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Monday, September 8, 2014

HQ Sweet Sixteen Sunday - My Top 5 tips for Free Motion Quilters

Lets face it, Free Motion Quilting isn't easy! If it was easy, everyone would be an expert....

That doesn't mean you can't do it though!

I've been thinking about the top 5 things that have helped me, and I thought maybe these top tips might just help you too.

Tip 1:

You have the permission to slow down!

When I first started free motion quilting I thought I had to have the machine going at a million miles an hour to get nice stitches.... After all, all the best quilters go FAST! Guess what, the second I decided that I just couldn't go fast anymore, my quilting improved.
I found that my brain just couldn't keep up... I was getting flustered because I didn't know where I was going next.
Because I was so tense and worried about keeping up with the machine, my quilting was awful! So slow down and take your time, this will give you more thinking time to work out where you need to go next.


Tip 2:
Forget about your stitch length for now!

Everyone wants nice even stitches on their quilts, but when you first start quilting your stitches will not be even! I study quilts (thats just how i roll) and I have looked at award winning quilts, yes even quilts that win in Houston and they are not perfect! As my favourite Quilter Angela Walters says, 'You will not become a better quilter from unpicking!'
Give yourself permission to not be perfect!


Tip 3:
Don't look at your needle!

This was the very first thing my mum told me when I started sewing. It applies to all types of sewing, not just quilting.
When you go out driving next time, think about where you are looking when your driving your car. When you're turning out of your driveway onto the road, are you looking in front of you or are you looking out onto the road where you are going to end up?
When your turning into a parking spot at the supermarket are you looking at your bonnet or are you looking into the spot where your car is going?
It takes practice, but when you stop looking at the needle you will get more comfortable and less flustered.
Looking at the needle will make your eyes get blurry and you will tire out much more quickly.


Tip 4:
Draw, Draw, Draw, Draw, Draw!

Getting out some paper or even a white board or black board and draw! The more you draw a particular design, the more it gets into your whole system and the easier you will find it is to quilt it.
I like to sit down and pick just one design, then I try to draw it in as many different ways as I can. This could be as easy as a half circle. I like to keep all my drawings because its a timeline of how much I have improved, but its also my own little idea library. Even if the drawings aren't perfect, it might just spark a new idea when I need it. I can't tell you how much this one thing has changed my quilting! Start doodling and I guarantee your quilting will improve!


Tip 5:
Stippling isn't easy!


When you really think about it, stippling isn't something that we have ever drawn growing up... it's not something that we are used to doing. Growing up we draw tonnes of circles, triangles, stars and hearts, but I don't ever remember drawing a meandering line that doesn't cross it's own lines...
So the stipple is not something thats going to come easy to you!
Why not try something else like a heart with a wavy line that joins them, or just some big circles. You will be much more comfortable with these shapes because you have been drawing them since you were in kindergarten!



Bonus Tip!
Give yourself permission to waste some fabric! 

You will never improve without practice, that's just an unfortunate fact of life. You will also not improve if you use crappy, cheap fabric to practice on. Cheap fabrics just don't tend to slide under the needle as easily as better quality fabric, so get to your quilt shop and buy some of that discounted ugly fabric that none else wants to buy (because its ugly and therefore cheap) or get into your stash and find some fabric that you know you will never use and practice, practice, practice! If the ugly design is distracting you, turn it over and quilt the (not quite as ugly) back of the fabric.


I hope you find these tips handy!

See you next week for another Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen Sunday, brought to you by Handi Quilter Australia.

Applique Design by 'Don't Look Now'
Quilting by Paula Storm
Hugs Paula

6 comments:

  1. They are all great tips Paula, I think tip 1 is a really good one, once I gave myself permission to slow down my quilting improved. I also think a good tip is that it is OK to stop, (make sure your needle is down), and take a breath, think about where your quilting will go next, and how you will get there, eg. a loop or a curvy line

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    1. Absolutely Pip!! Anytime I don't know which way to go next I always stop and have a think about it. Awesome tip!! Thanks for commenting :)
      Hugs Paula

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  2. Wonderful tips , thanks so much , you don't make it sound so scary :-)

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  3. Great tips thanks , I need all the help I can get

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