In the last few years, we have seen an apparent upsurge in the number of people interested in free motion quilting. But some people still hesitate to try it because they think it looks too tricky. So, in this article, we will dispel that myth and show you just how easy free motion quilting can be!
One of the main things that people find intimidating about free-motion quilting is the thought of having to guide the fabric through the sewing machine. But the truth is, free motion is not hard but can be challenging at first. It is very similar to regular sewing, except that a feed dog does not restrict you.
Let’s start with the basics, so I can show you how easy free-motion quilting can be!
What is Free Motion Quilting?
In free motion, you are not bound by the feed dogs like in straight or decorative stitching. This allows you to move the fabric in any direction you want. You can stitch in a circle, in figure eight, or any other design you can dream up. The only limit is your imagination!
How Hard is Free Motion Quilting?
It depends on the level of your skills and how much experience you have. Most beginners find it quite challenging to do free-motion quilting because it requires a lot of coordination between your hands and the sewing machine. Also, you must have a good sense of rhythm to do it properly.
However, as the level of your skill and experience up, free motion quilting will become much easier for you. Before we start the tutorial, let me clear some of your myths about free motion quilting.
- The very first thing that you will find hard is the fabric movement. It’s not just your sewing machine moving the fabric, but your hands.
- The second thing is the stitch length. When you’re doing free motion quilting, the stitch length is automatically set to a shorter length, which can be confusing and challenging to get used to.
- Last but not least, you must have a good sense of rhythm. Your quilting will look messy and uneven without a good understanding of rhythm.
3 Tips to Make Free Motion quilting Easier
Now that you know the three things that can make free motion quilting difficult let me show you how to overcome them!
- Don’t overtake the fabric: This is the most common mistake people make when starting out with free motion quilting. They try to move the fabric too fast, and as a result, the stitches become small and tight. If you want your stitches to be even and consistent, you must first go slowly.
- Avoid holding your breath: When concentrating hard on something, it’s natural to hold your breath. But when you’re quilting, you need to resist the urge to do so. Holding your breath will make you tense, and as a result, your stitches will be uneven. So take a deep breath and relax!
- Get a feel for the rhythm: The key to successful free-motion quilting is to find a rhythm that works for you. Once you find a rhythm that you’re comfortable with, stick to it!
How Do I Start Free Motion Quilting?
- The first thing that you need to do is lower the feed dogs on your machine. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, you can cover the feed dogs with a piece of fabric or tape.
- Next, you’ll need to choose the appropriate needle and thread for your project. Quilting needles are slightly longer and have a smaller eye than regular sewing needles. This helps to prevent skipped stitches. You’ll also want to use a thread similar in weight to the fabric you’re working with.
- Once your needle and thread are sorted, you’re ready to start stitching! Begin by practicing on a scrap piece of fabric until you get the hang of it.
How Do I Get Better at Free-Motion Quilting?
No one is born perfect, and that includes free motion quilting! In this section, I will show you some things you can do to improve.
- Start small: Most people can get confused when they see some complex designs. So, it’s always better to start with a design that is simple and easy to follow.
- Practice with felt: You are one step closer to becoming a free motion quilting pro! This is because the felt is very easy to work with. It doesn’t slip and slides like other fabrics to get a feel for the movement. But when practicing with felt, use a contrasting thread so you can see your stitches.
- Us rug grippers for stability: If you’re having trouble keeping your fabric from slipping, try using rug grippers. You can place these small rubber discs under your fabric to keep them in place.
- Get a walking foot: A walking foot is a great investment for anyone who wants to do free motion quilting. It helps feed the fabric evenly through the machine, so you don’t have to worry about slipping and sliding.
Free motion quilting can be difficult, but it’s not impossible! As you grow more experienced, you’ll find it easier and more fun. Remember to start small, practice with felt, and use rug grippers for stability. And above all, find a rhythm that works for you!
Also, sometimes people can get discouraged when they first start free motion quilting because their stitches are not perfect. But don’t worry! Everyone’s stitches are imperfect when they first start. Just keep practicing, and soon you’ll be a pro in free motion quilting.