Free Motion Quilting – Top Tips for Success
These notes are a companion to my lecture. It is recommended that you attend my lecture to get the full meaning of the following notes
Extension Table – An extension table that attaches to your sewing machine is a must. Your left hand needs a solid flat surface to the left of the needle. The sewing machine’s bed is not wide enough.
Quilting Gloves – A must. Afterall, it is your hands that control the stitch length. The stitch length will be erratic if your hands slip
Sew Slip- Free Motion Slider:A slippery sheet to cover the bed of the sewing machine. The “Sew Slip” has a non-stick top surface which is bonded to cured silicone. The tacky back holds the “Sew Slip” to your machines surface. “SewSlip” eliminates the drag on your free-motion sewing and quilting projects. Best of all, you don’t need to tape the “SewSlip” down to have it stay where you put it.
Drop the feed Dogs – If you leave them engaged they tend to fight against you when you kove the quilt sideways and backwards
The backing and batting should be at least 2” larger all around the outside of the quilt. This will give your hands something to grip. If there is little to no extra batting and backing, you will not be able to do your best stitching around the outside edges of your quilt.
Your frame of mind: If you are a novice, take on this new experience like a five year old kindergartner. Be excited, and proud of every stitch. Be proud of every scribble, as you progress, your scribbles will become calligraphy!
Like a pilot working towards his license, you need to put in the time. As the hours pile up, so will your skills.
Now that I have convinced you to get started, here are the secrets for success:
- The machine must sew at about ¾ speed, quite fast. (This can be set on the speed control slider or button)
- Engage the needle down function
- Bring the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt, hold onto the threads, sew a few stitches, stop, snip the threads and continue to stitch
- Your hands must move at a steady but slower speed.
- Never let go of the quilt while you are sewing.
- Only quilt between your hands, not above your finger tips or below the palms. Simply “STOP” re-position your hands, and continue stitching
- Never rotate the quilt while you are stitching. Although you may be practicing on a small piece and you see no reason why you shouldn’t rotate the fabric, keep in mind, once you have a large quilt in your machine YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ROTATE THE QUILT WHILE STITCHING. So don’t develop a habit that will make you feel uncomfortable and awkward.
- Tackling a very large quilt in a very small machine: Start in the middle of the quilt and stitch towards the right only. Give the quilt a ¼ turn and start back at the middle. Repeat a total of four times until you have the center of the quilt done. Then quilt the remainder of the quilt in a clockwise manner.
- More on the subject of speed: When Quilting to a point or around a corner, do not slow down how fast you move the quilt compared to how fast you are stitching. If you do, the machine will place several stitches at the point or at the corner. This is manifested on the underside, looking like mini French knots!