Proper Hand Position for FMQ
Today’s Topic: Proper Hand Position for FMQ
Welcome to Week 5 of our 2021 Quilt-a-Long, Even Better Machine Quilting
This FREE multi-week tutorial is based on my books available in my Etsy shop: LoriKennedyShop
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Find the 2021 QAL links HERE
Find the 2020 (25 Week) QAL links HERE
Good Morning, Quilters!
I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend with family and friends!
Last week, my daughters and I made these adorable Bunny Drawstring Bags from Ashley Johnston on BERNINA’s WeAllSew blog.
We made them with lightweight canvas for a little extra body. This is a great beginner sewing project–and don’t wait until next Easter–they are perfect Spring decorations.
More from BERNINA We All Sew
In case you’re interested….I am writing a monthly series, How to Get Started with Free Motion Quilting, on BERNINA’s We All Sew blog. The posts include some great videos–so be sure to check them out! (I will place a link here at LKQ to keep you up to date.)
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.
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
7 responses to “Proper Hand Position for FMQ”
CUTE drawstring bags!!!
Hi All…I am the queen of multitasking. So it’s automatic for me to move my hands while the needle is still going. OOPS! It always leads to a bump in my quilting line. This is an area that I continually work on while FMQ. You may not be able to see it from a horse running past, but I still know I did it.
So thankful for these tutorials! This one has such good advice. And I have all three of Lori’s books. Since I have completed the first quilt-along, I have found the books invaluable for getting ideas and choosing motifs.
This is such excellent advice and subsequent training !! WOW! Details make such a difference in the finished work and well as enjoyment of the process. Now.. I love your little quilts (photo at the top),
I love the bunny bags… and I LOVE your cyclamen!!! I have one on buffet in breakfast room. It is
5 years old and blooms regularly! It sits under the taller Norfolk Island Pine. And next door to the now
blooming orchid kids gave me last year for Mom’s Day. Have not been brave enough to use these
blossoms in quilting stitching. I love their shapes but seem above my pay grade ! LOL! Thanks for the gorgeous photo…
Thank you for reminding me of certain basics. I’m often guilty of steering the quilt, and yes my shoulders let me know.. I appreciate your creativity in quilting as well as your insight on how to improve our own creative output
Still working on this one. Sheesh!!!!