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Thread: FMQ....I don't think its for me.

  1. #1
    Senior Member quiltingnd's Avatar
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    FMQ....I don't think its for me.

    I just don't think my brain can grasp free motion quilting. I've tried on a few practice pieces...but I tend to freeze and panic. I can't even imagine trying on a bigger piece if I can't even FMQ something as small as a placemat. I feel so frustrated.

  2. #2
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    I have to draw (well, actually trace) the pattern I'm going to use when I quilt. I can't draw for the life of me and I don't doodle at all. My "doodling" consists of writing my name in cursive and coloring in the spaces in closed letters on the document that I'm using. I am amazed at people who can FMQ without having the pattern drawn on first. I don't know how they do it and make it so perfect.

  3. #3
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    Take your time. From what I understand, it takes several weeks of practice to really get the hang of it. Some people take more time, some take less. Research different strategies. Some people use gloves or super sliders, etc

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltingfan's Avatar
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    Try a simple meandering and just stick with that for awhile. The fancy stuff can come later.

  5. #5
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    Some placemats are pretty big... how about a 12x12 or 15 x 15 inch piece made from some muslin and cheap battng you can afford to just *doodle* on ? And right, if you want to stencil somethng on first, and try to follow the lines, or freehand draw some lines.. you could try that too...

  6. #6
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    I'm still learning FMQ and I felt the same way you did at first. I still can't do feathers or anything super symmetrical - most of my designs are really loopy and ..."creative"... LOL I gave up trying to be perfect and have been focusing on having fun instead. I'm getting better and better and (most importantly) enjoying myself and not stressing out about it.

    Gloves definitely help me. Sometimes I draw out a skeleton of where I'm going to go; for the most part I just wing it. I just do one small section (maybe a foot square) at a time and that helps. Plus I don't worry if I cross lines here or there, or have to travel stitch back to get myself out of a corner. That kind of stuff is nearly impossible to spot (especially if you go with a design that deliberately has crossed lines and travel stitching!), and I figure as a beginner I'm allowed all sorts of "sins". ;-)

    Check out Leah Day's "Free Motion Project" site. It has really helped me to watch the designs get stitched out, and it's great to see that up close, even the great Leah Day's stitches are a little wobbly and uneven sometimes. Looking at her work shows that it doesn't have to be perfect in order to be stunning!

  7. #7
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    I am still very timid when it comes to FMQ so I signed up for some craftsy classes. They are wonderful and quite helpful. Now I just go for it and practice away. I used matching thread on my last piece and I can't see the errors. Just keep trying.
    Martina
    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric!

  8. #8
    Senior Member quiltingnd's Avatar
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    I've signed up for a few classes and watched them and watching Leah Day and youtube videos, but it just doesn't come very easy to me. I know that I'm tense, and I want to be perfect right off the start which doesn't help my cause at all. My practice pieces have only been around that 12x12 or 15x15 sizes. Thanks for letting me know that it just takes time and practice. I will keep trying.

  9. #9
    Senior Member AndiR's Avatar
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    Get yourself a MagnaDoodle (child's drawing toy) or a whiteboard with erasable markers. Choose one design that you would like to be able to quilt, like meandering or loops or leaves - nothing too difficult. Now practice over and over and over on the drawing toy. Chant to yourself to get a rhythm going - 'up and to the right, down and to the left' or 'one, two, three, loop, one, two, three, loop' or whatever will help you keep you from crossing over or getting boxed into a corner. The more you do it, the easier it will get. When you feel more confident here, then move back to your machine and fabric. Your brain will now have this 'road map' saved, so that part of the process will be easier.

    It can be frustrating at first, but one day it will all 'click' and then it's so much fun!!

    Andi

  10. #10
    Junior Member Suzette316's Avatar
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    A few things that might help you loosen up -- remember to breathe! When we concentrate, we tend to hold our breath and that can make our work less flowing and smooth. I like to put on some music and hum (or sing) along. That keeps me breathing and my quilting smooth and even.

    Use something to give you grip, like Machingers gloves or, if you don't like gloves, a trick I learned years ago from Diane Gaudynski is to use Neutrogena hand cream (the kind in the tube). When you use just a small dab on your fingertips and palms, it makes your hands sticky and you can grip your quilt better. (I have a tube I bought about three years ago and it's still probably half full - you really do only need a small dab and yes, it works great!) I love my Machingers, but I still often use the Neutrogena cream when I just don't want the gloves on.

