Here is the promised tutorial on free motion quilting!
In my country quilting is unknown to most people that is why I had to learn all by myself. Can you believe that the hardest thing I had to understand was stitching in the ditch?
I had no one to tell me “Don’t do this, it is wrong” so I do some things in my own manner. They make my quilting easier and I use them all the time.Here are some of them:
1. Position of hands
This is the most important thing to me: I don’t quilt with both hands on top of the quilt sandwich. Fortunately, no one force me to do this – I would rather give up quilting!
Look at the picture below.
For me this position of hands is much more comfortable. I move the quilt around without difficulty and with no pain in my shoulders. I don’t wear any type of gloves, I don’t need them.
I keep on top only my left hand (keeping the quilt laying flat)…
… and the right hand I keep under the quilt. I use this hand to move the quilt.
I also use my left hand to move it around, but the right hand is mainly doing the job.
I use pins (instead of safety pins) to baste the quilt sandwich. I keep the points of the pins in the middle layer (batting). Sometimes I have scratches on my hands (especially if the quilt is large). But since we have Pepe (our kitten) I have them anyway on my hands.
I love using pins because I put them so quickly and I remove them equally. Don’t use pins on baby quilts ! Or be careful to remove them all.
If the quilt top is large I layer it with batting and backing on the floor. I use masking tape to secure the backing to the floor.
If it is not large I baste it on a table and I use clamps to stretch the backing fabric.
3. How I start a stitch
I bring the bottom thread to the top. Holding both threads securely, I start taking 3-4 tiny backstitches. I end the stitch in the same way.
4. Maintenance of the sewing machine
5. About threads
My sewing machine (like all the machines, I assume) works wonderfully with quality threads. And because not all my threads are of the best quality, I save the best for using on top (because I usually have problems with the top thread).
6. About needles
I always use quality needles. Lately I have used Schmetz Topstitch needles (#14/90 or #16/100) for most of my projects. They have a large eye and I noticed that the thread does not break so often. If the thread keeps breaking I change the needle.
And I always test its point: if it is dull and does not prick or it leaves a scratch on my fingernail it is time to change it.
7. Why is it harder to quilt large quilts ?
If the quilt hangs off the edges of the table we work on, this will cause difficulties in moving the quilt around. So this is the golden rule for easy free motion quilting : regardless of the size of the table we use (I use a small one), we must keep the whole sandwich on the table at all times.
I start quilting in the center and I never roll the quilt. I just place half of the quilt under the arm of my machine and I quilt on a small area at a time. If the sewing machine fits into a cabinet and there is a large flat area to work on, this is a tremendous help.
8. How to quilt fancy designs
I hate to trace a pattern onto fabrics or make stencils.
That is why I let the computer to make the hard work for me.
I print the desired design on lightweight paper.
I pin the paper onto the quilt sandwich.
I stitch the design (with dense stitches) then I carefully remove the paper.
From my experience stitching a pattern through paper is the easiest method of stitching a design because the lines are very visible. You will focus only on stitching. This little quilt was entirely quilted using this method.
9. An example of quick and easy quilting
I outline the patches I want to enhance and I use stippling on the background.
The right side of a block
For outlining the shapes I use stitches like these (done with free motion)
I can’t finish this post without showing you the quilting on the back of my favorite shadow trapunto quilt. I made it using many of the tips shown here.