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Quilting aficionado Johanna Felberbaum shares 7 essential tips for beginners getting started in free motion quilting, while meandering on her original heart quilt pattern for placemats and table runners!
There is something so expressive and gratifying about Free Motion Quilting. It likely has to do with the fact that each quilt finished with FMQ is one-of-a-kind, entirely unique, and a work of art.
Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need any extra equipment or even any special skills to approach this technique. But there are a few tricks you can use to make it a little easier.
Getting Started in Free Motion Quilting
- Tip #1: Warm up! You can use your finger on fabric or draw with a pen and paper. Either way it will help you get a head start on finding your “sweet spot” at the sewing machine. Muscle memory is key to consistent, evenly spaced free motion quilting design.
- Tip #2: Drop the feed dogs. Usually a very helpful tool when you’re sewing, the feed dogs will do quite the opposite during free motion and hinder your designs. Liberate your fabric for sweet freedom!!
- Tip #3: Use gloves. While it may seem unnecessary at first, a good pair of sewing gloves can make all the difference in the long run, as they increase your grip and prevent muscle fatigue.
- Tip #4: Meander. One of the most popular free motion designs, meandering is just what it sounds like- a curvy, winding path that keeps your fabric sandwich intact! It’s easy to space this design out evenly without a lot of forethought, as long as you find your rhythm.
- Tip #5: Use loops to fill in empty space. This will really help when you’re trying out new shapes and motifs that may vary in scale or size, and you need something small to balance out the area you’re covering.
- Tip #6: Find your groove. You’ll know you’ve found your rhythm when the stitch length, machine speed, and rate at which you move your hands are all harmoniously working together. When you do, take notes! Write down the settings you were using for next time.
- Tip #7: Practice! Replicate quilting designs you love online or make your own. Experiment by sewing the doodles you’ve drawn on paper onto scrap fabric. Most importantly, remember to warm up with scrap fabric before quilting your project.
While you don’t necessarily need a free motion or darning foot, it is a useful tool if you have it. Once you’re comfortable with free motion, you can basically draw anything you can imagine – with thread!
Do you have any other pointers for quilters that are new to FMQ? Share them in the comments section!