By Penny Halgren
Quilters who are not already a machine embroidery enthusiast just may find themselves engrossed in the craft once they realize they could incorporate machine embroidery into their quilting.
Embroidery is a traditional way to add special decorative touches to quilts. Whether by hand or machine, a quilter may accent his or her creation with embroidered flowers or other accents. But today's machine embroidery - for those willing to try it - can make quilting quite different.
For instance, a quilter may use a simple embroidery design to let the machine "quilt" the project. Simple one color designs work best, especially for the beginner.
If you want to give this a try, look for an embroidery design that's simple - one that you can visualize stitched into a quilt. Some redwork inspired designs work well. Other simple designs like flowers, circles, sun/moon, houses, hearts - there are all sorts of designs to choose from - can work well as quilting stitches.
Be sure to keep your quilt top's theme in mind. We all know and love the traditional beauty of the double wedding ring quilt. While the quilt top is beautiful with its color variety, the quilt back is just as pretty with its simple stitching that follows the design on the top.
What if you used an embroidery machine to quilt hearts into the quilt design? That one unexpected touch would truly make your quilt unique.
Have you ever needed to throw together a quick quilt? Many quilting pros laugh at the notion, but sometimes we need a quick gift to give and want to make it personal. Lap quilts and baby quilts are very easy to create on an embroidery machine.
Simply hoop your top fabric, batting and backing fabric into an embroidery hoop. Pick a design and get to work! Even if you are quilting solid color fabrics, you can complete a quick, beautiful quilt with the embroidery machine in no time!
Some ideas for a baby blanket for a boy would be to use outlines of footballs, airplanes, trucks, trains, etc., for your quilting pattern. The hardest part of your job will be re-hooping fabric and pushing the "start" button!
Ideas for a baby blanket for a girl include outlines of flowers, baskets, dolls, kittens, etc.
The method above uses machine embroidery on relatively small quilts. Larger quilts can be done the same way or may be quilted with machine embroidery by individual quilt blocks. Experiment to decide which method is easiest for you and remember that the machine embroidery quilting method may change with each unique project.
If you can't find a pattern you like already on embroidery file, ask a digitizer to help you create one. A digitizer takes art images like drawings, clip art images and fonts and alters them via computer to become a stitch pattern. So if you'd like for your family tree wall hanging to be quilted with a tree pattern, a digitizer can create one for you.
Tell your digitizer you want to use the image for quilting. The digitizer will need to plan stitches accordingly.
Quilting is rich in tradition and therefore many true-blue quilters do not like the idea of using machine embroidery to quilt their projects. Isn't it great to try new ideas and techniques? Remember, not to long ago quilters refused to consider machine quilting at all! Embroidery machines will never take the place of quilters, but it can be a fun and rewarding sewing technique to try from time to time.
Penny has been a quilter for more than 26 years. She enjoys exploring all aspects of quilting sharing her knowledge with all quilters.