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I finished quilting my wall hanging, at least as far as it can be finished right now. All the stitch in the ditch quilting is done. I'm thinking of waiting to do any free motion quilting on it till I've practiced more. I know the technique of machine quilting I just can't seem to get the rythm of the motion if that makes sense.

If you do free motion quilting how long did it take you to get fairly good at it?

I haven't had alot of practice but I don't seem to be getting any better.

Any tricks you can pass on?

I've thought about using paper, tracing a pattern for the area I want to quilt and then practicing with a pen.

Any other ideas? Thanks.

Stockbuyer2
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If you do free motion quilting how long did it take you to get fairly good at it?


I caught onto it fairly quick, but I've never liked freehand quilting. I really prefer drawing lines first and following those. ISQ can probably give you more help.
Kathleen
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Lotsa tricks. Machine quilting is frustrating to start, but once you get the hang of it you'll enjoy it. Really. I would estimate that it took me 3 bed sized quilts to get good at it. Practicing with a pen and paper is a good idea...you'll help your muscle memory. It's kind of like the Perfect Storm...when all of the variables are "right", everything just falls into place. Getting the right rhythm is so tough--if your hands move too fast or too slow, the results just don't look right. If you're moving your hands too fast, you'll get big stitches and pointy curves that won't be smooth. You don't have to sew 90 mph either--you'll find the right machine speed and hand motion is key.

Here are some things that helped me the most--and most of these are from Diane Gaudynski classes and her books. She's the Queen of Free Motion Quilting--here is her website with lots of tips.

http://www.dianegaudynski.net/


1. Starch, starch, starch. Your top and backing both. The starch on the backing will help the quilt move smoothly on the supporting surface, and the starch on the top will help prevent buckling and puckering.

2. Batting....needs to be low loft. Cotton batting tends to make the layers of the quilt sandwich more "sticky" (if that makes sense) and less liable to shift. Pin baste about a fist width apart.

3. Breathe. I know it sounds silly but you may be holding your breath, hunching up your shoulders and getting all tense. You need to relax and breathe. That was my biggest problem.

4. Practice on a small sample of the exact fabric and batting to "warm up" before you start to work on the quilt, EVERY TIME you start another fresh free motion session.

5. Take frequent breaks. Get up, stretch, walk around, etc.

6. Ergonomics plays a VERY big role. The right height table, having your foot pedal in a comfortable spot, having a big smooth surface for your quilt is really important. My quilting got a big boost from the sew steady portable table that I have--it really increases the surface area that supports the quilt. If the quilt drags a lot of weight, it will be really hard to manage and your stitches will be uneven.

7. What kind of foot are you using? You may have to experiment with several before you find the one that works the best.

I am sorry if this got too long. Email me if I can help with something specific. Really, get one of Diane Gaudynski's books. She explains things really well and there are lots of good pictures. Here are the two best--
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574327968/sr=8-2/qid=1143768745/ref=pd_bbs_2/102-7673533-0111303?%5Fencoding=UTF8
and
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1574327968/sr=8-2/qid=1143768745/ref=pd_bbs_2/102-7673533-0111303?%5Fencoding=UTF8


isewquilts
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isewquilts,

Although I am not Stockbuyer, thanks for the info!!! I am to the point where I want to do free motion quilting. I am tired of straight lines and stitch in the ditch.

electrasmom
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Thanks isewquilts

I looked thru her website and found a link where she demonstrates how to stipple(?)(did I spell that right?) and tells what the difference is from meandering. Anyway, I've been collecting up my scraps of bleached and unbleached muslin and batting scraps so I can practice.

I do have another couple of questions. On her website she mentions using a cone thread holder and she was using silk thread.

First, I know that they sell a machine quilting thread and a regular all purpose thread on small spools. Do they sell a machine quilting thread on spools like the regular serger thread?

Second, have you ever used silk thread and how does it work with cotton materials? I'm assuming it will cost quite a bit more than regular machine quilting thread. Is it worth it?


Thanks again.

Stockbuyer2
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You're welcome!

A cone thread holder is meant to help the thread unwind smoothly, and (really) the farther away it is from the sewing machine, the better your results will be. My cone thread holder is about 18 inches away from the back of my machine. Debra Wagner is another very prolific machine quilter (her books are great, too) and I learned that in a workshop I took from her several years ago. (And the BEST thing I learned from her? Cut the batt into 1/2--or even thirds for a very big quilt--and only pin baste and quilt that section, reattach the remaining section and then baste and quilt that part. It really helps a LOT to not have so much bulk to wrestle with!)

As far as thread is concerned, no, I've never gotten the nerve (or $$$) to try silk thread. Generally, the finer the thread, the better results you will get--and it depends on the look you want on the top of the quilt. I don't like a lot of thread showing, so I use the finest thread I can find--machine quiting thread is way too thick for fine stippling. Right now I am absolutely in love with 50 wt Mako Aurifil thread and I use it for everything--piecing and quilting. It is very fine, long staple Egyptian cotton thread and is rather hard to find--google it and you may find something in your area, I have to mail order it.

The needle size is also VERY important....fine thread needs a fine needle. I use Microtex size 60. Whatever you use, your needle and thread size need to match. Too big needle=big holes!

And last--if you have a single stitch throat plate, USE IT! It will make a big difference--and if you don't have one, see if you can purchase one for your machine. The hole that the needle goes through is much smaller and there is not much "wiggle room"--it will help your machine quilting a great deal.


isewquilts
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First, I know that they sell a machine quilting thread and a regular all purpose thread on small spools. Do they sell a machine quilting thread on spools like the regular serger thread?

I don't think ISQ answered this one in particular. Yes, they sell regular machine quilting thread in big cones, but I haven't found the invisible quilting thread on big cones. I love the thread cone holders, they even work for regular thread rolls.
Kathleen
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