Quilting is a traditional craft, but that doesn't mean that a sewing machine can't help you. Select a machine quilting design based upon your level of expertise and the amount of time you have. Choose an easy machine quilting design if you are a beginner; many of these designs do not even require marking on the quilt top in order to complete. Even if you are more experienced at quilting but only have a limited amount of time to finish your quilt, easy designs might be right for you.
In the Ditch
The term “in the ditch” refers to a machine quilting design in which you stitch in the gap formed by the quilt top’s seams. You can also stitch on the side of the seam without the seam allowances for a smoother look. This technique is good for a beginner because you don’t have to mark the quilt at all; instead, follow along the seams already present in the quilt’s top.
Outlining involves making stitches 1/4 inch away from the seams on the quilt’s top, “outlining” the design of the quilt top rather than creating a new pattern. The main difference between outlining and stitching in the ditch is the distance away from the quilt top’s seams. If you decide to outline, you can move 1/4 inch or more away from the existing seams. This makes the stitches more prominent on the quilt’s top than the stitching in the ditch method.
Jeris Swanhorst is a writer and English and literature instructor at the college level, and owner of SwanJay, a knitting and crochet business. She earned a master's degree in English from Minnesota State University in 2007.