Friday, January 26, 2018

Troubleshooting Free Motion Quilting - Off the Wall Friday

I know in the last few years that free motion quilting has become an art form in itself. !Some of the examples you see online are simply jaw dropping.  Do I think they're amazing?  Yes   Do I want to do work like that?  No.  For me, I  just like to do thread work for what my pieces seem to call for. Even that can be sometimes tricky.  

It seems that every time I sit down to free motion quilt, there is something I need to adjust so that my stitches run smoothly.  Tension is usually the name the name of the game when it comes to this type of quilting and yours better be perfect if you want your work to look good.

So what do you do when your free motion quilting stitching is just not right?

Troubleshooting Free Motion Quilting Stitches

1. Re-thread your machine.  Always, always, make sure that your machine is thread properly.  Dust off your book and re-read how the manufacturer says to thread your machine and load your bobbin. (This has happened to me)

2.  Wind your bobbin correctly.  Make sure your bobbin is wound nice and evenly.  Grab your book again and double check that you are threading your machine properly to get a nice
even wind.  (This has happened to me too!)

3.  Tension, Tension, Tension.  Make sure your tension on your machine is working properly.  Spend some time, on a practice piece playing with the tension  settings to get the stitch you need.  I've heard many recommend tweaking the tension on the bobbin case, but I've never had to resort to that.

3.  Change Your Needle.  Make sure you are using the right needle for your thread choice and make sure that its properly sharp.  I've heard that 8 hrs of quilting per needle is a good guideline, but truly I don't time how much time is on my needles.  I just listen for the dull POP, POP, POP the needle makes when its starting to get dull to change it.

4.  Slow Down Your Hand Speed.  After much trial and error, I find my machine likes to go fast and my hands go slow.    Its harder than it looks and took some practice but it helped my tension problems!

5.  Change Your Thread.  If your thread keeps breaking, try a new thread.  I have literally given up trying to get rayon to free motion quilt for any length of time without breaking.  When I need some shine, I like Mettler Poly Sheen the best.  I use aurifil when I need some nice matte cotton quilting and I've found that Coats and Clark Dual Duty worked fine.  In the bobbin??  Superior Bottom Line or a 50 wt medium grey aurifil.  I know people match their top and bottom threads.  I just don't. 

6.  Use a Thread Stand.  I love my thread stand and use it even when I have smaller spools.  Of course, you need to make sure that your thread is coming off nice and evenly and not catching on anything.  Also, some spools come off better with a horizontal position, so keep an eye out for that.

7.  Use Gloves and a Teflon Sheet.  I pretty much use my gloves whenever I do any quilting.  It makes it so much easier to regulate your speed of your hands.  My teflon sheet, I only grab when I have a bunch of free motion to do.    I'm not quite sure if it makes a big difference, but since I bought it , I use it.

I hope this helps when you get the Free Motion Quilting Blues!!

So What Do You Do to Troubleshoot Your Free Motion Quilting?


quiltedfabricart said...

5 words words - practice, practice, practice - use machinger gloves. Well I guess that was 6 words. I’ve tried every glove and do dad on the market for free motion and the only thing I HAVE to have is my machingers. I so agree with the tension and it seems my machine has a mind of its own sometimes. Of course if I have a deadline is when it won’t behave no matter what I do. I tend to use the same brand thread all the time just so I don’t have to adjust the tension. Anybody else do that?

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Good summary of top tips Nina-Marie!

Margaret said...

Though I agree your tips are great, I must FMQ skills are very modest, and I avoid FMQ whenever I can convince my art work to use something else! I could stand on my head and my Husqvarna Lily 555 would still only make 'swirls' (which I sometimes like in a sky) when it feels like it. Needle, thread, tension, practice -- all work beautifully on practice pieces. Come to do the 'real thing' and !!@@##** happens! I can't afford another machine, so I work around it and usually do curvy lines with my walking foot and figure out alternatives for the sky (like painting it rather than quilting it!) Sigh.