The Free Motion Quilting Project: Beginner DVD HELP!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beginner DVD HELP!

I started filming the beginner DVD today, but I realized as I was working on it that I needed to just double check one last time that I'm covering everything I need to cover in this video.

So here's the chapter list so far:

Machine setup / Tools
- Dealing with loops on the back of the quilt
- Breaking needles and breaking thread
Stitch Regulator - Do you need one or not
Needle Size
Thread color choice and type
Confidence building and how to stay focused while machine quilting

Fillers for bed quilts (how to upscale a design)
Using stencils and continuous designs
How to mark a quilt top

- How much space to quilt on the quilt top
- How to avoid bearding and pleats in the backing

How to quilt a big quilt on a small machine
How to get consistent stitches
Hand movement vs. machine speed
Where to start quilting and how?
Thinking ahead with a design
Traveling from one design to another

I've thought about it a lot and I don't think I'll have time to really discuss design in great detail. I'll have to leave that for the Intermediate level DVD.

More than anything else, I just want to help beginners learn how to feel comfortable behind your machines.

It seems like most quilters are fine for piecing or even machine applique, but as soon as the feed dogs are turned off or covered, all confidence goes out the window!

So I need your help! If there's anything I've missed that you think is huge and MUST be in the DVD, please comment about it below!

Thanks a bunch!

Leah Day


  1. might want to mention batting selection, not a dissertation, just the difference between poly and natural fibers (cotton, cotton blends, wool, bamboo etc) BTW- think that doing the video is excellent. So many people are intimidated and are worried about looking like an idiot in class. Not to mention the benefit of getting info repeated for the 100th time with no eye rolling. You also come across great on camera. friendly and encouraging. I have sent links to your sight to many wannabe machine quilters. You go girl!

  2. Those sound like everything I need lol. Maybe mention things like posture, how to hold your shoulders etc, because if that's off things hurt and maybe fewer people will stick with it long enough to gain confidence?

  3. for me, and I mean, this is just me - I do not like changing the dials on my machine!!! What if I never get them back the way they are supposed to be and my sewing now is messy and - ahhhhhhh!! that is my fear of quilting on my machine, yes, the bulk, and all that, but it's making changes that will change the tension, and ,,, I know this all comes from not knowing my machine, and I don't - it's been cleaned and set up to sew and it does.... I don't want to mess with what's working.
    (I am going to make learing this quilting skill, and not to be afraid of my sewing machine a priority this year!!!)
    thanks Leah, for doing this for people like me.......

  4. I think presenting just a couple basic designs, like (GASP) McTavishing, stippling, and maybe one other to get a beginner started would be good. The way it's currently outlined is like giving beginners all the clubs in the golf bag, but not telling them where the golf course is.

  5. I get a lot of questions about the basting, so be detailed there please. The biggest complaint I hear is that they get so many puckers on the back. So they quit and let someone else do it. Often I find they think a pin every 10inches will hold every thing in place and they let the backing shift. Other biggies.... Importance of gloves, proper support for the quilt weight and taking breaks to avoid strain, and the speed of machine verus the hand movement.
    Actually your outline sounds just great, and I am sure it will be wonderful.

  6. As I am in the process of quilting my first bed size quilt I can tell you the things that I have struggled with most. Firstly was figuring out what kind of quilting pattern to use. I am quilting an I Spy quilt and I decided to quilt in the ditch around the pictures. I tried to do that free motion but it was turning out pretty sloppy so I'm doing it with my walking foot and turning corners every four inches or so. Slow but I think it will look better. Then I have all these small triangles around the pictures and narrow (1") pieces between each row. In the end I am doing a loop-de-loop thing on that narrow strip and using your candy cane spiral in the triangles. I did two of these pieces then discovered I had sewed in the corner of my quilt and had to undo them. During that process I decided that I am going to start in the middle, spiral out, spiral in on the next triangle, end and move to the next set of triangles. This will work as there are two triangles adjascent to each other, but it's slow. This quilting is a lot of work and what I've learned is that I should make quilts where I can do big blocks of quilting and use fast fillers.

    Second for me was thread, needles etc. I looked for advice in three or four books and finally forged ahead, but that kind of info is definitely important.

    Probably most important though is just the confidence to start. It was through reading your blog and your steady rythym of "anyone can do this" and "let's go quilt" that really got me to a place where I decided to stop fretting and just try it.

    I know these are things that you've got on your list already, but just thought I'd let you know that these topics are useful.

    And thanks for your great blog.

