Thursday, September 24, 2015

Free-Motion Quilting Tips

When free-motion quilting is done well, it looks effortless. It takes practice, lots of practice, to get those quilting motifs looking even and well-spaced, enhancing the quilt rather than detracting from the design. 

There are lots of books out there about machine quilting and classes that feature free motion quilting. Here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

I no longer lower the feed dogs! I find I have more control. I know, this is contrary to everything out there, but try it, it works for me!

 Practice machine quilting motifs with pen and paper several times to get the hang of looking ahead as you stitch. The key is to look ahead of where you are quilting so that you are always planning where to go next.

Practice with pen and paper will only take you so far. I recommend you make a quilt for community service and quilt it. Maybe you will need to make two or three of these before you get comfortable with free motion, but it so well worth the effort.

A drop-in table where your machine sits flush with the bed of the table is ideal for free-motion quilting. Gravity will pull the weight of your quilt down and cause it to drag, creating friction, which prevents good stitches from forming. If you don’t have a drop-in table, use the largest table top surface you can. Set up portable tables to control as much of the bulk as you can.

Hide your mistakes with busy fabric prints. The stitching doesn't show on fabrics that with lots of pattern (busy fabrics), or have many different colors or medium to dark values.

Notice the yellow thread. It shows on the white fabric, but not so much on the busy print fabric.
Use cotton piecing thread and match thread colors in both top and bobbin. This is easy thread to sew with and eliminates one possible source of frustration.

The most important step is to start! Stitch something, if you like the way it looks, do it some more. Can you change it? I usually have some idea in my head when I start, but 'let the quilt talk to me' as I stitch.  

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