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Thread: Is there some magic spell or fairy dust that'll help with free motion quilting?

  1. #1
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    I'm using a Pfaff Creative 1471. I finally figured out the presser foot setting to use - it's surely not clear in the manual! :? I've scoured the internet sites and youtube for help with FMQ.

    Basically they all pretty much say to practice every day for 2 years and you might eventually get the hang of it. I think you must also have to hold your tongue right, turn your fingers into rubber, and mindmeld with the machine.

    My hardest things to conquer are regulating speed, stitch length, and a wonky bobbin thread that wants to peek thru the top.

    Any hints or words of wisdom?

  2. #2
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    Yes! Practice, practice, practice. Don't give up if mastery don't happen right away. It takes time.

  3. #3
    Super Member pollyjvan9's Avatar
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    Yes! The magic word is PRACTICE! I know it's a bummer but that is what it takes. I think the one of the hardest things for me to learn was how to stop without a jump in my stitching.

  4. #4
    Super Member mommamac's Avatar
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    I feel your pain!!
    Have you seen these video? I've only watched the first 2 but she is easy to listen to and demonstrates well

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39I5A...layer_embedded

  5. #5
    Super Member jdiane318's Avatar
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    It's called Xanax and a margarita.

  6. #6
    Super Member quiltinghere's Avatar
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    I've heard an 'adult' beverage will help...:) seriously!

  7. #7
    Super Member sewmuchmore's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing, I have added it to my favorites.

  8. #8
    Junior Member Sewing Joe's Avatar
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    I finally gave up tried hand quilting. Much less frustrating for me...

  9. #9
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    It must be "try and cry" FMQ day. I've been making quilts for 20+ years, hand quilting and machine quilting straight lines only. So I have great machines with which to FMQ, I've read some recommended books, and I tried it early this morning. Hundreds of thousands of people do this, right? So no tension problems, no eyelashes, but it was just awful. I think everything is set just fine, because the stitch line is great except that it's jerky, ugly, and inconsistent. I could feel the thread's shame and disappointment at being involved. I can't trace a line, make any attractive shape, nothing nice at all. I sewed out a bobbin's worth on a 12"x 18" piece, which I then took directly to the rabbit cage to die the worst death any quilt can as a peed-upon chew rug. I went back to bed. Later, when I opened my thread drawer, the quilting weight threads were all cowering in fear. Even the piecing thread looked nervous. The worst of the whole story is that I was using the Bernina 440 with BSR, which is supposed to help, right? So I know it takes practice, but I'm pretty discouraged. It's also not AT ALL fun. Which is crazy, too...fabric :) + batting :) + thread :) + Bernina :))) = sad and sore like I did too much yard work.

  10. #10
    Super Member SherriB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.
    I could use a healthy dose of that right now! LOL!!

  11. #11
    Senior Member lisalisa's Avatar
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    a good piece of advise I got was to draw the design out first to so you create the muscle memory. People learn by repetition. The idea there is to repeat it so much with pen and paper so that when you start quilting your hands will naturally follow that same motion.

    I'm with you though, it's been one of the toughest things I've ever tackled. I'll get there by golly.

  12. #12
    Senior Member quilter1943's Avatar
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    I love this! Maybe it wouldn't have taken me so long to learn.
    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.

  13. #13
    Senior Member quiltnmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.
    I love this! ROFLOL! I have my grandson's quilt all sandwichedd and ready to go do some FMQ but... it intimidates me.
    A grown woman, intimidated my some fabric.

  14. #14
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    It's like patty your head and rubbing your belly at the same time!

    Practice is the answer, sorry to say.

    Adjust your tension if the thread is popping up, usually one click at a time until it stops.

    Slow the speed down on your machine if you have that capability, if not, then rest your foot half off the petal so you can't press fully and that may help to slow down the speed.

    I have always found it easier to move sideways when fmq, I seem to be able to coordinate the movement easier. So experiment, see what works for you to enable to keep the stitches even. We all have a different coordination system, so what works for one, may not work for another.

