I took a class with Alex Anderson, oh, about two years ago. We learned how to machine applique using a blanket stitch. The class was fun and the quilt pattern sweet. I loved the bright colors. It took me almost a year to finally finish the quilt top and it has been sitting in my UFO box ever since.
You see, I have a fear of finishing quilts. I’ve taken a few free motion classes. It’s not something I do perfectly the first time, so I shy away from it. After all the hard work I put into a quilt top, I don’t want to ruin it with the quilting part.
But time to face my fears!
The classes I’ve taken on free motion quilting all had different advice. I’ve mixed it all up and have found what works best for me.
First, I mark my quilts. I like this chalk set I found at a local quilt shop, I think I’ve also seen it at Joann’s.
I like the interchangeable colors, the case, and the sharpener. Also the chalk rubs off rather easily, which can be a good or bad thing.
I made a general design on the quilt. Just to give me a general idea of where to go. Trying to figure out my next move while sewing just doesn’t work for me. I get all kinds of confused and frustrated. I usually find that I’ve quilted very close together in some areas and very spread out in others, and I’ll get stuck somewhere and not know where to turn next.
I keep a stash of 12 x 12 inch batting and muslins in a box. Before I start free motion on a quilt I make a sandwich out of these a do a practice run. This gives me a chance to check the tension on the threads and see how my quilt design is going to go.
I do NOT press the pedal to the metal when free motion quilting. When the needle moves fast I feel like I need to move fast and I just can’t control the stitching that way. The size of the stitch is as big as you make it when you move the quilt. So if the needle is slow, I move slow. I’ve found I’ve had more even stitching this way.
A little tip from me – I take my shoe off and use a bare foot to apply pressure to the pedal. I feel like it gives me more control.
I use a quilt glove on my left hand and use my right hand to actually grip the quilt.
It’s really about control. I feel like I have more control this way. I do admit, my right hand was hurting after a bit. I’ll keep working on it to find a more comfortable position.
I also start and stop a lot right now in order to move my hands. By the end of this quilt I was getting much better at it.
As I said earlier, the markings are just general directions, sometimes I didn’t follow the way they were drawn. Having them there still helped to know where to go.
The quilting is not in any means perfect, but I have to tell you it is MUCH better than I have quilted in the past. Its just something I will have to keep working on.
You know what? I don’t think I mind that at all.