Prepping a Quilt for Machine Quilting

file2 - Copy (3)

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

So if that phrase rings true, how do you sandwich an oversized queen quilt for quilting on your domestic home sewing machine? The answer: One step at a time.  I have undertaken a big project to share with you, one that has been in the back of my brain  (and storage closet) for some time. I made this gorgeous quilt at a retreat I attended some time ago, but the thought of quilting it myself was something I wasn’t ready for. I’ve had it packed away until now. The weather is getting cooler, and we need a new quilt for our bed. So I took a deep breath (as I often do when approaching a new task or situation), and dug it out. I’m so excited to share this series with you. We’re going to talk about our machine/space set up, basting techniques, and much more.

Step 1 involved pressing my backing and quilt top, and making sure I had a large enough piece of batting. Once I had all my pieces ready, I also grabbed two paper straws and taped them into an “x” so that I could mark a center. Also handy was some electrical or masking tape, a pencil, Artistic Tack Temporary Adhesive and some scissors. It was so challenging to decide which parts of my process of basting to record for you, so I recorded the whole thing. It took about an hour and a half from start to finish, so pop some popcorn… Just kidding. I really did record the whole thing, but I condensed it into a 5 minute clip for your viewing enjoyment.

Janomelife Editor: Please note that this is one way to sandwich a big quilt: The video below shows a rather energetic Erin doing a wonderful job of sandwiching her lovely quilt. However, there are other ways to do this which are not as hard on the knees and back?! If you have a table or several tables large enough to push together, it can be done at a higher elevation OR it can be done by spray basting it vertically against a wall. All methods do work…just offering a couple more options)

There are a few things I wanted to point out about my process: Even though I marked my center, I didn’t absolutely stick to it. My backing fabric is not directional at all, so I felt that being off center was OK. Also being off center made it so that I added batting instead of backing fabric to one side. I also used a combination of spray baste and pins. I pinned the outside edge so that my layers stayed together with the shifting that is going to happen once I got going. I figured using a handful of pins as insurance was a good thing. I also pinned my rolls of quilt sandwich to my quilt. Why? To make it easier to maneuver the whole thing in my Janome Skyline 9.

file - Copy (3)

After getting the quilt sandwich ready, the next task was my workspace.

So step 2: Clear your sewing table and set up some extra support around you. I placed a height adjustable table beside me to hold the extra weight of the quilt sandwich. This makes the work space more ergonomic for quilting, leaving you with the fun of the quilting instead of the “sandwich struggle”.

file1 - Copy (3)

Some Janome models have a throat space of  9, 10, 11 or more inches. The Janome Skyline S9 has an 8.3″ throat space, but I wanted to leave myself enough room to move it around without having it unroll on me. I will quilt the whole middle section, starting at the center and moving to either edge without un-rolling the edges. This will make my quilting much faster, because I’m not going to be wrangling the sections that I’m not working on. Once my middle section is done, then I can slowly unroll one side as I quilt each section.

file3 - Copy (2)

But now what? How do you actually quilt it? Stay tuned for Part 2!



This entry was posted in QUILTING WITH JANOME and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Prepping a Quilt for Machine Quilting

  1. Jan says:

    Thanks for sharing the video. I didn’t quite understand the part where Erin cut off a piece of batting and put it on the other side attaching it with spray baste. Why was that done?


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Jan,

      Erin was only using a section of batting which was sticking out (ie too much ) to fit into a section where the batting was a little short. She was being thrifty!



  2. trinagallop says:

    Amazing!!! I’ve been wanting to try spray basting (I pin baste my entire quilts right now). Do you ever worry about getting any on the floor? We just refinished our hardwoods and my husband might have a heart attack if I got adhesive on the new floors… does it just spray where you spray it (if that makes sense).


    • lizafrica says:

      Hi Trina,

      You would need to protect from overspray – slice open black garbage bags and surround the area beyond the quilt with taped down garbage bags. I hear you – I would not want glue on my floors either!



Comments are closed.