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Thread: Free Motion Quilting

  1. #1
    Super Member Sandee's Avatar
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    Free Motion Quilting

    Just wondering- How many here feel comfortable FMQ on their domestic machines and how many have tried more than stippling and meandering?? If you have tried, do you have any special things/techniques you do to make the process successful?

  2. #2
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    I did this rather easily many years ago, but apparently have forgotten something crucial... They tell me it takes hours of practice before one should touch the actual quilt, and that's the part I haven't done yet. My old machine was a lovely Pfaff, and now I have a pretty basic Brother, so that may make a difference once I get around to practicing. I will check back here to see what others say.

  3. #3
    Super Member Midwestmary's Avatar
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    I do FMQ my quilts and have found one of the biggest things is to have the quilt supported on all sides - avoid drag at all costs I've recently acquired a Janome 6600P and the larger throat space is nice and makes it easier to manuever. I think a supreme slider and quilting gloves help quite a bit.

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    Super Member DogHouseMom's Avatar
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    Yes, I do all my quilting on a domestic - I don't own a mid or long arm.

    It took a while, but I have become comfortable with it. I STILL practice though! Each time I want to try a new quilting motif (and there are still a LOT that are new to me), or one that I've not done in some time, I practice ... a LOT. I don't ... and I mean NEVER, put my quilt under the machine until I've practiced the motions over and over with the same thread, batting and fabric. Even if I plan on quilting using something I'm very familiar with (stipling for example), I'll still do a short practice with the same batting, fabric and thread to make sure everything plays together properly.

    I am in fact practicing two motions now that I plan on using on my mini lone-star. I started practicing Sunday, I'll probably not touch the real quilt until this weekend at the earliest.

    Sue
    May your stitches always be straight, your seams always lie flat, and your grain never be biased against you.

    Sue

  5. #5
    Super Member tjradj's Avatar
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    I'm pretty comfortable with my FMQ. I totally agree though, that practise is the key. If I'm trying a new pattern, first I practise on paper until I've got the ins and outs figured out. Then I practise on small 14" square quilt sandwiches. When I'm done them, I just serge around the edge and donate them to animal shelters. Only when I feel confident about a pattern do I use it on a quilt.
    I used to be "hot", now it's just "hot flashes!"

  6. #6
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    I have never FMQed on my sewing machine! Well, I can't say that really. I've practiced some but it is hard for me; as I understand it, you go fast on the foot pedal but slow(er) on moving the quilt. That's hard for me even with headphones on. If anyone has any advice, I'm listening.

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    I am gradually improving my FMQ skills. I would say the biggest asset I've discovered is Hobbs 80/20 fusible quilt batt. Until I started using it, I would always end up with a wrinkle or pucker somewhere on the back of my quilt. It would drive me up the wall! I am going to try the spray basting when the weather gets nice because I think it would work well too. There is just something about the sandwich being stabilized that makes it easier to avoid wrinkles. My Bernina with the BSR does help to reduce micro stitches but I can do a fairly descent job without it too.

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    Take a look at patsythompsondesigns.com. I found this site this week, tried a feather design (her tutorials are on youtube), and was so pleased with the results that I ordered two of her books. Take a look, you'll see!

  9. #9
    Senior Member ChaiQuilter's Avatar
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    FMQ on a DSM is extremely difficult. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Many talk the talk but few can walk the walk, even with practice, myself included. My LQS now has a long arm machine. I signed up for lessons on it. I can then FMQ for $15 an hour. I think it's a good deal because I've thrown away quilts with fabrics worth much more than the $ it would take to longarm my next quilt. I also have to take into account the aggravation/tearing my hair out factor. I really excited about the class. Maybe you know someone who would let you rent their longarm.

  10. #10
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaiQuilter View Post
    FMQ on a DSM is extremely difficult. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Many talk the talk but few can walk the walk, even with practice, myself included. My LQS now has a long arm machine. I signed up for lessons on it. I can then FMQ for $15 an hour. I think it's a good deal because I've thrown away quilts with fabrics worth much more than the $ it would take to longarm my next quilt. I also have to take into account the aggravation/tearing my hair out factor. I really excited about the class. Maybe you know someone who would let you rent their longarm.
    I wanted to start FMQ my own quilts and I have a Janome. I took the class and feel really confident doing a table runner or wall hanging. I tried it for the first time on a twin size quilt right before Christmas and I HATED IT!!! I just don't enjoy the struggles I have to go through to do it. So I will continue to do SID and straight lines and send out any quilts that I want fancy quilting on. I know that there are quilters out there that do it on their domestics and their quilt tops turn out beautiful. Just not for me. . . .
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
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    I usually love free motion quilting on my older bernina, but lately I'm getting some loops on the bottom. I don't know why. I always practice a new design on paper with a pencil first. This helps get the design pattern to register in my brain. Sometimes, I practice that design on a scrap, but when I'm really in the groove it's not something I always do. I do practice on a scrap a little before beginning each new project. I think the key is not letting the fabric hang over the table and getting drag. I kind of bunch it up around the machine but first place thick books behind the machine and make them into a sort of table. Music and one glass of wine helps me relax and enjoy the process.
    Create something beautiful from scraps.

