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Thread: free hand quilting

  1. #1
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    I love to make quilts and have 5 quilt tops ready to be quilted, but can't afford to get them professionally quilted. I have a regular sewing machine and it has the free hand quilting foot, but I can't seem to get the tension right on the bottom side. It's all loose. What am I doing wrong?

    Also, I have been checking prices online for the long arm quilting machines and am stunned at how expensive they are....how does the average quilter afford one? Are there used ones out there? and where?

    Help me!

  2. #2
    Moderator sharon b's Avatar
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    Hello and Welcome from Northern Indiana ! Glad you joined us :lol:

    What type of machine do you have ? maybe you should start out with a quilting foot - and do a Stitch in the Ditch pattern ? I have yet to try Free Motion Quilting - but others here say it takes lots of practice :wink:

  3. #3
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    first, did you lower the foot before you started sewing?
    you might find some tutes on free motion quilting and watch what they do. even search here. we may have some.

  4. #4
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    Do you have the feed dogs dropped and the foot feet down. When I have bobbin issues it's usually because the foot feet is up. I have quilted quilts on my regular machine and it takes some work but can be done. I can't afford a long arm but did invest in a Juki sewing machine. It had a nine inch throat and is much easier to use. And a lot less expensive than a long arm.

  5. #5
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    It's easier to start out machine quilting with a walking foot. You can make straight lines or guide the fabric into gently curving lines (a more modern approach).

    When you use your free motion quilting foot (does it have a spring in it?), are you lowering your presser foot? You can actually keep your feed dogs up for FMQ, so you could try that variation also.

    Thread lying on the top usually means there is a tension issue -- either top thread too tight or bobbin thread too loose.

    (p.s. "free hand quilting" is a confusing term, as I thought at first your post was about hand quilting. The term you want to use is "free motion quilting" or FMQ.)

  6. #6
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    I have a Brother CS600i and love it (purchased at Walmart). I do some "stitch in the ditch" quilting, but want to learn to do the freehand stuff. I did lower the feed dogs, but the instruction manual didn't have any help with the tension.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Happy Treadler's Avatar
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    Try tightening up your top tension. Also make little quilt sandwiches from extra batting & scraps until you get it right.

    Trina

  8. #8
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye Rose
    Also, I have been checking prices online for the long arm quilting machines and am stunned at how expensive they are....how does the average quilter afford one? Are there used ones out there? and where?

    Help me!
    YES a longarm machine is a HUGE investment. There are some midarm setups that are considerably less and yes there are used machines out there but longarm machines with rack tend to hold their value so it is still many thousands of dollars for a LA set up even used. You can google "used longarm quilting machines" and will get a lot of hits. The average quilter needs to think long and hard about it as well as consider her needs and the needs of her hopefully future customers. I spent 2 years saving and thinking about it and trying out different setups before I finally settled on my Innova. My goal is to quilt for others to help defray/justify the investment. And yes that is exactly what it is, an investment.

    Many opt for a midarm setup using a machine that has anywhere from a 9" to 16" harp (throat space) on a rack. These setups are considerably less expensive and can also be found used on occasion, for those who decided to upgrade to a true longarm later or have given up. I can't tell you how many of those I stumbled across when I started researching. If you are truly considering getting a midarm on a rack try to see if there is a LQS in your area that offers lessons and rental time on their longarm or midarm setup to get the feel for it and help you decide if this is the direction you want to take.

  9. #9
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    Hi from Western MA. I, too, cannot afford a long arm, but I do FMQ on my domestic sewing machine. I took a class about a year ago on machine quilting and loved it! It does take a lot of practice, but using invisible thread helped and I'm getting better. I started off by making UFO blocks into pot holders and then practiced my FMQ. I really enjoy it! The fantastic instructor took the fear out of FMQ. She also had a book, Heirloom Machine Quilting by Harriet Hargrave which she claimed was her bible. I bought one and wow! it has everything you need to know.

  10. #10
    Senior Member quiltbugs's Avatar
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    Hi - Would an investment of about $800-$900 be feasible? I can't afford a longarm either, and was totally discouraged after trying to quilt on a "regular size" sewing machine. I bought a Brother PQ1500S a few years ago, which has I think a 9" harp, and it has made all the difference in the world. I still have a couple smaller machines I use because the Brother only straight stitches. It has made free motion quilting so so so much easier. You honestly would be amazed how much that extra space helps.

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