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Thread: Let's be honest Free Motion Quilters!

  1. #1
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    Now I am retired I have time to put into my quilting. I really want to learn free motion quilting. I have read the books, started to practice, checked the videos online and now have signed up for a course! The piece of advice I come across the most is...practice,practice,practice. I'm willing to put in the time but would like to know from those of you who have been on this path how long did it take you before you felt competent at free motion quilting and in-control of your work. Sometimes my work looks brilliant (well not bad) but most the the time it's a disaster. Is it going to take weeks, months or years before I can FMQ with confidence?

  2. #2
    Super Member franie's Avatar
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    The first few times I did it I was so uptight that it was discouraging. But once I learned to relax with it and not think eveyrthing has to be perfect, it became easier. Also depends on the equipment too.

  3. #3
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    if you work on it an hour or two every day it will take you a month or so.

    if you only do it every 3 months it will take you years.

  4. #4
    Super Member carolaug's Avatar
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    I just have fun with it...you get better as you do more. If you start with simple meandering you will love it...just make lots of curves, not straight lines. Here are some tips...http://www.thriftyideastoday.com/201...-quilting.html

  5. #5
    Super Member GGinMcKinney's Avatar
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    I practiced 4 or 5 times a week for about a month. Finally had the tension and pressure set correctly on the machine and knew the speed at which to move the fabric. Then tried charity lap quilts. After 4 or 5 of these I felt comfortable. I am still a beginner at this stage. Have FMQ some tablerunners. Nice to FMQ on smaller items that do not have the drag of a larger quilt. I have to stop and take a break when I get tired as it really shows when I am tired. I do not have eyelashes on the back anymore, but the size and shapes of my designs suffer if I get tired.

  6. #6
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    It's getting better all the time. I am still only working on a standard size machine.

  7. #7

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    i have been practicing for about 8 years!

  8. #8
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    I started to FMQ just last month, stipple only and when I was done with my first lap size I think I had it. I do it all the timed now and am moving on to other designs. But, after the first 20 minutes I was in love. it,s great, so much fun. Now I find myself looking for things to quilt. I can! Piece fast enough. I think I would FMQ all day.

  9. #9
    Super Member hperttula123's Avatar
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    I have been quilting for about 4 years now. If you are artistic, it will flow more naturally for you. I learn by watching, so watching videos on quilting help me the best. I also use a dry erase board to practice(I can quilt better than I can draw...so the dry erase drawings always are worse than how I quilt it). Look up Matt Sparrow, he is an awesome quilter. He has live stream videos that you can watch online.

  10. #10

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    I'm still learning after about 3 years. I have vision difficulties as the result of a brain injury from a car accident 2 years ago and this has made FMQ challenging. I can do some lovely work on small pieces but moving a big quilt around is frustrating for me. I plan on sticking with it though.

  11. #11
    Super Member Debbie B's Avatar
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    I've been practicing for about a year now. I've gotten better with a meandering stipple and I feel pretty good doing that, and I bought the book Hooked on Feathers. That really helped me. I had not been doing quilts for a while...mainly sewing purses and crafts, but a friend asked me to quilt an old crib size baby quilt that her mother pieced 30 - 35 years ago, but had never put it together. Talk about scary! I felt like I was so out of practice. I'm doing the meandering stipple on it. I've been so worried that I'll mess up the delicate stitching of her mom's. So far, so good.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I have machine quilted 59 quilts and I only do FMQ and mine are no where near perfect, in fact some earlier ones look better than most recent ones. I think I have been trying to hurry and probably work too long at a time. Use to only quilt a couple of hours an evening, now I try to do it in a couple of days. I think I try to FMQ too fast and me and the speed of the machine get out of whack.

  13. #13
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    I got stippling down pretty quickly and am now working on other types. It took me a bit longer to figure out straight(ish) lines in FMQ. I find my machine does better if I have a regular foot rather than a quilting/darning foot on when trying to do FMQ and straight(ish) lines.

