Thursday, November 29, 2012

Quilting.....Free Motion

I have noticed that as I continue to produce quilts, more and more time is spent on the actual quilting. The quilting, the addition of those stitch lines, has become my most favourite part of the whole process. I am aware that there is a lot of information out there regarding the subject of free motion quilting, but I believe everyone needs to develop a way of working that best suits them. I thought I would share a few things that I feel are key to success in my quilting.

I think one of the biggest myths is that you need to go  FAST,  that is simply not so, you need to be in CONTROL. You need to develop a rhythm where your hands are moving in sync with the speed at which you are running the machine. It takes time to find it. It doesn't happen overnight. It does take " practice"  but not just grabbing a bit of quilt sandwich and stitching with no purpose....you really won't learn a lot from that. you need to actually "quilt" the more you quilt, the more you will learn and the better you will get. Most of the newer machines allow you to adjust your speed, try experimenting with different settings until you find something that is comfortable for you, something that feels right.

A topic I often hear discussed, is what music to listen to while quilting......I do NOT listen to any music at all. I listen to my machine. I almost "zone out"  as I stitch at a steady rhythm, I am extremely aware of the sounds the machine makes and will know immediately if a problem begins developing on the underside.

If you have " Needle Down" function. use it. As soon as I have pulled the bobbin thread to the surface, I engage the needle down feature, I essentially take 1 stitch in place before moving and do this every time I start and stop to ensure I don't get any jerky stitches...the goal is a nice smooth line.

When I quilt, I put my machine up on top of my cutting table so that I have a large surface to support the quilt, no pulling or dragging from the weight of the quilt is extremely important.

Finally, where to look when you are stitching, you need to know where you are heading and have your eyes focused there. Do not look at the needle, instead, look ahead, follow the line (even if only imaginary) with your eyes and your hands/machine will move in the same direction.

I plan to do another post later, about how I decide what to quilt, sometimes what you choose to quilt can make all the difference


15 comments:

Kim said...

Great information.
I just have to laugh about looking where you are going not at the needle, the same advise is given when you learn to drive a motorcycle. Don't look down or at the controls look where you are going and your bike will lead you that way.
and both of these skills take practice :0)

Happy Sewing

Anne-Marie B. said...

Hi Jill!

I agree a 100% with you. I approach FMQ the same way, but I am far from beeing as good as you! But I am working on it! Before I start to FMQ, I practice the exact same thing on a practice sandwich and then I go to my quilt. I used to practice, practice, practice but not working on quilts and eventually I started working the new way and I see that it works for me! And yes you need to look at where you are going, just like driving a car! I am looking forward to you future posts on the subject!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

This is great!
I know when I used to do a lot of quilting, I would have to cut my machine speed in half. I'd get focus on the quilt and the foot had a mind of it's own. ;-)
I would always choose music based on the type of quilting; fast stuff would be rip snorting punk, delicate work would be ambient music.
I guess I am one of those that needs a soundtrack to life.....

XXOO~~
Anne

chris said...

It seems I do most of that - so I guess practise, practise, practise - oh dear, that means making more quilts - oooooh no!!! If one must sacrifice ones-self................

Nic said...

The pics have intrigued me.. Do you have a shot of the full quilt to share? Beautiful colour and quilting. Is it from a whole cloth quilt?

Robbie said...

What great info...you show us what you are saying works! The pics of your quilting are beautiful!!

sbsudbury said...

Awesome information as usual...thanks for sharing....

Judy Cooper Textile Images said...

Excellent advice!

Createology said...

I do not quilt however I love all of your wonderful insight and information and techniques. Some day I shall quilt and this will be such a great foundation for my efforts. Thank you very much. Blissful Stitching...

Calamity Jain said...

Everything you said!
Except for the soundtrack. When I'm quilting very meticulous heirloom tiny stitching, I also zone and become one with the rhythm of the machine. But when I'm quilting on anything less intense I generally listen to radio and even TV. And yes, in the fall and winter I really get into my football and basketball teams :) While quilting!

ruthiequilts said...

Your quilting is just stunning! It intimidates me, but I am getting better!

Diane J. Evans said...

Really good advice all the way, Jill -- it took me a long time to learn that I didn't have to race through the quilting to achieve the results I wanted. I now quilt so slowly that you could fall asleep watching me. I still strive for the perfection I see in your quilting -- I want to be you when I grow up . . .

Beautiful work!

Diane

Royce said...

I so agree with all your comments. I too really listen to my machine and enjoy free motion it's very zen. I've recently been learning new free motion patterns and putting them into my current projects. Yes much practice is continually needed. I notice a difference when I don't quilt for a few weeks.

Karin said...

Love this post very helpful and straight forward Thank You

pinewood said...

I find quilting very soothing, thinking about where my design is heading and what design will suit my quilt consumes my thoughts shutting out all the busyness of day to day life.
I do find listening to audio books helps.

Copyright Jill Buckley