I know I have written about beginning free motion quilting before, but I’m afraid my first experience of FMQ was not a great success, so I gave up, and stuck to straight lines and hand quilting. Back in August, though, I bought a Very Expensive new sewing machine – and one of my main justifications for that frighteningly large purchase was that it would help me tackle FMQ again. But I admit, I have been putting it off and putting it off some more, worried that it was me, not my old machine that was the problem. And I just didn’t want to start and be rubbish all over again. But when I was up at Black Sheep Wools for Sew Saturday recently, I met Charlo of Quiltification (who is a completely fabulous FMQ-er) and she gave me a little (very kind!) talking to about getting a grip and stopping being so scared of it all.
**Disclosure: I’m a Craftsy affiliate, and if you click on any link in this post and sign up for a course I will get an affiliate fee. If you do, I hugely appreciate your support.**
So I signed up to this course on Craftsy and off I went:
The first thing I learned is to post photos of all the FMQ I do on Instagram for support and encouragement. I am totally indebted to everyone there who has been kind and reassuring to me – they also have been excellent at pep talks!
The course is really good for taking you through all the basics, I particularly like the really useful advice about the types of thread and needle to use (I had totally been getting that wrong!). But I wish that the stipple wasn’t the first pattern to try (although this seems to be a common approach) – to be honest, this probably is just my problem – I find it really tricky. Here’s one of my early attempts:
I am pretty pleased with the stitch length and consistency (and the back looks absolutely fine, unlike my earlier attempts with my old machine), but my stipple looks so seaweedy..! My curves are way too sharp and although I keep trying to get the same smooth round curves that Elizabeth Dackson demonstrates so well, I just can’t seem to do it. To be honest I find it very intimidating – even using really small quilt sandwiches to work on, I was wondering how to cover all that space and thinking about where to go next whilst sewing, got me in a total panic.
I liked being able to echo my lines, so felt a bit safer – although still tending to get a bit stressy about where I was going to put my next flower – as you can probably tell, I was trundling off all over the place, and there are some crazy twists and turns and all sorts of oddities. Fun to do though!
I preferred the boxy patterns of circuit board – although was a fairly sad first attempt, I really enjoyed it:
It’s a bit Etch-a-Sketch isn’t it – almost as wobbly too. Here’s my most recent sample piece. I decided to cheat (although my support team on Instagram tell it isn’t cheating) at use my Chaco liner pen to draw a grid to keep me on track:
That’s a lot better isn’t it! This was after a fair bit of practice, and I know (and I’m sure you do too!) that that’s the key to getting the hang of this. I’m really enjoying the Craftsy class – as Dackson demonstrates the various patterns, she chats away and introduces the different techniques, how to grip (or not) the fabric, the tools that are useful, ways to baste quilts, methods of making big pieces of wadding out of small pieces, how to mark fabric and much much more. There’s also 3 free quilt patterns, which are all winners (especially the lovely mod kaleidoscope pillow). What’s interesting to me, is how different some of her methods are to the ones outlined in Angela Walter’s book, Free-Motion Quilting. But that’s ok I think, because there doesn’t have to be rules does it – as Charlo pointed out to me in her pep talk – The Quilt Police do not exist!
Are you a free motion quilter (tell us your top tips)? Or a beginner like me? Or too scared to try?