For those of us who want to “do it all”, using our domestic machine for a large quilt is often a challenge. So we were excited a few years ago to discover Martha Schelleringhoud and her creative method for doing just that AND still having a professional look to both the front and the back of the quilt. Martha shares her journey of discovery below.

Martha will be teaching her method at the shop on Saturday November 30… click here for details and to register.


My quilting journey started in 1990. Right from the start I said I wanted to be a machine quilter. My instructor of my first class said to me, “then you will never be able to make large quilts.”  This was in the days before long arm quilting and hand quilting was the thing to do.

Two years into my quilting journey I made a pineapple log cabin quilt done in the quilt as you go method, but I was not happy with the way blocks were put together.  That Idea of quilting in smaller units and then somehow joining the blocks together, reignited within me.  I thought, ‘there has to be a better way to join the blocks together.’

In 1995 I had the idea of joining the blocks together using the sashing as the join point.  I have three goals when quilting in sections.

  1. The join line on the top has to be incorporated into the design of the top.
  2. The batting has to butt up against each other, not overlapping or sewn together with a regular seam. I do not want anyone feeling the quilt to feel a lump.
  3. The join line on the back has to be less visible so I use a very busy backing.

A year later I came up with a second method that does not use sashing on the front to join the blocks.

quilting in sections

I did not tell anyone I was quilting in sections, not even the friends at my quilting guild that I sit beside at the monthly meetings. Remember hand quilting was still popular at this time, machine quilting was growing in popularity, but the thoughts around that time were if you were a machine quilter you were taking the easy way out.  So I thought if people knew I was quilting in sections they would really think I was cheating.  I fooled many quilters and judges.

In 2008 I was asked to be quilter of the year at the last meeting for the year at my guild, The Region of York Quilters Guild.  I made samples of my quilting in sections method, and showed everyone at the guild. They were so impressed they wanted me to teach a workshop on this method. Since then I have been teaching this method and eventually other methods at quilting guilds, at first locally then more widely across Ontario and once even to Doha in Qatar.

Quilting has changed a lot over the years and will continue to change. Sit down machines with larger throat openings, and more long arm machines that can be in private homes have allowed more people to quilt larger quilts in one piece.   But for those who wish to quilt a large quilt in smaller sections, then join the sections together using this method is still very popular.

Martha Schellingerhoud.