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Thread: Feedback on FMQ attempt

  1. #1
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    I tried FQM for the first time two nights ago and have been practicing. I've never seen any examples in person, only online, so I'm not sure how my stitches should look on the back.

    Here are some pictures of my work thus far. Any feedback on how it looks or ideas about what I might be doing wrong would be great.

    I'm having trouble getting smooth curves - it looks very choppy.


    Back of quilt
    Name:  Attachment-46663.jpe
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    Another shot of the back
    Name:  Attachment-46664.jpe
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    Top of quilt
    Name:  Attachment-46678.jpe
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  2. #2
    quiltluvr's Avatar
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    I think you're off to a great start! It takes practice. I took one class before on this just to get an idea of how it's all done. The teacher said that some machines won't sew well in certain directions. All I can add is to just play around to see what's comfortable for you. Keep up the good work!

  3. #3
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I applaud you giving FMQ a try :D :D :D it still intimidates me to no end!!! It looks like you are on the right track!!! You will be creating feathers, and all sorts of fancy designs in no time!!!

    Is your sewing surface smooth and slick? Do you wear gloves to get a good grip on the fabric? These both can cause more jerky movements.
    Practice drawing out smooth circular motions and then try FMquilting them.
    Sometimes practicing cursive writing helps, as that is something very familiar to us, and easy to do while FMQ. You would get a lot of practice with curves. These are all tips that I have picked up here and online :wink:

  4. #4
    Super Member justwannaquilt's Avatar
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    I would say...everything that amma said but I would also add from my exp. speed up the machine a little, and slow down your movement.

    I use a pair of gloves I got last year during winter time for 1.00 they have the little rubber nubbies on them and they grip the fabric. This is what I do when my fabric starts to "stick" to the bed of my machine. I get a paper towel and spray a little bit of PLEDGE multi surfice on it, just a tiny squirt. Then whipe it clean making sure to leave none of the liquid behind, this seams to give my machine that little bit of slickiness it needs so I can move the plastic around without having any trouble!

    good luck and keep practicing!

  5. #5
    Moderator kathy's Avatar
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    do you have your feed dogs down? are you using a hopping foot? it looks like the machine is trying to control the fabric in some way. the loops on the back are from moving too fast while stitching too slow which is soooo easy to do on curves, for some reason we tend to speed up our hands on a curve.

  6. #6
    Super Member grammy Dwynn's Avatar
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    Practice, relax and breath.

    It does take time to get it right, practice. Try to relax when quilting, don't try to do it after having a disagreement with hubby (ask me how I know). Breath!! believe it or not I had to remind myself to breath, which in turn helps you to relax.

    Is your work surface flat? Meaning machine and table at same level.

    Is your machine height good? Elbows bent at (approx.) 90*

    Look where your going!! You already know where you are!! Like driving a car, you look out further than your bumper ( I hope)

    good luck

  7. #7
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    It appears that the bottom tension may need adjusting......I could be wrong.....

  8. #8
    Super Member joeyoz's Avatar
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    You are doing just fine so far. One thing you might try is slowing down on the curves. I used to do the same thing. that is why you have "eyelashes" on the back. Just take your time.

    I purchased the Quilt Halo and that seemed to help me alot. Now I can relax better when I FMQ. Here are a couple of links for you to look at.
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...Vex4v9VFuRLr7Q

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...dapR7G082Ha20Q

  9. #9
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    Mine looked like that for a while, but it takes a lot of practice to get them smooth. I have a few points of advice:

    1. As someone already said, Don't forget to breath! You will concentrate better with oxygen in your brain.

    2. Practice on scraps, so if you mess them up, you throw them out and nothing was lost. Make sure you have 3 layers to practice. When you get the tension right, it may vary if you don't use 3 layers.

    3. Do FMQ on your quilt, with floral or printed fabrics. Don't do solids until you are confident of your technique. If you make a mistake the fabric will hide it.

    4. Set the stitch length of your machine to a very low number. If your machine is computarized, try with a 1.0 or 1.5. With a large stitch you are moving your hands while the machine is waiting for when is time to come down again and that is how you get jerky looking stitches.

    5. Set the speed of the machine to as fast as you can handle. Remember that you control the stitches, not the machine.

    6. If you can, lower your feed dogs. It will make the movements smoother. If you can't, cover them with tape, leaving only a small opening for the bobbin thread to come up.

