On Improving Quilting With a Domestic Sewing Machine

Heirloom Machine Quilting: A Comprehensive Guide to Hand-Quilting Effects Using Your Sewing MachineHeirloom Machine Quilting: A Comprehensive Guide to Hand-Quilting Effects Using Your Sewing Machine by Harriet Hargrave

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes it is good to go back to the earliest “how to” books, and this is the first or one of the first on machine quilting. As the title suggests, the goal is to do quilting that looks old fashioned. Still there are hints that are applicable to modern machine quilting. It is, as the title says, “Comprehensive.” There is more detail gathered here than I have seen elsewhere. Some I’d already heard via the grapevine. But when it was written, there was no grapevine. And though it was first written around the 90s, it has been updated with each edition. The latest our library had was 2004. So it didn’t mention Supreme Sliders.

Two suggestions that I found quite useful: If you use a cone thread holder, tape a safety pin near where your machine would feed from a spool. Now, I’d never had issues with how the machine worked without the pin, but using the pin did keep the thread feed more out of my way. I did find the thread getting caught in the coil at the end of the pin so switched to a 2-inch paper clip, which worked well. And a way of holding hands when using the walking foot that minimizes drift of the top layer. (Yes, even with a walking foot, there is sometimes drift–ask me how I know.)

One thing I’d heard before became more doable with her analogy: She compared looking ahead instead of at the needle with the way one’s eyes rove when driving. You kind of see both. I tried it and my curves became smoother and lines straighter. Not perfect yet, but better.

Because of the goal of creating perfect old fashioned hand quilted look, some details were more fiddly than the modern quilter may need; however, one might be an interesting skill to develop: when travel stitching aim to stitch in exactly the same holes of the previous stitching. (I do well to stay on the previous line of stitching.) Hargrave did say it was an advanced skill.

It is a valuable book for anyone interested in quilting with a domestic sewing machine. Skim what you think you know and pause where you see something additional.

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Filed under books, quilting

5 responses to “On Improving Quilting With a Domestic Sewing Machine

  1. I feed my cone thread through the safety pin hole and find it works great for me. Also I just keep the cone in a tin cup to stabilize it upright. Thanks for the review. I use a long-arm but should go back and review her book (my guild has it in the library). I’m sure there are things I could learn.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. Will check it out.

  3. dawn at firstlightdesigns

    The fact that you free motion quilt big quilts on a Featherweight continues to amaze me!

  4. My first machine quilting class was from her – and all was well enough on a little block, but I simply can’t seem to do it on a large quilt. But that’s okay. =) Thanks for the reminder of the book and that class I took.

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