    And if all else fails, try a half glass of wine before quilting - it can work wonders!

  11. #11
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    No No No! Don't you give up! It took me a couple of days before I grasp the concept now I'm off and quilting. It can be frustrating, but just remember you guide the fabric do not let it guide you. I started off really really slow and watched techniques off youtube before you know it came naturally! Here's a picture of my first FMQ! Good Luck



  12. #12
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    Take your time and remember that it doesn't just happen overnight. It takes lots of practice. I can run a longarm just fine but when it comes to freemotion on a domestic...it looks horrid. I haven't put the time in to learn it. One day, I will overcome that one. I hope you do too.
    enjoy your life...it's the only one you have!!!
    Heather

  13. #13
    Super Member faykilgore's Avatar
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    I took the advice of someone on this board & drew my maple leaf design over & over with a pencil on the back of "trash" paper. Then I traced the design over & over on strips of dissolvable stabilizer. I tried pinning, but I ended up thread basting the strips to my quilt borders. Before I actually started on the quilt, I did several practice runs on extra pieces. I save the batting & backing when I trim quilts for this purpose. Finally, I put needle to quilt. A few look a little mutant, but, hey, no two leaves look alike in nature either. I keep playing & working up to more complicated patterns so hang in there.
    Fay

    "You can't help that. We're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.

  14. #14
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    Ugh, I can relate! I practiced, practiced and practiced some more. I took a class. I read other people's suggestions. The idea of manipulating the quilt in a smooth, flowing manner just didn't seem realistic for me. I started paying someone else to do my stippling. Now I have a long arm, and I can stipple pretty well! I think my brain gets the idea of moving the machine (pencil) but not the quilt (paper).

    I hope you eventually get it, but if not, you aren't the only one. Good luck!

  15. #15
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    FMQ is not easy at first.....it took me weeks of practice before I felt comfortable with even stippling/meandering.....I found the transition from drawing by moving the pen, to drawing by moving the fabric under the needle, very difficult....so I drew the lines on the fabric first (washable markers) and following the lines....by the time I could follow the lines pretty good, I felt more comfortable "drawing" with the machine needle.....I would suggest making lots of small practice sandwiches, about 12x12 and draw a pattern on them and practice following the lines (with no thread)....you will get an idea of your skill by looking at the holes you left in the fabric....then work on following the lines with thread and keeping your stitch length even....good tension is a bonus of all things working together and a bit of adjustment.....just remember to practice, practice and then practice some more!

  16. #16
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    just put together small (pot holders, placemats) practice piece & keep practicing...it takes lots of practice- put on some (soothing) music- something you can relax to- and relax, remember it's just practice, it's supposed to be fun. after you find you can make smooth even stitching lines then slowly increase the size of your practice pieces until you are doing bed sized quilts- the more you practice the easier it will become & the better & better it will look. you do have to relax though---drop your shoulders, relax your hands, breath; i've found i quilt differently depending on the music i choose....when it's very intricate, detailed quilting i tend to listen to soothing, meditation type music, when i'm doing big, wide, loopy, meandering, swirly fun designs i have something up-beat & fun playing.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  17. #17
    Senior Member quiltingnd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndiR View Post
    Get yourself a MagnaDoodle (child's drawing toy) or a whiteboard with erasable markers. Choose one design that you would like to be able to quilt, like meandering or loops or leaves - nothing too difficult. Now practice over and over and over on the drawing toy. Chant to yourself to get a rhythm going - 'up and to the right, down and to the left' or 'one, two, three, loop, one, two, three, loop' or whatever will help you keep you from crossing over or getting boxed into a corner. The more you do it, the easier it will get. When you feel more confident here, then move back to your machine and fabric. Your brain will now have this 'road map' saved, so that part of the process will be easier.

    It can be frustrating at first, but one day it will all 'click' and then it's so much fun!!

    Andi
    Thank you!

  18. #18
    Senior Member quiltingnd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzette316 View Post
    A few things that might help you loosen up -- remember to breathe! When we concentrate, we tend to hold our breath and that can make our work less flowing and smooth. I like to put on some music and hum (or sing) along. That keeps me breathing and my quilting smooth and even.

    Use something to give you grip, like Machingers gloves or, if you don't like gloves, a trick I learned years ago from Diane Gaudynski is to use Neutrogena hand cream (the kind in the tube). When you use just a small dab on your fingertips and palms, it makes your hands sticky and you can grip your quilt better. (I have a tube I bought about three years ago and it's still probably half full - you really do only need a small dab and yes, it works great!) I love my Machingers, but I still often use the Neutrogena cream when I just don't want the gloves on.

