Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Help with Machine Quilting

gogojojo | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

Hi everyone! I have basted my quilt, and am ready to put it in the machine, but have a couple of questions: 

1) What size needle to use? I’m using Kona cotton for both the top and back, and Warm and Natural cotton batting.

2) My quilting lines are crosshatched. Where exactly do I start quilting?

Thanks in advance!



  1. jjgg | | #1

    Start in the middle of the quilt (not the very center but along one edge in the middle of that edge.) Work your way out to both sides, some people recommend sewing from top to bottom and the next row bottom to top. Just make sure you are not getting wrinkles on the bottom. USE A WALKING FOOT.
    Good luck with your first quilt

    1. gogojojo | | #2

      Thanks for clarifying! I had read somewhere to start in the center, and was confused. I do have a walking foot and pulled the backing taut before I basted. I will post pictures when finished!

      1. jjgg | | #3

        Even with pulling the back tight, you often end up with puckers. Is the quilt hand basted or (safety) pinned? if pinned, then remove the pin a good bit before you get to it, and smooth the quilt along. This way working from the center out to the edge you can smooth those puckers to the edge.The walking foot will really help.I think you asked about what size needle. I would use an 80 or 90. you a strong needle to go through all the layers of fabric, seams and batting. What thread are you using? I always use the Metler silk finish. It's 100% cotton and comes in many colors. If the quilt back is very different from the top, use one color for the back and another for the top. But check your tension, you can often get little 'dots' of color from one thread or the other on the opposite side.

      2. Ceeayche | | #6

        Can't wait to see the results!  Good luck

        1. gogojojo | | #7

          Wow...this is way harder than I thought it would be! I have machine quilted crib-sized quilts before, but this is my first big quilt (queen).

          The quilting pattern is cross hatching. So I just made 2 lines (an "x") in the middle of the quilt, and thought I'd use the quilting arm to make the rest of the lines.  I almost gave up when a few of the lines strayed off course, but a few days later resolved to finish this thing. I am learning lots as I go; stuff that no book ever mentions. Sometimes you just have to experience something to learn it properly. Does anyone machine quilt large quilts on a regular basis without a quilting frame? I considered  hand quilting, but that would take forever. (I work full time)

          Somebody please talk me out of buying a quilting frame:



          1. ohiostar | | #8

            As you have discovered, there's no easy way to quilt a large quilt on the DSM. You just have to bit the bullet and do it, and learn from the mistakes that you make. I found that rolling a quilt did not work for my work style. I also hate pin basting. I never use poly batting because the back floats worse than with cotton. I would iron my backing to my batting and then iron my top to the other side of the batting. It stayed put better. I never straight stitched a quilting design. I used a serpentine stitch to do cross hatching, as it was more forgiving of little "off-nesses". I check the back often and I always didn't try to quilt too much or too fast. Don't hurry the process, or else buy a quilting machine, which also has a whole 'nuther learning curve.

          2. gogojojo | | #9

            Forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by serpentine stitch? Do you mean to intentionally meander, or are you talking about a slight zig-zag stitch?

            I have found that every line gets better and straighter as I go along. You are right; there was no other way to learn except to bite the bullet and do it.

            I am 3/4 finished and will post a pic asap! Thanks for the advice!

          3. ohiostar | | #10

            Not sure what machine you have, but when I was doing a lot of MQ I had a Bernina. It had a stitch that curved back and forth like a rounded zigzag--hence serpentine. When I had my commercial machine, a Chandler, I could make the same stitch by modifying the length and width of the 3 step zigzag. Most machines now seem to come with some form of the serpentine built in, or at least a modifyable 3 step zigzag. For my purposes, I found that straight stitch quilting usually led to puckers, but the serpentine helped to ease the bulk and puckers that the presser foot can cause.I am glad you are underway with your quilt. I look forward to seeing your finished project.

          4. Sancin | | #11

            Re: Serpentine stitch - I have a Janome Quilters Companion 6260. It does not have such a stitch. The only machine I ever had that had one was an old Elna Supermatic and it used a cam.. I loved serpentine for many things. I have had 4 machines (Janome and Elnas) since and none have had the serpentine stitch. I am tempted to buy an old Elna just to get that stitch as I loved it for many things. Can you tell me how to make a zig zag into a serpentine? I am talking basic stitch, not quilting. I am not sure what you mean by 3 step zig zag.

          5. ohiostar | | #12

            HiA three step zigzag is usually a programmed stitch for attaching elastic to garments. It takes 3 stitches to zig and 3 stitches back to zag. If you man manipulate the width and length of your stitches, just lengthen the stitch while using a narrow width. For instance, a 3L 1.5W. Machines vary, so play until you get a gentle undulation that pleases you. Some of the computerized machines have this stitch included, but could still benefit with some tweaking for machine quilting. I found this stitch to be less stressful that plain straight stitching. Once the quilt was washed (with a cotton batt) it was hard to tell it from handquilting on a fast horse.

          6. Sancin | | #13

            I can do that!! Thanks - I will play. Somehow those rounded stitches were so aesthetic - but maybe may memory playing tricks!

          7. MaryinColorado | | #14

            Many brands of sewing machines have the serpentine stitch.  I have it on two of my Husqvarna Vikings for instance.  There are even several different sizes of it on my D1 so you can check at several dealers if you find you'd love to have it.  Mary

          8. Sancin | | #15

            Thanks for the info - I am at the stage of life I doubt I will purchase any more machines. I will try the 3 stage zig zag, unless someone gives me a machine with serpentine on it.

          9. MaryinColorado | | #16

            ha ha I know what you mean, I hope I never need to buy another sewing machine. 

            I have been making clothing for decades, my quilting was limited to art to wear and baby quilts with a few twin sized applique type quilts for the grandkids.

            A few years ago, I got so frustrated with fitting frustrations that I decided to learn to quilt.  I just love it!  Especially art quilts and wallhangings with as many techniques and embellishments as my Muse presents.  The grandkids are teenagers now so they are all getting new quilts with their current interests.  I just cannot get enought of it.  Hope you enjoy your quilting too.  Mary

  2. meg | | #4

    I have just taken Harriet Hargrave's Heirloom Machine Quilting class at Vermont Quilt Festival. She has published a book of the same name and it is *FANTASTIC*. I strongly urge you to get yourself a copy. She covers fabric, needles, thread, batting, posture, workspace... Please make up a practice block of your quilt to try different needles and threads before getting into your new quilt, you'll end up much more happy with the results!

    1. jjgg | | #5

      I second that, Harriet Hargraves books are fantastic. though I don't use bicycle clips - too much trouble rolling and unrolling the quilt, I just shove it.!!!Her book Fiber to Fabric is VERY interesting on how fabric is made.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All