott’s book with the included CD of embroidery designs.

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If you are attending our hands-on class, be sure to look at the supply list when you sign up for your class.

Can’t attend this class? Learn similar techniques in this online Craftsy class The Machine Embroidered Quilt with Eileen Roche.

Craftsy The Machine Embroidered Quilt

2 Comments
  1. Maga says:

    Can I point out that this technique has nothing to do with free-motion quilting but is in-the-hoop quilting. Free-motion quilting with or without a stitch regulator is done by moving the quilt or in case of a longarm machine freely and creating the design that way. No digitizing is involved in that technique.
    In-the-hoop quilting involves digitized designs that the machine stitches without the quilter doing anything to the machine meanwhile.
    I particpate in both sports sometimes combine the two but I very often see the two techniques being confused with one another especially at quilt shows. Both techniques requires skills but very different kind of skills especially if the digitized designs are done by the quilter her/himself.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi, You are correct. The terms are used very loosely throughout the Internet. When people are searching for this topic, quilting on an embroidery machine, they type in “free motion quilting”. Thanks for your input.

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