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Echo quilting with a walking foot?

by Linda
(St. Pete Beach, FL US)

Can I do the echo quilting "inside" the piece? I am working on a bow tie pattern, the background is black and I thought the bow tie would be more emphatic if I echo stitched inside the shape. I plan to use black thread.

I don't know how to do anything on my machine except straight stitch and zigzag. Couldn't I do this echo stitching on the bow tie with just a straight stitch, rather than disengaging the feed dogs?


Linda, my humble apologies for taking so long to get to your question. I've been experiencing some hosting problems, and a large group of older questions suddenly appeared in my dashboard. Yours was one. I'm sorry for being so late.

Yes, you can absolutely echo inside the piece. Traditionally this was done a quarter inch in from the seam line. (Hand quilters used this distance so as not to have to hand quilt through the seam allowance in additional to the top, batting and backing.)

Yes, you can...but will you like it...

Physically, you can do the echo quilting you've proposed with your walking foot. My experience is it's not fun to do with the walking foot.

The reason is you are going to have to turn the quilt sandwich under the needle each and every time you come to an angle.

If your quilt is small, it won't be as much trouble. If your quilt is even a twin size, though, you'll find you're spending more time straightening out the quilt sandwich every time you pivot than doing the actual quilting. I find that each pivot is an opportunity to quilt a tuck into the back of my quilt if I'm not as careful as I should be smoothing everything out.

The advantage of free motion echo quilting...

That's why I recommend free motion quilting for echo stitching.

You move the sandwich so that the part closest to your body is always twisting or turning the sandwich like a steering wheel.

Even if you are free motion quilting a small quilt, I strongly urge you to practice not turning/pivoting the quilt under the needle. You get better every time you practice, whether it's a 'real' quilt or just a practice sandwich. Developing the skill on smaller pieces will make you happier when you get to the larger quilts.

Free motion quilting is a learned skill...that means that as you practice you get better. If you use a matching thread, it would be a good place to practice. The matching thread color will camouflage your stitches. What you'll see is the texture. I'd go for doing the free motion quilting here. Use it as a learning experience and celebrate that you're taking the next step in machine quilting.

You go, Girl!

Readers, as always your thoughts and experiences are most welcome. Please share them using the 'comments' link below.


Julie Baird

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