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Free Motion Quilting Question

Free Motion Quilting Question

Old 05-20-2020, 06:37 AM
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Default Free Motion Quilting Question

Iím trying out fmq and have a question. Typically when Iím quilting, Iíve done stitch in the ditch or straight line. In both cases I can start and end at the edge of the sandwich or the seam separating the border and piecing. As I look at examples of fmq designs, it doesnt look quite that simple. What is the strategy for starting and ending? Securing the thread? Especially when using different designs among the pieced blocks? Thanks in advance for tips.
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Old 05-20-2020, 07:12 AM
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I consider myself an adequate quilter. As in everything, there are many different answers depending on your style, your desires, and your equipment and/or budget. So for me, it is more about functionality of keeping everything together while on the bed or in the wash. I can do pretty sophisticated designs on a long arm that I can't approach on my sit down machines, but some people can do marvelous things on a featherweight!

If I can run a design off the edge I will. In designs where I can't, I overlap a few stitches, or you can stitch in place/use a machine setting to tack, then I pull the top thread to the back and being careful cut both ends close.

I've found in all machines I've had that I really have to cut the threads when I move from one place to another, just leaving the thread whole is asking for trouble for me but if I have problems cutting where it is, I switch to a basting mode to move positions, again tacking my start/stop points, and then remove the basting stitches when I'm pulling down my tails. Other people/other machines have other issues or other solutions.

We have some truly great and inspired quilters on this board. It's amazing how they can enhance a nothing top by their stitching, and elevate a great top into a masterpiece. It is a skill set and a design eye I don't have -- but I'll watch this thread for pointers!
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Old 05-20-2020, 07:57 AM
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I prefer to bring up my threads when I start quilting and when I am done with a section, I knot my threads and bury the tails with an easy thread hand needle.
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Old 05-20-2020, 08:04 AM
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When FMQ I prefer to run my thread off the quilt and then start the next part or when there is a design change. I am not the best FMQer but am learning all the time and it takes practice to get it right. I do a lot of "mix and match" where I do some straight line and SiTD and then on other blocks, in a sampler, I will do some FMQ to set things off a bit. There is no written rule for how you work your FMQ. It is totally quilters choice. The more practice the more perfect. I am sure you will find what works the best for yourself.
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Old 05-20-2020, 09:29 AM
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I have kind of a mixed strategy. I am working on getting better at increasing the continuous stitching and reducing the starts and stops where I can, but I don't stress too much about hiding the ones that are necessary for a particular design or section. I will start on the edge or in the ditch where possible, use continuous stitching where practical, and just stitch in place for a few stitches to start or stop where it is needed. Then I use the thread cutter function before moving to another spot to avoid snagging or sewing over the tails later. Then I hunt down the tiny tails later for closer trimming. So far, the stitches are holding up in the wash nicely and blending in just fine.
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Old 05-20-2020, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Blueridgebeverly View Post
What is the strategy for starting and ending? Securing the thread? Especially when using different designs among the pieced blocks?
There are 2 main techniques that most quilters I know use for this scenario, also for changing out thread colors.

The first one is to reduce your stitch length to 0 or 1, take a few stitches, then lengthen it back to what you normally use and continue. Reverse the process for ending your stitching.

The second one is where you make sure both threads are on top of the quilt when starting and stopping quilting, then go back and bury your thread tails. The easiest way to do this is to get a self-threading needle, Spiral Eye is one brand, I believe Dritz also makes one. These needles have a slit on the side at the eye, so you slide the threads (both upper and bobbin) up the needle and they slip into the eye. Makes threading very easy. Then you make a knot in the thread, take a stitch, and pop the knot down thru the top and into the batting. Pull it up in another spot and clip both threads right at the surface of the quilt. There are videos on YouTube that show how to do this.
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Old 05-21-2020, 05:46 AM
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I follow the advice given by Peckish, mainly.

Do you know how to bring up the thread at the beginning and end of your stitching? This is crucial, IMO, for good FMQ work so you don't get nests on the back. Video below.

Depending on the piece, I also sometimes just backstitch slightly and use my curved scissors to cut the tails off very close to the surface. I would use that method on a very busy piece or collage, where you aren't going to notice it because of the texture.


Bringing up bobbin thread at 0;55 seconds
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Old 05-21-2020, 07:26 AM
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Although I bring my threads to the back, I do agree with Watson and Peckish and recommend other people follow their advice! My visual issues don't allow me to bring the threads up to the top easily especially when I'm using the same color top and bottom as I usually do. I really have to hunch over a top nose close to do my finishing or handwork. I think some machines are fussier with tensions and things as well, some allow that thread to be brought up easier than others.
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