Machine Quilting Tips: How to Avoid Getting Trapped in a Corner

14 Jul 2014

When free-motion quilting is done well, it looks effortless. But anyone who's ever tried it knows you don't just snap on a darning foot, drop your feed dogs, and go. It takes practice to get those quilting motifs looking even and well-spaced, enhancing the quilt rather than detracting from the design.

Recognizing (as we do at Quilting Daily) that learning how to machine quilt requires guidance, our sister publication Quiltmaker has made 2014 The Year of Machine Quilting. Through monthly articles, blog posts, practice sheets and free quilting motifs, the editors are offering advice and practice tips.

One of the trickiest parts of learning how to machine quilt is avoiding stitching yourself into a corner with no way to get out-at least artistically! Here are some tips from Quiltmaker on how not to get stuck.

A simple way to remedy being stuck in a corner is to simply stitch right into the corner. (Below, left image.) Stop in the seam allowance at the edge and secure your stitching. (Use a stitch securing function or take several stitches in place.) Then move elsewhere to start up again.

machine quilting motifs
You can machine quilt yourself out of tricky spot by stitching right into the
corner or stitching into the seam allowance and then starting up somewhere else.
If you're boxed in near an edge, you can just stitch right off the quilt, secure stitching in the seam allowance and move elsewhere to start up again. (Above, right image.)

As you improve, you'll want to avoid getting stuck at all. One of the best things you can do is to practice with a pen and paper. Draw a box that fills up most of the page. Then use the pen as if you were machine quilting. You will soon figure out how to avoid getting stuck in a corner.

free motion quilting practice
Practice machine quilting motifs with pen and paper several times to get the hang of looking ahead as you stitch.
 The key is to look ahead of where you are quilting so that you are always planning where to go next. Using the pen and paper will help train your brain to plan ahead.

I wish I'd had these helpful tips when I first started free-motion stitching!

Quiltmaker is filled with practical tips and techniques for making beautiful quilts.



PS. Susan Brubaker Knapp offers the last word in machine quilting advice with the video tutorials in her Master Quilter Bundle.


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Comments

zshikisan wrote
on 15 Jul 2014 1:39 PM

I have had so many goes with trying to quilt just small pieces and my biggest problem is that I can not get my hands to move with the fabric. Its becoming so frustrating for me and I wonder if Im just one of those people that will never master the art of finishing my work. Hope some one can help me.

on 15 Jul 2014 3:36 PM

These are great tips. It will help with my quilting when I make another one. Thank you.

on 19 Jul 2014 8:52 AM

zshikisan, you may find that problem resolves if you take measures to reduce friction between your quilt piece and the machine deck. Leah Day's site does a nice job of discussing what works, but in a nutshell, try to get set up such that your work surface is level with your machine deck (via a quilting table of some kind...you can make your own as on YouTube or use a table and machine insert), use a silicone slider sheet on your machine deck (I find that one a MUST!), and experiment with different darning/quilting feet to see which work best for you. Some of them bump the fabric a lot and can throw you off. Finally, try using rubber faced garden gloves or Machingers. The grippiness they give really helps with control. Good luck! I found myself frustrated too although taking a week long machine quilting class really helped me break through.

playdoll wrote
on 19 Jul 2014 9:14 AM

I've found I have a better time of quilting near the edges of my quilt if I have extended the backing fabric a few inches beyond the top. If my top measures 40 X 60, I'll piece my backing to measure 46 x 66, this will give me 3 inches on all sides, something to hold onto when I reach the edges. If you do not want to waste the fabric or don't have enough to use this method, you can use plain inexpensive muslin to add a small border around your top and backing using a long basting stitch - this is easily removed once you're done with quilting.

playdoll wrote
on 19 Jul 2014 9:14 AM

I've found I have a better time of quilting near the edges of my quilt if I have extended the backing fabric a few inches beyond the top. If my top measures 40 X 60, I'll piece my backing to measure 46 x 66, this will give me 3 inches on all sides, something to hold onto when I reach the edges. If you do not want to waste the fabric or don't have enough to use this method, you can use plain inexpensive muslin to add a small border around your top and backing using a long basting stitch - this is easily removed once you're done with quilting.

playdoll wrote
on 19 Jul 2014 9:16 AM

I've found I have a better time of quilting near the edges of my quilt if I have extended the backing fabric a few inches beyond the top. If my top measures 40 X 60, I'll piece my backing to measure 46 x 66, this will give me 3 inches on all sides, something to hold onto when I reach the edges. If you do not want to waste the fabric or don't have enough to use this method, you can use plain inexpensive muslin to add a small border around your top and backing using a long basting stitch - this is easily removed once you're done with quilting.