    7. At curves, you will avoid the eye lashes by slowing down.

    8. Play around with the tension until you get the right one. When you do write it down so you don't have to do it again the next time.

    9. Don't look at what you already did while the machine is still running. You have a lot to concentrate on while FMQ. You have to plan the next curve, where to go next, the speed you are moving at, and if you look back, you will get distracted.

    10. The general rule is not to cross lines while stippling, but if you do, who cares! Is your quilt and you do as you please. Concentrate on having fun, and the more "mistakes" you make, the more personalized it is.

    11. On a quilt to be used and washed, some of those imperfections will dissapear after the quilt is washed a few times. The batting flufs, the fabric and threads will shrik a little, and your quilt will look antiqued. One of my first FMQ looked awful at first, but after washed I love it and now is my favorite quilt.

    12. It is easier to do if your machine is sunk in a well (sewing table) or if you have a smooth surface at the same level of the sewing machine's bed. I saw someone one made out of Fedex boxes and it was just perfect.

    Keep on practicing. I can see you will be making perfect stitches in no time.

    Maria

  10. #10
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the great advice and encouragement! :D

  11. #11
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    I think you are off to a great start. I can't offer any more advice than you have received here. Just keep practicing and it will get better and better.

  12. #12
    Super Member Chele's Avatar
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    Great tips quilters! You encouraged me to practice my FMQ today. I still stink, but I'm getting better! :wink:

  13. #13
    Super Member joeyoz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chele
    Great tips quilters! You encouraged me to practice my FMQ today. I still stink, but I'm getting better! :wink:
    We all had to start somewhere. I still stink too, but about halfway through the quilt it starts looking better. LOL :lol: :lol: :lol:

  14. #14
    Super Member Lucky Patsy's's Avatar
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    Bravo to you for taking the plunge! I have been practicing a lot of avoidance behavior when it comes to machine quilting!

  15. #15
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I would try tightening the upper tension a little. It seems to me the bottom tension is a little loose, even on the straighter stitching.

  16. #16
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    I just finished my first FMQ quilt-- I hope my experiences might help you. Thank goodness I planned ahead and did a scrappy bargello out of busy 30's prints for my daughter. I named my meandering pattern "Spaghetti" since it meanders and crisscrosses a little. One side is definitely better than the first!

    I figured just managing the bulk and getting the stitches done on this first quilt was an accomplishment. Even though I had done many practice pieces on 20" X 20" quilt sandwiches, moving that large quilt was different. Keeping a "nest" of flat quilt around the needle area by folding, bunching, and supporting the rest of the quilt was one skill I needed to master quickly. It's so easy to let the machine get away from you. Having a slick surface under the quilt is really necessary to have rounded curves and not jerky points. The quilt really does need to flow easily. Learning when to stop, with the needle down, to rearrange the quilt, remove any basting, and think about what I would do next improved with practice.

    I have two vintage machines that are supposed to be good choices for FMQing, so I found the correct tension settings quickly on both of my machines. But, I realize it might take awhile for me to gain control over really consistant stitch length, especially in the curves. One of my machines makes bigger stitches when I'm stitching from right to left, so I'm learning to slow my hands down there while maintaining the same speed.

    I got better as I found my rhythm and learned to relax. I concentrated on making rounded lines and consistant unquilted spaces. I used a finer poly thread for this project in a very neutral natural shade so my stitches wouldn't show as much as the heavier cotton quilting thread. But the thread color was also more difficult to see, so I had to find the right kind of lamp. I figure the puffiness caused by the unquilted spaces after I wash and dry the first time will further minimize my mistakes. (It also helps that my daughter loved the pieced top before I quilted it, so she doesn't seem to notice the wild FMQ).

    I'm not sure if stitching in the ditch quilting would have been an easier choice for my first machine quilting project. I'm going to do some SITD to secure the outer edges of the blocks and one of the borders before I begin FMQ for my next quilt. It will have smaller areas of FMQ, not an all over meander, so I'm not sure how it will go.

  17. #17
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lfw045
    It appears that the bottom tension may need adjusting......I could be wrong.....
    i agree. it looks like the bottom tension is a little too tight. but it's a good beginning. when i started, i played music and moved my body to the music as i kept my hands in place. gradually, my hands took over and my butt stayed still. you might also try following a drawn line. have we all made you crazy yet?


    nobody was born fmq'ing. keep practicing and you'll get smooth curves. show us your progress, please.

