By the way, did you know you can review all the posts to the Free Motion Quilt Along all year? Just click on the "Free Motion Quilt Along" link on the top bar to find all the posts. We also have a playlist right here on YouTube that plays each video in order from #1 to #33 so you can watch the videos play automatically without having to click around to find the next one.
This week we're continuing to fill this space with Pointy Paisley.
This was one of the very first paisley variations I created and has always been a favorite because the jagged, triangle texture really looks wonderful no matter where you put it on your quilts.
I've recently received a lot of questions about free motion quilting and how I make it look so easy on the machine. Just remember that I've been quilting since 2005 (7 years now) and focusing almost completely on free motion quilting since 2008 (4 years now).
No, it doesn't take years to master free motion quilting, but it does require practice and a certain willingness to ignore your mistakes. Just remember that you're using your machine in a totally different way from usual - YOU are creating the stitches by synchronizing the speed of the machine with the movement of your hands.
The difference comes in with the feed dogs. When you sew a dress, piece a block, applique, or quilt using a walking foot, you're using those feed dogs to pull the fabric evenly forward underneath the foot. This is how the machine is designed - to feed fabric forward the tiny amounts dictated by the set stitch length. No matter if you stitch fast or slow, your stitches remain the same size when you're using those feed dogs because they do most of the stitching work for you.
While, no, I don't drop the feed dogs (I cover them with a Queen Supreme Slider and turn the stitch length to 0), I'm still not USING them in any way when I free motion quilt. The quilt is not coming into contact with them, will not be fed forward by them, so all those perfectly fed, even stitches are going to disappear the instant you start free motion quilting.
So if you get started today and things look terrible, just remember that is PERFECTLY NORMAL! We all have to stitch through the ugly stitches in order to get the hang of moving the quilt at the right speed in tune with the speed of the machine. Just stick with it and practice each design for a bit each week and pretty soon balancing the movement of the quilt and the speed of the machine will be no problem.
Now let's talk about Pointy Paisley. This design kind of stands out from the other Pivoting Designs we've learned so far this year because it features all straight lines and sharp angles. If you find yourself struggling to keep the lines perfectly straight, try keeping the triangle shapes smaller and more compact and that will make them easier to stitch.
While I know not everyone wants to quilt on a small scale, stitching smaller is actually a good way to learn free motion for many reasons. For one thing, you don't have to move your quilt as far to form each shape. Less movement will actually make this process easier because you're not having to move the quilt as often. Keeping everything compact and small will allow you to focus more on forming the designs and matching your speed to your hand movement.
Stitching smaller also eats up less fabric, so there's less waste if you really mess up and want to throw your practice block away.
Once you feel comfortable with a design on a small scale, THEN expand it to a larger scale and see how that feels. As the shape gets bigger, you will need to speed up the machine (put your food down!) to compensate because your hands will likely speed up to form the shapes faster.
Free motion is all about speed and movement. The more control you have over movement, the more you can focus on speed. The better you get at using your foot pedal and adjusting that speed minutely, the more you can focus on moving the quilt smoothly over the surface of the machine.
It's a balance and while it can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating to find this balance, it really is the ultimate key to unlocking free motion quilting on your home machine.
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1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
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Keep in mind that you're posting your progress from LAST week on THIS week's post. This way you have time to watch the lesson, play with the ideas, then post your progress to the next quilt along. I hope that makes sense!
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