You’ve just finished your quilt top—time to tackle the quilting! Some quilters gleefully embrace this essential part of finishing quilts; some hire a machine quilter by rote or drop their quilt top onto the UFO pile to finish…later.
Although the words “quilt as desired” and “instant gratification” aren’t typically uttered in the same sentence, there are ways to get a quilt to the finish line without weeks of planning, prep, and production. Today we’ve gathered ideas for quilting a quilt that are perfect for those times when you just want to finish a project and feel good about a job well done. Emphasis on done.
Stitch in the ditch, outline, echo, and allover-pattern quilting are common go-to approaches for finishing quilts more quickly. But if a super-fast finish is your ultimate goal, consider the out-of-the-box ideas below. Ready to say “The End” to that unfinished quilt? Read on!
How to quilt a quilt quick: by hand and by machine
1. Tie a quilt by hand
From Jera at Quilting in the Rain
Think tying a quilt is an antiquated method that’s lost its appeal? Think again. Many of today’s quilters tie their quilts—it’s a fast, inexpensive approach to finishing a quilt that results in a charming, casual, vintage look. Get a step-by-step tutorial on tying quilts by hand at the Quilting in the Rain blog.
2. Tie or tack your quilt by machine
From our friends at McCall’s Quilting magazine
Discover another simple way to tie your quilt—by machine! Watch this video from McCall’s Quilting magazine, where you’ll learn how to machine stitch yarn to your quilt instead of pulling it through the quilt layers by hand.
In the video you’ll also find out how to use decorative stitches on your machine to “tack” your quilt layers into place. Simply use your machine’s preprogrammed motifs. Both techniques are a great approach to quilting a quilt for beginners.
Hand quilting has an “it takes forever!” reputation, but today’s quilters have relaxed the rules to make hand quilting faster—all without investing in a hoop or a frame. Here’s what Tonya says about her hoop-free technique in her book, Word Play Quilts:
“I love the look of unmarked or casually marked quilting. My favorite is freehand fans (right), which I hand quilt without marking. When a design requires that I do mark, I use chalk and mark only a small portion of the quilt at a time. I enjoy using thicker thread and larger stitches, which lend an informal, folk-art appearance. I use size 8 pearl cotton and a larger needle, such as a size 7 or 8 Between.”
Find more details about Tonya’s hoopless technique at her blog, Lazy Gal Quilting.
4. Hand quilt with big stitches
From Rachel Hauser at Stitched in Color
Another popular hand-quilting trend is to take big, colorful stitches that are meant to stand out in a quilt design. (Big stitches = quicker quilting!) See how beautiful the results can be in Rachel’s step-by-step tutorial at Stitched in Color.
5. Free-motion quilt with simple repeat patterns
Interested in learning more about machine quilting, but need someone to hold your hand? As it goes with—well, most anything—the more you practice, the better you get. In Free-Motion Quilting Made Easy by Eva A. Larkin, you can start simple by quilting just one motif per block. Once you feel more confident, layer on different combinations of motifs. From setting thread tension to quilting in small sections, Eva walks you through every step of the process. Once you learn the ropes, free-motion quilting just might become your quickest go-to method for quilting! Learn more about Free-Motion Quilting Made Easy and Eva’s second book, Easy and Fun Free-Motion Quilting, by clicking on the covers above.
6. Try allover free-motion quilting patterns: beginner to advanced
From Leah Day at the Free-Motion Quilting Project website
Whether you’ve just started playing with free-motion quilting or you consider it part of your current skill set, you’ll find ample inspiration at Leah’s site. Not only does she provide examples of 365+ free-motion quilting designs—she’s videotaped herself machine quilting every single motif! Categorized by difficulty level, filler-design type, and directional texture, Leah’s videos do a great job of showing how free-motion quilting, with practice, can make for a quick finish.
One final resource: Download the free eBooklet about hand and machine quilting from our How to Quilt page. In addition to hand- and machine-quilting tips, you’ll find expert advice on backing, batting, and basting.
What’s the quickest way you’ve found to get your quilts to the finish line? Share your ideas in the comments!