How To Quilt With An Embroidery Machine?

Sewing machines have come a long way from the old, single-stitch Singer Featherweights. Many quilters love that the new machines come with the ability to sew many fancy embroidery stitches.

These machines can produce fun quilt blocks, and can also be used for quilting.

Create Embroidered Blocks

“I have embroidered some blocks for my grandson, and would like to make a quilt with them. I will be using a 6 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ block. The batting is 96″ x 108.” Is that the size I make the quilt??

How many blocks plus sashing around each block in fabric do I need? I will be using a different color for the sashing.”

Using your 6″ by 10″ blocks, I have designed a quilt that uses 70 total blocks – 35 embroidered blocks and 35 fabric blocks.  I am assuming that the 6 1/2″ by 10 1/2″ size you quoted meant the size including seam allowances.

In addition, I have included sashing that is 2 1/2″ wide (finished size), and cornerstones (squares in the corners where the blocks meet the sashing) that are 2 1/2″ square (finished size).

 This quilt design can be used to place embroidered blocks in alternating spaces. Click on the image for a document that has a picture of this quilt and the fabric requirements.

There are two borders – the inside one is 2 1/2″ and the outside border is 4 1/2″ wide. 

Both of those sizes are the finished size.

Hope this helps.

Using Your Embroidery Machine for Quilting

Recently a quilter asked if she could quilt her quilt using embroidery stitches on her machine. Because my old Featherweight doesn’t do embroidery, I asked other quilters to answer the question for me.

Several of you responded, and there seemed to be some consensus that she could, indeed, use her embroidery machine for quilting. In addition, several quilters sent tips to make it easier.

Many quilters suggested that the best way was to quilt each block individually and then sew the blocks together in a Quilt as You Go Method.

One quilter said “If you have a design (preferably an open design without a lot of fill, like Redwork or the designs specifically made for quilting), then you can embroider right thru the top, batting & backing (all placed in the hoop, of course).”

“To get a trapunto look, you can quilt thru the batting with or without using the backing (you’ll need a stabilizer to keep the batting from catching underneath) & do an extra layer of batting which can be cut away outside the design after doing the first outline — or you can fill it the traditional way.”

Another quilter provided these tips:

“If you are doing a completed quilt, use a hoop and tearaway stabilizer…use some you have already used so the center is already torn away.  Spray some adhesive on the top of the stabilizer and “stick” your marked quilt to the appropriate place.  You can then run a basting stitch around the design so it helps hold to the stabilizer but there won’t be a lot of it to pick out of your finished product.  The quilt is stable enough to not need any further stabilizing under the design area.  That is all there is to it!”

And yet another quilter said:

“I have a Janome MC11000, this is an embroidery and sewing machine in one. I find it easy to machine quilt, especially now that the 11000 has the new Acufil quilting features and hoop. Prior to that I would just set my machine up for free motion quilting, drop feed dogs and off you go.”

This just in from Nan:

“I do a lot of baby quilts, mostly for charity, so I make blocks that are embroidered and mix with plain blocks. Then I do redwork (not in red!) in the blank blocks on my embroidery machine through the layers to partially quilt, then shadow quilt around the designs on the embroidered blocks. They hold up very well and look cute when done with same designs but in the outline only for the quilted blocks.”

And from Nancy:

“If you have a design that needs to be hooped then the machine will do all the work and you can just watch, or do something else like I do. My laundry is right next to my sewing room and while the machine is working I am folding laundry or loading the washer. The tips that the ladies sent to you were all great.”

Lin in Hawaii sends this:

“From my experience with my embroidery machine, there is a module which you place on the sewing machine and then the designs are programmed through the computer in the sewing machine via a card, disk, or internally.

As for stitches, my Brother does not offer a choice of “embroidery” stitches because the role of the embroidery module is to allow for the programmed designs to be sewn; i.e., a duck, a flower, etc. In order to use an embroidery module, one must hoop the area to be sewn and the machine does the rest.

I would think that the weight of the quilt would be a potential for damage to the machine since sewing the design is automatic. In other words, once started the only thing I need to do is change the various colored threads to make the selected design. My Brother and my Bernina both have programmed stitches which are decorative in nature, but do not require any embroidery module.

Nancy says:

“Another idea is to use my embroidery machine on my rag quilts. These I do mostly for charity quilts and cut the flannel in 7 inch squares, sewing together seaming (1/2 . Alternate paired printed flannel blocks with paired plain flannel that compliments or contrast using the same idea for the embroidered designs. Doing embroidery with the pairs together the quilt is reversible. Only embroider on the plain flannel blocks”

These quilters all agree that it is possible to quilt your quilt using an embroidery machine and take advantage of the beautiful stitches. Most quilters who responded suggested that quilting one block at a time will give you the best results. Much like quilting on a home sewing machine, it’s easier to handle a block at a time vs. feeding a queen size quilt through your machine.

Thanks to all of the quilters who responded!

By Penny Halgren of

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