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Thread: Machine quilting 101

  1. #1
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I have not yet ventured out and tried this so I'm wanting to know how to "get my feet wet" so to speak.

    I've gathered that the step by step progression is 1) practice on a scrap sample with each technique 2) stitch in the ditch is the most common way to begin initially 3) echoing the design is a likely next step 4) meandering is the most common way to venture out into free motion quilting

    Now can any of this be done with just leaving the regular foot on the machine and not changing any of the settings? Or does everything require something special? If so what is best for each application?

    I have a couple of feet that look like they might be what I've seen described as being used for machine quilting but I don't know which one would be best to use when.

    One looks more like a donut than a foot.
    Another seems to have a spring in it somewhere.
    And one said on the package that it was for quilting, but it just looks like both sides are the same size and is meant for doing the 1/4" seam accurately rather than having any other special qualities.

    So I would appreciate the help of all you wonderful folk who know more about this than I do.

  2. #2
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    I have no suggestions on the feet you described.

    I've quilted only with a walking foot. 'X's and SITD across 5" charms.

    Did you try any of the feet on a practice piece?

    Good luck

  3. #3
    mlaceruby's Avatar
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    the donut foot is used for free motion quilting
    they usually have a spring so the foot can bounce on your quilt.
    you will need to lower your feed dogs with these

    and adjust your stitch length to 0
    the stitch length in FMQ is created as you move the fabric

    tension will depend on your fabric and thread
    just play for awhile- change the settings and see how they make a difference.
    this will help you get the look you want on your quilt.

  4. #4
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    To Echo, or meander you will need to drop your feed dogs, and use your darning foot. Your first two feet you described would likely be for what this.
    If you are just beginning, I would suggest you stitch in the ditch on your first quilt. To do this you can use your regular foot, but may need to change the tension, see if your stitches look good on your test piece.
    There are so many good hints for machine quilting books are written on it, and well worth the read. Visit your local library and check one out, or take a class at a local quilt shop.

  5. #5
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    None of what you are describing sounds like a walking foot. Do you have one of them? Those are used to feed all the layers of the quilt sandwich evenly when machine quilting in a straight line (not FMQ).

    Good luck, take your time and you will do fine. Lots of "how to" videos online, just google quilting videos.

  6. #6
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    there have been several sugestions to dial the stitch length to "0" this is not necessary as when the feed dogs are dropped the stitch length is nutralized. Stitch length is controled by speed of the machine and the movement of your hands. I suggest you find a book on free motion or machine quilting. They will usually have exercises. But generally in beginning free motion. it is good to practice, loops, meandering, a design like waves that has curves ending in a point and then long wavy lines.
    The important thing is to work until you feel a good balance between the speed of the machine and the movement of your hands. and don't ever let your hands leave the quilt while the machine is going. This causes jumps when you stop and begin.

  7. #7
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Mom-6 thanks for starting this thread. I have only done SID and want to learn free motion.
    Thanks to everybody for their input !!

  8. #8
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    The absolute best advice I can offer is to get your hands on Harriett Hargraves book Heirloom Machine Quilting.
    She covers everything in that book and I mean everything. I got it last year for Christmas and was amazed at how much I didn't know about machine quilting. Diane Gaudinski's book is great too.

  9. #9
    Super Member LoisN's Avatar
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    Another tip, wear gloves with the little rubber gripper bumps on the fingers to help hold the quilt as you FMQ. You can use gardening gloves (new) or they make quilting gloves specifically for this. I like the quilting gloves best because they come in small sizes that fit my hands better. They are only about $10 at your local quilt shop. Just play and enjoy.

  10. #10
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    I think low loft batting is much, much easier to work with in FMQ. Also concur, gloves are a must.

  11. #11
    Super Member BKrenning's Avatar
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    A little silicone sprayed or wiped on the bed (harp) of the machine will help also. You're going to want to roll up the sides of your quilt so only a little puddle is under the needle so some bicycle clips will come in handy to hold the rolled edges, also.

    The walking foot looks like a little toy tank.

  12. #12
    Power Poster Sadiemae's Avatar
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    I guess I broke all of the assumptions. I began with free motion quilting and have not SID yet.

  13. #13
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I usually use my walking foot for quilting, but if I want to use a decorative stitch to SID I have used my open toed foot or zigzag foot too.
    The more stretched out a decorative stitch is, the easier it feeds through the machine.

    Lengthening a straight stitch while doing SID was another appreciated tip I was given years ago :wink:

    Using a wobble stitch (a very very narrow zig zag stitch) for SID is more forgiving if you wander a little too. It also is pretty, but doesn't stand out a lot.

  14. #14
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the hints!

    Will I be able to do SID with my Featherweight? If so which of the feet that came with it would I use? I know there is one that is a darning foot, but somehow have associated that with FMQ. Would either the regular foot or the zipper foot work? I was thinking the zipper foot might be more forgiving of something thicker like a quilt. I realize it would most likely only accomodate a wall hanging or possibly up to crib size.

