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Quilting with Embroidery Designs

Quilting is one of those crafts that's having a truly lovely modern comeback. Fabric designers have entire lines that are pretty cool, color schemes are fresh and stylish, and pattern books are full of creative, geometric new ideas. You can even decorate your quilt squares with zany embroidery designs if you're into that sort of thing.

But what about the quilting itself, the stitching through layers that holds the whole thing together? That's just lines and swirls, right? Well sure, it can be. But if you're the proud owner of an embroidery machine, you can use designs made specially for quilting to bring a little style to this step.

Urban Threads makes its debut into the quilting designs game with three images: a skull, gear, and swallow. Each is made up of a single, continuous line of stitching -- great for quilting through a sandwich of quilt top, batting, and backing. Let us know what other quilting designs you'd like to see!

(If you're not a machine embroiderer, you could transfer the hand embroidery versions of these designs and hand-stitch 'em. Or use 'em as a guide for freemotion stitching. So many choices!)

This tutorial will show you how to quilt through layers of fabric with embroidery designs. It assumes you either a) have a basic familiarity with quilting or b) like me, are cool with pretty much making it up as you go along. It also assumes you have a pattern and/or other harebrained quilty scheme that you're working with.

If you're new to quilting, go ahead and google any techniques you'd like to pick up, like making binding or mitered corners -- there are a ton of awesome resources out there.

Piece together your quilt top, whatever that's going to look like. Here's mine. Since this is for illustrative purposes, I'm keeping it simple.

BUT WAIT. There's something important to consider here...

Make sure there's enough extra fabric around the edges of your quilt that you'll be able to hoop it up to embroider everywhere you're going to want to embroider.

Like so. Plenty of room.

Cut out your batting and backing about the same size as your quilt-top-with-extra, so there'll be enough for them to get hooped too when the quilt is all sandwiched together.

Also make up your quilt binding.

Use an air-erase pen to mark the center point and crosshairs for each design you'd like to embroider.

Sandwich your quilt top, binding, and backing together. I like to use a little temporary spray adhesive to keep the layers from shifting around once you've got 'em together. Batting is so porous that the adhesive loses some of its effectiveness, but still, it helps.

Wind a bobbin with the same color thread you're using on the top. Cotton thread is nice for this, but not mandatory. You can achieve a lot of different effects with thread color -- a hue that contrasts with your fabric turns the design into a decoration, while matching the thread to the fabric makes the stitching sort of invisible, creating a cool textured effect.

Hoop up the top/batting/backing sandwich according to the marks you made earlier. Load up your design (I'm using this quilting skull) and embroider. Repeat as needed.

After your designs are all embroidered, go back and add any additional quilting you like by good old-fashioned machine sewing.

I "stitched in the ditch" between my quilt squares.

You could also add some freemotion swirls in there if you like. The embroidery foot on your machine is helpful for this.

Quilting done? Hooray!

Now it's time to finish up your quilt. Mark out your cutting line, and trim your border fabric to the size your pattern/idea calls for.

Add binding around the edge of the quilt, and any other finishing touches you like.

And you're done!

Simple patchwork techniques combined with unique quilting designs can make a quilted wall hanging like no other. Keep it small and cute or use these techniques to create a full size punk rock quilt!

Don’t feel like going the traditional route with your quilting? These light-stitching designs are fun for all kinds of effects. Stitch your quilting design over fabric layered with batting to make a perfectly dimensional pillow.

Try overlapping a few quilting designs to bring a new dimension to this textured look. Quilting designs can be scattered throughout a project, or used selectively to create a subtle decorative effect. Try them out on all kinds of projects, and enjoy experimenting with your new quilting designs.

Want a printer-friendly PDF of this page? You got it, bud.
Suggested designs for this tutorial: 

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