Then there's a project we just need to get done and fast. Perfect for a little machine quilting. Maybe it's that baby quilt that needs to be made this weekend. We know it doesn't have to be perfect so we decide we're moving on from those practice pieces.
So here's 8 tips to make those first free motion quilted projects look their best:
First, the set-up: Make sure you've got a set-up that will set you up for success. A smooth large workspace, preferably with your machine set into a table, cabinet, or large extension table. A chair at a comfortable height to your sewing surface. Quilting gloves or some other grip method. (See my How to Free Motion Quilt Series: The Set Up) Decent lighting, quality thread and a new needle will help get you off to a good start.
|None of these battings are junk, but they are certainly thin. The top batting is my favorite 80/20 blend.|
Thread: Choose a polyester thread of high quality. I know, I know, don't send me hate mail if you're a cotton purist. (Use some Aurifil if you can't stand the poly.) But a good 40 weight poly thread is probably the easiest thread to free motion quilt with. It's strong and smooth too, so it's less likely to break or fray.
Thread color: Use thread that matches or blends with the fabrics of the top. If you decide to use a variegated thread (and I don't recommend it, no matter how pretty it looks on the spool or how well it harmonizes with your top.), choose a quilting design without backtracking.
|See how the variegated thread looks when back tracking? The top fabric here is black (despite it's appearance in this pic) and I used black thread in the bobbin.|
|See how much harder it is to see the quilting on the prints?|
Relax: Take frequent breaks to keep from getting too tense. No one can quilt well when tense. The shoulders will sneak up to the ears and the back will curve forward. It's not good for your quilting and it's certainly not good for your body.
Finally, don't judge your quilting harshly while sitting at the machine. Take it out and spread it on a bed or a table and look with your eyes at 3 feet minimum from the project.
I hope you find these tips useful as you begin to quilt on your quilts. Don't forget to keep practicing on things that don't matter as much. This skill takes a lot of practice and there are so many variables to adjust on each project. With some care and the tips above you can go ahead and quilt your quilts before you are overrun with hot pads and place mats!
And don't worry, we all have those first quilts we tried our FMQ on before we really should have. They still warm the heart and build your skill.