I read articles, practiced on small pieces, watched videos, practiced on a few more small things, meandered through a few baby quilts... It wasn't until I FMQd a large appliqued wall hanging with a lot of areas to quilt that I really GOT it. There was no way out of that but through, and ever since my FMQ has been hugely improved. Something finally clicked.
So that is my advice: when you've hit the wall, commit to something big that has already taken a lot of time and effort to create. If you need the pressure, that will do it.
I used Harriet Hargrave's book on machine quilting to teach myself. Made up half a dozen practice sandwiches for starters. Got decent with FMQ that way, *but* I hated moving quilts around to do it. Never got over that, even for baby quilts.
I finally purchased a used Voyager 17 and Hinterberg frame (a relatively inexpensive way to start frame quilting, moving the machine instead of the quilt) and love it! For me, it is so much easier than trying to move the quilt around. I just quilted a queen-sized quilt for my sister in a week and it was *fun*! Just the month before I got the frame, it took me a week to FMQ a crib-sized quilt on my DSM and it was drudgery and tension (no pun intended) the whole way.
I'm thinking some people are suited to one approach, and some to the other. I'm definitely one who prefers to move the machine!
Leah Day has a great website...after about 53 quilts I bought a pair of gloves! The key word is'PRACTICE'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You need to just jump in with both feet and just start doing it.
You need to take the pressure off your foot, drop or cover the feed dogs, make sure the top tension is set right to give you best stitches, wear gloves, I use garden gloves with rubber nubs. No way would I ever try it without them.
Like others have said just practice. I just do a meander, love the looks and love doing it. I keep a small sandwich and quilt on it to make sure the stitches are to my liking, then start on the quilt. Good luck.
FMQing is also on my list of things to work on this year. I'm making placemats==seemed like a good place to start. Also tablerunners.
One thing I had to come to terms with is that my quilts will never look like they are long armed. I have never sent one out & do my own quilting on my Janome 1600P. I have practiced lots & lots and do better with FMQ rather than trying to follow a stencil. I've also learned how to use my walking foot to do curves & have had good luck with that. I also use Machinger gloves- a big help. Check out Sally Terry's book "Hooked on Feathers"- it is a great method for quilting on a DSM.
It is great to practice but after a period of time you should just jump in and try to relax and enjoy the progress you will get better. I would also use fine thread that matches the fabric
Why not? I think they can.
Originally Posted by Maggiemay
I'm also a self-taught / book-taught quilter, and it took me a while to get up the nerve to put the cool FMQ foot my husband had bought for me months previously to use. I'm not good with videos; I prefer a book or written explanation, and I did some reading about the technicalities of FMQ. But for me, the thing that really made it happen...was DOING it.
I just took a deep breath, threw together some orphan blocks, and started quilting. I had done many in-the-ditch projects to that point, but this was a new feed-dogs-down adventure. Let's just say that my dogs are now the proud owners of several wonkily-quilted crate pads! It took many jerky curves, widely varying stitch sizes, and backing eyelashes before I got my hands, the movement of the quilt, and the machine's tension all in coordination. Now I consider myself adept enough at FMQ that for the latest project I went "fancy" and made this water quilting pattern on this blue quilt.
I've FMQ quilts of all sizes on my DM; it is much easier with the machine set into the table top to create a large, flat surface. I use the slick covering under the quilt, but I haven't tried the gloves you guys are talking about; I'll have to give those a shot.
In short, just keep quilting and you'll get better and better despite yourself'!
I have gotten so much better after going to a Ricky Tims presentaton. The things that helped are: make a large surface to hold the quilt. (I use a table to the left and my ironing board behind my sewing table), puddle, instead of roll and concentrate on a small area, "one pot holder at a time". I have managed to fm quilt a queen sized quilt. It isn't perfect quilting, but it isn't bad either. Have fun, relax...don't forget to relax or your shoulders will hurt, big time. I won't quilt without my gloves.