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Thread: Advice on next steps in free motion quilting

  1. #1
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    Advice on next steps in free motion quilting

    I recently got a free motion long arm machine. So far the only thing I can really do is stippling of quilts.

    So my question to all the pros out there:

    What is the best way to teach myself how to sew patterns on my machine? I assume that making a "trash quilt" that I can just practice control on will be the best. However, with being so new it is overwhelming to figure out where to start.

  2. #2
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    Go to YouTube for some videos on how to and or books are available also. Plus there are sources for rulers, templates, stencils, dvd, etc....just visit Google..... Oops! Forgot about Craftsy..I think they offer classes...there was a longarm university on line, don't know if still there.......

  3. #3
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    If you have an old sheet or a piece of muslin, make yourself a practice quilt sandwich loaded on your machine. You can use a ruler and marker to draw squares, rectangles or circles as if it were a pieced top. Then play with quilting stitches within these marked areas. Do you have a laser light or pointer on your machine? It so maybe you have some children's coloring books or can print coloring pages from a computer? Take these pages and mark a beginning and ending stitching line on them. Lay them down on your setup as you would a pantograph pattern and practice following the drawings. Without thread at first, then thread the machine and play with them on your practice piece. Relax and have fun!

  4. #4
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    Pencil draw on the "scrap" quilt and follow lines, it will help develop memory path. Can use stencils for practice. After filling up quilt donate it to animal rescue, they love them. It just takes practice, practice, practice and time!

  5. #5
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board! Another thing to try is writing something like your name, a phrase poem etc. This will give you practice controlling the movement of the machine, and you already know the pattern. Look on youtube for different patterns. Most of the videos will talk you thru the motion. Try different designs. You will find some that are easier for you to do than others. Pick one of those easier ones to concentrate on. Make sure that you practice the design going L-r, R-L, bottom up and top down as you will usually need to fill in the space going in different directions.
    As others mentioned, there's no quick result, you will just have to practice!
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  6. #6
    Senior Member Pagzz's Avatar
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    good suggestions so far. I would add if you want to get good at free motion get a notebook or whiteboard and sketch. that gives you muscle memory. Patsy Thompson has information on her website and though she focuses on DSM the designs of course work well for longarm also. https://www.youtube.com/user/CozyQuiltDesigns/videos. I also found the pajamaquilter dvd helpful when I first started http://www.pajamaquilter.com/

    Look at quilts or look at pantagraphs and try and sketch the design. repeat. you will get comfortable with your interpretation - like handwriting. then take that design to fabric. many designs spring off an initial one and Patsy Thompson is good at explaining that.

    Have fun.
    Peggy

    "Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
    -Chinese proverb
    http://peggybsquilting.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    Angela Walters has YouTube videos on both sewing machine and long arm machines. She also has several books that are helpful. Her website is www.quiltingismytherapy.com

  8. #8
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I do mainly FMQ, no real designs. I just do large type stipples.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  9. #9
    Super Member meyert's Avatar
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    I often make little sandwhiches with scrap fabric and batting... usually about 10" x 10" and then I play around I have bought lots of stencils and I do really like using them. Then I can get a design I like. the down side is that it takes me longer to mark the quilt top then to actually FMQ. With that point being made more than most time I just do the loopy or stipples.. so I don't have to mark

    I think Youtube is a good resource I often start there

  10. #10
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    great ideas already. Also, if you get a chance to take classes on a long arm (especially if it's hands on) at a show--do! Worth it. I also have several books that I use like reference books--Angela Walters 2 Shape-by-Shape books, Amanda Murphy's, Deloa Jones 3 books, and others. Dawn Cavanaugh is a teacher for APQS and even if your machine is not one of theirs, she has great videos on different stitches too--sign up for their newsletter.

    Also--your machine brand probably has a Face Book page that will be helpful on some of the maintenance issues that arise with a long arm. These are really helpful when you have a tension problem at 10pm and want to tear your hair out!

  11. #11
    Super Member quiltedsunshine's Avatar
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    One more thought... We have a couple longarm quilt guilds in our area. The one at our shop is free, and owners of all brands are welcome. Your local shop may have one if they sell longarms, too.
    Annette in Utah

  12. #12
    Super Member jmoore's Avatar
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    Lucky you...there are a ton of online videos to get ideas but more importantly just practice...and have fun.
    attitude is everything...the rest will fall into place.

  13. #13
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    watching the u tubes help also doodling on paper over and over the design you want than try it on the machine it take practice to get good at anything

  14. #14
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    Cloth panels make great practice pieces. You can find lots at JoAnn’s Fabric with children’s themes. You can outline or fill in the shapes. You can also add borders and practice feathers. These quilts make great gifts or donations.

  15. #15
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    I think that there are as many quilting books as there are quilting design books. Try the library and see what you can find.
    There are videos everywhere on the web about it too. One I enjoyed the other day was on a sewing with nancy episode. She has the videos on her site for watching free. Just go into the video section and peruse the subjects. You will have fun.
    RedGarnet222

    "Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern ... It will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that ...one stitch at a time, taken patiently."
    *Oliver Wendell Holms

  16. #16
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    Buy a couple of easy pantographs you can follow from the back of the machine with your laser light. Easy patterns would be those without exact repetition of shapes (like a repeating Fleur de lis or a repeating geometric shape). Pick something with flowy lines and preferably not alot of points. (When you are first starting sometimes you get a buildup of thread on your points because you don't hit them and bounce off them quickly enough.) Florals are good because every flower is different in nature and your flowers will look great even if you don't follow the lines well. Remember not to hold your breath and to relax your shoulders. Have fun!

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