  15. #15
    Super Member Joeysnana's Avatar
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    I just finished my first machine quilt project- a table runner. First time I used a walking foot, first time I tried SID, first time I sewed using a charm pack, first time I made my own binding, and first time I used the Missouri Star Quilt Co. binding tool. It was such a good learning experience. Sometime I will get brave and move on to a lapquilt!

  16. #16
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Ok, so I need to use a walking foot for stitch in the ditch?

    Is there any type of machine quilting I can do with just the regular foot? If so what?

    I'm in my RV at my land in SE Texas, not at home, and only have my featherweight here...

    And it's way too hot to do hand quilting in my lap right now.

  17. #17
    Super Member feline fanatic's Avatar
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    You can use a regular foot to SID but it increases the odds of getting puckers on the back. I have SID with my blind hem foot because the little guide on it is easier for me to get my stitches right down in the ditch and aside from the guide it is just like a regular presser foot. If you have sandwiched and basted well the risk is minimal. Give it a shot. What is the worst that can happen?

  18. #18
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Try your regular foot, go slow, check the back often :wink:
    As feline fanatic said, as long as you baste well, the risk of puckering is minimized.

    Start in the center of the quilt and work out to minimize puckering too.
    Center to the left, then center to the right.
    Center up, then center down.
    It helps to distribute the movement evenly :D:D:D

    Or from the center of the top all the way down to the end.
    Then the next row middle left all the way to the right...
    The next row start from the bottom and go up
    Then from the right all the way to the left.

    It all depends on how you are going to quilt your top.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6
    Will I be able to do SID with my Featherweight? If so which of the feet that came with it would I use? I know there is one that is a darning foot, but somehow have associated that with FMQ. Would either the regular foot or the zipper foot work? I was thinking the zipper foot might be more forgiving of something thicker like a quilt. I realize it would most likely only accomodate a wall hanging or possibly up to crib size.
    SID can be done on a Featherweight using a regular foot, and probably a zipper foot, tho I've never used a zipper foot for this purpose. For contemporary machines, the darning foot is used for FMQ, but I dont know if the darning foot for the Featherweight is the same thing....someone else may be able to answer that. The only problem with using a regular or zipper foot for SID on a quilt is that the quilt "sandwich" is much thicker than piecing and the top fabric is apt to want to move out of position, which is why the walking foot is so good....just don't know if one is available for the Featherweight.

  20. #20
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ktbb
    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6
    Will I be able to do SID with my Featherweight? If so which of the feet that came with it would I use? I know there is one that is a darning foot, but somehow have associated that with FMQ. Would either the regular foot or the zipper foot work? I was thinking the zipper foot might be more forgiving of something thicker like a quilt. I realize it would most likely only accomodate a wall hanging or possibly up to crib size.
    SID can be done on a Featherweight using a regular foot, and probably a zipper foot, tho I've never used a zipper foot for this purpose. For contemporary machines, the darning foot is used for FMQ, but I dont know if the darning foot for the Featherweight is the same thing....someone else may be able to answer that. The only problem with using a regular or zipper foot for SID on a quilt is that the quilt "sandwich" is much thicker than piecing and the top fabric is apt to want to move out of position, which is why the walking foot is so good....just don't know if one is available for the Featherweight.
    Yep, they are available. Got one for my featherweight years ago when I first got her. I think I got it from a Bernina dealer that handled accessories for a number of machines. Didn't cost much. It was a generic foot, not a Singer specific one, but it works fine. I do believe they have them on Ebay. Any LQS near you that carry machines and accessories? That would be the place to start. BTW, the walking foot for the Singer is narrower in the feed dog area than for a regular Singer.

  21. #21
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    well said

  22. #22
    Pati- in Phx's Avatar
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    I am a rebel. I don't use either a walking foot or a darning foot for quilting. Most of the machine quilting I do I use an open toe applique foot.
    The key is to reduce the pressure foot pressure. On older machines there is a "screw with a knob on it" on the top of the machine..... that regulates the pressure of the pressure foot. To see what I mean, put the foot down and lift up on the toes gently. For most sewing you want some lift but not much. If you put two layers of fabric under the foot you shouldn't be able to easily pull it out. If the pressure is tight you really can't lift the foot, as you loosen the pressure it gets easier to lift it. So if you loosen the pressure to where there isn't a lot of "drag" on the foot/ fabric sandwich you will be less likely to have problems. You can loosen the foot quite a bit, sometimes enough that the feed dogs don't actually engage the fabric. But I believe most Featherweights have a plate that screws on to the bed of the machine to cover the feed dogs in order to do free motion work.
    Remember that when the Featherweights were state of the art our foremothers were doing a lot of darning, and machines made that a lot easier.

    Have fun,
    Pati, in Phx

  23. #23
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    Mlaceruby summed it up very well.

  24. #24
    Junior Member ProLongarmARTQUILTER's Avatar
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    I think a Low Shank Free motion Darning foot would fit a Featherweight or SID with the reg foot or I know some folks do use the zipper foot. Darning Foot can be found in catalogs and online.

  25. #25
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    I don't think anyone mentioned to use a cotton batting for machine quilting. The cotton batt "sticks" to both the top and backing and helps to eliminate puckers on the back.

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