  18. #18
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    After reading all of the great advice on here, I set my stitch length to its lowest setting and put my machine on full speed. I also played with the tension a bit and slowed down on my curves A LOT.

    I'm happy to report that it's looking much better and my curves are now nice and smooth with only a little scalloping on the backside! :lol:

  19. #19
    Junior Member Rymer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX_Cutie
    I tried FQM for the first time two nights ago and have been practicing. I've never seen any examples in person, only online, so I'm not sure how my stitches should look on the back.

    Here are some pictures of my work thus far. Any feedback on how it looks or ideas about what I might be doing wrong would be great.

    I'm having trouble getting smooth curves - it looks very choppy.
    I have never done this before but I think this is great and I hope that my first attempt looks this good! loved all the tips as I will be attempting this very soon myself!

  20. #20
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX_Cutie
    After reading all of the great advice on here, I set my stitch length to its lowest setting and put my machine on full speed. I also played with the tension a bit and slowed down on my curves A LOT.

    I'm happy to report that it's looking much better and my curves are now nice and smooth with only a little scalloping on the backside! :lol:

    Great!!! I will love to see a pic of it now.

    Now you just need to play with the tension a little more. If you still get the scalloping try changing the thread. I have found at times that some threads are better than others. What machine are you using?

    Maria

  21. #21
    k3n
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    Power Poster k3n's Avatar
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    I'm watching this thread with interest as I'm a complete novice at FMQ :shock: . Thanks for all the great tips - another one I read, if you're so inclined, is to have a teeny glass of wine beforehand, just to relax you understand! :D And I totally agree with running the machine a little faster than you dare - that helped me A LOT! :D

    PS Love the image of you dancing BW! :D

  22. #22
    Senior Member Roben's Avatar
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    There's been some great advice already given here! I only have a couple of things to add:

    1. Learning to get just the right tension may take a little bit of playing, but it is important to know how to do that for your machine. (I'd always write down my starting tension before playing with it, in case I get befuddled I can always go back to where I started!) Don't be surprised if a different fabric or thread requires an adjustment in tension; that is normal, there really is no one setting that will always be right for every FMQ situation.

    2. Don't be afraid to try (or toss out) any of our helpful advice; what works for one may or may not work for another, so if you can't get it to 'work' for you don't worry about trying something else. I have two machines I FMQ on - same brand, but one is fussier than all get out and the other one will take anything you throw at her with a smile - go figure!

    The absolutely only thing that is guaranteed to improve FMQ is...more FMQ! I keep a stack of batting squares and practice squares so that I can play with it even when I don't have much time. I think we're set on placemats and coasters for a while :lol: :lol:

  23. #23
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    Here are pictures of how my work has progressed. I'm still not sure how to set my bobbin tension (the manual shows but it requires tightening the screws and that worries me). I'm also going to try different threads.

    The first two pictures are of a normal sandwich with low level batting. The third photo is with batting that's much thicker. It came out great!

    Back of Sandwich
    Name:  Attachment-46437.jpe
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    Front of sandwich
    Name:  Attachment-46439.jpe
Views: 12
Size:  31.3 KB

    Back of thicker sandwich
    Name:  Attachment-46441.jpe
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Size:  23.6 KB

  24. #24
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    'puffy' is much more forgiving. the stitches sort of bury themselves in those grooves. go with puffy for a while until your confidence increases.

    don't be afraid of the bobbin. you're bigger than it is. :mrgreen: whenever you tighten/loosen the bobbin, turn ONLY 1/4 of one revolution or even less, at a time, until you're comfortable doing this. follow roben's advice about keeping notes: whenever you move the bobbin screw, write it down. when you want to return to the original position, you'll know where to go back to.
    if you've moved the screw more than once i.e. 'moved to the right 1/4 turn. moved to the right 1/4 turn.' then you know you did it twice, or you moved to the right 1/2 turn total. when you're finished go back 1/2 turn to the left.

    am i speaking in tongues? :oops: :oops: :roll:

  25. #25
    TX_Cutie's Avatar
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    No, you're not speaking in tongues! That makes a lot of sense - I'll give a try tomorrow and see how it goes.

    When using puffier batting, should I keep my stitches further apart so that it fluffs up nicer or can I still stay about 1/2" apart?

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