    And if all else fails, try a half glass of wine before quilting - it can work wonders!
    LOL! I can only imagine that I hold my breath.

    I will try the cream...and maybe the wine too!

  19. #19
    Super Member Stitchnripper's Avatar
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    All above good suggestions. I am surely not an expert, but can do a respectable job on meandering, but, it takes practice, practice and more practice. But, once you find that sweet spot of your sewing speed and hand movements, you will know it. I don't always get there, but, it is a much faster way to quilt and I do enjoy it.

  20. #20
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    Loads of great suggestions here already. I'll add mine: doodle as much as possible on pieces of paper that already have writing on them! The idea here is to get your mind around doodling around things, next to edges, in corners -- and how to get back out again. It will help you conquer the worst part of quilting for me, too, which is knowing what to do next!

    I draw swirls and other motifs all over my meeting notes -- around the letters, around sections, against the edge, using the lines...etc. As a bonus it's mesmerizing for others, and that can be fun to watch.

  21. #21
    Senior Member quiltin-nannie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quiltingnd View Post
    I've signed up for a few classes and watched them and watching Leah Day and youtube videos, but it just doesn't come very easy to me. I know that I'm tense, and I want to be perfect right off the start which doesn't help my cause at all. My practice pieces have only been around that 12x12 or 15x15 sizes. Thanks for letting me know that it just takes time and practice. I will keep trying.
    I was told to have a glass of wine! It helps you to just relax.
    Julie
    Good friends are like stars; you don't always see them, but you know they're always there!

  22. #22
    Super Member Knitette's Avatar
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    Well - I'm one of the 'lucky' ones. I took to FMQ like a duck to water and by the end of the session at my LQS I could stipple, write my name etc. The other day I was practising freehand dragonflies.
    I now think I know why this is.

    I'm new to quilting - and indeed sewing - a couple of years ago I had to learn how to thread a machine......... Therefore, I had no preconceived ideas or 'baggage' about what I could or couldn't do on sewing machine, how it was really supposed to look underneath etc, lol and just did it. I was so pleased I could do it at all, I just carried on. I believed that if I could draw it on paper I could do it on the machine (didn't quite work out like that, lol....)

    The point of this is that 'ignorance is indeed bliss' - in other words try and relax. What's the worst that can happen? A few yards of thread and a little batting for the bin? Absolute worst case scenario - a broken needle?
    Good luck
    Lang may yer lum reek. (I'm a knitter - hence - 'Knit-ette'. Confuses a lot of people!)

  23. #23
    Super Member noveltyjunkie's Avatar
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    I sympathize. I'm struggling too. I am so scared to ruin the piecing I worked so hard on. I'm making lots of practice sandwiches. Mostly they are disastrously bad, but I guess the proportion of the work which is acceptable is probably rising. So that's progress!
    Let us know how you get on.
    Fortune favours the prepared mind
    "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

  24. #24
    Senior Member quiltingnd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knitette View Post
    Well - I'm one of the 'lucky' ones. I took to FMQ like a duck to water and by the end of the session at my LQS I could stipple, write my name etc. The other day I was practising freehand dragonflies.
    I now think I know why this is.

    I'm new to quilting - and indeed sewing - a couple of years ago I had to learn how to thread a machine......... Therefore, I had no preconceived ideas or 'baggage' about what I could or couldn't do on sewing machine, how it was really supposed to look underneath etc, lol and just did it. I was so pleased I could do it at all, I just carried on. I believed that if I could draw it on paper I could do it on the machine (didn't quite work out like that, lol....)

    The point of this is that 'ignorance is indeed bliss' - in other words try and relax. What's the worst that can happen? A few yards of thread and a little batting for the bin? Absolute worst case scenario - a broken needle?
    Good luck
    That's what I think I need. A hands on teaching. But sadly....I live in the middle of nowhere. So even IF they had classes in the nearest city, that's still over an hour away.

  25. #25
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    I want to master this skill - have been watching videos, taking Leah's class, haunting the web for designs to try. After a very clumsy start, I think I am getting the hang of it. Over the weekend, I FMQ'd a half dozen placemats, and found that my last one is certainly better than my first. I want to give it a try on a whole quilt soon, as I have a hard time using up perfectly good fabric for practice. Guess I would rather ruin something using fabric that has already become something

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