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Thread: The BEST way to learn FMQ on a DSM

  1. #1
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    The BEST way to learn FMQ on a DSM

    I have learned to piece, match seams, needle turn appliqué, and paper piece but I need to learn to FMQ. I have to learn to FMQ myself. I can send a few quilts out but not everything.

    What is the best way to learn. Book, craftsy class(which one), live class? What is going to help? I doodle designs all the time, I watch u-tube videos, bounced between cotton and poly threads, etc. I even tried to quilt from the side of the machine instead of the front. I modified my darning foot, bought a clear foot. I have a babylock quilters choice machine which was expensive so it is not the quality of the machine.

    i tried the supreme slider(did nothing for me), use gloves, got the bobbin genie, messed with tension and speed, tried stencils(even worse results).

    I got the Nancy Chong DVD on needle turn and it worked beautifully and I learned how to needle turn applique really well. I practiced a lot and watched the video at least 7 times but it worked. I need something for FMQ.

    if you are Great at FMQ on a DSM, how did you get there?

    This is my New Years resolution. I don't want/need shortcuts. I need to know what sources helped you learn and develop your skills. TIA

  2. #2
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    I recommend to keep practicing. The biggest hurdle is getting the machine speed/hand coordination part down...and practice is the only way you will do that.

    I took one class a few years ago...then I just practiced. It was a while before I was willing to take the chance on a "real" quilt...but I finally did. The more I do, the better I get. I practice a little before EVERY quilt. Early on, I did not do well with stippling, but did ok with loops and swirls. So once I mastered those, I practiced stippling more. I am much better at that now, but I still don't care to do stippling. I like the look, but find it boring to do on large areas. Also, when I first started, I used thread that matched the back and blended in more on the front so my mistakes weren't so noticeable. Now I am not afraid of contrasting thread.

    Loops and swirls are more forgiving than straight lines or large designs that you might not be able to do smoothly without repositioning your hands. Is there a design that you think you do well? If so, try to master that one then try others. Another thing is to take a fabric with a large print and practice going around the designs.

    My favorite foot is a spring FMQ foot. I love the Machinger's gloves best...I never quilt without them. I also like the supreme slider, but an inexpensive substitute can work also. I didn't think the bobbin washers made a difference in my machine (my bobbins are contoured, so they don't make full contact with the washer). I prefer not to mark on a quilt, so mostly I either totally freehand it, or use golden threads paper or sulky solvy if I want a more consistent pattern. When I am following a drawn pattern, I am rarely right on the line...but once the lines are gone, who will know? Be sure the weight of your quilt is supported, the drag will affect your stitching too.

    Good luck!

  3. #3
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    Just start experimenting. Leah Day has been my savior. I love her blog. She has tons of free videos and a craftsy class. I adore craftsy. There are multiple classes about fmq. But really the main thing is practice.

  4. #4
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    Practice, practice, practice and then practice some more! All those tools will only help after you put in enough practice.
    Wendy

  5. #5
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    I'm trying the same. One difference is I have a Pfaff 2170 and just got the Brother 1500s. The Pfaff and the Brother both have vertical bobbins. That means it's easier to adjust bobbin tension. The Pfaff had no way to control foot pressure which drove me nuts. See what your Babylock says about FMQ. Some of the BL embroidery machines had an extra washer type thing they added when you embroidered. Might have been to keep the bobbin from rattling around at high speed. I've seen posts about washers for quilting on this forum. I'm thinking this was for drop in bobbins.

    Make another post about Babylock and ask how they set up. Brother has the same machines, so either one might help.

    I had to find a book on FMQ that broke it down. I was a graphic designer so I have to look at it in terms of digitizing. Piece by piece. I also don't like videos. I'd rather have a book. Easier to mark a place in a book or printed material. Like you, I can sew, I have no trouble with color, I like to mess around with techniques so taking a class is hard for me. I took one on potholders just to learn how you bind the things. All the basics were boring but the binding helped. I was trying to put binding on lefthanded by using righthanded methods. The one printout I would find is troubleshooting the problems. Like why your bobbin thread is appearing on the top, eyelashes, etc, so you can refer to it while you are practicing instead of a trying to watch a video at the same time - or relying on memory.

    I also prefer to quilt as you go, so I am not dealing with huge chunks of fabric.

    I have other shortcomings I might never overcome (I like having my nose right in what I'm doing) so I'll simply have to live with what I can do. I might always have to mark to keep stuff even. Like they said, practice. But first check with your dealer or other BL owners about setting up the machine. Like my Pfaff not liking thick seams at times, your BL just might not like something else. You wind up beating your head against the wall for something that you have no control over. It's just the way the machine works. You will get there.

