Thursday, November 24, 2011

Free Motion Quilting

Our group project at the Free Motion Friday has come to a close. I've learned lots during the 8 weeks it was existence but still  continue to take two steps back for every one forward.  The latest problem is that the top thread breaks just when I get going with a bit of confidence. In order to figure out why I retraced my steps.  This was easier to do than retracing my stitches as you can clearly see here. My "Pine Needles" look more like corn stalks.
  That's why I liked doing  "Stomach Lining"  better. Sewing in one direction was easier. I think they look more like flowers, don't you?
Anyway to get to the story, it turns out that back in the early weeks I was using regular 50/2 sewing thread and the trusty Schmetz H-Q 90/14( with a green dab) I use to sew with most of the time.  I love this needle because it has slim point and does the job of piercing multiple seams.  Then I decided to change the thread to the kind I would use if I were really quilting a top.   For the next few weeks of free motion practice,  I alternated between using either Superior Threads King Tut or YLI machine quilting thread both of which are 40/3.  I'd  noted that Superior Threads recommended using a Topstitch needle, so I duly replaced the H-Q. It was at this time that I began having issues with the thread.  But I figured it WAS the thread, or the bobbin, or lint in the bobbin case, or even the needle.  So I changed it, again.  And herein lies the rub, instead of the correct 90/14, I put in an 80/12 which of course has a smaller eye. Duh! No wonder the thread was shredding.

I now have a greater appreciation for needles.  So, I decided it was time to read up on them and after reading a bit more about them, I appreciate them even more. 
Did you know that the top of the Schmetz package is actually a little magnifier so you can read the number printed on the needle?
Did you know it takes 45 steps on 100 different machines to make a needle? And that one of these steps is to polish the eye so it is smooth.  
Did you know that the major culprit behind skipped stitches is a dull needle?  So change them often, especially if you are making pot-holders like me.

Sewing with synthetics like insul- brite wears down needles even faster and can cause the dread skipped stitch.  Which is the other problem I have been dealing with of late.  

I have got to admit, I wasn't too crazy about H2O as there was simply too much retracing for me. Our last 
challenge Superstar was much easier for me.  No retracing!  I plan on continuing practicing FMQ and so I ordered a Supreme Slider from Leah Day's website. She is the
originator of the Free Motion Quilting Project and has generously posted all these wonderful designs and video instructions on her website.  There's one for everyday of the year!  My slider should be here any day now and I can't wait to try it.  If you don't have one, I suggest you visit her.  It's a way to support small businesses this season as well as fellow bloggers.


  1. I think all your quilting looks fabulous! You are doing a great job on all the patterns, but I think I like your "flowers" the best, especially with the variegated thread. Interesting stuff about the needles, too!

  2. You are the Sherlock Holmes of the quilting world tracking down that solution to the crime of breaking threads - sorry been listening to SH on the radio! Well done - looks like you have triumphed with Superstar!

  3. Your stitching is very nice. I love your thread choices. Also, your findings on thread and needles is great information. You are inspiring me to pay closer attention to those things. Finally, the pine needles on the pot holders is very cute - don't you love a finished project!?

  4. Wow, what cool information on needles. Thanks for sharing. You will love the Surpreme Slider. It made a huge difference for me. Love the variagated thread on you star. I look forward to seeing your FMQ and other quilty projects in the future!

  5. Even though it feels like one step forward, two steps back, you're still moving forward! Just keep working with it. Pick the design that felt most natural and easy to stitch and stitch it all over a small lap quilt or table runner. You will see an amazing leap in your ability the more you stitch 1 design.

    And super, super thank you for supporting the project! I really appreciate it!