Free Motion Quilting

Full Piece Quilted
Full Piece Quilted

Yes, I did some free motion quilting.

Now that you have all peeled yourselves off the floor and revived yourselves with some smelling salts and a stiff drink, I will repeat that, yes, I did some free motion quilting. Kelly, the BAMQG President is issuing personal challenges and this is the first one I have really been able to do.

I got this fabric at the EBHQ show and just decided to use it for this exercise.

I decided to break up the exercise into 3 patterns, roughly the same size with the piece (1/2 yard x WOF): continuous boxes, flower petals and round swirly things.

Continuous squares
Continuous squares
Loopy circles
Loopy circles
Flower petals
Flower petals

Some of these are designs I learned in various machine quilting classes I have taken over the years. I did this exercise because of the BAMQG personal challenge, but also to test my skills.

Though I have not done a lot of machine or free motion quilting over the past few years, I am not terrible at it.I still have some skills and was able to get into a nice rhythm. I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination and I won’t be firing my quilter any time soon, but I think I can do small pieces.

Full Piece Quilted-back
Full Piece Quilted-back

I couldn’t quite get the tension right, but the back doesn’t look horrendous. I will ask about adjusting the tension on the DC5100 when I go for lessons. I decided to concentrate on the look of the front, my speed and the length of the stitches.

I tried two different darning feet as well. Both came with my 9k. One is a hopping foot, which I don’t like that much, but ended up using on the DC5100. The other is a darning foot with no springs or hopping. It fits on to the shaft of the machine, screws in and is ready to sew. I prefer this foot as I can see better where I am headed, but it doesn’t fit on the DC5100 and no similar foot came with that machine. I also used Aurifil 50 wt thread. I used that thread, rather than the 40 wt, because I have a lot of colors and the color I wanted to use was available to me right at the moment I wanted it with no trips to the quilt store. I suspect the 9k didn’t like the speed at which I was quilting with that thin thread. It occurred to me later that I could have adjusted the tension, but I didn’t think of it before I switched machines.

Continuous squares in process
Continuous squares in process

I do free motion quilting at kind of a medium speed. I set the machine to that medium speed and that allows me to have better control over my stitch length.

One of the design elements I used was to go around some of the cups and fruits rather than just quilting over all of them. some of them, as you can see, I did quilt over, but many I outlined. I found it to be good practice in following a design.

I never like it when the quilting doesn’t follow the piecing, or fabric design, but getting a little recent experience with machine quilting, I am reminded of the ease of pantographs and all over designs.

Sewing machine[s] setup
Sewing machine[s] setup
My machine was not very cooperative, but it could have been the thread. I switched machines to my back up machine and that worked better, but wasn’t very comfortable. I don’t have an insert yet for the back up machine (traded in my Jem for a Janome DC5100) and quilting with it up out of the cabinet was pretty painful. Also, with the 9K down in the cabinet, I had no good place to put my legs and kept barking my shins.

 

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

6 thoughts on “Free Motion Quilting”

  1. Yay you for trying new things! Did you set your stitch length to zero? I recently started doing this and my tension issues on the underside went away! I like the squares quilting. I may have to try that on my next piece!

  2. Your skills are totally fine. And remember, Leah Day always says that we have muscle memory and we can always remember something we once learned. I really like the patterns you chose and glad to see some photos of your practice. Way to go! :))

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