How to Set Up a Sewing Machine for Quilting

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You can quilt beautiful patterns with an ordinary sewing machine.
You can quilt beautiful patterns with an ordinary sewing machine. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

A sewing machine is useful for more than just piecing a quilt; you can also quilt on an ordinary sewing machine. Quilting attaches the layers of a quilt together and accents the design of a quilt. Quilting is hard work for a sewing machine and taking some time to make sure your machine is in good repair makes the job easier. Once your sewing machine is ready to go, you can quilt to your heart’s content and make beautiful patterns.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine manual
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing machine oil
  • Paper towel
  • Darning foot
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Scrap fabric and batting

Remove the thread. Oil your sewing machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Sew through a piece of paper towel several times to get rid of any excess oil that could stain your quilt.

Attach the darning foot to your sewing machine, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Attach a fresh needle to your sewing machine. Use a needle that matches the fabric and batting of your quilt.

Thread the sewing machine with quilting thread.

Change the throat plate on your machine to a single hole plate, if you have one. Set your needle to the center position and hand turn the wheel once to make sure the needle goes down and comes up through the hole.

Lower or cover the feed dogs on your sewing machine. Check your manual for directions for your machine.

Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to zero.

Test the machine by quilting through your scrap fabric. Make sure the fabric moves freely and that the stitches are even. Adjust the tension on your machine, if necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Quilting with a sewing machine takes practice. Quilt a small project or a scrap piece of fabric first before you do a large quilt.
  • A darning foot is designed specifically for quilting. It allows you to move the fabric in any direction and gives you a clear view of your work. Purchase one that is made for your machine. If you are quilting straight lines rather than freehand, you can use a walking foot instead to keep the layers of the quilt from shifting.
  • You can quilt with the feed dogs up but it will cause your quilt to drag when you change directions.
  • Work slowly when you machine quilt. It takes concentration and going slowly helps you to avoid mistakes.

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