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Thread: 1ST Time FMQ ...feel like crying

  1. #1
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    I did some practicing on small quilted scraps to get the feel of free motion quilting. Now I am working on my first charity doing FMQ and it looks like a disaster! I could really use some help and tips. I just want to do swirls all over the little quilt and mine look like jagged circles. I lowered the tension to 3 and I dropped the feed dogs...Oh I don't know...I am just upset but I really want to do a nice job! Please help...tips anything...thanks

  2. #2
    Super Member featherweight's Avatar
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    Not much help. But practice, practice, and practice some more. You are using a darning foot or quilting foot aren't you??

  3. #3
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    yes, i am using a darning foot...I feel so stupid I know it is a learning curve...but a big one it is...

  4. #4
    Junior Member Auntie M's Avatar
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    It gets better the more you do it! Best tip I got was to hum a song to keep your rhythm helping to keep fabric moving at the same speed. I also turned my machine somewhat vertically to me giving me more room to move around. I'm no expert at it but am having lots of fun trying, besides it's the love that goes into a charity quilt, not the perfection!

  5. #5
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    It is a BIG learning curve at first. You may be rushing the learning process by trying to FMQ an actual quilt already. I didn't try FMQ anything "real" for a couple of months. The cat got some nice quilted practice sandwiches to sleep on though.

    Make up a whole stack of 12 or 15 inch square sandwiches to practice on. Spend a little time at it every chance you get, and your skill will improve dramatically over time. Save your practice pieces and you can see your progress.

    I practice my quilting on a small sandwich first EVERY time I sit down to work on a real quilt. I'm not great at it yet, but things are looking much better!

    If the FMQ isn't working out for this charity quilt, you may want to try doing some wavy lines or a wavy grid with a walking foot instead if that's an option for you.

    Good luck, and keep practicing on small pieces until you're happy with your work, then try a small quilt again.

  6. #6
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    To most people, the actual pattern of the fabric is most important, unless you've left a lot of white fabrics where the quilting is quite visible.

    So don't sweat it. Just finish it up and call it good. :) Charity quilts would be ideal places to practice FMQ. Guess I should try it. But I think when I use thick batting that quilting by machine becomes very, very difficult.

  7. #7
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    I feel your pain. I went through the same thing. One of the things that worked for me was to make the machine go really fast and my hands went fairly slowly.

    I bought some really cheap muslin and made a gazillion pot holders, place mats, etc. to practise.

    I also found that the batting made a difference. I find it easier to FMQ with a cotton batting rather than the polyester. The thinner the better.

    I also visualize what I want to do before I actually do it.

    Don't give up. Just keep practising on something that doesn't matter and you will get better. Don't worry so much about the design, get the feel for moving your fabric and the design quality will come later.

  8. #8
    MrsMoe4487's Avatar
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    Go at a slooow speed....my circles turn out like that too so I have to slow down :) it gets easier the more you do it!

  9. #9
    Super Member cherylynne's Avatar
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    FMQ is a little like handwriting. Practice using a marker and whiteboard. Hold the marker loosely in your fist, not like a pencil. And the key is to just practice. I also got a pair of those gripper gloves and they do seem to help.

  10. #10
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    As I sit here picking out the tiny stitches from my own first FMQ attempt, I thought you could use the reassurance that you aren't alone today.

    We'll get there with patience and practice!

  11. #11
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    It does take time to feel you are getting ahead with FMQ, it has taken me a long time and a lot of practice, sometimes the time is not right and a day is not good for it, but you know after you do it a bit, it can be quite enjoyable and you are putting what you like and maybe did not plan on, on a quilt top. Just keep at it, that is my best advice. Mine is not perfect by any means, but I am happy with it.

  12. #12
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    It takes lots of practice. I sew pretty fast and that seems to work for me.

  13. #13
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    You need to try to relax...that will help. Make sure you have a comfy chair and that you're up high enough that your elbows are parallel to the machine. Find some clean gardening or quilting gloves to help you manage the sandwich.

    Practice more on that scrap sandwich until you find YOUR perfect speed for how fast you'll be moving. Once you find that you'll do better. I promise.

    When I read someone struggling I just wish I was closer and could stop by and lend a hand and some encouragement.
    You CAN do this.We've all been there. Big hug...

  14. #14
    Super Member QuiltswithConvicts's Avatar
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    I found that I needed to tighten the upper tension when FMQing. I crank it up to 9. This really helps on the back side.

    Also had to learn to either sew faster to match with my hand moving speed, or move hands slower to match the machine stitch speed. I settled with move hands slower to match machine speed.

    Good luck. It will take time. I've been doing this for over 10 years & I still don't think I'm all that good at it.

  15. #15
    Super Member glenda5253's Avatar
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    Oh! Don't cry. Quilting is supposed to be fun. FMQ is another of my goals for 2011. I may be crying too so I need to remember what I just wrote. :D

  16. #16
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    I do have a half a smile on my face. I went back and it is a mite bit better...but a question...the stitching on the back..looks loopy not tight...what would that be?

  17. #17
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    I could really use that hug now...I have no one here in Delaware to quilt with or talk to about it...family not into crafts, only children are sons and I work 2 jobs...oh well...thanks

  18. #18
    bj
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    Super Member bj's Avatar
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    My issue with it seems to be inconsistent stitch length. I know it is from me guiding the fabric at inconsistent speeds. Like everyone says, I'm practice-practice-practicing.

  19. #19
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    Yes, I have found that out...one minute long length then short...I know it will get better...I am just feeling sorry for myself..as we are our worst critic! LOL

  20. #20
    Member anna44's Avatar
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    I agree about the advice for FMQ - practice, practice. The stitches and curves will smooth out as you relax. Put on some soft music and relax.....

  21. #21
    Senior Member CAJAMK's Avatar
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    any ideas as to why the loops on the back?

  22. #22
    Super Member featherweight's Avatar
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    (((((((HUGS)))))), Been there done that. You will be doing so much better with all your practice....

  23. #23
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I have taken several FMQ classes. Every instructor had us use the top of the line supplies. Wool batting was number one to have if nothing else. A very fine thread at least size 70 or higher. I used silk but any of the newer finer poly threads will do. Poly and silk are strong threads. Nice quality solid color cotton fabric, not muslin. Never practice on less quality then what the quilt will be made from. Everyone was pleased with their first results using the wool batting and thin thread, mistakes doesn't show!

    Start by writing down the size of needle and type of thread, machine settings, you are quilting with. By trial and error you will be changing needle size and thread and machine settings. Write everything down. Keep a chart of what needle and machine settings work with what thread. Sometimes I can FMQ all day and have perfect stitches. Some times I can't FMQ a good stitch no matter what I do or changes I make.

  24. #24
    Member anna44's Avatar
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    The back should not be loopy. Tension is not right. Top tension should be changed but I am not sure which way to go.

  25. #25
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    many say go fast. I say go slower. work to find the balance between your hand movements and the speed of the machine. Start slow and work up to the speed of both that is comfortable and gives you the results you want. Strive for about the same length of stitch you would naturally sew with.

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