  12. #12
    Super Member donnalynett's Avatar
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    I FMQ on my Viking Sapphire all the time. I love the wide throat on it. I can not FMQ without gloves on and I try to get a "rhythm" going. It is very frustrating if you keep getting interrupted. I have only mastered stipples, hearts, stars and waves. I am working on leaves. My next goal will be dancing dahlias. Just keep practicing......we will get there.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandee View Post
    Just wondering- How many here feel comfortable FMQ on their domestic machines and how many have tried more than stippling and meandering?? If you have tried, do you have any special things/techniques you do to make the process successful?
    http://www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/

    These are just for inspiration... but there is tons of stuff there... one of the easiest things to practice on is handwriting. FMQ is to Longarming as moving the paper rather than the pencil. so this is a little awkward for a bit... BUT handwriting is something we all have plenty of muscle memory for.... put the small sandwich under the needle and whatever foot you're using, foot feeds wherever you want them.... and then practice writing your name....over and over.... when you get a recognizable word.... then practice some of the designs on the site i gave you. just think of it in that way and it will help your brain convert.... you will be writing by moving the 'paper' under the 'pencil'.....

    PS, I FMQ on a couple of singers, a pfaff, a new home and a white.... it's the practice that matters, not the machine... and I like gardengloves with the fingers cut out.... 2 reasons.... with the fingers cut out, you cannot grip hard with your fingertips... the tendency to grip really hard with your fingertips is what tires you so quickly... this way you have to use your palms and the whole hand... the second reason is that your fingers will be available for detail work without taking off the gloves... I cut off between 1.5" and 2".... it really helps...
    Last edited by deemail; 01-24-2012 at 10:14 PM.

  14. #14
    Junior Member Taino Jan's Avatar
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    Be fearless, by that I mean give it a try, don't be intemidated by others saying how hard it is. I took a class and that was the best thing I could do. the instructor was wonderful, explained everything and was there to say what I was doing right and wrong. If I had tried on my own, I would have given up on the first attempt.

    One tip the teacher said in class was to get gloves. It has helped me a lot. Have your computer on and YouTube clips on fmq when you are doing it. Leah Day and Patsy Thompson are wonderful, recommend both highly. Also, free motion means just that, so practice without a pattern and see what you can create.

    Have fun. And welcome to the fmq world.
    Rules of Life:1-Don't take anything personally 2-Integrity of words and deeds 3-Don't make assumptions 4-Do your best

  15. #15
    Super Member AnnieH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tartan View Post
    I am gradually improving my FMQ skills. I would say the biggest asset I've discovered is Hobbs 80/20 fusible quilt batt. Until I started using it, I would always end up with a wrinkle or pucker somewhere on the back of my quilt. It would drive me up the wall!.
    Me too. I love this batting and it's a dream to work with.
    Annie

  16. #16
    Super Member AnnieH's Avatar
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    Love this forum. I'm going to try the gardening gloves tip. Thanks.
    Annie

  17. #17
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Probably the biggest thing to conquer is the practice. It takes a while and then all of a sudden one day, you stitches are great! My most important things for successful FMQ:

    Spray baste
    Supreme Slider
    Gloves (I prefer Machingers - they are cooler and better fitting than garden gloves - the best $9 I've spent)
    Extra table on the left to hold the weight of the quilt
    Music
    Peace (family to leave me alone!)

    So many people are just terrified to try it because they fear it won't be perfect. No one is perfect, not even the pros. Look closely at the magazines. Even on the covers sometimes it's not perfect. Keep your first practice sandwich and compare it later on. It's a hobby, it's supposed to be fun!

  18. #18
    Member spiffy's Avatar
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    A Great Video on Speed Control for FMQ

    I have always had a hard time with free motion quilting until I can across Leah Day and her website http://www.daystyledesigns.com

    The amount of info on this site is amazing. I especially learned a lot about speed control from her youtube video, "Free Motion Quilting Speed Control" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iloHo...eature=related

    If you're looking to improve your FMQ techniques, this is definitely worth a look.
    Check out my free online home decorating course at http://www.home-decorating-room-by-room.com/quilt-sewing-room.html

  19. #19
    Senior Member DawnFurlong's Avatar
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    I also FMQ on my domestic machine. I love the tutorials put out by Patsy Thomas and also Leah Day on www.daystyledesigns.com. I am fairly comfortable with stippling/meandering. Practice is crucial. It did take a little bit for me to get into a groove with the things one needs to sync when FMQing (speed of machine along with speed of moving the quilt under the needle). For a time I couldn't seem to get it right, and wasn't sure what to change (did I need to slow down or speed up the machine? Was I moving too fast or too slow?). And then finally one day, voila! Something got into sync for me and I got it - I got how it felt when it all worked together.

