When I started making quilts, quilting part of job was least favourite bit. Most magazines and books didn’t give you what to do there or how except particular template shape which didn’t appeal to me. That was days before the Pinterest, blog or Facebook group and I rarely saw actual quilts either.
I loved and still love complex piecing of patchwork part of job and if that is busy, quilting doesn’t need to be so busy. So I did a lot of quilting in ditch and filled borders and sashing with geometric lines with my walking foot.
But soon after, I dived into free motion quilting with templates I think. And things gradually developed as you can imagine. But my little Brother machine was not quite fit for the job and it was wearing out. Tiny throat space and struggling mortar.
Then I got Janome 1600QPC, semi industrial machine two years ago which gave me a big space and huge reliability. And around that time, large amount of online classes and communities were up and really running actively which opened my eyes and taught me a lot of things.
I recommend you to quilt in ditch! I know it sounds boring but it is essential!
I do all quilting as free motion including ditch quilting and straight lines now. The reason is faster. I can ditch quilt 99% in ditch with free motion but less with normal foot for some reason. And ditch quilting is still very important to me.
Ditch quilting enhances all the effort put into patchwork part of job. Shape and colour, the design. I don’t like the look if the seams lifted by not quilted down unless I want that seam to be blend to the fabric and disappear. I have tried to ignore but always went back to quilt those ditches. It defines the line I wanted to have and keeps it where it should be which means those lines won’t be moved or bent by shifting fabric from quilting other places.
I spent time thinking about what to with rest of quilting while I quilt in ditches. It give me time and I look quilts from different angle and get some different idea.
The other reason I free motion quilt in ditch is it less likely to cause puckering because foot is floating. I don’t make puckering with normal foot quilting either but it is more easy to control fabric with free motion foot. Mind you I pin baste and I do a lot. Sometimes less than 2″ but normally 4″ apart at least.
So what I would like to say is, get better at free motion and quilt in ditch!
I am very glad I started quilting with a ruler. I don’t have to follow the marked lines carefully which always ends with a bit of crocked line or more no matter how careful. As free motion quilt, I don’t have to lift the foot and turn the quilt as I turn the corner of quilting line. I just change the direction and keep going. Again it is faster.
Get your tools and start work with rulers! You will be awesome!
And other things…
I can’t quilt when I am tired. Quilting needs concentration and after a few hour of free motion, my concentration is gone and my shoulders and arms are in pain and I can’t do good job even if I really want to keep the groove going!
I can’t quilt when I don’t know what or where I want to go. I need the shape in my head to quilt before I quilt otherwise I end up something I don’t like. For that reason I can’t meander/stipple because I don’t know where I have to go.
I can’t quilt when I don’t have hand moisturiser on my fingertips. I don’t wear quilting gloves for grips but moisturiser. But it rubs off and I loose grips and if I don’t have enough grips, my arms and shoulders get tense and do bad job. I grab a quilt sometime which is fine for large movement but not for detail.
I can’t move a quilt if it is off the table and dragged by the gravity. It should move freely without any extra push or pull. Those extra muscle power makes quilting line wiggly and wear you out quicker. If you feel any strain or need to increase the power to move a quilt, stop and put it on a table entirely and restart. Put your table against wall so quilt won’t fall off.
Do get to know your machine especially weak point. My machine don’t like sewing backwards and breaks thread.
Get to know your stitching speed and relation to the foot pedal. Control to fit your favourite speed.
That’s all so far I can remember. I will put up more tips later. I know some of above don’t make any sense unless you are there but if you keep doing free motion quilting and something is not right, try different ways and hope my tips help to do so.