Free Motion Quilting – Part 4 – Begin Free Motion Quilting.
Once your quilt sandwich is prepared and smoothed to your satisfaction, it’s time to take it to the machine. Here is the link to Part 3.
Before I begin quilting, for every single project, I will do a test square. I do this to refresh myself for quilting, to test the pattern I planned to use and the check the machine and thread. Ensure that there is no tension on the upper thread as it unwinds from the spool. It saves a lot of trouble in the long run. It’s way better to “iron” out any problems before beginning on the quilt proper. Unpicking is tedious.
As I have mentioned previously, start with a small quilt project, like a Quiltlet, table topper or baby quilt.
Consider the project you are making and the final purpose. This method is ideal for quilts which are intended to be used. Remember if your quilt is busy, has an overall patchwork design with little white space, the quilting will not be overwhelmingly visible. In other words, you will need to decide whether to quilt an all over design, or quilt around particular shapes or use different designs in different parts of the quilt.
Begin using a simple pattern like stippling or meandering to get into the swing of this technique.
Make sure you are sitting comfortably and have your gloves and trimming scissors at hand.
It is not necessary to roll up the quilt. It is more important not to have any tension on the quilt. Only one small part of the quilt is being quilted at any one time, so that is the only part that technically needs to be smooth. The rest of the quilt is draped or puddled loosely around.
Begin at the centre of the quilt and work out in quadrants or part quadrants depending on the size of the quilt. Put the needle down and turn the hand wheel to draw up the threads from under the quilt.
Put the presser foot down and take a few stitches to secure the thread. This is important to make sure that the bobbin thread is not quilted into the back of the quilt. Do this each time you need to restart quilting. Trim the excess thread. Donn your gloves and begin quilting. Move the quilt smoothly and with a consistent speed to achieve the design. In order for the stitches to be as even as possible, the speed of the motor running ( or treadling) would be as consistent as possible with the speed of the movement of the quilt under the needle. Use your flat gloved hands to move the quilt around. If you begin to feel tension on the quilt or your arms and shoulders, stop. Reposition the quilt so that once again it is free of tension then begin again.
Here I have just made a simple stipple design. This can be as large or small as you like.
Once you have emptied a bobbin. Stop. Take the opportunity to get up and move around for a while before continuing and also take the opportunity to check the back of your work to make sure there are no tucks or puckers.
The main message here is give it a go. Once you have mastered a simple stippling design you can progress to more complex designs. Practice will only improve your work.