Embroidery Library


Quilting with Embroidery Designs

Many embroiderers feature their  favorite designs on quilt blocks ... but did you know you can actually quilt with embroidery designs too? Lightweight designs are perfect for stitching through all layers of a quilt to create that essential puffy look. To show you how, I'm going to make what may be the world's simplest quilt.


You can use this technique with lots of light-stitching designs, including:


Feather Quilting

Sashiko (without solid stitch decoration)

All Quilting Designs - Full

All Quilting Designs - Half

All Quilting Designs - Quarter

All Quilting Borders

All Quilting Corners


Piece together your quilt top, leaving enough excess around the edges so that you'll be able to hoop all the places you want to embroider.

Use an air-erase pen to mark the edges of the outer quilt blocks. Also mark the center point and crosshairs for each design you plan to embroider.


Flip over your quilt top and spray the back with temporary spray adhesive. Smooth the quilt batting on top. Spray the batting with temporary spray adhesive and smooth the back fabric on top, right side out. The spray adhesive probably won't hold the "sandwich" together firmly because the batting is so porous, but it'll help. You may also want to use curved safety pins throughout the quilt to hold everything in place.


Wind a bobbin with the same thread that you'll be using for the top of the design. The stitching will be visible on both sides of the quilt, so you'll want the back to be "pretty" as well as the front.

Hoop and embroider the quilt as desired. Note that you don't need any stabilizer or backing -- the sandwich of fabric and batting is enough to support very light quilting designs.

While embroidering, take care that the rest of the quilt does not get caught on anything and keep the hoop from moving freely  or fall on top of the embroidery area. Some masking tape might help keep the bulk of the quilt bundled up and contained.


Once everything is embroidered,  cut off any excess fabric around the edges, then bind and finish the quilt as usual.


Try stitching quilting designs in a color that blends in with the fabric to create subtle texture...


Or choose a contrasting color to make these beautiful designs really pop!

Take a look at the Native American Creation Quilt project to see this technique used on a larger quilt.


Single Run or Double Run?

Some quilters prefer single-run embroidery designs. This type of design is similar to traditional hand-stitched quilting, and the stitch passes over the area once.


Other quilters prefer double-run embroidery designs, where some parts of the design stitch over themselves. This results in a stronger and more noticeable quilting stitch. Some quilting designs are double-run because the details in the design create trims, and retracing areas of the design with stitches eliminates many of those trims.


Both ways are great for quilting - it's a matter of personal preference.

When using double-run embroidery designs, you might experience some shifting in the "sandwich." If this happens you'll see the double run of stitches slightly next to each other, rather than on top of one another (for example, near the bottom of the design in this picture).

This shifting occurs when the top, batting, and back parts of the "sandwich" move around as the hoop moves. The first run is in one section, and the second run or "pass" is just a millimeter or two away.

To minimize such shifting, make sure that the "sandwich" is hooped firmly, and the weight or excess of the fabric or batting is not interfering or restricting the hoop's movement.

Creative Ideas for Quilting Designs

They're decorative, functional, and oh-so-adaptable! Check out just a few of the ways that embroiderers like you have used quilting designs in their projects...


Quilting designs interspersed with more colorful stitch-filled designs give you the best of both worlds. Midge created this sweet snowman quilt that mixes bright, cheery snowman design with matching quilted snowmen and snowflakes.


Of course, quilting designs can make for a beautiful quilt top all on their own! This is a close-up of Tina's rag quilt, made entirely of fabrics she had around the house, and decorated with beautiful quilting designs.


Harriet's frosty table runner mixes the best of both worlds in a different way -- a bright snowman design on top of a wintry quilting design gives this piece unique dimension.


Wanda's tulip quilt mixes decorative quilting designs (stitched in dark thread for emphasis) with wandering lines of stitches that blend into the fabric. You can have it all!


Here's another pretty example of decorating with both stitch-filled and quilting designs. Femy's teddy bear quilt is full of color, perfect for a coworker's new baby.


There's something to be said for throwing caution to the wind! Carol stitched this cuddly autumn quilt, scattering trapunto leaves across the surface to quilt it.


A hodgepodge of colored fabric squares are tied together with the same quilting design repeated over and over. Tracy stitched this throw for her brother's birthday -- a beautiful gift!


A design certainly doesn't have to be labeled as "quilting" for it to work for that purpose -- any running-stitch-only designs, such as toile or redwork, can be used for that purpose. This vest is quilted with toile embroidery designs for a timeless, dimensional look!


This Christmas tree skirt is also quilted with toile designs. Cozy and classy all at once!


Sashiko is a Japanese kind of quilting that uses thick cotton thread in repetitive patterns. This quilted town tote shows that quilting design can be used for lots more than just quilts!


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