Machine Quilting Tips from Cory Allender

Award-winning quilter Cory Allender visited my guild’s weekend quilting retreat and shared some of her beautiful quilts with us. Cory’s quilts have taken top honors at my guild’s show (Desert Quilters of Nevada) and she has gone one to win numerous awards at prestigious venues like Road to California and HMQS. Her work will also be exhibited at International Quilt Festival in Houston later this year.

Daisy by Patti VanOordt and Cory Allender

Daisy, pieced by Patti VanOordt and quilted by Cory,  was shown during Utah Quilt Fest.

Daisy Quilting DetailsGorgeous, isn’t it? Here are a few more quilts showcasing Cory’s beautiful machine work:

Southwest of Michigan by Cory Allender

Southwest of Michigan by Cory Allender

Detail of Plan B, Pieced & Quilted by Cory

Detail of Plan B, Pieced & Quilted by Cory

Northwest Passage, Top by Diane Johnston

Northwest Passage, Top by Diane Johnston

Noel Detail, Top by Diane Johnston

Noel Detail, Top by Diane Johnston

Are those quilts breathtaking or what? Diane’s exquisite applique is enhanced by Cory’s impeccable machine quilting. I do believe that quilting makes the quilt! Here are a few of Cory’s favorite machine quilting tips and secrets for making show-quality quilts:

  • Use a double batt – Cory likes to use two pieces of batting like Hobbs 80/20 with a layer of wool on top, or a combo of bamboo and silk. It can get a little pricey but the double batting gives the quilts some extra body and makes them drape beautifully.
  • Block all quilts after applying binding – Cory soaks her quilts and forces them into shape, then lets them dry on large pieces of foam core board. If needed, she will “spray block” the binding to help control any hills and valleys.
  • Use the same color thread in top and bobbin – this is also one of my favorite techniques!
  • Use a colorful or busy back – again, something I also advocate to help hide mistakes. When using lots of colored threads on top, this also helps them blend into the backing.
  • Never use dark thread on a light background – this will accentuate every mistake and make all the stops and starts much more obvious!
  • Draw and quilt every day. Cory compared machine quilting to learning to play an instrument. You don’t start off playing a concerto piece the first time you sit down to a piano. The same thing applies to quilting – you must constantly practice your free motion quilting skills to build your muscle memory.

Christa and Cory

Cory, thanks for the great tips and awesome inspiration!

6 thoughts on “Machine Quilting Tips from Cory Allender

  1. susanbkatz says:

    Christa, I am so glad you keep your posts up — I just now found this, and what a wealth of information and inspiration! Thank you to both you and Cory! The quilts are stunning.

  2. Duane says:

    Love your blog and all the helpful information you share! These are great tips and I also look forward to those about the blocking and squaring! Have a super day!

  3. Harm says:

    Hi, very Nice quilting and nice piecing as well.
    Please don’t forget to mention the designed of this fantastic quilt design: Jacqueline de Jonge, becolourful, the Netherlands.

  4. Marlene Gregory says:

    Oh my!!!!! I am so in awe that I can hardly type!..I have just recently decided to try machine quilting (free motion). I made a sample to practice on and was so disappointed. I have a lovely Brother 1250D machine. It sews beautifully…….well until I tried the FMQ-ing. My top stiching was lovely but underneath was a disaster! Skipped bobbin stictches and sometimes as long as four inches! I am sure it is ME causing the problem. I asked at my LQS and was told it could be I am going to fast. Could that be?? I would appreciate any suggestion you could send!
    Thanks, Mammi in TN

    • Christa says:

      Practice is key for successful FMQ. My first attempts were all such disasters so I only practiced on throw away scraps for awhile. You need to balance your speed so you have a fluid movement. You also need to be sure your thread, needles and tension are all working together. It’s a little effort in the beginning to make sure it all works together, but the results are well worth it in the end!

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