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What Is a Quilt Sandwich and How Is It Assembled?

A quilt sandwich is the top, batting, and the back that are put together to begin quilting. With a few exceptions of “quilt-as-you-go” patterns, most quilts begin with constructing the design for the top. This is the part of the sandwich that will get the most interest but the overall stitching and placement of all three layers will determine how smooth and professional looking the final project will be. A poor job assembling the sandwich can ruin all the work that went into piecing and stitching a beautifully designed top piece.

Quilt sandwich

Getting Started

The most important thing to know before you start is that all three layers are not the same size. You will need to cut the backing and batting between four and six inches wider and longer than the quilt top.

Press the backing material to get all of the wrinkles out and create a smooth, flat surface. Press the quilt top to make it flat and prevent puckers when it is being stitched. If you will be hand stitching the quilt, you will need to use a needle and thread to baste it into place. If you will quilt it on a sewing machine, use long quilting needles to hold the layers together. Have the right tools ready when you put the quilt sandwich together.

If you will be using batting that has been rolled up and packaged, take it out at least one day before use and lay it across a bed, working the creases and folds out of it. It needs to be completely flat by the time you put it in your quilt sandwich.

Finally, find a large flat surface where you can assemble the quilt without interruption. If you only have a table that is smaller than the quilt size, you may prefer to use a large open space in the floor where you can extend each piece to its full size without worrying about the edges falling off the sides of the table. This works best on floors that are not carpeted if possible.

Step 1

Place the backing on the surface with the wrong (inner) side up. Use masking tape to secure the edges to the floor (again, if not carpeted). It isn’t necessary to tape the entire perimeter of the fabric to the floor, but you should add a piece every half a foot or so to prevent slippage. Don’t pull the fabric too tight, just focus on keeping it flat and smooth against the floor.

Step 2

Place the batting on top of the fabric, patting it to remove any lingering folds or creases.

Step 3

Place the quilt top right side up on top of the other two layers, centering it to make sure the bottom two layers extend several inches beyond the edges of the quilt top.

Step 4

Either hand baste or pin the three layers together, beginning at the center of the sandwich. Try to avoid placing pins and basting where you will be stitching the quilt. This will prevent you from having to remove either as you go, causing the position of the layers to shift before they are sewn. Also, stitching over the basting thread repeatedly can make it difficult or impossible to remove. Position hand or pin basting every three to four inches in a grid pattern that extends from the center to the sides of the quilt.

Step 5

Once the entire surface is basted, remove the tape from the quilt and floor. You have now assembled a quilt sandwich and are ready to start quilting!

What Are the Basic Skills Needed for Quilting?

At some point, every accomplished quilter made the decision to try quilting for the first time. More often than not, their inspiration comes from seeing the diversity of beautiful, artistic quilts that someone else has done. Like any craft, quilting requires a certain set of skills that will improve over time. Learning the basic skills needed for quilting before you choose your first project will help you get the best results possible and keep getting better with every project that you do.

Skills Needed for Quilting

1. How to Sew

If you plan to hand-sew, you will need to be adept at sewing through the quilt sandwich and leaving consistent stitches on the top and bottom of the quilt. You will be able to start with just a straight running stitch for most of what you do but you may find that it takes more skill to sew by hand than by machine and it will certainly take you a lot longer.

If you will be quilting by machine, then start by learning everything about your sewing machine. The time to learn the different stitches and stitch lengths, threading pattern, and tension adjustment are before you get started on your quilting project. You will also need to know how to consistently sew straight ¼” seams to prevent distortions when putting the pieces together.

2. Learn the Lingo

A basic guide book can go a long way towards teaching you the terms and techniques that you will run across with quilting patterns. If you don’t know what an abbreviated term means, it could bring your project to a halt or cause a fault in the finished product.

3. Cut Precise Pieces

This is one area of quilting that can be especially challenging for new crafters who haven’t developed the patience needed to get things just right. It may be a good idea to make your first project from a pre-cut quilt kit just to get the ‘feel’ for how the pieces fit together. Once you start cutting your own, you will need to know how to use a ruler, quilting square, and rotary cutter to get your pieces just as accurate as those that come pre-cut.

4. How to Square

No matter what design the quilt may be, it will be put together in squares. Each piece, each square, and the entire quilt top need to be squared prior to cutting to create a perfectly square quilt.

5. Chain Piece

This technique saves time, prevents seams from puckering, and helps keep you organized.

Skills Needed for Quilting

6. Pressing

If you have sewn clothing, you know that seams have to be pressed in a certain direction. The same is true in quilting. The direction you press the seams will determine how the quilt block lays.

7. Adding Borders

The border is the part that frames the entire quilt and compliments the design. You need to know how to cut the fabric out and stitch it to keep the quilt square.

