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Thread: Probably a "duh" question for people that do FMQ - but I don't know the answer

  1. #1
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    Probably a "duh" question for people that do FMQ - but I don't know the answer

    Do you mark the designs on the quilt top before you begin?

    Feline Fanatic once posted that she "maps out" what she plans to do ahead of time and then sort of "blocks in" the outlines for her designs. It sounded like she spends almost as much time planning on what to quilt as doing the quilting.

    Do you mark every line - especially for something repetitive so that they all look the same?

    Do you plan ahead?

    Do you just start in and keep going until it looks "good" to you?

    When do you know when you should stop? (Enough quilting in the area)

    Just wondering -

  2. #2
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    Second to last question first- if a quilt begins to feel like wood (ie:stiff) that is too much quilting. I favour less not more. I don't mark anything unless it is new to me and I want just land-marks. I try to plan ahead but only in my mind. Don't say it is the best but it is mine.

  3. #3
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    I think this will be different for everyone, because everyone's experience, confidence, level of willingness, etc is different.

    For me - it also depends on the quilt. If I'm doing something easy like loops, double loops, meander, or something easily replicated all over, I won't mark it. If I'm adding in a motif like a large flower, I will usually mark the flowers or butterflies. If I'm doing Baptist Fans, you betcha I'll mark every darn line!

    If I'm doing custom quilting, I'll take a long time to draw out some possible designs on paper, then decide if I need to add any marks. Usually I can just eyeball where the center of a block element is, or do dot to dot type things, but if it's something like 1/3 of the edge of a rectangle, I'll mark where it is since I'm much better at judging where the center of something is vs 1/3.

    I'm also inherently lazy, which makes me wonder often why I enjoy quilting! If there are steps I can leave out, I'll totally try it! After I'm done planning, I'm definitely in the jump in and do it boat. I also rarely rip things out so unless it looks horrendous, I'll just keep doing it and it becomes a design choice and the quilts have always washed up fine.

    I always check the quilting requirements on my batting to make sure my quilting fulfills the requirements. I don't normally quilt my quilts super closely because while I love how it looks on the quilt, I don't love how it feels when you cuddle up with it. But again, different for everyone.

  4. #4
    Super Member rryder's Avatar
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    It depends. I do a lot of what I call “doodle quilting” where I don’t mark anything, just start quilting and quilt whatever I feel like quilting as I go along.

    For more formal designs or things I do with rulers I try to mark as little as I can get away with. I’ve only done a couple of quilts that I marked extensively.

    Rob
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  5. #5
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    I like my quilts for the piecing to show so it is a lot of SITD and I save fancy quilting for open areas. I used to do more marking for them but now I use my rulers whenever possible.

  6. #6
    Super Member ekuw's Avatar
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    Sometimes. I really prefer not to mark, but I have found that based on my artistic abilities I have to, especially if I want my quilting to look consistent. Meandering, stipple, loops, flowers that sort of pattern definitely not. Marking dark fabric is my nemesis, so I try to use a quilting motif that I can just do if I am quilting on a dark fabric. As my FMQ has evolved I find I prefer to quilt like Tartan; SITD around the blocks and something fancier for the open areas or alternative block. Just my personal preference. I use stencils and my walking foot a lot. Blue painters tape is a quilters friend too. I usually only plan the starting point, and then the rest usually falls into place; as far as stopping, I try not to quilt too densely, but once in a while it happens.

  7. #7
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    I don't mark anything, anytime. I just meander along and around. I don't do any heavy quilting. It is beautiful on other's quilts. I just don't want on mine.
    Another Phyllis
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  8. #8
    Super Member quiltingshorttimer's Avatar
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    For edge to edge or border to border, I rarely mark. I'll mark registration marks (chalk) on the border so I can get designs spaced consistently. Same with marking the middle of a block that I will be going into and want consistency. I use a lot of rulers so I don't mark actual design lines as much, but I do lots of practice sketches beforehand. When I'm doing lots of negative space where I'm quilting a modern design, I will mark (either chalk or water soluble blue or air soluble purple) some motifs or use a stencil; and then mark some "pathways" (a'la Krista Withers). I get lazy and think I should do more marking actually! I have used press n' seal and laid out a whole design--but that's rare.

