I would like to try something new today. I’m calling it Open Line Friday--a chance to answer questions and a place where we can bring together the collective knowledge of the group. The following are questions that have popped up in the last week or two. Please add your input to the following questions:
Rebecca at Cheeky Cognoscenti writes: You know, I always thought that “free-motion” quilting was done completely freehand, without any markings on the quilt top. Looking through your tutorials, I am struck by how many different motifs require (or at least greatly benefit from) marking lines to guide spacing, etc. My question is, at what point would you do the marking if this was a big quilt instead of a small sample? Do you mark the entire quilt top before you layer it and baste it for quilting? Or do you mark the quilt sandwich as you go, and if so, how do you keep your lines straight when you’re drawing on a puffy quilt sandwich? Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful tutorials, by the way!
Lori: Free Motion Quilting refers to stitching with the feed dogs lowered or disengaged. (When the feed dogs are “up” the sewing machine will advance the fabric–in a more or less straight line– When the feed dogs are “lowered” the fabric will only move when it is guided through the machine) This allows the quilter to move in any direction and stitch motifs and patterns, not just straight lines. Perhaps there is some confusion because it sounds a bit like “free hand drawing”. Some marking is essential on almost all quilts.
As for marking: I use the stitched seam lines created by piecing as my “rails” or guidelines whenever I can–in order to avoid marking. In large quilts, I do a combination of marking methods. I usually don’t mark until after the quilt is pinned–I like to use chalk and if the quilt is being moved around a lot the chalk comes off. Even if the quilt batting is bulky, I am usually able to add enough markings. I also add markings as I quilt.
Chris:Dear lori do you have any problems with your foot jumping is there anything I can do to stop this I have a Bernina 440 and love it.
Lori: I’m not sure what you mean by the foot “jumping”…Perhaps you need to increase the presser foot pressure? Also, don’t forget to lower the presser foot–that can cause the foot to jump. Send more details…Maybe some other readers can help?
Ruth at StitchSewQuilt I would like to try FMQ with a thicker-looking cotton thread as I have feeling it will last longer and look better, and not eat through my cotton patchwork??? Is that true? I keep snapping needles in my practice FMQ; really not sure why, I think the tension’s okay. That’s another reason I want a thicker thread, so it will match a thicker needle and hopefully decrease the possibility of snapping when I cross a seam. Are all of the retailers that have been mentioned on here American? I live in Britain and am hoping to be able to find the supplies you are discussing. Thanks.
Lori: I don’t think the problem is the thread or the needles. Most of the time when I break needles it is because I am pulling too hard on a heavy quilt. Make sure the area you are stitching is free to move. Also, an improperly threaded machine can break needles. Have you had your machine serviced lately? Are you using quality needles like Schmetz 80 or larger? (Note–check out Ruth’s blog where she has a few images of her work.) Most of the products I have recommended are available from online retailers. We have a lot of followers from the UK–can you help Ruth with local retailers?
Thank you to the readers who offered questions. Please help these readers with YOUR input!
We will try this again in a few weeks, if anyone has a question they’d like answered.