    I am still working on my feathers. I can do small ones, but still want to learn to do bigger designs. To me, it's harder to do on a small domestic machine .... maybe if I can get a plexiglass top so that my machine is more level with a larger table top.....

  14. #14
    Super Member LivelyLady's Avatar
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    I was intimidated and frustrated with FMQing until I took a class. She showed us her award winning quilts which she prefers to do on her home machine. The detail and intricate quilting designs were awesome! The best part was she took the fear out of FMQ for me and she said her FMQ bible is Harriet Hargrave"s book..which is my FMQ bible too.

  15. #15
    Super Member scowlkat's Avatar
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    Well practice and the amount you put into it is going to be such an individual thing! The one thing that helped me most was when I was at the AQS show in Nashville a few years back. I attended a seminar given by Caryl Bryer Fallert, a well known, fabulous quilter. Given the opportunity to see her quilts and actually touch them allowed me to see that my quilting, while not at her level, is just fine! Since then, I find that I am so much more relaxed that I actually do better. Unless you are entering your quilt where it will be judged by others, don't be so picky. None of us are perfect!

  16. #16
    Senior Member AnnieF's Avatar
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    I have always felt that if you try not to be a perfectionist in this, you have a better chance of succeeding. One of the first times I was meandering, I crossed over a line...I was going to go back and tear it out, when I thought....is anyone but me going to know if one line crosses the other?...can I live with it....yes I can, and I moved on. I also had a hard time with the tension and sometimes the bottom thread would show...a friend told me to line up the tension as best as I could and then just put the same thread in the bobbin as I was using on the top and you couldn't tell. When I finally learned how to sandwich a quilt....holding the back fabric taut and spreading the batting and quilt top over it using lots of pins....I conquered the fabric lop over in the backing....trial and error!!

  17. #17
    Super Member Ps 150's Avatar
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    The first quilt I felt comfortable with was toward the end of my third one. Those were full quilts, though. I've done about 5 or 6 now and I still get a little nervous before hand but I practice first and then plunge in. I find it relaxing now.

  18. #18
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  19. #19
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    Here here here. ther is nothing much i hate than a dishonest free motion quilter. Unlessen it wood be a dishonets enslaven stationary quilter. Heh.

  20. #20
    Super Member gzuslivz's Avatar
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    I am just beginning to enter into machine quilting. I found Leah Day online. She has a blog and does lots of tutorials. She is amazing and her tutes are so helpful. After watching her, you feel like maybe you could do it, too! Check her out.

  21. #21

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    Cindy Needham has a great tutorial on adjusting your sewing machine tension in her most recent Newsletter.

    You can secure a copy of her newsletter. If you would like to be added to her mailing list and an email to [email protected] and reference "newsletter" in the subject line.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Quilting Angel's Avatar
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    I practiced meandering or stippling on 4 practice blocks, and them was brave enough to try it on a twin size quilt. I figured that was the only way to really learn. It's far, far from perfect, but it turned out fairly well considering it was the first time on a full size quilt. I would like to learn QAYG as it would make FM a lot easier I'm sure.

  23. #23
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    Which book of Harriet's are you referring to?

  24. #24
    Senior Member pennyj123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carolaug
    I just have fun with it...you get better as you do more. If you start with simple meandering you will love it...just make lots of curves, not straight lines. Here are some tips...http://www.thriftyideastoday.com/201...-quilting.html
    Gday, thanks for this site, is a very good tutorial. I get to nervous to do fmq, but i will get there. I just havn't got the time to do on a regular basis. So at the moment i get around my quilts either in the ditch or with the walking foot. :)

  25. #25
    Super Member AnnieH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carolaug
    I just have fun with it...you get better as you do more. If you start with simple meandering you will love it...just make lots of curves, not straight lines. Here are some tips...http://www.thriftyideastoday.com/201...-quilting.html
    Thanks for the link. Good videos with helpful tips. I'm off to practise practise practise.

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