When I tell people I quilt my own quilts on a domestic sewing machine, they often think this is a very difficult, nearly impossible task. "You need a long arm!" they cry. Sixteen years ago when I started to learn the process of making quilts, there were not many long arm quilters out there. So the natural next step, after piecing my first quilt top, was to learn how to quilt on my home machine. And so I did.
My first quilt was a monochromatic blue quilt with a pop of gold border, that saved it from boredom. I did some stitch-in-the-ditch (stitching into the seam line) around the perimeter of the quilt, added some diagonal lines and stitched a cable design in the outside border.
The center block design I choose was a bit small for the space, but learning to enlarge designs came later. I used my walking foot to painstakingly stitch the lines as carefully as possible. Today I could stitch this design quickly and easily with the use of a free motion foot, but this was my first step with quilting and I only used the walking foot on this quilt. I also used blue thread to "show off" my work.
The quilting on my first quilt is something I will always be proud of. I don't apologize for it. Sure, skills and techiques have changed since then and that's all part of the evolution of learning. The important thing is I got started, believed I could do it and kept at it.When I say, "I love to QUILT" this is the part of the process that I'm talking about.
Having a good set-up is the key to continued learning and success, so I've made some changes along the way: I started with a New Home machine and then switched to a Bernina 153 which I still use for quilting. My machine had a small table attachment and I added a larger plexi glass surround table to support the quilt. All of that sat atop my dining room table where I did all my sewing and quilting for the first half of my quilting career.
Several years ago I bought a sewing cabinet which I could put my machine into. Now the machine sits flush with a large table support to the left of my machine. I can sit comfortably and don't have to reach my arms too high, which was an issue when I used the dining room table. Placing the cabinet in the left-hand corner of the room allows for a closed space so the quilt remains supported and doesn't fall off the edges of the cabinet.
A good task light above the machine is a helpful addition and a cushioned chair that allows height adjustment. I have a metal thread holder for cones of thread. I also keep a small plastic box to the right of my machine to hold my scissors and safety pins.
Quilting your own quilts on your home sewing machine is possible! It's fun, affordable, and you can say with pride, "I quilted it myself!"
Copyright ©2014,Sharon Baggs