Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free Motion Quilting tips

   Love questions and comments, but it's impossible to reply and answer when you post as "anonymous"..... so, please include an email for an answer.  Or the easy way is to go to blogger.com  (set up your blogger profile or blog),  click on your dashboard.  Select Edit Profile.  Check the box for "Show my Email Address."  Save changes.  Done!
   The question was about using a new needle and type of needle.  Yes, I put in a new needle before I begin to FMQ.  Why ask for problems before I begin....a small burr can cause tons of trouble.  I generally use a size 11 or 14 sharps quilting needle with the Isacord thread.  Exception to this rule is when I am FMQ on all batiks.....I have had to go up to a size 16 at times to avoid skipped stitches.  Some batik finishes have a lot of residue from the waxing and the weave is generally tighter, so a 16 is sometimes needed I find. 
  Also, the needle depends on the thread type.  I am now using the polyester threads to quilt with--usually-- and have much less problem with breakage and skipped stitches.  If I am doing straight line quilting, I may use cotton quilting thread (40 weight) and use a 14 needle.  The heavier cotton thread is not strong enough for some of my FMQ moves...by that I mean changing direction, like in the swirls.  Red Rock Threads has a lot of great info on their website about threads and quilting.  Research a little to solve your problems.

Best tips I have for FMQ:  These  have worked  for me, and  I'm sure there are lots of others. 
Practice, practice, practice.  First on paper.  Draw the pattern over and over.  Wendy at Ivory Spring blog has some great thread talk posts on this. 
Then go to a practice sandwich.  A few years ago, I must have quilted a thousand yards---not really, but it felt like it---of fabrics for my daughter to turn into knitting project bags. I did meandering, swirls, teardrops, hearts, leaves, loops.....all kinds of patterns.   This really helped me find the rhythm and learn to control my speed and motion.
Start small and then try a larger quilt.  Nothing like trying to quilt a bed size quilt the first time.  It's a disaster waiting to happen.  Learn the technique on smaller pieces.  They are easier to handle and maneuver around the needle.    I don't roll my quilt sandwich....rather I bunch and scrunch it up on the machine bed.  I focus on the area where my hands are, not the entire top.  If that area is flat I am fine.
Use machiner's gloves.  There are several brands on the market that are light weight and have  rubbery tips on the fingers or palms  to "grip" the fabric. 
Take frequent breaks.  I will stop about every 20 minutes or so and stretch.  Get up and move around.
Find your speed.  It does not have to be wide open, flat out, or all the way to the floor.  Faster in this case, may not be better----unless you like to rip out stitches.  I would rather go slower and be in control. 
Put on some music.  It works!  The music soothes and makes the stitching better.  Me, I love The Righteous Brothers or Rod Stewart singing the classics. 
Finally....I don't look for perfection in my stitches.  I don't have a cruise control or speed regulator.  Just me and the foot pedal.  I like it that way.
Happy stitching.


Lynne said...

Great tips. Thanks Debbie.

Cheree @ The Morning Latte said...

Good info on the needles and thread! I don't have a stitch regulator either--I always wonder if that would be great...or not? I always put on music, too! :o) Gloves...I've got to get some gloves. Been telling myself that for 5 or 6 years! Isn't that silly? What are these knitting bags? My interest is piqued!

Impera_Magna said...

Great info on needles and threads... I've had problems when quilting batiks... next time I'll try a size 16 needle!

Lynda said...

Debbie, Great post. I've been struggling with FMQ. I was told it would take me 30 bobbins to finally be good at it. Not sure I want to work on it that hard!! Putting on music is a great idea. I'll keep plugging along. Thanks.

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