The Free Motion Quilting Project: Dense Quilting on a Longarm Machine - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #7

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dense Quilting on a Longarm Machine - Sit Down Quilting Sunday #7

This week I've been cleaning out the Crafty Cottage which had gotten very junky and filled with random quilt projects I'd planned to shoot videos with, but never got around to. One of the quilts in that pile was this unfinished wholecloth:

This quilt was actually a test for Duchess Reigns to see if my idea for dyeing the quilt in the middle of the quilting process would work. I really should have finished this mini quilt and maybe I wouldn't have spent two years fighting with Duchess Reigns.

Just in case you're curious: dyeing an entire quilt after it's been basted and outline quilted isn't a good idea.

This little wholecloth turned out too pretty to chuck in the trash, but I've never had much time to finish it. Now that I have these Sit Down Quilting Sunday videos to share, I figure I can also use this as an opportunity to share projects like this and further test the limits of my Grace Qnique machine. See what I mean in this new video:

Click Here to learn more about the Grace Qnique 14+.

I was surprised by how well the machine handled the dense quilting. I didn't run into any issues with skipping stitches and the machine powered through the quilting even when I knew there were at least 8 layers of thread in one line.

The trick to quilting so smoothly was good speed control. I needed to move the quilt slowly and steadily so I ran the machine at a very slow, steady pace. This required only the TINIEST amount of pressure from my foot on the foot pedal.

When I first received this machine, I definitely didn't have this much control over the speed and I found it challenging to find these slower speeds. Now with 7 weeks on this machine, I'm able to maintain a consistent slow speed and avoid crazy pulses where the speed suddenly goes from fast to slow or slow to fast. This is all down to practice and quilting real quilts. No way around it!

If you've never tried wholecloth quilting you really should give it a try. Wholecloth quilts provide a marvelous way to build new skills for machine quilting and design. If you quilt with contrasting thread, it will dramatically improve your ability to quilt any design, travel stitch, and echo because you'll be able to clearly see what you're doing.

Learn more about wholecloth quilting by taking a workshop with me! Click Here to check out the Heart & Feather Wholecloth Workshop.

I figure since I've shared a lot of very dense quilting lately you're probably in the mood to see some large scale quilting next. What do you think? Let me know what you'd like to see and I'll plan a new Sit Down Quilting Sunday video just for you!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

P.S - You can find all the Sit Down Quilting Sunday posts right here!


  1. Leah, your talent just amazes me. I love the designs you are showing us. I am enjoying this series very much and am excited to see some large scale quilting next. I am retiring in June and am eager to start finishing the many tops hanging in my closet. I'm interested in open, edge-to-edge type designs, the kind you would probably find boring! :-) I would love to see/hear some ideas for pretty designs to give my quilts nice texture without being so detailed. Thank you!

    1. Great suggestion! I honestly don't find any type or style of quilting boring. It's all a challenge to learn and then learn how to teach well on video. I'm actually interested in that type of design too because I'm also getting a dangerously huge stack of unfinished quilt tops in my closet!

  2. My question is about the Qnique machine. When I read the information about the sit down machine it isn't really clear if it is or has the stitch regulation. The information on line tends lead you believe that it does have stitch regulation. Could you clarify this for me?
    Barbara from MN.

    1. No, the sit down model of the Grace Qnique 14+ machine does not have a stitch regulator, nor does it have any ability to have a stitch regulator. This machine will only have a stitch regulator after you've upgraded it to quilt on a frame with a monitor and wheels.

  3. Hi Leah, thanks for this great series! I have the handiquilter sweet sixteen in it's original table and have struggled using rulers due to the little height discrepancy between the machine bed and the table. My question is, how would your machine, with the acrylic insert do with using a ruler for designs? Is the machine bed/arm flush with the insert? I'm thinking of getting a quilt table.......thanks! Dina from NY

    1. Great question! I'm planning a video on ruler quilting in a few weeks. I've sorted out the subtle height difference between the machine and the insert (just a lot of different surfaces right around the needle) by using a Queen Supreme Slider. It just seems to even everything out so the little lips and bumps aren't so noticeable and shouldn't be an issue for ruler foot quilting.

  4. I'd like to see a workshop or video in how to plan out quilting something. I am getting better at quilting, but struggle knowing how to best quilt something. Example, today I am going to quilt a baby quilt for a new grandson. I'll do something, but need more help in actually planning a good and appropriate design.

    1. That's a great suggestion Karen! Thank you!


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