Don't let the difficulties of the present moments overshadow the reality of God's promises. God's promises still stand. And God's promises are stronger than our failures.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thoughts While Free Motion Quilting

1.  My hands aren't big enough or strong enough.  :(  I need to work harder than some people do.  That's all.  I have a good work ethic.  I can make this happen.  But this is one time I wish I was bigger.  Well, just my hands.
2.  Without a stitch regulator my stitches will probably never be the same length.  I can't afford to buy another machine.  I  need to practice more.  They're getting better with every quilt I practice on.
3.  I know why some people use bicycle clips.  I don't have any.  I'll be looking for them next time I go out.  Maybe there's something here that would work like that....nope, scrunchies aren't strong enough, rubber bands aren't big enough.  Who knew you could break a scrunchie?
4.  My Magic Slider slid all over the machine so it got stitched to the quilt.  After removing it I tried taping it in place.  My quilt hung on the tape.   There's obviously more to this free motion quilting than anyone has told me.  Yet.  I need to ask more questions.
5.  I tried my machine all the way up on the table, and down level with the table.  Didn't matter.  It still hangs on the edges.  Will bicycle clips solve that?
6.  I don't mind that my spirals are wonky.  This is a child's quilt and they look like the pathway Family Circus shows on that cartoon sometimes, you know when the child gets called in for supper and walks all over the neighborhood before making it home.  It makes me smile.  :)
7.  I try to go too fast - I move the fabric too fast.  Slower is better.  There should be a speed limit.  Not that I'd move the fabric under the limit.  I don't drive under the limit, what makes me think I'd do any better with fabric?
8.  You can't watch tv when you're learning to free motion quilt.  Or eat.  Or talk on the phone.  Maybe later when I'm better at this.
9.  When I put my hands too far apart I lose control.  Losing control makes knobs and spikes.  This could be a  new pattern I've invented.
10.  When I wash it and it shrinks and gets all soft and cuddly I bet I don't notice the wonky spirals.  And if I do, they'll still  make me smile.
11.  I can tell my quilting friends that this pattern is called A Drunk Monkey because it looks like a drunk monkey did it.  :)
12.  Done is good.


Mimi said...

From one drunk monkey to another...congratulations on the completion!!


Julie in the Barn said...

I have all the same thoughts! I use my ironing board set at table height next to my machine to create more space to plop all that bulk of the quilt on. It helps keep the darn quilt from hanging up on the edge of the table. I keep trying to create patterns when I machine quilt but I always revert to loops and meanders. Practice is the answer fersure. My stitches are getting more uniform and I no longer make a lot of "toe catchers." Keep practicing, Marline. It does get easier.

Lena . . . said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one with those same problems. There is hope.

Angie said...

Now as you know I am no quilter but it does sound as though congratulations are in order here! That you did this - and you didn't throw the machine out the window - is worthy of a medal.

Marge said...

I have completed quilt tops in the closet because I can't get the hang of free motion quilting. Even on my new machine. I guess I just need to keep trying... but it's good to know that I'm not the only one!


Michelle said...

Try making your machine level with the table, and use furniture polish on the table and your machine to make it slick and slide. I had a Magic slider on my machine too, basically to protect the surface, and one night while I was mending some work pants, I sewed it to the inside of my pants. Yep, once it's ruined, it's ruined. Pretty expensive lesson, huh?

Place as many ironing boards and folding tables, or whatever you can find around your sewing machine to keep your quilt from falling. That will help a lot.

You are doing great. Keep trying and soon you will be a pro!

Karen said...

A sewing machine with a stitch regulator only works if you go slow and I have a hard time doing that. Thus, I still end up with uneven stitches.

Pokey said...

You've brought on a *grin* today...
yep, done is good! Wash that puppy and bring on the bumpy goodness that seems to cover all faults!

Needled Mom said...

Too cute!! It is nice to have a sense of humor when free motion quilting.

Marie said...

So that's what it's called! I always wondered about that! I bet you are selling yourself short and that you have made a lovely quilt! xxoo

Terry said...

Done is always good! And I think A Drunk Monkey sounds just about perfect! LOL

Lori said...

I tried my first crack at free motion quilting 2 months ago on my granddaughters quilt and about to try it again on a runner for my daughter-in-law. I got beyond frustrated but haven't given up on it yet. I love the comment about speeding. That is so me! We keep getting more and more alike!

Lindah said...

