The Free Motion Quilting Project: Josh's Quilting Tip #2

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Josh's Quilting Tip #2

For today's tip, I'd like to talk about the two most important factors in machine quilting: hands and feet.

For even stitching, your hands and pedal foot need to be in harmony. During my initial FMQ session, I struggled the first few minutes and my stitching was all over the place. I had no idea where to place my hands; I had no idea how to work the pedal to produce even stitches. But after about ten minutes, and a few practice pieces, I began to feel comfortable with my hand placement and the pedal's sensitivity.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah DayI began free motion quilting bare handed. When I tried on a pair of Machingers gloves, the difference was night and day. Pressing on the fabric felt more natural, smoother, and I had so much more control. When I forgot to put on the gloves, I noticed the second I touched the block that something was off.

Another major element in better control was, interestingly enough, doing the opposite of what Leah suggests. Leah recommends operating the pedal barefooted. And this was how I worked for the first few hours and sessions of free motion quilting.

Here's what Leah says about quilting bare footed:
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Something many students noticed in class was how I quilt barefooted. I simply cannot quilt with shoes on. With a shoe on, I don't have as much control or intuition into what is happening with my foot.

I also quilt with the ball of my foot on the top of the pedal. My toes hang off the top because I have more control over the middle part of my foot than my toes.

Feeling the pedal and all the speeds your machine has, and being able to go from fast to slow and from slow to fast is a skill that will definitely come with time.
I'm more comfortable wearing shoes around the house, but Leah usually wanders around barefooted. So I decided to experiment by wearing a pair of sandals while quilting. Immediately I noticed a difference as the pedal was suddenly so much easier for me to control and maintain speed.

So if you're struggling to find even stitching, try putting your shoe back on, or, if you're wearing shoes, try taking it off. You may also want to try wearing a sock too. Everyone is different, so there's no right or wrong way here.

Just find whatever feels most natural and comfortable to you.

Until next week,

Josh

14 comments:

  1. Thank you Josh, I'm just learning too and somehow you make it sound like I could do it. Experience is great to learn from but beginners are less intimidating. The two of you are the perfect pair.

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  2. I don't place my foot the way Leah does, but I cannot sew with a shoe on.

    When I go to classes in store, I generally wear a shoe on my other foot (because the room is often cold), so I hobble one shoe on, one shoe off when it is time to get up to the iron!

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  3. Bravo Josh pour tous ces conseils.Vous êtes un élève studieux.

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  4. I'm used to pedaling a piano so using a foot pedal on my machine comes natural. And yep, those gloves are remarkable. I like this new feature with you, Josh. You and Leah are quite a couple.

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  5. Leah & Josh - The combination of Leah's experience and Josh's "lack of" make the perfect combination! I'm a beginner so Josh's lessons have been really helpful

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  6. This is so fun to get your take on things, Josh. I will say, I am with Leah on the foot pedal--barefoot, and ball of the foot at the top with the toes over. I feel so much more control that way. : )

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  7. Is it possible to FMQ using the machine without the foot pedal? My new machine has this facility but I havent really tried it?

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  8. Lookin' good, Josh. Thanks for the interesting insight about he shoe on/off controversy. I quilt both ways, but I have found that certain shoes do not work for me. Weird! Have a super day~

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  9. I LOVE my Machingers. I either use them or the Martelli's hoop (I think I got the name right). As for feet…can't have shoes on. I just have no control whatsoever. Funny how different we are all, but it's important to figure out what works for YOU and not worry so much about how the next person works.

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  10. Josh, I am so glad you are doing this and sharing with us. I am going to learn a lot from you I can tell! Thank you!

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  11. Thank you Josh! Your Tips are so great to me! Have a nice day!

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  12. I love Josh' tips - keep 'em coming!

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  13. If you can do it, Josh - so can I. I'm learning right along with you. Thanks for your help. Can't wait until next week.

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  14. Josh, you stated that marking your quilt was very necessary, what is your take on using Pounce for marking and their stencils?
    Love Free Motion Quilting project, and now with Josh in the mix is gives and even broader view. thanks.

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