domestic machine quilting Archives - Handi Quilter

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners, Theory

Now that you’re ready, we can delve a bit into the theory. Wait, you’re not ready? Be sure to read Part 1 and prepare to have some fun learning free motion quilting.

Theory

Theory sounds boring, right? But I’m a big believer that the more you know, the more you can do. And this is not rocket surgery or even brain science. Just a little deeper thought into what forms free motion designs.

All the designs we can ever quilt or even think of quilting are made up of 5 basic shapes.

5 Basic Shapes

Take a look at any quilt or photo of a quilt where you can see the quilting. See if you can pick out these shapes in the quilting designs.

Straight line

straight line quilting

 

Curve

curve quilting

Curves are all over quilting. You’ll find them everywhere you look!

 

 

Loop

loop quilting

 

S-curve

 

Hook (or spiral)

hook quilting

You already know these

They are basic shapes and you are quite familiar in drawing them. I know you know this, because they are the same shapes you use in cursive writing. You know how to sign your name, you know these shapes!

Remember back in school when you were learning to write? Your teacher had you practice over and over again to perfect the shapes you were forming. Sound familiar?

And you got better and better.

If you are thinking, “my handwriting is not so good, maybe I’m not cut out for doing free motion quilting.”  Do not despair!

Quilting is much more forgiving than penmanship! In writing, the letters all need to be the same size and slant in the same direction and be spaced apart equally. Remember this?

Those lines on the paper were guidelines to help you keep your letters all the same size. And your words nice and straight.  In free motion quilting you don’t have to worry so much about that.

It’s OK to have different sizes. And it’s actually desirable to have the shapes going in different directions! It’s OK if some of your loops are fat and round and some are long and skinny.

Assignment

Here’s what to do this week in your 15 minutes a day, (that you signed the contract for).

Practice quilting each one of the shapes for 15 minutes. One per day.

Make the shape in all different directions and orientations, since that is what you will need to do when free motion quilting actual designs.

Pay close attention to how it feels to move the machine. Is it easier to move horizontally? Diagonally? Can I make the lines straight? or just straight-ish?

Pro Tip: When quilting points (as in the design above) pause in the points. Quilt the straight line, come to the end where you want to change directions and pause for as long as it takes you to say the word “pause”. If you are new to this, actually say the word out loud, until it becomes second nature to pause in the points. “Quilt, quilt, quilt, PAUSE, quilt, quilt, PAUSE…..”

It gives your body and brain time to re-set for the next line. Setting your machine in Cruise mode (if that’s possible on your machine) allows the machine to take a stitch right in the point. This results in a sharp point every time.

After you have done a day for each shape, use the other 2 days this week to combine shapes together. See what you can come up with.

Don’t stress over it, just let it flow. If you create something interesting, take a photo! And share in the comments.

Have fun this week!

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners, Part 1

With so many new Moxie owners out there, I am going to start a series of tips on free-motion quilting for beginners. These tips will not only apply to those using movable machines on a frame, (like Moxie, Amara, Simply Sixteen, Forte, and Infinity) but also to stationary machine quilters. That means Capri and Sweet Sixteen owners, as well as domestic machine quilters, will benefit from the series as well. I hope you’ll all come along!

Getting Started

To prepare to really improve your skills will take a few steps. No worries, they are easy!

#1 – Make the commitment

I am a huge advocate of practice when it comes to quilting. The key is to practice EVERY DAY. Yes, you read that right, I said every day, (shouted it actually). I can hear you groaning. But do not despair.

I suggest you set aside 15 minutes in your day to devote to free motion quilting practice. That is not a huge time commitment. I think you can find 15 minutes in your day to do the thing you love to do and get better at it.

Don’t think of it as “practice” (like when your parents MADE you practice piano). Think of it as “Play”.

The reason behind doing it every day is that “muscle memory” thing. And building your skills little by little, consistently. There’s nothing worse than taking 2 steps forward but having to take one step back because you skipped days and forgot what you learned on the first day. So you have to go back and start over again.

So, raise your right hand and repeat after me……

“I (state your name) promise to devote 15 minutes in my day to play at what I love to do, free motion quilting, so that I can improve my skills and love quilting even more than I already do. I promise to do this every day without fail. Just like brushing my teeth, but better, because it will be fun.”

Preparation

This might take a bit of time. You’ll need to find your practice materials and get them ready, so you don’t waste any of that precious 15 minutes on anything but stitching.

Prepare your fabric

If you are a movable machine quilter, load your machine with practice fabric. If you are a stationary machine quilter make up a stack of quilt sandwiches, at least the size of a fat quarter or larger. Here are some ideas of what you can use:

  • inexpensive muslin
  • fabric from your stash. The ones that when you look at them you say to yourself “what was I thinking when I bought this?” are perfect for practice.
    • Tip: Load upside down so that you are stitching on the wrong side of the fabric. You will be able to see your stitching much better that way.
    • Warning: this will take way longer than you might think. You will be looking at all your fabric, which can be super distracting. You might want to devote an afternoon, or an entire day or two, depending on the size of your stash and how easily you get distracted.
  • Old sheets or sheets purchased at the thrift store

Batting

You know those strips of batting that you cut off after you finish quilting a quilt? SAVE them!

They work great for practice. You don’t have to worry about sewing them together. It’s just practice! Simply lay them next to each other on top of your backing fabric. No worries if there are gaps. It’s practice! Errr, I mean PLAY!

Here is my bag of saved strips (chair included for size):

bag of batting strips for free motion quilting practice

I also use these strips on my Swiffer!

swiffer sweeper

Strips laid out on top of a fat quarter:

I don’t worry about the gaps or the wrinkles. It’s practice folks!

Thread

Get out that old thread from your Grandma’s sewing basket. You probably wouldn’t want to use it in a real project, but as long as it doesn’t break every 2 minutes, it’s fine for practice/play.

The orange thread had a price of 50 cents marked on it! That’s OLD!

If you don’t have any old thread then purchase something inexpensive. Save the good stuff for your real quilts!

Assignment

That’s your assignment for this week. Gather your materials and load up your frame or make up your quilt sandwiches. Next week we’ll get to stitching.

One more thing

A couple of things you might want to have on hand, but are not a necessity:

  • A white board and dry erase markers
  • plastic page protector
  • HQ Super clamps for your movable machine frame. Be sure to get correct the size for your frame, they come in 3 sizes for the Gallery frame, the Studio frame, or the Loft frame. (I’ll explain how I use these next week)

Till then….. have fun in your stash! 🙂

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

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