Hi Marlene!
Yep, done is good! Don't forget to show us a pic once it's washed and dry.
Here are some thoughts while reading your post...
1. Quilt Glide. A wonderful product. Pricey, but I made more than a hundred quilts with it and the can feels as though it still is half full. You spray just a tiny bit on a rag that you keep for that purpose. You polish your machine bed and ALL surfaces and EDGES that your quilt will touch as you quilt. Those areas become quite slippery. You only need to apply it once per quilt. Doesn't harm wood finishes. Probably some kind of silicon or something. I have graduated to a longarm because of the painful hands/shoulders, etc., but I'm hanging onto this can of Quilt Glide. Also, position chair backs all the way round your sewing table to keep the quilt on TOP of the table to reduce drag.

2. RE: speed and my ability or lack thereof to pat head and rub tummy. My machine has a speed adjustment. I would move my pedal to a position directly below my knee so I could set my foot flat on that pedal, knee relaxed, full weight of foot/leg RESTing on the pedal. I would set the speed adjustment at a reasonable speed for that foot/pedal position. THEN, I had only to focus on what my hands were doing and the speed they were moving. Am I making sense? It made such a difference to the smoothness of my hand movements.

Points 1 & 2 probably were a large part of my success in quilting with my sewing machine.

I hope this helps.

Arkansas Patti said...

A done drunk monkey is a good drunk monkey. Sounds like healthy thinking to me.

Charlene S said...

I think there are alot of drunk monkeys quilting these days. Let's hear it for the drunk monkeys who get it done and improve at the same time. Just remember every free motion quilter was once a drunk monkey.

Val said...

Oh this is so cute. I have only tried it a couple of times and I had those same thoughts!!!

Karen said...

Thank you for the chuckle! I'm learning FMQ as well and had the same thoughts.

Teresa said...

I "feel" your pain as I have had many of the same frustrations. I have tried those bucycle clips and other types of clips and none of them work for me.

Are you wearing the gloves made for free motion quilting. I have a Fons and Porter pair and just love them

I too have been aggravated with irons and have bought expensive and cheap ones. My most expensive was an Oreck and it leaked and spit just like all the other. The dealer told me that irons with the automatic shut off don't last more than 2 or 3 years, as the electrical wiring wears out from all the cutting off and on. Wish he had told me that BEFORE I spent a weeks grocery money on it. I have a shark now, I love it - got it for $35 at Target. I do not put water in it, just keep a spritz bottle near by. No more spitting and muttering (me) and the iron works great.

Mary said...

I find that turning the machine 90 degrees to the way you usually sew gives me more room to quilt. And I sit higher than usual.. a big pillow on my chair. I put on music and jam. But everytime I come back to the quilt, I practice a bit on a practice sandwich to get the groove going. But finished is divine and drunk monkeys are fun.

kimbuktu said...

You made me laugh when you said that you can't watch TV, eat, or talk on the phone while free motion quilting.

I assure you that even when you get good at it, you will not be able to do those things. :0)

Are you using gloves? That is the one most significant thing I discovered to make it easier for me.

Linda said...

Practice DOES make perfect. I went into free-motion quilting reluctantly - kicking and screaming the whole way - but knew it was all I could afford to do. So without a stitch regulator, but with lots of perseverance and practice, I got better. Even won my quilt guild best machine quilting award! You can do it. No need for bigger hands or gadgets (other than a free-motion foot). Just put on some Neutrogena hand cream, puddle the quilt under the needle, and get going at a moderate speed. Practice on mission and donation quilts! You can do it.

Vivian said...

Hi from a fellow Arkansan.

I agree with Linda. Practice, practice, practice. I started free-motion quilting about 2 years ago and could scream at my uneven stitches. The other day, I looked over the last quilt I quilted and was amazed at how even the stitches were. I never thought I would get this far. But, boy, it feels great when you do.

Marianne said...

I just discovered fusible batting and it has changed my free quilting world. I can iron the fabric top and the backing to the batting and it becomes one solid piece. But having to iron the three pieces together on an ironing board was troublesome. Needed something larger. Then I had an idea. I used a piece of insulation board like is used for construction. It has one side that has foil on it. I laid it down on my table and placed the fabrics on top and began to iron. IT WORKED. The foil actually helped fuse the batting. No damage to the table or insulation board. The board is very light weight so you can easily move it under the fabric as you iron. Once the pieces were bonded together it was SO easy to machine quilt. The piece moved together as one. No stitching, no pins, nothing. The fusible batting is stiff when you are working with it, makes it easier to handle under the machine. After it is washed, it become soft like normal batting.
So if you have not tried the fusible batting yet you are in for a thrill. I have finished two small quilts and now have a full size quilt ready for the machine.
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