Sunday, September 23, 2012

Improving My Free Motion Quilting

I want to take my free motion quilting up a notch.  Stippling and straight line quilting are no problem for me, but other designs never look good. 

I recently quilted two tops (a stacked coins and a modern butterfly) and both really really sucked.  I tried loops on the stacked coins and ripped that all out—two bobbins full of thread.  It was painstaking and took several hours.  Then I quilted wobbly lines on the modern butterflies and that sucked even worse, so I quilted more ugly wobbly lines going the other direction, which kind of camouflaged the ugliness.  What was especially frustrating was that I followed some advice I saw online to practice drawing the design before quilting it.  So I spent  about 30 minutes practicing drawing the wobbly lines “just so” but they still looked bad when I tried to make them using my machine.  So I decided I needed  professional help.

I found Leah Day’s website and one night after the kids went to bed, so I watched a bunch of her YouTube videos.  What an amazing resource!  I made a special trip and got a pair of the Machingers gloves.  I wanted to try them on to make sure they fit instead of ordering online.  It’s a good thing I did, because I ended up getting an extra small.


My husband worked some carpentry magic yesterday and did this:



He installed a shelf with custom brackets below the table.  Now my machine sits perfectly flush with the table to hopefully decrease any drag as I’m trying to move my quilt for free motion quilting.  I cannot wait to try out my new set up! 

Leah Day suggests using a Teflon sheet called a “Supreme Slider” to decrease friction as you’re moving the quilt.  She also recommends bobbin washers to decrease eyelashing on the backside of the quilt, so I’m going to be ordering both of those and I’ll let you know how they work.  Right now, the gloves feel a little strange because before I literally was gripping the quilt in my hands to move it.  I never noticed how much that affected my back and hands until I finished the modern butterfly quilt.  I had a lot of pain in my hands and fingers for the next couple of days, but it didn’t dawn on me that it was due to gripping the quilt until I watched some of Leah Day’s tutorials.  Aha!  Now it all makes sense!

This is the last quilt I made with my old set up.


My stippling is okay, but I really want to try some new designs, starting with Leah Day’s Bed of Roses.  I want to try it on the stacked coins quilt I ripped all the quilting from.  

Enjoy your Sunday!


  1. Do you have Angela Walter's new book? I just got mine. I am hoping my quilting improves, too. Mine also sucks if I try to move beyond stippling.

  2. That is great what your husband did for your machine! I need to have a table like that too. I'm actually going to physical therapy because I hurt my shoulder and arm machine quilting :( Too much pulling and pushing because of the drag. I can't do any machine quilting until we get the inflammation down (boo). So I hope I can do hand quilting... Looking forward to hearing how that teflon sheet works!

  3. I'm on a FMQ adventure too! Angela Walters has a class on Craftsy, worth looking into. She's wonderful! I have a Supreme Slider, but my last FMQing, I forgot to put it on, and it all went well. Check my blog, I wrote a tutorial after the experience. Good luck!

  4. I bought a vinyl plastic piece of yardage I got from Joanns on my extending table for my Janome. You could tape yours down to the table all the way around. It is a lot more cost effective:)

    I don't drop the feed dogs either like Leah Day says:)

    I am going to try it out on a runner soon! I hope!


    Angela Walters is a great resource as is Leah Day. Angela has a book out and another on the way. Her focus is on beginners and you will love her book.

  6. I have not taken the time to teach myself how to FHQ, put I like what you have done. I want on, do you leand your husban out for work?

  7. You will love the slider with the gloves. I cannot imagine doing FMQ without both. Have fun.

  8. I notice you have the same machine I do. At a DC Modern Quilt Guild meeting, another quilter told me about a bobbin case that is just for FMQ. The tension is set differently.

    I love mine! So glad to know other quilters with the same machine to tell me about these little tricks.


Some days the only adult I talk to is my him keep his sanity by leaving a comment so I have another adult to talk sewing with:) I will make sure to reply!