Today’s Topic: Hand Position for Better Machine Quilting
Welcome to Week Five: Better Machine Quilt-a-long based on my book 25 Days to Better Machine Quilting.
Find all of the previous Lessons HERE.
Sign up for emails of the class HERE.
Good Morning, Quilters!
It is going to be a busy week. I hope to follow this schedule:
Monday-Hand Position and Needle Down
Tuesday-Practice the Messy Spiral Posy
Thursday-Gripping Aids for Machine Quilting
Friday-Gallery of Medallion Quilts
In addition, I am filming a class for the Great Wisconsin Quilt Show.
The Great Wisconsin Quilt Show
I’m very excited to be part of the very first Great Wisconsin (virtual) Quilt Show, September 10-12, 2020. We have been busy preparing a home studio–special lighting, backdrops, etc. and practicing with the amazing team from Wisconsin PBS. As you can imagine, there’s a lot involved in creating a virtual quilt show–especially when it has to be filmed remotely as well. The technology can be challenging–especially for those of us who are already technologically challenged, but the PBS team (and Faye) have been remarkably patient.
Speaking of PBS….I had the pleasure of being on Nancy Zieman’s show and filming at the Wisconsin PBS studio a few years ago.
Hand Position for Better Quilting
One of the fundamental skills of machine quilting is learning how to maneuver the quilt within the harp space of the sewing machine. This starts with proper hand position.
The Home Position for Hands
Did you take typing in high school or vocational school? (I know I’m revealing my age here…) Back in the day, we learned to type by starting and always returning our hands to “Home” position. For quilting, it is much the same.
When you are quilting, place your hands in an upside down heart position, with your thumbs a short distance apart and your first fingers pointing slightly inward. Find a relaxed position, with your elbows down. Apply a slight amount of pressure to your finger tips and through your thumb. This is your HOME position for quilting.
You have the best control of your quilting when you keep the needle within the area outlined by your hands in the HOME position.
Moving Your Hands
When you reach the limits of your heart-shaped space, stop quilting (with the needle down) and move your hands. Every part of this sentence is important.
Move your hands.
Stop Quilting. Do not move your hands while you are still quilting. While you are moving your hands you have no or poor control of the quilt–and therefore the quilted line.
Needle Down. Many machines have the option to set automatic “Needle Down” position. If you have this on your machine, use it for quilting. If you don’t have the option, practice stopping with needle down, or using the handwheel with your right hand while you hold the quilt in place with your left hand.
The needle acts as a place holder and pins the quilt in position within the quilting line.
(NOTE–Needle down is one of the few features I would add to my “shopping list” of must-have features if I were in the market for a new sewing machine.)
Move your hands. With the needle down, you can adjust the quilt and re-position your hands. When you are ready to begin stitching again, make sure the quilt is smooth then continue stitching just where you left off.
Avoid quilting and “inch-worming” your fingers as you stitch.
Also avoid walking one hand then the other while continuing to stitch.
You will have better control if you stop your needle every time you move your hands.
Avoid the Steering Wheel Effect
When you are quilting, your hands should always remain in the home position, with thumbs near each other and fingers pointed away. Avoid twisting your hands as you do on a steering wheel.
Try this Quick Exercise:
To get a better understanding of the proper hand position and way to move the quilt while machine quilting, try this quick exercise:
Center a quick quilt sandwich under your sewing machine needle. Leave the presser foot in the “up” position so the quilt moves freely.
Place your hands in the home position on the quilt. Maintain this position as you:
- Move the quilt away from you, then towards you and back to center.
- Move the quilt from left to right and right to left and back to center.
- Slide the quilt on all the angles and back to center.
- Make a full clockwise circle and then a counter-clockwise circle—here is where you might be inclined to the steering wheel effect.
Estimated caloric expenditure for this exercise: 150 Kcal (8 Tootsie Rolls)
PPS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of LoriKennedyQuilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!You might also enjoy my motif books: Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3 and More Free Motion Machine Quilting 1-2-3