  6. #6
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice. I think I am going to make a ton of Christmas placemats or other placemats from scraps and work on those. I get so stressed with moving large quilts around. When I grab a small scrap with batting and backing to use to warm up and adjust the tension, I fly with great or at least good quilting. The minute the big quilt goes under, I tense up and can't gracefully move the quilt. I have the tables around to support and a sew ezi table so the machine is flush with the table. I guess I will have to start much smaller and move gradually to bigger quilts.

  7. #7
    Member s3wn's Avatar
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    What is it specifically that you don't like about your FMQ?

    I learned from the Leah Day videos online.

  8. #8
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    It is a struggle to move the quilt through. I am great at breaking threads too. I have trouble moving it smoothly through the machine

  9. #9
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    I was going to recommend the place mat idea - see that you just posted that. Placemats, table toppers, runners - small, but useful objects. I don' like to practice on practice fabric - just to practice I like a product when I'm done. You've been given great advice and you have made the perfect start. Specialize in one style until you have it down then move to another style. Build up your list of things you can do happily.

    Now just do it!
    So many quilts, so little time.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Just start experimenting. Leah Day has been my savior. I love her blog. She has tons of free videos and a craftsy class. I adore craftsy. There are multiple classes about fmq. But really the main thing is practice.
    Same here! I've made four FMQ quilts now, two baby and two lap size. I practiced and practiced on several scrap pieces before I attempted a finished product. My first finished product was a table runner. The gloves are extremely important.

  11. #11
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    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.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    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!

  13. #13
    Member kookey426's Avatar
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    Leah Day has a great website...after about 53 quilts I bought a pair of gloves! The key word is'PRACTICE'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. #14
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    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.
    Another Phyllis
    This life is the only one you get - enjoy it before you lose it.

  15. #15
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    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.

  16. #16
    Super Member Maggiemay's Avatar
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    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.

  17. #17
    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    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

  18. #18
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maggiemay View Post
    One thing I had to come to terms with is that my quilts will never look like they are longarmed.
    Why not? I think they can.

  19. #19
    Member Quossum's Avatar
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    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'!

    --Q

  20. #20
    Super Member mcdaniel023's Avatar
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    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.
    Happy Quilting.

  21. #21
    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopetoquilt View Post
    It is a struggle to move the quilt through. I am great at breaking threads too. I have trouble moving it smoothly through the machine
    If your breaking thread a lot I suspect that you are moving the quilt too fast.

    My guess is that if you are OK with smaller pieces, but not with larger quilts - you are intimidated by the size of the larger quilt so you try to move it faster.

    Concentrate on a smaller area of the larger quilt.
    Puddle (not roll) the quilt in an area around the area you are going to quilt. The puddle should be "loose".
    Look at a 12" square of the quilt and NO MORE. Concentrate on just that 12".
    Don't try to quilt more than 12" without having to stop and rearrange the "puddle".
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  22. #22
    Senior Member sewplease's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quossum View Post
    But for me, the thing that really made it happen...was DOING it... In short, just keep quilting and you'll get better and better despite yourself'! --Q
    Q - I couldn't agree more! Practicing on small pieces is good, but eventually you just have to GO for it. I'm most comfortable just doing a loop-de-loop design.

    The water effect you did is terrific! Laura

  23. #23
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    Keep practicing...play some relaxing music while you are..not too slow...not too fast...read Diane Gaudynski's blog...she is an expert quilter. She only uses Neutragena hand lotion while quilting...no gloves. I like using the tips off of rubber gloves just on 2 fingers on each hand...that is what Sue Nickles does...another expert quilter. If you can take a class, or have someone help you that would be good, but otherwise keep practicing and reading about quilting...you will get it!

  24. #24
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    I am not there yet either but I would not have come as far as I have without watching Leah Day. I will never achieve her level of success but my stipple is looking better. I do have the bobbin washer, gloves and mat. I use the bobbin washer for everything not just FMQ. I don't seem to have any thread breaks. I can do without the mat. I do not find it that helpful. The Machinger gloves are really great. I practice on small squares and then cover them up with nice fabric and put binding around them and make nice potholders. I also make a lot of placemats out of charm squares and practice different types of FMQ in each square. I also bind these...this has helped improve my binding technique tremendously. Just keep practicing. I also like straight line and SID quilting on many things. Hang in there.

  25. #25
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    All great suggestions. I can do a passable job of FMQ on a dinky mechanical Brother DSM. It takes a lot of practice and when you get "in the groove" you will know it, with machine speed and the speed of your hands moving the quilt. I still don't get there all the time, but I sure do know when I do!

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