  9. #9
    Super Member WMUTeach's Avatar
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    I do no mark my quilts when free motion quilting. I do mentally plan my start and stop places so I don't have to tuck in ends of the thread if I don't have to. After a number of years of FM success and a few disasters, I am confident enough in my of skills to know how much quilting is enough. As mentioned before, to some extent it depends on the quilt. Somewhere I read about quilting in quarters. Meaning that you divide you piece into quarters mentally and deal with that amount of your quilt top. For me, that works beautifully.

  10. #10
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    Since I have a designated sewing machine on a frame I only have a small area to quilt in. This leaves me with loops or small meandering, so there is no need to mark anything. Haven't advanced further yet, but would love to be able to do flowers. Those I would have to mark and have them small enough to fit into the small I'm allowed.

  11. #11
    Junior Member stitch678's Avatar
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    Bearisgray, l teach fmq . Here's what l teach my students:
    Have a basic plan before you start quilting! Our 2 hr. class starts off with 1 hr. of planning ( methods & ideas)
    You can " preview" your ideas right on quilt by placing a large clear plastic sheet over it, and marking with erasable marker. Take photo, wipe off, try another design. ..etc.
    Fmq means free motion...that doesn't mean you can't mark.
    Minimal marking is best...with chalk or water/ air soluble marker, little tick marks or dashes, measured out...something to " aim at" so a row of repeated movements are evenly spaced. I often draw in the corner areas of a border or sashing. It gives you confidence while stitching to know exactly where to go.
    If quilting a large design using a machine with small throat, it's easy to " get lost" while stitching. In this case, or in the case of whole cloth quilts, using chalk,or an air or water erase marking tool to draw out the design really is very helpful.
    Last edited by stitch678; 05-10-2019 at 04:12 AM.

  12. #12
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    Thank you for your responses.

    It took me a while to realize that free motion and free hand were not necessarily the same thing.

  13. #13
    Junior Member mlt150's Avatar
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    I am a "get er done" girl so no marking for me plus I don't follow the lines well either. Sometimes I do a micro stippling which adds such texture that I am quite happy to use it as a fill. I can almost do stippling with my eyes closed so I need to move on to more complex designs, but once again, I just want to finish!
    I have to say, that I have quilted paisleys, spirals, flowers all by free motion on my Janome 15000, but stippling is my go to for quilts/table runners I give away.
    Dianne

  14. #14
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    I do not. The only thing I am comfortable marking is the edge for trimming.
    If you do, be very careful that you can get the marks out later.

  15. #15
    Super Member MarionsQuilts's Avatar
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    I mark my quilts for every single stitch that I am going to FMQ … and I mark my quilts for all the grid work that I am going to do … If you search for my Dresden quilt (the pink one) I have a pic that shows just how much I marked it … it's a ton of work but it makes it easier for me to quilt

  16. #16
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    Thank you for the responses - if and/or when I ever try to do any FMQ - I will probably be "mark every stitch" group.

  17. #17
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    I don't mark anything now. I did one quilt only. Circles - never again. It was the hardest one I've done. Thank goodness it was a baby quilt. I do plan my quilting pattern, whether it's a meander or something more organized. I never SITD, except the first border and I do that after FMQ. As far as knowing when to stop, I am not a fan of too close together FMQ, so it isn't an issue.

  18. #18
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    Sometimes. It depends what I"m doing. My two main influences are Angela WAlters and Cindy Needham. Angela hardly marks at all and Cindy marks a lot more.

    I just finished FMQ a summer swap quilt. Here's what I did.

    I decided to do a different quilting design in all the sashings. The sashings were many different sizes. If it was a quilting a design I wasn't familiar with I marked the first couple repetitions. Sometimes, even with familiar designs I would make a mark every two inches so I would have a spot I could aim for. But for many of the familiar designs I didn't do any marking.

    I did some special quilting in a few the blocks using Needham's perfect stencil ( a great great tool). I didn't mark everything but I did mark guide points to make it easier to quilt the design. I have some experience with this tool. When I first started using it, I tried my design out on the practice sheet that are provided with the stencil before I quilt.

    I was very happy with the results. I wanted to get the quilt done and this method gave me a lot of practice with a lot of different designs, including a few intricate designs.

    I am an intermediate FMQ who's motto is it'll never be noticed on a galloping horse and that's the only kind I ride. Especially for this quilt.


    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by mjpEncinitas; 05-14-2019 at 04:11 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member himnherr's Avatar
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    I mark feathers. If I donít they get all wonky. Most other things I just freehand it. Iíve surprised myself with freehand campfires, saguaro cactus, flowers, etc. but Iíve also surprised myself that I cannot get the hang of feathers freehand. 🙃
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