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Thread: Learning Free Motion Quilting

  1. #1
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    I am getting ready to teach FMQ at two events. I have done this many times before. I wonder if there is good feedback from members here that will make the classes better. So am asking this question.

    What are the most important things you need to learn or wish you had learned if you took a class.

    If you have not taken a class then what has become the most important thing you have tried to learn.

    And any other thoughts that might be useful.

  2. #2
    Power Poster MadQuilter's Avatar
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    Every machine has different requirements. Some need to have the stitch length at zero others need regular stitch lengths. For me, it was most important to understand what my machine needed. Once that was settled, I could focus on the actual process.

    Class I took used "Machine Quilting Made Easy" by Maureen Noble. Great techniques and exercises in that book.

    We worked on little sandwiches about 14" square. That was a bit easier to handle than a full quilt. Plus, when you work on a sample square it's OK to mess up. Not so easy to adopt that attitude when you are working on a quilt.

    Have fun.

  3. #3
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    I have taken a FMQ class and have practiced at home but what I found is that it is easy to do on a small square but much harder when this big old quilt is going through!

    I know you can't use actual quilts in class but some tips for how to handle and move a big quilt around would be helpful, I think.

  4. #4
    Super Member AlwaysQuilting's Avatar
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    I can't give you any ideas but just wanted to say I wish I lived in your area and could be in your class!

  5. #5
    Super Member mimom's Avatar
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    keep a good rhythm and when you start a large quilt dont put it down for too many days at a time as you might lose the rhythm you had when you started it and the FMQ will be different.

  6. #6
    Super Member Glassquilt's Avatar
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    Find your own speed and go with it.

  7. #7
    Super Member quiltwoman's Avatar
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    I agree about finding "your speed".

  8. #8
    Super Member Melinda in Tulsa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysQuilting
    I can't give you any ideas but just wanted to say I wish I lived in your area and could be in your class!
    I second this! Wish you could give a class in Oklahoma!

  9. #9
    Super Member hopetoquilt's Avatar
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    I am assuming you are teaching FMQ on a DSM...

    setting up your space. (table to the left and behind your sewing table to deal with weight of quilt.

    trying different darning feet (open vs. closed, hopping vs. not hopping)

    using different thread,

    using machingers

    basting spray vs. pinning (large pins vs small pins), when to remove pins

    different methods for marking the quilt

    what needle to use in the machine

    If you want to imress the class, have multiple pictures and very short films demonstrating different techniques. Discuss specific brands and how/where to purchase. Make it easy on people to try new techniques and products.

    perhaps ask people to show up with a specified number of blocks that are pinned (tell them to use their ugly fabric) to practice on during the class. Once people try, they will have questions.

    It would be kinda fun if you had a few fat quarters to give away as prizes during class for things like...
    first person to stump you with a question, first person to "travel" correctly, answering multiple choice questions about FMQ. Makes it more interactive which makes it more fun.

    Have people choose from a book of pictures of techniques a specific pattern that they want demonstrated.

    I wished I lived closer. I am determined to develop great FMQ techniques

  10. #10
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    Use the best quality thread, batting and fabric to learn with! Wool batting, silk thread (or other thin quality thread) and quilt shop quality fabric. I took a class from Diane Guadynski and she insisted on practicing using the best made such a difference that she provided the best for the class members to use. It does make a difference. http://dianegaudynski.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
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    I'm getting some good thoughts here. Keep them going.
    One thing I didn't mention is I only have 3 hrs per class.
    So if you will think of the most important things which can be done in the 3 hrs.

  12. #12
    Power Poster PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    This probably won't help in your case. I took mine at a quilting store that was also a dealer for several different machines. The gals who sold the machines came in and if you had a brand they sold, they showed you several settings (and feet) for your machine that you could try to see what worked for you. The class was small, only 6, so we got great individual instruction. Sounds stupid, but the instructor walking around saying 'slow down' or 'speed up' was pretty helpful. You read the books and they say fast foot, slow hands, but how fast??

  13. #13
    Super Member woody's Avatar
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    When I did my class the teacher had us write our name with the machine as one of the first exercises. She said as it is something we are very familiar with we wouldn't have to try to work out which direction we should be going next. I found it really helpful just to get comfortable with speed and moving the fabric.
    Also to breathe and relax your shoulders. I still find I hold my breath sometimes, but I am improving. :mrgreen:

    Another thing that I have learned is that not all sewing machines FMQ with the feed dogs down. I had all sorts of trouble with tension with my Brother with them down, but it worked beautifully with them up. :?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melinda in Tulsa
    Quote Originally Posted by AlwaysQuilting
    I can't give you any ideas but just wanted to say I wish I lived in your area and could be in your class!
    I second this! Wish you could give a class in Oklahoma!
    DITTO

  15. #15
    Super Member gramajo's Avatar
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    I'm just learning FMQ. I do OK with practice blocks, but trying to wrestle even a crib quilt through the machine is difficult. Some ideas or demos on how to do this would have helped me tremendously.

