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Thread: Machine Quilting Newbie, Part 2: HELP!!!!!!!!!

  1. #1
    lizcake's Avatar
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    I have officially done it!! I have put the first machiine stitches into my first fully machine quilted quilt. Not as scary as I thought, but still, terrifying. Now, after working for one hour, I have a series of questions!

    First: Is the free-motion/darning foot supposed to sit all the way down to the quilttop the way your regular presser foot does? Cuz mine doesn't, and it's making it difficult to move my hands when I need to shift the quilt.

    Second: Why is my machine skipping stitches? See photo.

    Third: I started tonight on the foundation(?) quilting, the in-the-ditch quilting that is supposed to be invisible and anchor everything down before I begin working in the blocks. Since my stitches are clearly NOT invisible since I still haven't managed to make a consistently straight stitch(again, see photo, #2)), when I begin the background free-motion quilting, can I or should I not quilt over the ditch stitches. I know you're not supposed to cross over your free-motion stitches,but does that apply to the foundation stitches?

    Fourth: Any other hints? This quilt is for my bf's first baby, and of course I want it to be special, and perfect. I know, perfection doesn't exist beyond the first inch or two, but I still want it to be perfect.

    Photo #1: look about 1 inch to the right of the pin, there are two largish skips.
    Name:  Attachment-119275.jpe
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    Photo #2: Middle of photo, you can see where I went wonky and then had to try to get back in line.
    Name:  Attachment-119276.jpe
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Size:  56.6 KB

  2. #2
    Super Member Margie's Avatar
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    I am looking forward to the tips for stitch in the ditch. I find that really hard. I think you are supposed to stay a little to the side not in the middle...but not sure.

  3. #3
    Super Member mommamac's Avatar
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    I'm learning from your questions - can't wait for answers!

  4. #4
    Power Poster Tweety2911's Avatar
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    There are many experts here, I am not one, but I find using the walking foot for the straight stitching and the darning foot (which does not sit like your regular foot) for FMQ designs, ie. curves, loops, etc. Learning to use your hands and foot take lots of practice to get the stitches even, and well worth the effort. Try working on a practice piece of fabric layered with batting and backing fabric. Good Luck! Your quilt is lovely.

  5. #5
    Super Member SuziC's Avatar
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    Your foot should not be resting on the fabric like the reg feet. It is not suppose to hold down your fabric.

  6. #6
    Senior Member katybob's Avatar
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    Make sure your feed dog is down when you're using the darning foot and when you need to readjust your hands, make sure your needle is down. The stitches will get better the more you practice -- it's a matter of getting your foot pressure and hand movements coordinated and it takes practice. I also use a walking foot with the feed dogs up when I'm straight stitching.

  7. #7
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    For the skipped stitches, make sure everything is threaded correctly. Then make sure your tension is correct, lastly, make sure you are using the correct needle size. Remember that the quilt sandwich is much thicker than when piecing and that necessitates a different needle. There are needles specifically for quilting, but some folks use a topstitch needle. I am sure some of the folks on here can help more, but that is what came to mind.
    As for stitching in the ditch, try a matching thread, and as Margie said, line up your presser foot so you are stitching just a little to the side of the seam. Go to You Tube search stitch in the ditch, and they are tons of videos to see how to do it. Good luck.

  8. #8
    Super Member azwendyg's Avatar
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    I don't consider myself to be an "expert", but I'm a couple of jumps ahead of you on the learning curve. I'm working on "real" FMQ quilt #5 now and in the past year I've worked through all of the troubles that you are experiencing!

    Let's see if I can help you out with some of my experiences.... (In addition to all the good tips above.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lizcake
    I have officially done it!! I have put the first machiine stitches into my first fully machine quilted quilt. Not as scary as I thought, but still, terrifying. Now, after working for one hour, I have a series of questions!

    First: Is the free-motion/darning foot supposed to sit all the way down to the quilttop the way your regular presser foot does? Cuz mine doesn't, and it's making it difficult to move my hands when I need to shift the quilt.
    No, the free-motion/darning foot is not supposed to sit all the way down like a normal foot does. It only really presses on the quilt as the actually stitch is being made; as your needle goes down, the presser foot also goes down a bit, and when the needle comes up, so does the presser foot. Be sure to put your needle in the "down" position every time you stop. That will allow you to rearrange the quilt without loosing your place so to speak.
    Quote Originally Posted by lizcake
    Second: Why is my machine skipping stitches? See photo.
    Probably because the rate at which you are moving the quilt is not consistent. When you speed up the motion of the quilt suddenly, stitches will skip. (I've also had this happen when I am using some "bad" i.e. cheap and nasty thread.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lizcake
    Third: I started tonight on the foundation(?) quilting, the in-the-ditch quilting that is supposed to be invisible and anchor everything down before I begin working in the blocks. Since my stitches are clearly NOT invisible since I still haven't managed to make a consistently straight stitch(again, see photo, #2)), when I begin the background free-motion quilting, can I or should I not quilt over the ditch stitches. I know you're not supposed to cross over your free-motion stitches,but does that apply to the foundation stitches?
    Here's my "secret" for stitch in the ditch: I use my walking foot if at all possible, instead of FMQ! I try to plan m SID so that I can do straight, uninterupted lines all the way across the quilt and not have to make turns.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizcake
    Fourth: Any other hints? This quilt is for my bf's first baby, and of course I want it to be special, and perfect. I know, perfection doesn't exist beyond the first inch or two, but I still want it to be perfect.
    I always try out my quilting on a practice piece right before I start on the real thing to make sure everything is in order.
    Because you are putting your heart into this quilt~It WILL be special and perfect!

