Machine Quilting with an Embroidery Machine

I recently shared my goal this year of learning how to better utilize my Baby Lock embroidery machine. One of my biggest motivations for doing this was to learn how to use the quilting-in-the-hoop function so that I could quilt projects on my machine at home. It’s such a great feature of embroidery machines – especially ones that come with the large hoop size – and I knew my Baby Lock Destiny was very capable of doing it.Machine quilting with an Embroidery Machine and Kimberbell's Clear Blue Tiles

My free-motion quilting skills are the pits. My stitches are uneven and messy. Plus I have a machine that can do the work for me – I just needed to learn how to be effective using that tool! So I’ll confess what held me back: feeling overwhelmed about the idea of how to place and line-up the quilting designs within the quilt itself. It felt like it required more thinking and brainpower than I felt capable of. It just felt like one more hurdle, so I kept putting off trying. Can anyone else relate?

A couple of months ago Kimberbell Designs released their new tool called Clear Blue Tiles to help specifically with machine quilting at home on an embroidery machine. When they reached out to see if I would be interested in trying out the Clear Blue Tiles system* I was definitely intrigued, but still a little intimidated at the idea of where and how to re-hoop my project for the best look.

Oh. My. Goodness. Clear Blue Tiles have been a game changer for me!! They have simplified the process SO MUCH. No need to pull out rulers and re-measure every spot to line-up before moving the hoop.

How to Use Clear Blue Tiles for Machine Quilting

You can check out the Kimberbell Clear Blue Tiles videos to see the full process for yourself, but here’s the basic gist:

Spray baste your quilt sandwich layers (top, batting, and backing). No need to pin as the hoop will hold layers securely together when stitching.

Mark the area to be quilted according to the size range you want done using one of dozens of different ’tiles’ or guides. Using the markings as a guide, hoop the area to be quilted and select the pre-programed corresponding tile-size design to fill that space.

Then watch the machine do all of the stitching work. (I’m pretty mesmerized watching the perfect stitching that I can’t mess up! lol). When the stitching is finished, move the hoop to the next pre-marked section of the quilt, tap the buttons on the machine, and watch it go all over again.

The Clear Blue Tiles kit comes with 26 different tile sizes, plus the digital pre-programed quilting files on a handy USB Drive with 6 different quilting motifs in all of the different block sizes. Also two wrap bands for securing rolling and securing your quilt ends and 2 water soluble marking pens. (You can use any preferred pen/pencil for marking your quilt top.)

The Expansion set comes with 18 additional tiles, specifically for larger hoops. These tiles also work with the quilting files that come with the original kit.

All of the quilting motifs that come with the  tiles are a meandering, viney style – perfect for adding pretty design and texture and easy to add side by side without having to line up design ends etc. There are four seasonal designs and two generic swirls and loops.

But you’re not limited to these designs when using the Clear Blue Tile system. You can download and use dozens of other Kimberbell quilting designs as well as other imported designs or designs stored in your own machine.

My favorite part of using this process is the efficiency. I can mark a whole quilt at once – then all I need to do is re-hoop each portion one after another. No need to stop, remeasure, scan or whatever. Just move the hoop and pick up in the next spot with the pre-programmed design at the corresponding size, and off you go.

The huge variety of tile sizes (designed to correspond with most typical quilt block shapes and sizes) means you can use specific size tiles to mark and stitch specific blocks and sections of your quilt to give them a custom feel.

Here I used the Spring quilting design to quilt this table runner. I used some smaller custom tiles to play with marking and quilting the inside 2″ x 8″ green borders as well as the 4″ x 4″ blocks. 

For the rest of the runner I used the larger tiles to give more of an all over look. Smaller tiles- more specific detail and fussy stitching. Bigger tiles – less re-hooping. Pros and cons to both, but I love having options!

For this table runner I used the biggest tile (8″ x 14″) that would fit in my biggest hoop and did an all over loopy stipple, as if it were free-motion quilted. 

I marked the whole runner before any stitching so all that I had to do was move the hoop to complete each section. Then the machine did all of the work! 

This project stitched up SO quick. I’m really excited to try it on my next baby quilt! (Fabric for this runner is Stitch Cheater Print by Lori Holt. So cute!)

Kimberbell recommends this system for any quilt up to 60″ x 60″ (larger than that and the weight and size of the quilt is too heavy for the machine system.

The Clear Blue Tiles Essentials Set also comes with a house and tree table runner pattern and instructions for piecing blocks in the hoop (I’m so excited to give this a try to! Similar to foundation paper-piecing) as well as instruction for how to use this process and quilting designs for embroidery details on projects like bags and aprons. It’s such a versatile system!

If you have more questions or are having a hard time visualizing how this all works, I highly recommend watching the introductory videos with Kim, demonstrating everything. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly even I understood and started using this system. I already can’t wait to do more!

Where to Find Clear Blue Tiles

Machine Quilting all over designs with an Embroidery Machine and Clear Blue Tiles from Kimberbell DesignsThe Clear Blue Tiles System is available directly from Kimberbell Designs or hopefully from your favorite source of machine embroidery supplies. It’s also available from My Girlfriends’ Quilt Shop and includes additional step-by-step video classes if you want additional guidance and step-by-step video.

If you have an embroidery machine and have wanted to up your machine quilting experience on your home machine, I can’t recommend Clear Blue Tiles enough!


*This post is sponsored by Kimberbell Designs. All opinions and experiences in this post are my own.

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  • Reply
    November 13, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    Impressive! Looks like fun to do and the results look great!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Looks fantastic! What is your largest hoop size? My Brother machine takes a 5×7

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