About Quilted Handbags
For many quilters, machine quilting is a way to quilt those
tops that seem to go together faster than they can be hand
quilted. For others, quilting is a means of self expression.
Machine quilting can range from an almost invisible stitch
outlining the quilt blocks to a combination of threads and
stitches creating a one of a kind work of art.
All machine quilting falls into one of two categories, machine
guided or free motion. Machine guided quilting is used for
straight and slightly curved lines. Free motion quilting is
used for all other patterns such as feathered stars and
stippling. But there are no absolute rules. Some quilters like
to use free motion quilting for all their patterns including
those made with straight lines while some quilters prefer
using the even stitches of machine guided quilts for making
handbags and purses and other similar patterns.
With a little practice, any quilter can master the art of
Any sewing machine can be used for quilting, but some machines
may require special considerations. Almost all of the newer
machines will allow the quilter to drop the feed dogs for free
motion quilting. Look in the machine manual for the section on
darning. With older machines, it may be necessary to cover the
feed dogs using either the feed dog cover that comes with the
buttonhole or monogramming attachments or by using a piece of
Another consideration is the size of the opening between the
needle and the motor of the machine. The larger this opening,
the easier it will be to maneuver a large quilt. When using a
small machines such as the Singer Featherweight, large quilts
may have to be quilted in sections then joined.
A final sewing machine consideration is the size if the
machines motor. A small motor is not made to run continuously
for long periods of time as is done when free motion quilting.
It may be necessary to stop and allow the motor to cool.
The sewing machine needle is the least expensive, but most
important part of the sewing machine. The quilter should start
each project with a new needle. As soon as the needle starts
to show signs of dulling, popping noise, poorly formed
stitches, etc, the needle should be changed. Large quilts may
require several needles.
Different types of thread require different needles which are
engineered to form the proper stitch with the given thread.
Machine quilting requires a sharp needle to penetrate the
layers of fabric and batting such as the Schmetz quilting
needle. The Schmetz quilting needles come in two sizes; 75/11
for thinner batts and 90/14 for heavier batts. For quilting
with special threads such as rayon embroidery thread or
metallic, the quilter should look for needles designed for
these special threads. Schmetz makes both embroidery needles
with a larger eye for rayon and silk and a metallic needle for
metallic threads. The quilter can also use Lammertz Metafil
needles for quilting with metallic.
There is a selection of thread available to today's machine
quilter. For the best results, always use a quality thread.
Select a thread to match the project being quilted. A popular
thread for machine quilting is monofilament nylon or
"invisible" thread. This thread comes in clear for use with
white and light colored fabrics and a smoke color for use with
all other color fabrics. 100% cotton would be a better choice
For most machine quilting the bobbin thread used should be
100% cotton. A general rule is to match the thread to the
fabric used on the back of the quilt. A thread which is too
heavy to use in a machine's needle can be used in the bobbin
and the quilt can be quilted from the wrong side. For the best
end results, look for a quality cotton thread with a long
staple such as Metrosene or Mettler. Do not use thread
designed for hand quilting. This thread has a wax coating
which aids in hand quilting, but can damage the tension discs
on a sewing machine.
Tips for Machine Quilting
Trace the quilting design on to light weight paper. Pin the
paper to the quilt and sew on the lines, then tear away the
paper. Also try tracing the design on to freezer paper and
pressing the paper into place.
Place a table next to the sewing machine table to help hold
Use a straight stitch needle plate on the machine to prevent
the quilt from being pulled into the throat and puckering.
Use a walking foot for straight lines. It will prevent the
quilt back from shifting.