I have always quilted my own quilt ever since my first quilt. The reason is because I fell in love in free-motion quilting the minute I got the hang of it. It is therapeutic, and a lot fun at the same time. Well, let’s save that story for later, as I know you come here for the tips – not the “why I free-motion quilt story” – so.. we’ll save that for later.
In this post, I list down 5 very important tips before you even start to free-motion quilt in order for you to experience a better go at free-motion quilting on your own domestic machine. Well, let’s get strapped and right to it:
Before we go into the tips, here are some of my favorite must-have tools for Free Motion Quilting:
- Superior Threads. I literally changed my minds about threads, when I started using this thread. And they come in big cones. which means they last longer before I have to change thread. I use an embroidery thread stand for it. You can get cheap thread stand like this one here.
2. Superior Threads Top Stitch Needles. I use this for all my sewing and FMQ. Really. In fact, I kind of find it a bit off when I have to use a needle that is not coloured gold as these needles are.
3. My trusty sticky Glove. Any brand works for me, but I personally love the one that is breathable cotton like this one.
4. Spray Baste. I am not a fan of taking off safety pins. This makes it so much quicker and allows me to cruise without fear of getting onto a pin. I personally love 505 Spray baste.
5. My large throat machine of course!
However, you won’t need all of these tools to start. Just a reminder, I started with the very basic sewing machine and just a regular free motion quilting foot. And still managed to quilt a queen-size quilt. Just upgrade as you feel more confident and want to ease a couple of things that bothers you.
Now, let’s check out this top 5 tips for a better FMQ experience:
Preparing for a better free-motion quilting experience
#1: take time to baste your quilt layers as properly as possible
I often use the spray baste technique as I am not a big fan of pins, but I also pin baste sparsely right after I spray baste. If done well, this step will save you heaps of time and save you from great frustration because it is no fun when the backing gets all messed and bunched up during quilting. Done that, been there. No fun, especially after quite a lot quilting before you realize the stitches caught the backing fabric in a very weird way!
Personally, I love this and I use if I pin baste.
#2: clean your machine
How long ago did you do this? Oh, I am guilty of charge, to say that by the time I think the machine needs a clean, the dust bunnies have probably infested the whole bobbin case! It is important to start quilting on a clean machine – in fact, it is a good habit to clean it every so often in between projects.
I’d say, after all those piecing of the quilt top, your machine probably really needs the clean just before you get it working for another job, which is quilting!
will help you clean those hard to reach area easily.
#3: change the needle
If you were piecing the quilt top using a smaller needle like the no. 75 needles, you will definitely need to change to a larger needle like the no. 90 or better – use a quilting needle or the top stitch needle. They have larger holes and punch through deeper which makes the whole stitching process smooth over those three layers, the top quilt, the batting and the backing.
Here is my go to needle for free motion quilting:.
#4: prepare the space for your quilt around the machine
You will need space around your machine and the amount needed will depend on how big the quilt is. However, if you don’t have much space, don’t sweat. I am currently working in a small sewing space too. I have a standard table and I bunch up my quilt so that it stay on the table instead of hanging. The table is pushed against the wall so the quilt don’t fall off so easily.
The quilt in front of the machine will also need to be supported. Again, I bunch them up in front of the machine and have it against my body while I quilt. You don’t want the quilt to be hanging off the table as the weight can be so much pain! You will have to struggle a lot getting those quilt to move while free-motion quilting so have as much part of the quilt as possible supported by the table.
Another option is to quilt on that dining table — yes, we don’t eat dinner at the table when there is a quilt that needs quilting! Talk about priorities… 😛
#5: Start from the middle
Why? Firstly, because we should eat the frog first. The central part is the hardest part of the quilt – if you are dealing with large quilt, this is the part where it is hard to get to. You’ll have to go through all this pushing and squishing the quilts under the space of that needle, which is no fun, but easy to do at the beginning. If you get the quilting technique right, this is the maximum amount of quilt that will be in the machine throat.
So, we’ll start with the hardest first so that you don’t drag the feeling of free-motion quilting being hard as you quilt along the whole quilt.
If you want to know more about how I quilt large size quilt on my domestic machine and how I navigate from one area to another, subscribe to my blog and newsletter. I will be following up this post with more tips on free motion quilting as I have this urged to share while I have a few large quilt lining up for me to quilt these couple of weeks!
Well, now I am off to continue quilting my double wedding ring quilt. I have no real rigid plans for it, I get bored easily, so I will just quilt each ring differently depending on how my mood is.
After all, it is my own quilt, and I quilt because I love to have fun at free-motion quilting so let’s have fun with it!
Till next time, hope these tips will get you excited to try out free-motion quilting on your domestic machine.
Quilty hugs, Amira