Machine quilting can be a lot easier and faster than hand quilting as you do not have to painstakingly push a needle through three layers of a quilt sandwich 1000 times!
There are countless stitches now available using quilting machines or sewing machines and they will reliably produce evenly spaced and sized stitches. This point is where much of the argument about machine quilting comes in, as with hand quilting there will always be minor discrepancies with size and even spacing between stitches. This is exactly what quilters believe gives their hand-quilted quilts charm and heirloom status!
It is not really possible to machine quilt around appliqué pieces unless you are controlling each stitch sewn by the machine. So if you want to use the machine and you have used appliqué then it is best to quilt the appliqué sections by hand first and then the background with the machine.
Cross hatching on a machine is very simple and accurate as you can use the machine markers to measure the distance between lines. Stippling is also possible although it is not as easy as cross hatching, however with practice can be quite fast.
Serious machine quilters should also check out our section on long arm quilting machines.
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