I can't say it enough.....a smooth slippery surface is your biggest asset when it comes to free motion quilting!
If you can't move your project smoothly, your quilting will have a jerky, uneven look and your stitch length will be inconsistent. Plus, you will be a tense and frustrated quilter!
Putting down a slippery mat of some sort is super seriously helpful! It not only does the obvious of being slippery, but it also covers any cracks between machine and table plus smooths out any bumps on the bed of the machine. These cracks, bumps, and grooves can catch basting pins, feel odd under your hands, cause friction, and cause rulers to rock.
Anytime I have been in a rush to go from regular sewing to free motion sewing and back, I've regretted it if I skip the step of putting down the slider.
For years I've used the Supreme Slider mat and I've loved it. It seems a bit pricey, especially if you get the queen sized mat for the bigger machines. But I've always felt it was worth the cost.
I've heard tell of quilters using some nonstick oven or pan liners for this purpose. I suspect my Goddess Sheet, bought for use with ironing fusible web that doesn't have a paper backing, can be used for the same purpose, but it is an ugly brown. I want a white mat. I've also heard of a similar product called the Sew Slip mat. For the last several days, I've been using the Sew Slip product. It's a smidge bigger than my queen sized Supreme Slider and about $5 cheaper.
It seems like it clings better to my table than my other slider but the other one has been used more and is a bit dusty. I'd have to compare the two products in their brand new condition to really say one way or the other.
The first thing that I noticed was the Sew Slip is slightly textured. This seems very counter to my expectations, but it's so slippery, that the texture doesn't seem to matter. Above is a close up of the sheet to show the slight texture. My Goddess Sheet mentioned above has a similar texture.
I haven't cut a rectangle around my drop-in bobbin case cover yet. I'm going to continue to test this product and see if it holds up well around the needle hole area. I have noticed some stretching of the Supreme Slider after a lot of use.
How about you? Are you using a Supreme Slider, Sew Slip, or teflon oven sheet? I really think something like this is necessary for free motion quilting, even if it's just a slick sheet of plastic, glossy paper, painter's tape or what have you to cover up cracks and bumps on and around the bed of the machine. Let me know what you use, if anything, on your machine?