8. Make a Smooth Sandwich

Once the quilt top is made and ready to add to the rest of the quilt, the top, batting, and back are put together into a ‘sandwich’. The quilter needs to be able to do this without any ripples or folds that will alter the fit of the three pieces and stand out as a glaring imperfection once the quilt is made.

9. Add the Finishing Touches

Binding the quilt is the final part of the quilting job and mitered corners should always be included. You may also want to add your personal label to commemorate your first completed quilting project!

There are many tutorials online that can help you master any of these skills. A good quilting guide will also help you with choosing projects at the right level of difficulty for your skills and knowing which fabrics are right for the project.

Although learning the basic skills may require some trial-and-error until you get the knack, you can expect to keep getting better as you continue to practice and add more techniques and skills to your reservoir of talent. The more you learn about quilting, the more you will enjoy trying new and more challenging projects.

What is the Difference between Hand Quilting and Machine Quilting?

Quilting

Most quilts begin as quilt tops which may be in any of hundreds of designs. Quilts may be pieced, embroidered, appliqued, or any combination of these methods. Once the quilt top is put together, it is matched to the middle and the backing of a compatible size. Now, all that is left to decide is how the quilting will be done; by hand, or by machine but first you will need to know the difference between hand quilting and machine quilting.

“Quilting” refers to the stitching process used to sew these three layers together. Although most quilters have a favorite way of stitching quilts, many use a combination of both processes for different types and sizes of quilts.

Hand Quilting

Hand Quilting

Quilting by hand is a centuries-old process that can be seen in any heirloom or vintage quilt. Many quilters prefer sewing by hand as much for the enjoyment and satisfaction of the project as the appearance. A quilt that has been stitched by hand is typically a source of pride for the crafter. As for the difference in appearance, these quilts usually have a looser appearance to the fabric than those quilted by machine.

If you are going to be doing a lot of hand quilting, invest in a floor frame or standing hoop that will help prevent errors by keeping more of the quilt held tight at one time.

Many quilters who prefer hand quilting feel relaxed by the process. Some quilters compare hand quilting to therapy and find that it is highly calming. If you have the time to put into quilting by hand and enjoy the process more than getting to the final product, this might be the best choice for you.

Machine Quilting

There are many sewing machines today that include quilting stitches, in addition to specialty quilting machines which are made with a long arm to accommodate a large quilt. Most people lack the money and space it takes to invest in the latter but today’s advanced home sewing machines include a variety of features that make quilting by machine easy while producing a professional-looking final product.

Machine Quilting

Some machines also combine embroidery with quilting features for even more diversity in the types and designs of quilts and other artwork you can create. Quilting on a machine leaves the pieces more tightly sewn and gives them a crisper appearance.

Machine quilting is not without its challenges, especially if you take on too large of a project before you have mastered the techniques. Many quilters use fusible batting to hold the layers in place and to make the fabric stiffer so that it is easier to handle without the need for a lot of pins. Although machine quilting is the recommended method for larger quilts, keep in mind that they will have to be maneuvered in the space between the needle and the body of the machine. Start small and leave room to make some mistakes to master your craft before you end up with a major do-over.

How to Decide

Size

Although you might want to hand quilt a baby quilt or twin sized quilt to create an heirloom, larger quilts that are made to fit queen or king sized beds will obviously take a lot more time and work. Unless you want to make a single quilt into a long-term project, quilting on the machine is going to be your best option for anything large. This is especially true for inexperienced quilters who tend to take a little more time.

Fabric

Some fabrics are easier to handle than others, making it more or less difficult to stitch by hand. Fabrics that are thick or stiff are difficult to push the needle through and they can be hard on the quilter’s hands. Others, such as satin, silk, or sateen are slippery and difficult to hold on to.

Use
Art Quilting

Quilts are made for everyday use, competitions, and everything in-between. For those that are used and laundered regularly, machine quilting is the better approach. Although hand stitching gives you more room to express your creativity and give it a more authentic appearance, machine quilting is actually stronger and often the choice for functional quilts.

Many quilters claim that they can’t tell the difference between hand and machine stitched quilts but those used in shows or competitions may have to abide by guidelines, usually requiring them to be stitched by hand. Although the overall appearance of the quilt may be the same or similar, a close examination is going to make it obvious to any other quilter what types of stitches were used.

Once you have tried both methods, you will probably find that you favor one over the other. If you are like many quilters who enjoy a diversity of projects, you will likely use both methods to get the best results for each. Either quilting method can be satisfying to the crafter who enjoys the art of quilting and the comfort and beauty of homemade quilts.