  16. #16
    Google Goddess craftybear's Avatar
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    I love reading this thread, lots of great ideas for Holice

  17. #17
    Super Member cjaye44's Avatar
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    Sure would like to take your class!!!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member luana's Avatar
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    My teacher started us out by making a sandwich about 48 inches square. At the end of the class she suggested we cut off the unused portion and save it for "warm up". That gave me a place to start when I got home. She also asked us to
    bring a pieced block so we could learn stitch in the ditch without taking class time to make a block, and we brought the manual for our machine. That came in handy!

  19. #19
    Super Member jitkaau's Avatar
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    I think hints or exercises for getting the rhythm to make evenly consistent stitches. We all know that it is practice, however, a few good tips would help. I don't think you can practice that on a really small piece and I prefer my practice sandwiches to be about a metre in size and no smaller than half a metre. Such a shame the lessons are so far away.

  20. #20
    KR
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    Ditto on all these wonderful suggestions!

    I've only taken one class on FMQ and the instructor had us bring to class 12 practice sandwiches made from inexpensive muslin. Muslin and a little darker thread so we could see our stitching. Once there, we drew a 1" grid with blue pen on several of the squares. We also learned how to draw a diamond grid on a couple of others.

    Then she started with a basic orange peel design so we learned how to go from one square to the next across a row and then back to the beginning and down to the next row.

    Next exercise was to add a little loop in the middle of each arc. Each design after that was variations on the original orange peel, but the premise was that we learn on a small scale....1 little square at a time that can be as elaborate/quilted as we want. Those 1" squares can then be translated into any size to fill backgrounds, borders, etc. Basically like eating an elephant one bite at a time.

    My own best tip is to sit back and take a deep breath every now and then.

    Quote Originally Posted by hopetoquilt
    I am assuming you are teaching FMQ on a DSM...

    setting up your space. (table to the left and behind your sewing table to deal with weight of quilt.

    trying different darning feet (open vs. closed, hopping vs. not hopping)

    using different thread,

    using machingers

    basting spray vs. pinning (large pins vs small pins), when to remove pins

    different methods for marking the quilt

    what needle to use in the machine

    If you want to imress the class, have multiple pictures and very short films demonstrating different techniques. Discuss specific brands and how/where to purchase. Make it easy on people to try new techniques and products.

    perhaps ask people to show up with a specified number of blocks that are pinned (tell them to use their ugly fabric) to practice on during the class. Once people try, they will have questions.

    It would be kinda fun if you had a few fat quarters to give away as prizes during class for things like...
    first person to stump you with a question, first person to "travel" correctly, answering multiple choice questions about FMQ. Makes it more interactive which makes it more fun.

    Have people choose from a book of pictures of techniques a specific pattern that they want demonstrated.

    I wished I lived closer. I am determined to develop great FMQ techniques

  21. #21
    Super Member BuzzinBumble's Avatar
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    These suggestions have helped me even though I cannot take your class - thanks for asking the QB!
    I have been practicing FMQ on quilt sandwiches made from old, orphaned pillowcases and contrasting thread. It's cheaper than muslim. When I run out, I plan to get more at Goodwill. Now if I could just find something less expensive than using up all this batting...

  22. #22
    Member schaffers's Avatar
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    I think one of the most important things for someone to learn is to "Just Do It" Too many people are afraid that their work won't be perfect that they are afraid to try. I think this board shows that we all have to start somewhere. Most people that don't quilt won't know what it "should" look like. They simply appreciate your work. Just Quilt!

  23. #23
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    Spendj some time talking about how taut the backing and top fabric should be when getting ready to baste. Taut enough to bounce a coin? or just smooth with a little tension?

  24. #24
    Super Member vickig626's Avatar
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    I'm self-taught FMQ but if I took a class, my main question would be --

    how do I handle a large quilt?

    Quilting on small squares is easy to learn. It's the slippage while dealing with a large quilt is my problem. Plus, with arthritis and fibromyalgia, it's almost impossible to do.

    So, I've had to switch to QAYG techniques in order to do large quilts.

    Hope this helps.

  25. #25
    Senior Member smcfadden's Avatar
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    I'm doing my first FMQ in a heart design. Keeping a good, steady speed while feeding the quilt through is a challenge! There are some places where the needle skipped, but I'm taking heart that practice will help me get better. So, I'd say remind your students that, like everything else, they'll improve the more they do it!

    Talk about thread tension. Above quilt has a double cotton batt which definitely affected the tension I'm using.

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