How hard is free motion quilting?

This is a type of quilting that is done with the use of a sewing machine. In this type of quilting, you create designs by stitching in free motion, and rather than the feed dog feeding the fabrics through your machine, you will have to lower the feed dog, then you move the fabric freely with your hand under the needle in any direction. 

The whole process of free motion quilting can be quite cumbersome to an inexperienced quilter, but as you progress with your training and continue to perfect your skills, you will find out it’s a piece of cake. Here in this article, I will be looking into how hard is free motion quilting to help beginners have a clear picture of what to be expected along the line of their training.

How hard is the free motion quilting? 

Free motion quilting can be very challenging, especially when you are trying the method for the first time. Unlike in the machine quilting technique, where the machine is pretty much in control of everything: the machine sets the needle movement, stitch length, and so on. In motion quilting, you will be the one to control everything. Therefore, if you are not used to the machine quilting technique, it will be hard for you at first to get on with the free motion quilting style. 

What is free motion quilting? 

This is a quilting style that involves the use of the home machine. This method involves the use of the darn foot, a specialized foot designed to hover over the quilting surface, which will enable you to easily maneuver the quilt in any direction to create your design and pattern over the surface of the quilting fabric. 

Is free motion quilting hard? 

Yes, free motion quilting is hard. Before you start learning the motion quilting style, you must realize that this technique is completely different from the conventional fabric sewing style or the machine quilting style that requires using feed dogs to feed the fabric through the machine. In this method, instead of the feed dogs, you make use of a darn foot, and you will be responsible for the movement of the fabric under the needle. This means even if you are an experienced seamster, at first, you may find free motion quilting challenging. 

How does free motion quilting work? 

In free motion quilting, quilting is done on the quilt top, backing, and batting with the use of a machine without using the feed dog of the machine to propel the quilt sandwich forward. In this type of quilting technique, the speed of the machine determines the size of the stitches as well as your hand movement. 

What is a free motion quilting foot? 

The free motion quilting foot is designed to propel the fabric forward once you pedal to stitch. Most regular sewing machines come with a hopping mode that enables the free-motion quilting foot to hop once you press the pedal. As the foot continues to hop, the fabric will move freely under the needle. 

A spring mechanism controls the hopping of a free motion quilting foot which is the spring coiling found around the foot as well as the small bar that is perpendicular to the foot. The small bar is designed to rest on the screw bar of the machine. The screw bar lifts the foot as the needle bounces up so that you can use the free motion movement. 

Tips to free motion quilt for beginners

  • Sit up straight 

To get the desired result, you have to be aware of your sitting posture. Maintaining the right sitting posture will make it easy for you to move the fabric freely under the needle with your hand. Ensure your hands and arms are parallel to your laps and that they are resting comfortably on the sewing machine bed. 

  • Use a smooth surface 

The best surface to use for free motion quilting is a sewing machine table that will allow you to lower the machine into the cabinet so that there can be enough working space for the quilting movements. This kind of surface will reduce the dragging of the quilt and support your posture. 

  • Lighten up the work surface 

Make sure that your work surface is well lit to avoid eye strain. Eye strain can affect your body by causing strain. Direct light over your shoulder so that it can shine directly under the needle. 

  • Practice several times before starting a project

“Practice makes perfect”, I am sure this isn’t your first time coming across that quote, right? Well, here’s the time for you to actually practice what the quote preaches. Before you get started with a real quilting project, make sure you have practiced the technique over again to perfect your skill. Practice the design you are about to make on another fabric 10 minutes before you begin your project. 

  • Know thy thread 

All through your project, you will be working with threads, and that is why you must make sure to use high-quality threads both for your top and bobbin positions. If the motif of the project will require that you stitch several times on the same line, it will be best for you to make use of 60wt thread. 

How hard is quilting? 

Quilting is not hard as long as you are working at your pace based on your experience. For a beginner, you can start with easy projects like starting by sewing 6 to 12 squares together. Or by working with simple patterns like Maypole and log cabin. And also, always work with 100% cotton fabrics. All these will make the whole process easier for you. 

Free motion quilting mistakes

The most common mistakes that are usually made on quilting projects by quilters are; skipped stitches, thread breaking, Loose stitches, looping of the bobbin stitches, and puckering. 

1. Looping on the back

This type of mistake happens when you are not moving your hand at a uniform speed. If your movement on some designs is slow, while on some others, they are fast, the thread will be delivered at a different rate, thereby leading to loops at the bottom of your quilt. 

2. Skipped stitches 

Several factors can lead to skipped stitches. It might be that the needle is sticky or that the needle needs to be replaced. Or it may be that the bobbin and the needle threads do not match in terms of weight and thickness. 

3. Loose stitches 

Most of the time, loose stitches are often caused by threading issues. Therefore, you should endeavor to remove the top and bottom of the thread and carefully rethread them back. This time, make sure to thread the top thread with a presser foot up and that the bobbin thread passes through the tension of the bobbin thread guide. 

4. Fabric puckering 

A fabric puckering van is caused by either the thread or the fabric is not thick enough to withstand the stitches firmly or not stable. If the problem is caused by the thread, rethread as suggested earlier. If it has to do with stability, do some more stitches and tear the paper stabilizer under the fabric. Lastly, you can also check if the needle is sharp. 

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