Reviews of the Best Sewing Machines for Quilting

“What is the best sewing machine for quilting” is a common question asked by sewers. The answer depends on the specific needs of the person who will be doing the quilting. The choices run from basic machines for beginners with a few stitches to computerized machines that have an endless array of stitching designs to choose from. Some quilting machine reviews focus on machines with the most advanced features while others are more concerned with durability.

Quick Recommendation

If you're looking for the best quilting machine, the Singer 7258 Stylist is an award-winning machine and the Janome 7700QCP is an updated version of a legendary quilting machine. You can't go wrong with either one.

Some of the most important features for quilting are a good quality straight stitch, an adjustable zig zag stitch for applique, and a needle up/down feature that lets you choose when and where to stop at the touch of a button. Based on these basic needs and the additional features needed by some sewing levels, this review compares the Brother CS6000i, Singer 7258 Stylist, and the Janome 7700QCP.

Brother CS6000i

The Brother CS6000i is an affordable machine that is user-friendly and portable. For anyone who is taking a quilting class, the built-in handle makes it easy to take along. This feature combines with lightweight construction to make it the best quilting sewing machine for portability. It comes with 9 presser feet for a variety of stitch types and a detachable, oversized table to give you the extra space you need for larger projects.

The automatic needle threader makes it easy on the eyes. There is also an upper and lower automated thread cutting feature and the built-in memory lets you store your favorite stitches and access them quickly with the LED display. Adjust the brightness of the screen for the setting that is most comfortable to you. The Brother name also makes this a top choice for reliability.

Singer 7258 Stylist™

The Singer Stylist™ is an award-winning machine that has received the Consumer’s Digest award twice. This award is given to machines based on 8 criteria: ease of use, performance, quality of construction, features, warranty, styling, efficiency, and maintenance and service requirements. It has a number of features that make it a good choice for quilting. Simple push-button stitch selection lets you choose the stitch you want to use with the push of a button. With 100 built-in stitches, you can perform a wide variety of sewing styles including quilting, heirloom, crafts, and fashion.

The automatic needle threader takes the hassle out of changing thread while the programmable needle up/down makes it easier to quilt and applique by selecting where the machine will stop with the needle in the up or down position. The start/stop button gives you the option to sew without the use of a foot controller. Speed control allows you to control the speed of sewing without the foot controller.

An automatic locking straight stitch function lets you tie-off stitches by pushing a button for re-enforcing the ends of seams to prevent unravelling. These features and a whole lot more make this one of the best sewing machines for quilting, sewing, and a wide variety of projects.​

Janome 7700QCP

If you like a feature-rich machine that is also easy-to-use, the Janome 7700QCP is the best quilting sewing machine for you. It has a long list of features that include an extra high presser foot lift, adjustable knee lifter, built-in one-hand needle threader, flat bed convertible and 11” x 4.7” of work space. With 250 built-in stitches, there is no limit to the design possibilities. This machine is an updated version of the Janome Memory Craft 6600 which many people consider one of the best sewing machines for quilting ever made!

One thing that makes this such a great machine is that the updates were based on customer feedback. Today, the Janome 7700QCP offers sewers and quilters a machine with all of the original features of the Memory Craft 6600 and a lot more.

One thing sewers will appreciate is the heaviness of the die-cast metal frame. This provides sturdiness and durability. An easy-to-follow DVD is included to get sewers off to a good start using the features. The first project you sew on the machine is certain to impress you with the smoothness and speed with which it sews. This is truly the top-of-the-line for anyone who wants the greatest number of options and the best possible sewing experience for a wide range of projects.​

Feature

Brother CS6000i

Singer 7258 Stylist

Janome 7700QCP

Number of Built-In Stitches

60

100

250

Bobbin System

Jam-Resistant, Quick-Set

Top Loading System

Top Loading, Full
Rotary Hook

Stop/Start Button

Yes

Yes

No

Display Screen

LED with Adjustable
Brightness Settings

LED with Automatic Stitch
Length and Width

High-Visibility LCD
Touchscreen

Sewing Speed

850 spm

750 spm

1,000 spm

Special Features

Oversized Wide Table
for Larger Projects

Center ZigZag Taper,
Twin Needle Capability,
13 Needle Positions,
Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter

20 Memory Banks,
Navigates via LCD Screen
or Tactile Jog Dial,
Quilt Piecing System,
Auto Place Converter for Straight
Stitch Sewing,
AcuFeed Layered Fabric Feeding System

Price Range

$147 to $449

$165.99 to $299.99

$2,499 to $2,999

Choosing the Best Quilting Sewing Machine

There is no end of quilting machine reviews providing an individual choice in the single best quilting sewing machine. This review compares a selection of the best sewing machines based on a variety of criteria. If you know what you want in a sewing quilting machine and how much you can afford to pay, you should be able to use the information here to answer the question “What is the best sewing machine for quilting?” that is right for you.

