teaching sewing confidence, tip by tip

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Free Motion Quilting - The Next Step

Fab day at CQ practising Free Motion Quilting.  Here's some photos of my sample pieces

 Sample 1 - having trouble with tension (see photo detail below)

Here's my check list to remedy the problem:
  1. try varying speed with foot pedal and speed that you are moving fabric at.
  2. check tension - try tightening or loosening depending whether it's the top thread or bottom thread that's incorrect.
  3. rethread bobbin into bobbin case and reload into machine.
  4. rethread upper thread through machine.
  5. replace needle.
Lower thread tension problem giving 'eyelash' effect
 In this case the problem was the needle - a new 'sharp' needle sorted it so I could get on with my other samples.

Created sewing Left to Right
Created sewing North to South
Vermicelli/Stippling dwindling out to a Meander

It's such fun to do and the afternoon's gone and you've no idea where.

My daughter, F, said she loves the flowers and the triangles and the curves and the 'cactus' and the wavy lines and ... - well in the end she said she just loves them all, high praise indeed!

Which is your favourite?


  1. Nice job! I like the north to south sewing. I took a similar class a few years ago and unfortunately did not continue to practice. Now I need a refresher course!

    1. Thanks Ellie, the north to south sewing is the one that my daughter nicknamed 'Cactus'.

      I've done lots of free machining as part of my textile arts but I find it quite different doing it on a quilt - I think it's down to the weight and thickness, it's not quite as easy to control smoothly. I find it gets easier the more you do but each time you go back to it you need to warm up again until the movement comes back to you.

      On the quilts and also on textile arts I like to try to complete in one session (not physically possible on a large quilt) because I think it's tricky to get the same size of pattern, rhythm and flow going if you stop for too long and then the design can look quite different from one area to another.

  2. I am having a heck of time getting my machine to do quilting. First, my thread breaks frequently. Secondly, my thread jumps off the hook bar (I don't know what to call it). Finally, sometimes the thread loops around the hook bar. I have no problem with tension just the top thread.

    1. I used to have all the problems you're having a couple of years ago with my old machine. I don't know why it did what it did and never got to the bottom of it but here's what I did to work around it:

      I tried putting the thread reel on the hook bar (I'm thinking you mean the spool pin) in the opposite direction (put the hole at the other end of the reel onto the spool pin first). For some thread reels they seemed to unravel the thread too quickly if put on in particular direction they would unravel onto the bar and loop there. I also found if I put the thread reel onto my vertical spool pin rather than my horizontal spool pin this could also help (I think this is something to do with straight wound reels as opposed to diagonally wound reels).

      After 30 years of sewing I also discovered a use for the discs that had come with my machine - they were to hold the reel on the bar - I'd never had a need before so I didn't know what they were for. This stopped the reel jumping off the spool pin.

      My thread was always breaking and for me it was because, as my machine got older, the tension discs moved within the tension threader and I had to be sure to feed the thread properly between the 2 discs when I threaded up the machine or it would snap in use. A tutor also told me that when I threaded the machine I must have the foot lever in the upright position - this ensures that the tension discs engage properly around the thread. The same tutor also told me that thread loses its strength when it ages - I was using 20-30 year old thread for that particular project - I bought new and it didn't break.

      Maybe you've already tried everything I've mentioned, but maybe something here will work for you. Let me know how you go on and good luck :)

  3. Whenever I got those "eyelashes", I have to re-thread the whole machine. That seems to help but I think every machine is different. I love your samples. I love machine quilting but it doesn't always come out the way I want. I guess practice is needed!

    1. I agree totally Rosemary, it has to be regular practice that cracks it.

      I see that you've been following SewCalGal, my tutor Christine recommended her blog to us and also Cindy Needham, Harriet Hargrave, Diane Gaudynski and Leah Day.

      It's all fab stuff, there's just not enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do!

  4. I'm with your daughter, I love the cactus-type too! You might just gave me an idea :) And the flowers and triangles look really pretty too!

    1. I'm intrigued to know what you're thinking of for the cactus free motion - you'll have to let me in on your idea at some stage!


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Chris Dodsley