Friday, October 14, 2011

FMQ stands for Free Motion Quilting on Friday!

Once upon a time I took a machine quilting class. 
We made quilt sandwiches and divided them  into grids so we could practice stitching.  Since then I've filled a couple of these but because I don't practice consistently I really haven't improved much. Which is not to say that I can't trace an image if I warm up for a few hours first.  
It is usually hit or miss and I often end up ripping out lots of of teensy weensy stitches
or ruining promising quilts ( I should take another photo of this one so you can really see the mess.)
When I found Free Motion Friday I decided it was time to do something about improving my technique.   I cut two 24 inch squares of muslin and drew 4 inch grids, sandwiched the batting inside and pinned. You could also sew a nice grid using your walking foot so it doesn't feel left out of the fun.

What I learned:
I am going to gobble up a lot of these sandwiches.
It is easier to work from left to right than right to left or bottom to top.
I have more control if I sit with both feet flat on the floor and my body is centered in front of the needle.
I got better with practice.
Week 1 - 1st attempt

Week 1 - 5th try
So because this was working, I thought I'd get do something daring.  I took the plunge and clipped open the toe on my darning foot ala  Leah Day 's instructions. This was not as scary as I am making it sound but I do recommend protective eyewear. Then I worked on Week 2,
Week 2 - 1st attempt

thinking, "what they heck, Leah seems to be on to something, remove the bar already."  Bending it back with the pliers didn't work for me.  It felt like the whole thing would snap off.   Instead, I borrowed a pair of small heavy snips from "his" toolbox and viola! off came the offending piece. After a few adjustments with the rubberband, I was good to go.
Week 2 - not too shabby
Week 3 ( I am catching up - it is really all this week). It is Free Motion Friday. Our exercise is  Slate Tile.
Week 3  Slate Tile 1-6

What I learned:
It is harder than it appears.
It is easier to stitch curves than rectilinear designs. In order to do turn the direction of the needle, it helps to  pause each time.
I have to know where I am going in order to get where I want to go.
Where you put your hands makes a difference.  Keeping my left hand above the upper left hand corner of the work, and my right hand below the right hand corner allowed me to minimize the pressure it took to move the fabric under the needle. It also gave me more control.


  1. This is to funny. I've been fooling around all day with free motion practice. We are attending a wedding on Sunday, and I want to quilt some mug rugs I sewed together today. It is amazing how quickly practice does show, and that is Leah Day's big push is to "Go Quilt!" Keep it up!

  2. Your drops look good, I'm not looking forward to the tiles...all those straight lines..eeek!

  3. Good job! I think we will all be amazed at how fast we all improve!

  4. Wow, you are doing great! It's fun to see the difference in your tiles from box 1 to 6. Excellent!

  5. You sure are on the right way! Keep it up and soon we will see some stunning free motion quilts!
    I'm just up to stich in the ditch, but I have to get a new machine before I can start practicing my quilting talents; so no problem for me.

  6. Your drops are great! And thank you for your description of how you did everything. It's really interesting to see how all this progressed. I think, perhaps, I should be more systematic about it too :)

  7. I love it that you share what you learned. I think some of your experiences will help me. However, I do think I have to report you to the RSPCDF (Royal Prevention of Cruelty to Darning Feet)It sounded painful.

  8. Love your drops and your slates! Great looking working. x

  9. oh my goodness look at your improvement with time and effort. i'm totally impressed and thrilled you came to play along this week. well done!

  10. Droplets look fantastic and I'm looking forward to trying the squares next week

  11. Gosh you can really see the improvement coming on. Lovely drops too!

  12. Awesome! This is the first I've heard of Free Motion Friday and I think it's terrific! You really will improve with every square you stitch.

    I especially agree with: "I have to know where I am going in order to get where I want to go."

    Memorizing a design and how it functions (how you move, where you go next, how you move the quilt and your hands, etc) is probably the most essential thing to FMQ.

    So try drawing the design 2-3 times before quilting it. Draw just like you quilt without lifting your needle and see if that helps you keep the design in your mind as you stitch it.

    Have fun! Go quilt!


  13. you made great progress with the slate tiles - such a difference a bit of practice can make! Keep it up!

  14. Good for you! It's fun if you can find your "groove"

  15. I love your leaf and your 2nd attempt at the drops was excellent! I agree that curves is easier than straight lines...which means next weeks will be even more fun. Ha! Can't wait to see!!

  16. How cool - to get a comment from Leah Day! fabulous, and so encouraging!