  7. I think one thing that beginners worry about are starts and stops so you might want to cover that too.

  8. I'm trying to learn FMQ now, and would love to know about how to set up your quilting machine. I am quickly realizing that a machine on a dining room table is not easy. Just smashed my finger bad because I don't have any "flat space" to the left of my machine... just a big drop-off. Also had to figure out how to get rid of the "eyelashes" on the back. Love your blog!!

  9. fabric? quality kinds that works best for quilting. love your site

  10. sounds good, I am still trying to figure out how to drop my dogs! cw

  11. Since you're talking about needles and thread types, it might be helpful to have a discussion of batting types as well. I mean, it's easy enough to find a discussion of batting types online in other places, but it would be nice to have it all together in one place.

  12. Looking good, so far, Leah. You've covered so much. How about talking about batting? How different types of batting affect different types of quilting. And, showing some examples of it.

  13. I would suggest the EXTREME basics... what is a quilt, what is quilting? Explain the top quilt, batting, backing and sandwich, also definitions of terms such as 'stippling', 'basting'... stuff like that. When I found you on YouTube I knew LESS than nothing. I had no idea that quilting had so much to it. I didn't even know you were supposed to measure the squares that you cut out (which of course I was doing with scissors! GASP!) Yeah, I say do a super duper introduction. Don't presume the viewer knows ANYTHING MHO

  14. Safety pins v basting v spray glue.
    Making the sandwich ..... when there isn't enough room to spread the whole thing out at once.
    Judy B

  15. Its sound fantastic...... for the life of me I cant free motion quilt with both hands flat it just doesnt work ...... so I am a grab and move girl LOL.......

  16. I was going to say - ' about a simple but varied design that can be copied or ironed on (you know like the stitchery kits do) that can be used as a trial piece' but no that defeats the purpose of learning to do FMQ ourselves - if we need to practice we should, as you've stated before get some paper and practice drawing to gel the design in our hand movements before sitting at the machine. But yes we should be doing trial pieces - I'm planning on a hanging with some free form piecing then practicing closework/micro FMQ, but intend to also practice on some, not too important, UFO tops first, with bigger versions of the patterns.

  17. Hi Leah, Perhaps something on the importance of adjusting the pressure foot (or not) would be useful. Look forward to seeing the DVD. Love your web site. Best wishes Holly Rose

  18. It looks to me like you have a very good outline for your DVD. Be sure and save things for the intermediate section, you don't want to overwelm beginners. I am not a beginner but your course intrigues me too. I am always on the lookout for new ways to do things and I have been learning a lot from you already.

  19. Include how to quilt when your feed dogs don't go down.

    Thank you. I check your blog every day because there is always so much information even for beginners like me.


  20. Are you only going to show your preferred way, or are you going to offer alternatives? I have seen basting videos/tutes that show using 1/4's to hold the fabric so you can baste on a table. Pins vs sewing. What kind of pins? Dollar store safety pins or expensive "quilting" safety pins? (BTW, cheap pins aren't sharp! And they aren't strong, either. But you don't need special quilting pins, either.)) Economy version vs "I have the money to buy all the goodies!". Quilt as you go vs the whole kind size quilt?

    Just some thoughts. I learned quilting by reading blogs and watching videos. Your blog is a good one. I like how you walk a person through. Keep up the good work!

  21. From what some of the commentors are saying, maybe you need to first do a "Very Basic Beginning Beginners" version...?
    But I'm lovin' your outline!
    Thank you so much Leah! You are truly an inspiration.

  22. Whether to pre-wash fabric and cotton batting....

  23. Whatever information gets your dvd would be wonderful. Here are places where I ran into trouble as a beginner FMQ'r.

    How to sit at the machine. What height. Where and how to place the hands. How close is the machine. How best to see where I am going and where I've been.
    Control of the machine speed and how to coordinate the hand with it.
    How to making straight lines, curves, crisp changes in directions, travel back over previous stitches, hit points.

    All this may iron out with more experience and others may have different issues, but it's all good. Look forward to your dvd.

  24. Hi Leah

    Just wanted to make sure your are going to include what to do with the thread ends when starting and stopping (or after starting and stopping as the case may be!)

    I am so glad you are not doing a post every single day, otherwise the fun would be over in exactly 365 days. You are adding so much useful information in between the video posts - thank you! and I'm so glad your first lecture went well. You are a great asset to the quilting community.

  25. Basing batting and tension for me...

  26. Quilting to music - for establishing a good rhythm do you have any recommendation... humming to Amazing Grace as a friend suggested isn't working for me.

  27. I just bought some Warm & Natural Needled Cotton batting. There seems to be a front and back - but I can't find anywhere if the smooth part should be facing my backing or the front side of the quilt! So that would be good to include.

    The polyester that I used for my first quilts did not have a front and back.

    : )


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