Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quilting
The craft of free-motion quilting is fascinating and, once you get started, becomes addictive. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. We have created a simple to follow beginner's guide to help you get started. This step-by-step tutorial will help you develop your confidence and start making larger, full-size quilts, whether you're making a charming baby quilt or a warm pillow cover.
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You Will Need
- Sewing machine
- Free motion quilting foot
- Basting spray (1 can) for securing the quilt
- Patchwork quilt top
- Wadding or batting
- Safety pins
- Quilting stencils
Prepare Your Quilt Sandwich
Step 1: Prepare the Layers of Your Quilt
Square it up to ensure that the edges of your quilt top are all straight. When cutting a piece of batting and backing fabric to the same size as the size of the quilt top, leave an extra two inches on each edge to account for potential movement during quilting.
Step 2: Secure Your Quilt Layers
Spray basting is crucial for maintaining the strength of your quilt's layers. Lay your quilt backing out on a sizable work surface, print side down. Spray the backing evenly with the basting solution. To adhere the wadding in all directions, place it on the sticky backing and smooth it out from the center. Spray-basting liquid on the wadding. Lay your quilt top on the wadding with the right side up, ensuring the connection is solid.
Step 3: Secure the Quilt Sandwich
To keep the layers of your quilt sandwich together, use safety pins. Your quilt size will determine how many pins you need. Four safety pins per row across every other row of quilt blocks should be sufficient for lap quilts or single-bed quilts. This step is optional, though, as some quilters choose basting spray.
Adjust Your Sewing Machine Settings
Step 1: Lower the Feed Dogs
Drop the feed dogs, the teeth that direct your sewing in a straight line, from your sewing machine. If you need help with how to do this, consult the instructions for your sewing machine. Consider using a pad on the machine bed to aid in quilting movement if your machine does not permit feed dog lowering.
Step 2: Free Motion Quilting Foot
Use a free-motion foot or darning foot in place of your usual sewing foot. Refer to your machine's manual for instructions, as the procedure may vary.
Step 3: Adjust Your Stitch Length
Your stitch length should be set to 0. Stitch length in free-motion quilting is influenced by foot pedal pressure and the rate at which you move the fabric. Your machine's foot pressure setting should be decreased to the minimum. Better control is achieved by using slow, soft foot pedal pressure.
Step 4: Check Your Sewing Machine Tension Setting
Check or modify your tension to match the thickness of your quilt. Before beginning, check your machine's manual or experiment with various settings on scraps of fabric and batting.
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How to Make Free Motion Quilting
Step 1: Decide on Your Quilting Pattern
Choose the quilting pattern or shapes that you want to use. While some quilters prefer to mark their patterns with stencils, others prefer to quilt freehand. Before using fabric and thread, test your selected patterns on paper.
Step 2: Use a Stencil to Prepare Your Pattern (Optional)
Use quilting stencils to make guidelines with an air-drying pen on your fabric for consistent designs. This process enables you to quilt following a certain pattern.
Step 3: Select a Starting Point
Pick an area to start quilting. Lower your needle into the fabric to secure your thread and sew a few back-and-forth stitches using the machine's reverse stitching.
Step 4: Start Sewing
Sew up your quilting pattern. Your stitch pattern will be created by moving the quilt under the needle. The presser foot pressure and the speed of your hand movement determine the stitch length.
Step 5: Check Tension
To ensure your tension is balanced on both sides of your quilt, periodically check it. Make necessary alterations.
Step 6: Sew in Sections
Quilt your project in rows, blocks, or sections. Remove pins from safety-pin-basted quilts as you go. Work outward from the center of larger projects to account for any moving fabric.
Step 7: Change Bobbin Thread (if needed)
Stop and replace your bobbin thread immediately if it runs out. Secure the new thread from where you left off with the quilting.
Step 8: Trim and Bind
When you've finished quilting, trim the thread ends and tuck them inside the quilt. Finish by binding the quilt after cutting the quilt's edges to achieve a straight edge.
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Free motion quilting is a fun craft for beginners to explore. To quilt smoothly, keep in mind to firmly secure your quilt layers and change your sewing machine's settings. The key is practice, regardless of whether you select freehand designs or stencils. You will eventually master this artistic talent and produce beautiful quilts.