Free-motion Quilting

This post could just as easily be called "If at first you don't succeed..."

I'm going to have to break it into two posts. The first is the video. The second is the giveaway.

A couple of things need explainin'.

As I quilt, it looks like there's a ridge of loose fabric in front of my foot. That's also from being distracted. I usually hold the fabric very taut between my hands and use my thumbs to pull it. And, speaking of hands, the other post will have a picture of how I hold my hands as it isn't very clear in the video.

Okay, so the tools. I'm plugging tools, but I'm also going to share where they came from. Well, except the gloves. One of us must have thrown my gloves away a couple of months ago. Either that, or when I asked to have them laundered, they got ruined and no one would tell me. I've replaced with a glove that is a nice stand in and is certainly less expensive. But, I will be buying a new pair of the white gloves. And, here's why. I can thread a needle in the white gloves and I can't in the yellow. I have to take both yellow gloves off to be able. You can see me struggle with thread in the video when I start to quilt. They are "stickier" and won't release the thread, so after I finally struggle the thread through the eye, it pulls back when I move my hand. Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project sells them as a kit with the supreme slider and the bobbin washers. This is not my first time to share Leah's site. As a non-paid, non-attorney spokesperson, I feel good sharing sites where I'm happy to shop.

Bobbin washers. Why do I use two? There's nothing in any instructions that I've seen that recommends more than one at a time. But, two fills my bobbin case better. The bobbin lays flush with the outside of the bobbin case when I use two. That means it's well seated inside the hook race. With one washer, it kind of sits back in the case by just a hair's width. And, that hair's width is room for a bobbin to wobble in and that wobble is what gave me "bird's nests" on the back.

The foot. The foot was a very expensive foot. And, it has proven to be worth each and every penny. Save money on fabric and thread. Spend money on good tools.

Sewing machine. I got my machine from my mentor. She sold it to me at about two-thirds of what it was worth at the time. But, now, when I find one on ebay, the "what it's worth" has doubled. So, I can recommend that it is a true workhorse and it is very quiet. I need to be able to hear TV when I quilt and I can with this machine. It was well taken care of before I got it and I take excellent care of it and expect it to last all the time I need. My point here is that it doesn't take a fancy new expensive machine to quilt. But, it does take a good machine that's quiet and powerful and and won't overheat. Some of the old straight stitch machines are plenty powerful and plenty quiet. But, beware that the old pedals get hot, but not really the motors. You can replace the pedal, but I decided I'd rather keep my Grandmother's pedal than quilt on that machine. Anyway, you'll want a large throat on a machine. The throat is the space between the needle and the tower, height and width because you're inserting a rolled up quilt in that space. If you're going to quilt a bed quilt on a domestic machine, you're going to need a thin bat and a large throat.

The other features I love on my Bernina 930 are a knee lift and needle down. The knee lift lets me raise and lower the presser foot without using my hands. And, needle down means I can drop the needle as an anchor into the quilt before I let go with my hands. On this machine, needle down is accomplished by pressing the pedal with my heel instead of my toe.

Okay, so if you've made it this far, then you deserve a chance to find out which quilting book is my favorite. But, you'll have to check out the next post. Lane


Hazel said...

You did a great job with the video ,Thank You .I do enjoy free motioning small quilts ,placemats etc ,My problem is the sound of the machine for me sets the speed of which I move my hands ,not always good I find myself pulling the fabric against the needle .I have to tell myself to slow down and now set the machine at a slower speed .Dawn Ramirez has a video ,( Pajama Quilter )its very informative .OK you have put a bug in my ear it's been months since I free motioned it's on my list of things to do today .Again great video ,you have a fantastic voice for radio ummm have you ever thought of a career change ?

Anonymous said...

Nice video. Makes me want to try more of free motion quilting. Thanks for sharing.

lw said...

The video turned out great! I like how you form leaves, and I didn't know about the 1/4" of small stitches to lock the thread at the beginning and end (I've been taking 3-4 stitches right on top of each other, but I'm going to try the 1/4" method.)

Your voice wasn't what I was picturing at all. I guess I thought you might have a southern or Texas accent, and I wasn't picturing baritone/bass. I didn't even know that I was picturing a voice until you spoke in the video and I thought, "What the...."

Elizabeth said...

Dear Lane,

Two words: AWE. SOME. Thanks for sharing.

xo -El

INKcredible Girl said...

Awesome Thank you for sharing your knowledge!!

Jane said...

Goodness, that is pure artistry! I'm fascinated by the notion of free-motion quilting so thanks for the insight!

Sheila said...

you make it look so easy, i have just begun to try and draw with my machine and i have a way to go before i get to your level. the practice sandwich is a good tip thanks

Coloradolady said...

Lane, First, Let me say I am very impressed with Rob's ability to video so well. Very well done!! It was wonderfully executed.

I have to say I gasped when you said you threw that practice sandwich away. The first think I thought, was man, can't you make potholders or something??? That is ART in that practice piece!!

You make this look so very easy, but I know better. I think I might try and practice this in a few weeks to come. If I could ever get it down, I might be able to do this....but to be able to quilt as beautifully as you do, that is doubtful. I'd say you are a master at this craft!!!

I think I need to look for a better used machine for quilting. One with a large throat. And, I need to cut back on the size of the quilts I make....they are always too large!!

I so enjoyed this video and hearing your voice. I was surprised that your voice sounded almost as I had pictured it in my mind....deep and all knowing!!!

Have a great weekend my friend, tell Rob and Sydney hello for me!!! I am off to the sewing room for the rest of the day. Need to bind 2 quilts and piece another.

Paulette said...

Thank you for this, Lane. You have such control when doing those flowers and your stitch length is very uniform. I seem to have a problem with those two issues. I note you went pretty slow (perhaps just for purposes of this video), so maybe that would help if I slowed down a bit. Worth trying.