After I do a lot of my detail work on my small Bernina machine, I pin the quilt onto an Inspira frame and use a bigger Viking machine for the backgrounds. It’s not a long-arm. It’s only a couple of inches longer than my Bernina, but it’s a lot faster so when I go back to the Bernina, I tend to break needles because I’m in the habit of moving fast. When I first got this Viking machine last year, I thought it was too noisy and fast. I felt like I was trying to be creative with a wood-chipper or a bag of chipmunks, which is what it sounds like.

Now I’m really loving it, although still working out some of the kinks in my process. I actually move the quilt back and forth between the two machines several times before I’m done with the whole project.


These are some of my practice samples — I develop new stitch patterns for each part of the quilt. Because I match the thread to my fabrics, the effects are subtle — you have to get up close to see the different stitching motifs.


The stitch patterns can be symbolic or decorative. This one doesn’t really mean anything, I was just happened to be thinking about lassos because I had seen City Slickers the night before (not a very good movie, but a cute cow.) So I think I’ll call this pattern, Happy Cowgirl.


Happy Cowgirl works good as I move around objects and into tight places. Some of my other patterns aren’t so flexible, so I have to improvise.

There’s a different stitch on the blue background, inspired by some abstract patterns I’ve seen on 50’s furniture or fabric. I used a variegated pink and blue King Tut thread for this, and if I get my rhythm right, the pinks fade in and out in a nice way.



  • I’m just catching up on your blog and am happy to find this entry, as I’m just getting my Juki set up on a frame for the first time. I like the idea of going back and forth between table and frame to accomplish the quilting that works best for the piece. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Hi,
    Just need some tips. New Viking dealer and have a Mega Quilter setup in our shop. I am feeling inept since I have much more experience as a free-motion quilter on regular sewing machines.
    What’s the best way to get good at the MQ fast?

  • I have a similar set up with a Brother 1500. It’s super fast also. I like that I control the speed. There is no regulator and I thought I’d never get used to it, but, I think I’m finally getting it.

    Your stitches are great-nice and even. The free motion quilting feels like painting to me.

  • you’re a thread HEAD! look at that setup. wow.
    Thanks very much for this little tutorial. It’s very interesting to someone like me, with a whole different approach. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Up close and personal! So fun and so much work. I want to be quilting but all I am doing right now is computer stuff and inventory and all that junk. Oh well, hope to have my big piece up on the long arm next week so I can get it done. This is looking good!

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