Free Motion Quilting
Free Motion Quilting
I do love to use my walking foot to quilt. Even if I intend to do some free motion quilting on certain areas of a quilt, I use the walking foot to do, what is known as, anchor quilting first. When using the walking foot, I always increase my stitch length setting to 3, 3.5 or 4, depending on the size of the project.
I am limited by the narrow throat space of my current machine. My little Janome has only 6.5″ between the needle and the body of the machine. But that doesn’t prevent me from doing my best. And gaining experience.
The little advice I can offer, when learning how to free motion quilt, is the following:
Quilting gloves: Being a frugal sort, I started my experience without gloves. Then spotted a pair on sale one day and bought a Fons and Porter pair. I knew right away that I would never again quilt – free motion or with the walking foot – without gloves. It did not take long to wear that pair out. And when I searched for a replacement pair, I was fortunate to find some Machingers. Now those are the cream of the crop! Reversible even! Love them!
|Photo from Leah Day’s shop|
Relax and think positive: If you begin by thinking how terrible your results will be…. That is certainly how they will be. If you are all worked up and distracted before you sit down to quilt…. Wait until a better time to do it. If music relaxes you and puts you in a good mood…. Turn up the volume! Make sure you have good support and are seated comfortably, with shoulders relaxed.
Try different designs. I find that designs with curves are easier for me to do than sharp cornered designs. The last project I worked on here, was my first attempt a free motion quilting a much coveted boxy meandering style of free motion quilting. More experience under the belt on my pajamas!
Try different threads. I normally use Gutermann polyester thread, in plain white, for all my piecing and quilting. My Janome likes it. And white goes with everything. But then I received a sample spool of Superior Thread‘s Fanastico multicoloured thread. And like WOW! I was so pleased with the easy of free motion quilting using that thread! I ordered two cones from Superior. And then quickly sent away again for three more. I now own five cones of different multicoloured threads!
Try different methods.
My first few experiences free motion quilting involved using my machine’s start/stop button. I quickly realized I needed to use the foot pedal to control stopping, starting and the speed of my machine. And the needle down function is a must. Remembering to always put your presser foot lever down after adjusting your quilt will eventually become second nature. Sometimes stitching sideways does not get good results. You need to get some experience to tell if your machine prefers to stitch along the fabric as it is pulled toward or away from you through the machine. I now quilt without lowering my feed dogs even though my machine does have this function. Works just fine with them engaged! Leah Day said it would. And she should know. I also set my stitch length to zero. I don’t know if it makes any difference in the stitching or not!
I used to get all tensed up. My shoulders hurt. My head hurt. My mood plummeted. I was a miserable free motion quilter. But gradually, over time and with experience, that has all changed. Positive Thinking, Practice and Experience and the Right Tools are the keys to successful free motion quilting.
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Keep On Quilting On!