  9. #9
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    Hon, I would not use your darning foot for SID. That foot is for FMQ and until you get used to FMQ you will get skips like that, and loose control over the stitching.

    FMQ is where you drop your feed dogs and move your fabric all around underneath your needle. We do this when we want to make circles, feathers and other shapes.

    SID is following your seamlines

    Cross hatching is usually stitching diagonal lines across your quilt.

    You can cross your stitching lines when you SID :D:D:D

    It is NOT a hard and fast rule that you can't cross your stitching lines when you FMQ either :wink:

    If you don't have a walking foot, use your basic sewing foot for doing SID :wink: I think you will be much happier with your stitching. You will have MUCH more control over where your stitching ends up :D:D:D

    If you don't have a walking foot, it is a great investment :D:D:D

  10. #10
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I find stitch-in-the-ditch really hard to do. On the few occasions when I attempt it, I use a walking foot. I would find it impossible to do stitch-in-the-ditch with a darning foot.

    The darning foot does ride higher than other feet, to allow movement of the quilt. It would be used for free motion quilting.

    It sounds as if you may be using a darning foot to do stitch-in-the ditch. If so, that could be your biggest problem. There are accomplished quilters who can do SID that way, but it's not for a beginner.

  11. #11
    Senior Member quiltingaz's Avatar
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    You can cross your stitches when FMQ. Only if you are meandering should you not cross. But there are no quilt police and no hard and fast rules. Of course, you have to cross if you are doing loops or feathers. Just practice, practice, practice. I still have trouble keeping even speed on fabric, I still jerk a lot. One thing that helps is the teflon coated, oh can't think of what the sheet is called, slider, I guess. I love mine.

  12. #12
    lizcake's Avatar
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    oh my gosh! Thank you so much everybody. Let's see if I can sum up the answers.

    1) Yes, I will admit, I was trying to use the darning foot for the straight stitching. When I try to use my regular presser foot, the quilt doesn't move very well, mucgh less evenly. And as I am just beginning with this idea of MQ I have not bought a walking foot. I know when I do I need to get one specifically for my machine and not just a generic one, but budgets.... So, I guess I will try again with the regular foot.

    2)I didn't think the darning foot was supposed to sit against the fabric the same, I just wanted to check since there were more than 2 differnt feet for my machine that were listed as being good for FMQ. Needed to make sure i had the right one, or if there really is a right one. I guess that's basically a personal choice.

    3) I knew that I could make the foundation stitches cross, I just don't know about crossing them when I go to background quilt. I've been watching videos on Leah Day's 365 FMQ designs blog (if you haven't seen them, it's AWESOME!!), but she always demonstrates on something like a 4-inch square. And I never know about just you-tubing videos...not all of the people who put up videos actually know what they're doing ya know?

    4)Practice makes perfect. I know. I want to be perfect without the practice though? Maybe? Think it's possible?

    5) I am putting on my Christmas list one of those little extension tables for my machine...I think that will help with the tension issues, since I was trying to work with the small 5-ish inches of my machine. Now to convince my m-in-law that this would be the perfect gift....I wonder if I could get her to throw in a walking foot too....

    Thanks again.

  13. #13
    Senior Member quiltingaz's Avatar
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    Definitely get a walking foot. Regular foot pushes upper fabric esp. when quilting because of layers and thickness. You will not get good results unless layers are feeding at same rate.

    Don't we all wish it just came without practice. LOL

  14. #14
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    Leah Day is AWESOME and recognized as an expert, so you can watch her videos with confidence that you are getting good advice.

    A walking foot is definitely a big help. I don't know what machine you have, but when I got a walking foot for my brother, the lady at the store actually recommended the generic one she had.

    You are also right on when you talk about an extension table. A quilt gets heavy and having it supported well is very important. (IMHO) You should see what my set up looks like when quilting a big quilt....a fold up portable table behind my machine, a table to my left side (or ironing board) and then the rest thrown over my shoulder...quite a sight! ;-)

    Yep practice does make perfect, just hard to admit that when I want to be perfect, NOW!

    Good luck and have fun!

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