    Good luck, stay with it, it is worth the effort. Once you master it, you can pick up the speed, so don't feel like you have to be a speed demon at first. Speed comes later. Right now focus on the stitch evenness.

  15. #15
    Member scrappydoo's Avatar
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    I feel your pain. I've been practicing for what seems like forever to FMQ. Here are a few things that I have found to help:

    If your machine has a speed adjustment, set it at a comfortable speed (for me that's pretty slow).

    For those peeking bobbin threads, try adjusting the top tension a smidge lower so the top thread isn't pulling your bobbin thread to the top.

    Take the curves slower, on my machine this is where I get "eyelashes", by slowing down I have cut down on the eyelash effect.

    And finally, don't clench your teeth. I literally have to sew with my mouth open so I don't clench my teeth. This helps me stay relaxed so I don't go nuts and start sewing at supersonic speeds.

    Hope this helps!

  16. #16
    Super Member 0tis's Avatar
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    Yes, I would love some of that fairy dust please - I have a difficult time with FMQ - and I have a longarm - its frustuating to me - I envy those on here that are so good at it.

  17. #17
    Senior Member debp33's Avatar
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    If you do find that fairy dust I'll buy some from you! :lol:

  18. #18
    Junior Member PAMAR's Avatar
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    I have only been fmq-ing for about 9 months. In addition to the above suggestions (the best being to practice, practice, practice), a seasoned quilter told me to make sure to "puddle" the fabric around the needle. In other words, create a nest with the fabric bunched up on the flat surface around the needle to take the pressure off.

    My fmq-ing isn't perfect, but this suggestion really helped.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mizkyp's Avatar
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    I'll take some fairy dust too. I keep telling myself it cant be this difficult. I keep practicing and one day it will work.

  20. #20
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.
    Too funny!

    Seriously, it does just take practice. There were some things I wasn't good at, so I kept working on the ones I was good at, like loops and swirls. Then I moved on to other shapes. Now I'm pretty comfortable. Still haven't attempted feathers on anything but practice sandwiches, but do see myself doing it on a real quilt before too long.

    Don't worry about perfection. Once the quilt is washed it will shrink up and pucker a bit. The things you worry about likely won't even be noticeable. Relax and enjoy it!

  21. #21
    Super Member quiltwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.
    LOL--that might make me feel better the next day

    :lol:

  22. #22
    Super Member quiltwoman's Avatar
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    I found it easier to learn on smaller pieces rather than an entire quilt.

    My machine has a speed control so you can't get going faster than what you set the speed at. This really helped me. I have to go somewhat fast to get more even stitches.
    HTH

  23. #23
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    One of our sheets ripped so I kept the top sheet to cut up and use for practice. It's pretty worn so I don't feel badly about making the sacrifice. I'm going to make a bunch of practice sandwiches and then just try to practice a lot!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maia B
    ...Hundreds of thousands of people do this, right? So no tension problems, no eyelashes, but it was just awful. I think everything is set just fine, because the stitch line is great except that it's jerky, ugly, and inconsistent. I could feel the thread's shame and disappointment at being involved. ... I sewed out a bobbin's worth on a 12"x 18" piece, which I then took directly to the rabbit cage to die the worst death any quilt can as a peed-upon chew rug. I went back to bed. Later, when I opened my thread drawer, the quilting weight threads were all cowering in fear. Even the piecing thread looked nervous. ...
    Maia, you're cracking me up! BUT I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL.

    I, after reading all these comments and suggestions, am feeling much better. I don't have the margarita fixins right now, but I might have a stray muscle relaxer in the bottom of my purse. Better go look...

  25. #25
    qnana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    It's called Xanax and a margarita.
    :thumbup: Yes! I knew there was a solution out there! There was just that little missing ingredient...speed slower, yes...go in the same direction, yes...buy a new bobbin case, yes...consider a shoulder transplant, oh, no!
    thanks diane!!

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