Let’s Talk Free Motion

Free motion quilting (FMQ)is one of those topics that always gets a reaction. Some people love it, others not so much. Some find it intimidating.
There are many quilters out there who are much better at it than me, and you can see their sites or channels for how-to instructions. I’m making an effort this year to practice more and thought I’d share some tips on what I’ve found helpful.
Tip #1 – Audition
Before I start quilting I place clear vinyl over the quilt top and audition quilting designs with a Sharpie. The product reminds me of the colored stuff we put around Easter baskets back in the day. I got my roll at Joann’s for around $5. You can clean the Sharpie off with hand sanitizer or cut away where you’ve drawn and throw it away. It’s a good way to determine how a quilting design will look before you start stitching.
quilt design audition
Tip #2 – Take breaks
I get up and move every 30 to 45 minutes. I tend to tense up when I quilt, especially through the shoulders. Moving keeps it from turning into a problem.
Tip #3 – Clean your machine
Every time I wind a new bobbin I clean out the bobbin area. I pop off the throat plate, remove all the pieces and clean it with a small paintbrush. Some threads throw a lot of lint. If I start having tension problems, I know it isn’t because my machine is dirty.
Tip #4 – Control humidity
The first few years I had my wide bed machine we did not get along. I had tension problems beyond belief and thought I’d bought a lemon. Two years ago we installed central air in our home, and I haven’t had a problem since. Our sewing machines are high tech these days, and they don’t like it humid.
Tip #5 – Know when to stop
When I get tired or start making a lot of mistakes, I stop quilting. I’ll make the binding or work on something else. Trying to power through never works out well. It’s better to leave it alone until you’re more rested or less distracted.
I hope you find at least one of the tips helpful. Have one of your own tips not mentioned above? Leave a comment and share it with the rest of us. The best tips are the ones we learn from each other.

This entry was posted in freemotion, quilting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Let’s Talk Free Motion

  1. Laura says:

    Good tips! I did not know that about the humidity…I guess I never thought about it since we don’t have alot of humidity in my area. 🙂

  2. chrisknits says:

    Great tips! I need to remember most all of them. LOL!

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