Machine quilting is a time saver from the days of the past. Quilters of the past had only one option and that was needle and thread and the only machine they had was their own two hands. So speed was controlled by them. There are many quilters today who continue to hand quilt. Many do it because they enjoy the process, and others do it to preserve this time honored tradition and want to pass it on. Ladies I salute you!
My first quilt was quilted by hand, and I am still working and my second hand quilted project. Which I have been working on for over a year now. Of course I am not working on it daily, so who knows when it will actually be completed!
When it comes to quilting I like speed! I want to get the quilt done, and move to the next project. Which meant I had to teach myself to machine quilt. There are just to many quilts I need to or want to make and I don't have that many years left in my lifetime to do them by hand. If you are like me and want to get the quilting done quicker then you need to learn the basics of machine quilting.
First of all you need to be sure you have the right foot for the job.
Below is an example of what a walking foot looks like. Most machines today either come with this or you can purchase one from the manufacture. Check with the shop where your purchased your machine to be sure you have the right one. If you have an older machine you may still be able to purchase a generic one. I found one for my Kenmore which is about 40 years old. So not impossible, just need to do a little hunting.
Here are some resources to help in your hunt.
Try Nancys Notions or All brands.com and another one might be Overstock.com
Before purchasing a generic walking foot online you need to know your shank style.
All feet come in one of three styles:
When in doubt go to a sewing machine repair shop with your machine and they can tell you. (who knows they may even have a walking foot for you to purchase there!)
This should help you at least know what a walking foot looks like, now you need to know what to use it for. Here is a great definition found at about.com which should get you started.
Using your walking foot is pretty simple and is used primarily for straight line quilting. Simply attach the foot and start stitching. It is best to start with small stitches to lock the threads at the beginning and at the end. (back stitching is not recommended with a walking foot).
Part 2 will be on the free motion foot. Also known as the darning foot.