Adventures in Free Motion Quilting…

So, I tried free motion quilting today – and I have the shoulder ache to prove it – I don’t think I could have been more tense!! I’m joining in with Julia’s FMQ-along and we are using Angela Walters’ Free Motion Quilting as our guide. I actually rather enjoyed the experience, but I found my shoulders getting more and more hunched and my nose ended up just millimetres from my sewing machine! Here’s the result of my first go:

FMQ first go

It’s not that great (look at the wibbles!), but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

First up, I have to confess to not following my instructions – we were supposed to be doing swirls first. But I tried practising by drawing swirls and it was a huge disaster, so I thought I would just crack on and do something a little bit more controllable.

As anyone who has been the recipient of my commission project sketches will tell you, I can’t draw, and my spatial skills are not great. What I struggled with the most was knowing where I was on the fabric so that I could make the shapes a consistent size. But at least with the squares I knew which direction to go in, as opposed to my efforts with the swirls where I kept getting stuck too close to other swirls or in corners..

I also found that it was really tricky to move the fabric over the plate of the sewing machine in a smooth way, so I kept getting jerky stitches. Angela Walters recommends a Teflon sheet that sits on the bed of the sewing machine, so I might invest in one of those, although I have also seen spray starch recommended as a solution to this problem. The other issue was that I couldn’t seem to stitch quickly enough – but then I realised that someone (I suspect a twin) had fiddled with the stitch speed setting on my machine… things got smoother after that!

I have this simple Liberty mini (using my Practically Purple mini-bundle fabrics and some Essex yarn-dyed linen) all ready to quilt:

Liberty mini

I  would love to FMQ it, but I think I need a few week’s (month’s) more practice before I’m prepared to sacrifice these pretty fabrics to my efforts… I’m going to practice some more tomorrow, I can see why people love it so… I just have to try and relax a bit more!

15 thoughts on “Adventures in Free Motion Quilting…

  1. FMQ fills me with fear I have huge respect for anyone who can do it! Did you have to buy a special foot? I think maybe I’ll have to try a quilt as you go project rather than attempting a whole quilt!

  2. Your FMQ looks good to me. I’ve never tried it but would love to have a go as it gives lots more options for quilting. Time to practice would be an issue and I can see me just going-for-it rather than using a test piece first, which would not be a good idea!
    Teresa x

  3. Looks a pretty good first attempt to me! I’ve only had one or two attempts at FMQ but I think that, as a beginner, you need to be sewing at the speed you feel most comfortable with so that you can control the movement of the fabric. Easy to say, not so easy to do!

    1. Hi Dina – yes I think getting to grips with the speed is absolutely the key. But I had another go today, and it felt a bit more in control. I’m definitely enjoying it, and that’s the main thing. 🙂

  4. Ooh! I love the liberty and linen. I actually bought a couple charm packs of liberty from you but haven’t had the nerve to use them yet. (U.S…hard to come by.) I had some linen and may just try this.

    The teflon sheet definitely makes a difference in FMQ. I have the Supreme Slider and it is worth every penny. Also the Machingers quilting gloves. Amazing how much easier it is to work with the fabric wearing these. I never FMQ without them. I started FMQ last fall and still consider myself a newbie. Have fun!

    1. Thanks so much for the tips (and for buying my Liberty packs!). I’ve had another practice today – I really enjoyed it, but definitely need something to improve the slide-ability of my sewing machine bed.

  5. I think its amazing!. I’m only just starting out and can only dream of attempting fmq. Your designs are so inspirational, can’t wait to see more.
    Nicola x x x

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