    That said, I will also tell you that what is easy on a practice sandwich - doesn't go over as easily when working with an actual quilt on the machine. I was doing wonderful swirls/clouds on my practice sandwich. When you add in the bulk of the quilt though, well - that's another thing to master. I did do it - and it got easier as I went along. I am convinced - it can be done, one just has to be willing to put in the practice. Watch these tutorials - they are very encouraging.

    Also, it doesn't have to be perfect to look very nice. My meandering isn't always perfect. Every now and again I get an oopsie and cross lines. By the time I wash the quilt and it crinkles up, the overall effect is pretty. I am happy with it, my family is happy with it. The only ones to know all may not be how it should be (in a perfect world) - is another quilter. Not everyone is happy with this though (less than perfection). Only you know which level you would be comfortable at. If you end up hating your quilt every time you look at it because you can't see past what isn't perfect - that is something to consider. So much time goes into making a quilt top - you want to be happy with it when it is completed.

    One thing that occurred to me the other day as I was practicing my meandering is that it was getting easier to look ahead to where I wanted my needle to go next - and that I was getting more proficient at working back into spaces I missed and getting back out - without constantly starting/stopping. This is progress! And with that I decided I was gaining enough control that I now want to start trying to trace some patterns onto some practice sandwiches and follow the lines.

    All of this to say - I do believe it can be done and it can be done well. Just depends on how much practice you are willing to put in if you decide you want to master this. Plus - this board is such a wealth of information and experience (and encouragement). Such a help!!
    Last edited by DawnFurlong; 01-25-2012 at 07:31 AM.

  20. #20
    Super Member Mad Mimm's Avatar
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    I FMQ on my machine and to be honest, really haven't mastered (or practiced) stippling or meandering. I am working on a quilt at the moment that I am FMQ-ing a flower motif which will then be echo quilted around, along with some feathers in the borders. I have a plan to make a batch of placemats (I can always use them) and use them for more FMQ practice. One thing I have done is play with my table set up to get it comfy and then I have also played a lot with how I manipulate the fabric so I can move it smoothly and not get jerky stitches. I am sure this board will be full of helpful ideas. Good luck!
    Sheila N.

    When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, "I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2000 step process."

  21. #21
    Senior Member cmw0829's Avatar
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    I just FMQed my first quilt - a large lap quilt. I found it hard to maneuver it around at first but it got easier with experience. I took Leah Day's advice and gave myself permission to mess up. I think I had a pretty credible result using Golden Threads paper with the stipple design needle-punched through it. I pinned the pieces to the quilt and FMQed over them. (I hated this but I was afraid of marking the white areas.)

    After it was completed, my DS commented on the quilt and I said, "But look I did make some mistakes." He asked me to point them out and guess what, I had a hard time finding them.

    Good luck, give it a try and don't be hard on yourself.

  22. #22
    Super Member Chicca's Avatar
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    Leah Day taught me a really important fact. No matter what speed I went at with my feed dogs down....I ended up with a total mess. But, when I left my feed dogs up, with the width and length set at zero; I do not have any of those problems. My free motion quilting is still in the very beginning stages, but I have fun and learn something new every time I practice.

    This goes in a different direction, but it may help others who have trouble with finding the correct balance with FMQ. Try doing Free Motion Machine Embroidery. You use both a zig zag stitch or a straight stitch. It has really helped me to gain confidence and the willingness to try the some of the numerous quilting designs available.
    Brenda

  23. #23
    Senior Member texpat45's Avatar
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    Leah Day has begun a new series of FMQ "classes" for this year that is geared for beginners. She explains everything...beginning with a stipple design...breaking down the stitching design in parts...and gradually adding new elements until you get a completed design. These are posted each Wednesday...the first 3 lessons (including a video) are available on her site. You can ask questions & she posts answers on Thursdays. Very informative. Of course the most important thing is to practice...which I'm kind of falling behind on...but I recommend checking out Leah's site...lots of excellent information!
    Pat from Texas

    "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself."

  24. #24
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    I free motion quilt on my domestic. Here is the first quilt I did outside of loops and meandering: http://skittl1321.blogspot.com/2011/...t-is-done.html

    It takes practice, but doesn't everything?


    I find that I am better at quilting than I am at piecing, so I quilt for our guild.

    I think it would be fun to learn to use a longarm, but it is a whole other skill- I feel like I should practice this one first before I move onto something else.

  25. #25
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DogHouseMom View Post
    It took a while, but I have become comfortable with it. I STILL practice though! Each time I want to try a new quilting motif (and there are still a LOT that are new to me), or one that I've not done in some time, I practice ... a LOT. I don't ... and I mean NEVER, put my quilt under the machine until I've practiced the motions over and over with the same thread, batting and fabric. Even if I plan on quilting using something I'm very familiar with (stipling for example), I'll still do a short practice with the same batting, fabric and thread to make sure everything plays together properly.

    ...
    Sue
    I also always PRACTICE before starting on a real quilt; same reasoning as Sue. And I have a large table with the machine bed level with the surface so that the quilt doesn't drag on anything. I've done a few queen-size and many smaller one quite sucessfully this way.
    Wendy

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