I have been wanting to learn to do free motion quilting for a while now and attempted to teach myself a few times only to end up frustrated. I don’t quit easily when I really want to learn something so I kept analyzing my problems and tried to remedy the situation. Here are some tools that I have learned I must have to be successful:
1. A sewing machine extension table. I don’t have a sewing table and the arm of my machine did not give me enough flat area to work with. I just received my Sew Adjustable from Greer, a husband wife team in Oregon that has crafted a fully adjustable table that will fit any machine. So if I decide to get a new machine or loan this table to a friend I just loosen a few screws and move the plates around and voila! I got the 16” table and it is so portable I can take it to my sewing classes easily. I love the little details they put into this table to make it easy to use and also a little cute, like the scroll in the metal work to make it a little more feminine. Nice touch! If you don’t already own a table and are looking for one be sure to check out the link above. They have several sizes and get it sent to you in a jiffy. I got mine within a week.
2. A straight stitch single needle plate for my machine. It keeps the fabric from being pushed into the machine and bunching up. It also helps the tension to work better with free motion stitching. I marked mine with a permanent marker to remind myself that I can not do any wide stitches when this is on. Not only would it break a needle, but could send my machine to the hospital. It is hard to see in the picture, but the plate has only one small hole instead of a wide hole for the needle to go in and pick up the bobbin thread. I also use the darning foot and mine is clear plastic which helps to see where you are going. I have almost mastered going forward and sideways, but still have difficulty going backwards so I just avoid it.
3. Fons and Porter gloves. Fons and Porter have some really nice quilting products and they are quite often on sale at Joann’s. I picked up the quilting gloves the other day and they are so soft and comfortable with the stickiest fingers, just exactly what I was needing.
4. Good lighting. My machine has a light, but more is better when it comes to sewing and lights. I have an Ott lamp that I keep near the back of the sewing machine to provide just a little bit better lighting and it works great.
I’m sure there are other great products that I will find to help me master this skill, like the class I am signed up for in a month, but until then I will practice, practice, practice and then see what new tips I get from the highly recommended teacher at JJ’s in March. I have done okay on this quilt, but need to improve my stitch length and stop making V’s when I want to go straight. I hope to work all that out in the near future quilting the stack of tops I have waiting for me to conquer free motion quilting.
Any tips for a beginner?