Quilting with an embroidery machine can be a lot of fun. Three popular ways to use your embroidery machine to quilt in the hoop are to create quilts block by block, in long strips, or whole. Your quilts can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want. And when the blocks are joined, the quilting is finished. All you have to do is add the binding.
Let's take a closer look at these different methods for quilting in the hoop.
1. Embroidering, then quilting block by block
With this method, the embroidery design is stitched first, and then the backing and/or batting is added and the quilting stitches are completed. There are two ways to hoop your fabric, batting and stabilizer with this method.
- The batting can be hooped as a sandwich of fabric, batting and stabilizer. When the embroidery stitches are completed, the backing is secured to the back of the hoop with pins and the quilting stitches are completed.
- Another method is one that works particularly well with appliqué where the fabric and stabilizer are hooped and the embroidery stitches are completed. Then, the batting and backing are secured to the back of the hoop with pins and the quilting stitches are completed.
This example above shows Sunbonnet Sue quilted in the hoop. The design uses die-cut appliqué shapes.
This example shows die-cut stars joined together as a small quilt. The technique for joining blocks using this method is the same as the technique for joining strips or blocks, which we'll discuss below.
2. Embroidering and quilting in a single step
This method is similar to the first method and is demonstrated beautifully in Eileen Roche's class, The Machine Embroidered Quilt. With this method, the embroidery and the quilting stitches are completed on the quilt sandwich at the same time. In the class, Eileen makes a quilt that is embroidered as a long strip and she demonstrates placement techniques as well as quilting and appliqué. She also shares many tips for quilting in the hoop and complete instructions for joining and binding the quilt.
Photo via Craftsy instructor Eileen Roche
This technique has been perfected by HoopSisters Lynda Remmers and Annie Moody, who offer a very wide range of quilts from beginner to expert that are machine embroidered and quilted in the hoop. These quilts include almost every quilting technique and level of stitching expertise.
The Rachel quilt, shown below, is perfect for beginners or a quilt-in-the-hoop pro who would like a quick weekend project. Beginner projects do not have to be ordinary, as you can see with the beautiful prairie points border on this quilt.
Photo via HoopSisters
Quilting in the hoop can also be as sophisticated and as beautiful as those wonderful masterpieces that you see at quilt shows. Jacobean Journey, shown below, was digitized and designed by Sharon Schamber and is available as a Block of the Month series. You can find more information at HoopSisters.
Photo via HoopSisters
3. Quilting blocks or small quilts that have already been pieced or embroidered
This is a great technique for using orphan blocks and completing unfinished projects, like quilted table runners, baby quilts and other small projects. All you need is a simple quilting design made of a running stitch. Redwork quilt blocks are often quilted from edge to edge and are perfect for this method. Another way to create quilt blocks using only quilting stitches is to use a beautiful print or novelty fabric.
This quilt was especially quick and easy with the use of pre-cut appliqué shapes combined with quilting in the hoop and plain fabric blocks that are quilted in the hoop.
Tips and supplies:
Quilting in the hoop can be done with most of the supplies you have on hand, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When quilting in the hoop, thread tension is an important consideration for me so that the stitches are as pretty on the back as on the front. Thus, I prefer to do all the embroidery on my block first, then add the batting and backing so that I can adjust the tension on my machine to be balanced on the top and the bobbin threads. If you are using a multi-needle machine, remember that the quilting step uses only one color so the tension only has to be adjusted on one needle.
- The type of thread you use is a personal preference, and you may select cotton, rayon or polyester. An important setting that I change on the embroidery machine when quilting in the hoop is to turn off the thread cutter and to trim my threads manually so that the back of the block is as pretty as the front.
- For most embroidery machine quilted projects you will need a large embroidery hoop. There are some projects that are as small as 6" by 6", but most require a larger hoop, approximately 175mm by 200mm or more.
- The stabilizer and batting that one chooses makes a difference in the softness of a quilt. I like to use a very thin mesh-like stabilizer, like Sulky Soft 'n Sheer. I also like to use a lightweight cotton batting, like Dream cotton Request weight batting. HoopSisters offers a unique product called Battilizer that combines stabilizer and batting into one.