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Thread: Machine Quilting is Fun!

  1. #1
    Roben's Avatar
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    Today is Friday, which I generally try to reserve for fun stuff (notice I said 'try' :lol: ). I have a shop sample due tomorrow that needs to be quilted today, so I generally use a practice piece to check my tension, warm up, etc. before starting on the actual quilt.

    I've seen a lot of members post about wanting to machine quilt, so I thought I'd share my practice in hopes that someone will feel more comfortable trying it. It is so fun - just wandering over the practice piece, doing whatever doodle pops in my head. There is something very freeing about it :D

    The practice piece here is just a couple of pieces of muslin with batting in between. Sometimes I use pieces from a layer cake (handy since they're already cut down to 10") and turn those into coasters or pincushions. If it doesn't work out, I get a fancy dust rag :lol:

    I set up my machines with 2 different colors of the same thread (in this case, So Fine by Superior Threads) - that makes spotting tension problems easier, and it's the thread I'll be working with on the 'good' piece. I reduce the speed on my machine (since I have a lead foot!) and just play.

    Some things I've noticed that may help someone else:
    1) If I am breaking needles (did a lot of that at first) I found it was because I was jerking the fabric (most especially when I thought I was making a mistake) instead of moving it smoothly. That got better after I relaxed about the whole idea of machine quilting.
    2) I got really hung up about what my stitches looked like at first, but what I've found is that if I concentrate more on how I'm moving the fabric the stitches look better with practice.
    3) It just gets better the more I do it - the key for me was to make it playtime and to just have fun!
    4) Curves are giving me fits - I keep squaring them off, making them pointy, anything but curvy :lol: - so I got a dry erase board and marker, then taped a piece of vinyl over it so I could slip a piece of paper under the vinyl. I traced some curvy quilting designs from magazines (first in pencil, then in Sharpie over newspaper so I didn't ruin my magazine) - I can put them under the vinyl and practice my curves. I've had much better results with them now. (The vinyl wipes with a bit of alcohol, but doesn't wipe as cleanly as the dry erase boards do - just an FYI)

    So share your tips, hints, methods and practice pieces! The way that works for you could be just the thing someone else has been waiting to hear that will make it all come together for them. The worst that could happen is that we all have fancy dust rags :lol:

    Close up of today's practice
    Name:  Attachment-22736.jpe
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    This is the practice piece.
    Name:  Attachment-22923.jpe
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Size:  18.1 KB

  2. #2
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    Thank you for the encouragement! I just got my machine back from the shop and will be setting it up later today. This gives me courage to attempt some "playing" with it to see if it works the way I want it to!
    I love your doodling! :lol:

  3. #3
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    Thanks for starting this post, Roben! I thought I could show the two doll quilts I did, but you can't see the quilting in the pictures I have of them!

    One thing I kept catching myself doing was forgetting to put the darning foot back down, when I'd start back up again! Another problem I had was achy shoulders while doing it. I had to keep reminding myself, from other posts to - relax!
    I also got some new gardening gloves, with the stickity palms. They did really help!

    Thanks again, I'll be following this! :D

  4. #4
    mgshaw's Avatar
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    Looks good Roben!!! All last week I was working on hand quilting and didnt do any machine quilting, so last night I decided to do a little bit of practice because I want to start machine quilting on another top. Boy am I glad I didnt just jump in and start on the quilt! My practice after a week or so off looks terrible!!!! :shock:

  5. #5
    Senior Member genghis khan's Avatar
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    Thats awsome roben i have a bunch of practice pieces around here like that. My methods of doing FM are a little different though and may not be for everyone. In the past to practice quilting with a pattern i have used heavy canvas with the design cut out of it then either pinned or even masking taped to the practice sandwich for quilting. Maybe someone will find this useful maybe not lol. Chris

  6. #6
    Roben's Avatar
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    Shemjo, come on out and play! The practice really helps, and when I work on a big quilt I secure it around the blocks with the walking foot - so the areas on a big quilt that get free motioned aren't much different in size than the practice pieces anyway :wink:

    Diana, it's so funny you mentioned the pressure foot :D I have 2 machines, one electronic that doesn't even have a pressure foot lever and the other one more manual with one. I was playing last night on the second one and kept getting that *beep* - darn pressure foot lever!!!

    I tried the gloves, and just couldn't get them to feel comfortable to me. I've tried the 'halo' thing that came in the quilting kit for my machine - love that, but the stitching area is small so every time I get on a roll I have to stop and move it :cry:

    I'm finding it helpful to keep a stack of practice pieces, so I can pick one up easily and play a little each day or two. At least changing the foot out isn't a major production (I hate putting on the walking foot; the darning foot is much easier for me.) Melissa, you're absolutely right; a little time away, and it's almost as bad as starting over!

    Chris, that's not much different than marking or sewing around a paper template - except that it is re-usable! Love that idea!!

    I'm going to practice the curli-Q's more this afternoon - I'm going for wind, since it's a Halloween project. Hubby doesn't know it, but dinner's gonna be take out (and he's lucky I'm leaving the sewing room at all :lol: :lol: )

  7. #7
    Super Member mcdaniel023's Avatar
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    I can do pretty good on the small practice pieces and small quilts. But, it is really hard to do the same thing on a bigger quilt on my small machine. I keep telling my DH that I REALLY need a new machine. I showed him a a set up at a quilt shop. A long arm and awesome frame. I told him the price on it. So now when I buy a mid arm he won't have a heart attack. :lol:

  8. #8
    Super Member MollieSue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcdaniel023
    I showed him a a set up at a quilt shop. A long arm and awesome frame. I told him the price on it. So now when I buy a mid arm he won't have a heart attack. :lol:
    lol!!!!!!!!! Very good strategy!! :thumbup: :thumbup: :D

  9. #9
    Roben's Avatar
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    Excellent strategy - it works! I showed DH a computerized Gammill :twisted:

    One more tip: A fresh, sharp needle is a *good* thing (guess who didn't change out her needle? :oops: )

  10. #10
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Thank you for the wonderful tips :D :D :D

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