Show Me How To Machine Quilt Class Plan

by Kathy Sandbach

Beginning Machine Quilting: 5-6 hour hands-on class.

Supply List

  • Textbook: Show Me How To Machine Quilt by Kathy Sandbach
  • Sewing machine in EXCELLENT working condition
  • Sewing machine table to enlarge surface around the needle
  • Sewing machine needles 90/14 topstitch or sharps
  • 50-100 basting pins - size 0 brass safety pins are the best and easiest to use
  • Cotton thread with bobbins to match in a pastel shade
  • Quilter's Gloves®
  • Sample project supplied by instructor (see note below)
  • Note paper & pencil

Note to Instructor
I encourage you to supply a sample project of approximately 1/2 yard of muslin marked with straight lines and a few curves, plus batting and backing, to help students get the "feel" of free-motion work. Students could also bring quilt tops to discuss possible quilting designs, but not to actually work on during class.

Class Outline

  1. Lecture - an expanded version of the tools, techniques, and troubleshooting hints found in the book Show Me How to Machine Quilt.
  2. Quilts - a showing of quilted pieces, either duplicates of samples from the book or the teacher's own pieces. I suggest that teachers have a variety of samples to inspire the students and to show that "it doesn't have to be perfect to look wonderful."
  3. Quilting - all quilting is done with a darning (or free-motion) foot. Emphasis here is on 10-12 stitches per inch as well as hand position ("U") to keep the piece under control and the quilting lines smooth.

Tips for Lecture

  1. Darning feet - did you know? The smaller, the better!? The smaller the foot, the better the compaction, the better the stitch, the better the tension, the less likely the thread and needle are to break.
  2. Needles - did you know? That a "quilting" needle and a "sharp" are the same needle? That most machines will free-motion quilt better with a "topstitch" needle? A 90/14 works well with most threads.
  3. Work Station - it is very important to re-educate students to sit low and look OUT at their work rather than DOWN on it. This will ease shoulder, back, neck, and arm pain substantially.
  4. Threads - there are about a million out there. See recommendations in book.
  5. Tension - everyone hates messing with the tension, but many times it is necessary with free motion quilting. Students need to use the loosest possible tension that still gives a good stitch.
  6. Gloves - a VERY important tool! I recommend Quilter's Gloves®.
  7. Fabric - virtually any fabric can be quilted: cotton, linen, polyester, wool, flannel, and SILK! While cotton "felts" the layers the best, almost any fabric works reasonably well.
  8. Batting - cotton or mostly cotton is my first choice (Warm & Natural® is at the top of the list), but wool or low-loft polyester will work reasonably well. Machine quilting doesn't work well on high-loft batting, as the compaction is uneven and channeled.
  9. Basting - follow book suggestions carefully for perfect success every time! No shortcuts - good basting means no pleats on the top or back.

Important Hints to Share
Use these tips plus share your own experiences with batting, thread, fabric, designs, etc.

  • Your hands are the hoop! Keep them in place while the machine is in motion. Quilt within the "U" - reposition the hands ONLY when the machine is stopped!
  • Stitches - better too small than too big - 10-12 per inch is the goal.