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How to machine quilt a king size quilt

by Judy R.
(Lakeland, FL)

I made the top of my king size quilt a long time ago.


I have not finished it because I was told it is too difficult and to send it out. I would not feel like I made it if I sent it out.

How do I quilt my quilt on my Viking Designer I? I have never quilted a quilt before.



Reply

It is a conundrum!

I, too, don't feel like it's my own quilt if I have someone else do the quilting, but...

...the result is a pile of quilt tops that should be quilts by now.

Having it quilted for you...

If you choose to send it out to a longarm quilter, you can overcome the "it's not really my quilt" feeling by involving yourself in the design process of the quilting.

Many, if not most longarm quilters charge by the inch, so the larger the quilt, the more it costs to have it quilted. The more dense or involved the quilting design, the more it will cost, too. So as you contemplate how you'd want your quilt quilted, you'll need to consider those factors.

If having this unfinished quilt stops you from moving forward, either with other piecing/applique projects or learning to machine quilt, and if you still like this quilt top, then by all means have it quilted and move on. There are more quilts to make!

Machine quilting it yourself...

When I teach beginners to machine quilt, I always advocate starting small and quilting your way through bigger and bigger quilts. Even if you are only using your walking foot, as the majority of beginning quilters do, you still need to develop the skill and confidence of layering and basting and moving that quilt under the needle of your machine.

Can you quilt a king size quilt on your Viking Designer I?

Absolutely!

But it will be harder than a queen size...than a twin...than a table runner...simply because of it's size.

My biggest concern is that you'll become frustrated moving thing big honkin' thing under the needle, all the while expecting perfection out of yourself (as so many of us quilters do). And in the face of the laboriousness of the task, throw your hands up in despair and vow never to machine quilt again.

That would be such a loss.

Machine quilting is fun and rewarding, and even more so when you give yourself the gift of the time to learn and practice.

Now, I do know a handful of people whose first machine quilting was on a queen or king size quilt. They lived to tell of it. They thrived on the challenge. Perfection wasn't the goal. Doing was!

If that is your personality, then go for it! Remember, though, that just like eating an elephant, you'll do it one bite, or rather one step at a time. Know that it will be a learning experience and celebrate all that you are challenging yourself to do...every stitch you create is a victory.

I've described the techniques for getting a quilt ready for quilting and basic, beginner machine quilting in these two articles:

Know and honor yourself...

In the end it really IS up to you.

What are your goals with this quilt?

If you love a challenge and will not berate yourself for imperfections, then by all means go for it! Same if you can't live with the idea of someone else putting a stitch on it. Just take it one measured step at a time. You CAN do it.

If the goal is to get it on your bed, stop wasting time and just have it quilted. Get this quilt off your 'to-do' list and move on to your next project. (We all have other quilts we want to make, right?!)

'Have a hand in designing the machine quilting if that helps, but make the decision and move on. Life's just too short!

I hope this has given you some food for thought. Most quilters (me included) have struggled with this very question. You are not alone.

Readers, do add your suggestions and thoughts via the 'Comment' link found just below.

Thank you.

Piecefully,

Julie Baird
Editor

Comments for How to machine quilt a king size quilt

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I made & quilted a king size quilt for myself
by: Jo Goranson

When I first started quilting I didn't know I was supposed to start small and work up. So, since we had a king size bed, I started with a king size quilt.

I had a Brother machine at the time and even though it was computerized, it had a pretty small opening, but I managed to quilt it. One of the things I learned is that everyone tells you to roll up the quilt. I found that very hard and so when I quilt a quilt I just bunch it up and throw it over my shoulder. Sounds kind of weird, but it works so much better for me.

I remember I used a walking foot and I quilted in the ditch starting in the middle of the quilt and worked my way out. I did this because I had read somewhere that this was what you were supposed to do. At the time I started quilting I had always made my own clothes for many, many years and was very good at it because my mother taught me all the tailoring tricks she had learned from her mother. I knew how to do a French Seam before I got to 7th grade Home Ec. I was a better sewer than the teacher!

I never knew there were such places as quilt shops, so I just read books about quilting and did what they said to do. (I have a degree in English in writing, so I just automatically get my info from books.) I find it silly to press my seams to the side so I don't. I open them up just like I do when I sew clothes and it is much easier to quilt a quilt if it doesn't have those bumps!

As you can probably tell I am a contemporary quilter now, but I still teach traditional quilting quite often.

My first king size quilt is certainly not the best quilting job I have ever done, but it is still a functional quilt and we still use it. I have only sent one quilt out to be quilted and that was sent to a friend who just got a long-arm and needed the practice. The quilt was 110" by 90" and I could have done it myself, but my friend gave me a discount rate and she did a beautiful job.

However, I always want to quilt my own quilts because that is what makes the quilt mine and mine alone! If you can't do it on your machine do rent a long arm and do it yourself. You'll be glad you did.

This sounds like I think everyone should quilt their own quilts, but that is not so. You just sound like you want to do it. I have a lot of friends who are long-armers and they are wonderful at what they do, so if you can afford to send it out and want to do that ask around and find the best long-arm quilter that quilts in your style and will listen to what you want.

I have heard both horror stories and great stories about sending you quilt out, so be picky, picky, picky if you do so. Make sure they will do what you want them to do, not what they want to do.

Quilting it yourself
by: Laurel Kindley

If you have a king size quilt, or any other quilt that you feel is too large to handle on your home machine, why not rent time on a long-arm machine? This will allow you to quilt the quilt yourself, but save you the frustrations that go along with quilting on your home machine.

First large quilt
by: Elaine DeFoor

My first large quilt is "Amanda's quilt under the Share Your Quilts on this website.

I also feel it isn't mine if I didn't quilt it.

I quilted that quilt and many since on on 10 year old simple Viking. It has about 23 stitches and I used a walking foot and simple design on the first couple but since have used the feed dogs down like on darning. But you should practice this method. The trick for large quilts is rolling one side up to fit under the neck of the sewing machine. It seems like it is a lot of work at first but gets easier as you get used to what you are doing. You should try it, I think you will be pleased.

Good luck!

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