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Dear Pamela,

What are some intermediate techniques for combining embroidery designs onto quilts?

Signed, Curious Quilter


Quilting and machine embroidery are quite lovely together. Each technique complements the other, inspiring the weaker skill set to improve to the next level. Quilting and machine embroidery are typically only used together in traditional quilt designs; however, both skills are well suited for many other applications, such as clothing, throw pillows, tote bags, table linens or wall hangings.

The simplest way to combine the two techniques is to embroider a design on fabric, and then use the embroidered fabric as a block in a project. For a more advanced application, add other designs within the same collection to create additional blocks in different sizes or colors to combine into a larger piece with more dimension (A).

For an embroidery beginner, keep the design placement simple and incorporate a more technical patchwork design (B). For a quilting beginner, experiment with design placement to add more interest on a quilt (C).

Numerous quilt block collections are available for purchase online. Look for collections that offer accent designs or smaller segments that complement a full-block design. Working with a variety of design sizes and partial block designs makes it easier to add your own creative layouts to a project. Often a collection also includes PDF instructions that explain how to construct the featured quilt with the designs.


Crazy-quilt designs are a fun way to construct and embellish a block in one step. Purchase digitized crazy-quilt designs or create your own using embroidery software. Determine the shapes that will fill the desired-size block (D).

The first step secures fabric A to the stabilizer. In the second step, place fabric B along the fabric A lower edge with right sides together, and then stitch a seam. Fold fabric B to the right side, then pin to secure. In the third step, a decorative stitch is stitched over the first seamline. Each step is repeated to create one full block. After completion, the block is trimmed with 1/4" seam allowances along the perimeter. Create additional blocks, and then stitch them together for a quilt or other project.

Another technique to create in-the-hoop quilting employs a single-colored line pattern or design. These designs are purchased online or created in embroidery software. Select a design made of a continuous running stitch with few or no jump threads. These designs allow the quilt wrong side to mirror the upper design, which looks clean and professional. Decrease the machine speed in half, or lower if using cotton thread or embroidering thick fabric and batting. Install a 100/16 topstitch needle. Layer the quilt top, batting and quilt backing pieces together. Embroider the design on the quilt layers.


To digitize a design, load an existing or original graphic into the software as a background image. Trace the image, and then highlight the line drawing as a triple running stitch. Floop all the quilt layers together if thin enough. If the layers are thick, hoop the backing fabric and secure the batting and quilt top with pins just inside the hoop frame, machine baste the layers or use temporary spray adhesive.







To create an original block, use embroidery software to duplicate a desired design four times. Rotate each design 45[degrees], and then align the design edges to create one large design (E).

Some of the more advanced embroidery software has the ability to easily add quilting stitches around any existing embroidery. Import a design into the software's quilting application to place stippling stitches around the design perimeter (F). Embroider the design onto the quilt-top fabric. Hoop the backing fabric and layer the batting and the embroidered fabric right side up over the hooped fabric; secure using one of the previous methods. Make sure the embroidered fabric design is centered within the hoop. If available, use the exact positioning feature for perfect alignment. Embroider the stippling design. Remove the hoop from the machine, and trim the block to the desired size.


Most embroidery machines offer a large variety of decorative stitches, including the ability to stitch one at a time. Try tacking a completed project by machine or randomly place a candle-wicking stitch throughout the quilt as a tying method.



Floral design (E): Graceful Embroidery, Sweet Innocence;


Experiment with traditional quilting by dropping the machine feed dogs and free-motion quilting a project.
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Author:Cox, Pamela
Publication:Creative Machine Embroidery
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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