All three models are from leading sewing machine brands and they offer an exceptional value so you can make your choice and feel good about it for a long time to come!​

2

What Is the Easiest Sewing Machine to Use?

Today’s sewing machines have evolved to include a selection of computerized monogramming, embroidering and quilting machines that allow sewers to expand their creative side. In fact, the market has grown to include all types, shapes and sizes of machines that include a diversity of functions.

Although the capabilities of these machines are impressive to almost any sewer, many people share the goal of finding the easiest sewing machine to use that will accomplish their needs. For this review, I chose the Brother PE770 embroidery machine, the Brother Designio monogramming machine, and the Singer Confidence Quilter as the easiest sewing machine to use for each specific sewing purpose.

Easiest Embroidery Machine to Use

Whether you will be using your machine to create clothing or crafts for you home and family or as an at-home embroidery business, you still want to find an easy to use embroidery machine that saves time. You don’t want to spend all of your time trying to figure out how to get the design you have on paper onto the fabric! The Brother PE770 5 x 7 inch Embroidery-Only machine fits the bill with a number of convenient features including a built-in memory.

PE-770

The PE770 has an expansive 5” x 7” field that makes it easy to work on large designs and lettering with less re-hooping. The fact that this is an easy to use embroidery machine doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot of features to offer.

  • It has 136 built-in embroidery designs
  • 6 lettering fonts
  • 10 frame shapes
  • 12 border styles to create

Additionally, you can use a flash drive to import more designs to the machine or insert your memory card into the built-in card slot. When you purchase or designs, just save them to memory until you want to use them again. There are also multiple editing features that allow you to alter designs to fit their destination.

The easiest sewing machine to use is always one that is easy to thread. The PE770 is easy to thread and it features an auto thread cutter that for stitching and trimming precision. Brother sewing machines are known for their quality, ease of use, and versatility.

Easiest Monogramming Machine to Use

Now that so many sewing machines are computerized, the line between embroidery and monogramming is much more blurred. If you want a machine that will primarily monogram, and you want to find the easiest monogramming machine to use, then simplicity is going to be key. One good choice is the Brother Designio Series DZ820E.

Designio Series DZ820E

The Designio is a designated embroidery with the following unique features:

  • Only machine that comes with two extra embroidery hoops
  • Starter kit
  • CD with 200 additional embroidery designs
  • It has 136 built-in embroidery designs
  • 6 lettering fonts
  • 120 frame pattern combinations
  • Built-in tutorials making it the easiest monogramming machine to use
  • Backlit LED touch screen

There are also numerous machines that incorporate embroidery and monogramming into regular sewing. In most cases, the easiest sewing machine to use is a dedicated sewing machine that doesn’t require you to change adjustments, thread, or CDs.

Easiest Quilting Machine to Use

Like embroidery, computerized machines are often used for quilting. Although the Singer 7469Q Confidence Quilter is a combination sewing and quilting machine, it is still the easiest quilting machine to use for sewers at all levels.

The Confidence Quilter

The Confidence Quilter has 98 stitches built in and includes fully automatic one-step buttonholes. A programmable needle makes it simple to switch to quilting mode. The machine comes with four bonus quilting feet in addition to the general purpose pressure foot and an extension table to manage your quilting projects.

A quick set-up makes this the easiest quilting machine to use for a variety of sewing projects. The electronic twin needle control and adjustable stitch width/length give you more option for customizing your sewing and quilting projects.

How Computerized Sewing Machines Work

Many sewers who have never tried them find computerized sewing machines intimidating. When their goal is to find the easiest sewing machine to use, the idea of manipulating a computer doesn’t sound like the easiest option. In reality, the computer moves the various components of the machine to produce more accurate stitches for professional results. Many computerized machines made for home use produce results that are just as professional looking as those made by commercial sewing machines.

Some machines come with built-in designs that are accessed on the LCD screen. You simple select the stitch you want and the machine makes it. Depending on the specific machine, you may also have the option to edit the stitch to create custom designs.

You will also be able to access other stitch or embroidery and decal designs online. These are found on many online sites where they may be obtained for free or sold. Those machines that have a USB port or memory card slot are the easiest sewing machine to use to transfer new designs from the computer to the sewing machine. There are also some computers that can hook up directly to the internet to download the patterns directly into the memory.

These machines come in a wide range of prices and complexity that should also go into your decision about which one is right for your needs. If you want the easiest to use embroidery machine for occasional personal use, you won’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good quality machine. Always consider the brand name in your decision and stick with those that have a good reputation for providing consistent results and being durable.

Ready to step up to the next level? Check out the best intermediate sewing machines here.

Nothing is more enjoyable to a seamstress that having the tools to create unique designs. All of the machines listed in this review are considered the easiest sewing machine to use of their kind and should add to the creativity of your craft!