How to Set Up Your Sewing Machine for Machine Quilting
For the most part, you can set up your machine in a flatbed sewing table and be able to sew garments, piece quilts, and applique just about anything you want. However, for machine quilting even a small quilt, you may want to spend a bit more time setting up your sewing machine so it works best for moving the quilt over the surface.
Special Requirements for Machine Quilting
When machine quilting, you need a large, flat, smooth surface to support the weight of your quilt and make it quick and easy to shift on the table top. The bigger and heavier your quilt, the more challenging it will feel to quilt smoothly over the quilt surface.
For this reason, it's essential to set up your sewing machine set up on a flush surface in a flatbed sewing table. When you have to pull your quilt up over the arm of the machine or over the edge of an extension bed it's just going to drag and pull against you. The quilt can even get caught along the back side or front of the machine bed, making it very challenging to quilt smoothly.
You also need a sewing table big enough to support your quilt completely on the surface. The easiest way to expand the surface of your sewing table is to add folding tables to the back and left sides.
Folding tables are widely available at most hardware stores in both 3 x 6 foot and 2 x 4 foot sizes. Expand the surface area of a small flatbed sewing table with a 6 foot folding table to the back and another 6 foot folding table to the left side, and you will have a stable, flush surface big enough to support the weight of even a king sized quilt!
Would you like to learn how to quilt a king sized quilt? Learn how to quilt even your biggest quilts on the machine you own right now in the workshop Quilting a King on Your Home Machine.
How to Position Your Sewing Table System
If you place your collection of sewing and folding tables in the middle of a room, your quilt is going to inevitably flop off the edges of the table and pull against you.
Take a look at your sewing space. Is there a way you can position your tables into a corner so that walls surround your setup on all sides?
As you can see from the diagram on the right, setting up your tables against walls will prevent your quilts from falling off the edges of the table. Keeping the quilt on the table ensures it will always be easy to shift and move smoothly while machine quilting.
Helpful Tools for Machine Quilting
Setting up your sewing machine properly will make an enormous difference for your ability to machine quilt easily. The following tools can also make machine quilting much easier, especially on a small machine:
Quilting Gloves - Free motion quilting is so much easier and less frustrating when you can increase the grippability of the quilt. The only way to do this is to wear special quitling gloves designed to be useful as well as comfortable.
Supreme Slider - Even with a flush surface, you will still experience friction and drag working against you. To reduce this considerably, try this special Teflon coated sheet specially designed to make your quilt slide effortlessly over your machine.
Magic Bobbin Washers - Most domestic sewing machines have great stitch quality until you try to free motion quilt with them! Use these washers to help your stitches stay smooth and evenly balanced with no thread nests and much less breakage.
Find all three of these quilting tools in the Ultimate Quilting Kit!
Learn more about quilting on your home sewing machine