July 03, 2023

If you haven't quilted in a while, you might feel a little rusty approaching the sewing machine to do free-motion quilting. Here's a warm-up to get you back in the groove quickly and easily.

Do this on a test sandwich -- not your actual quilt. Just make sure that the fabric, batting and thread you test on are the same as the actual quilt.

Step 1: Balance the thread tension. With your feed dogs dropped and your free-motion foot attached, stitch a few swirls so that your machine sews in every direction - front, back right and left. (Remember to put the presser foot down to engage the tension!) Check the tension and balance it if necessary.  (If you have the FMM30 book, you can find detailed instructions on pages 87-88.)

Also watch for skipped stitches -- if you see any, try changing to a new needle. 

If you see "eyelashes" around the curves, first check that your tension is properly balanced. Then, look for large stitches around the curves. If the stitches are large and jerky, getting the right stitch length will solve the problem. Go on to Step 2.

Step 2: Calibrate the sewing machine to your hand speed. Stitch a couple of lines of stitches across your test block with the sewing machine running at 75% speed. (Use the maximum speed slider bar to set this.) Stitch at your normal speed for piecing. If your stitches turn out less than 12 stitches per inch, slow down the machine. If your stitches turn out bigger than 12 stitches per inch, speed up the machine. (If you have the FMM30 book, you can find detailed instructions on page 95.)

Step 3: Find your rhythm. Do Quilting Yoga for Straight Lines (click on the link to watch this video) to find your base rhythm and speed for quilting.

Step 4: Quilt an area of straight-line stippling on your test block. This is just straight lines in random directions, with sharp points at each direction change.

As you quilt, use the rhythm in the Quilting Yoga video: glide and stop / glide and stop. (Be sure to come to a complete stop at the corners!)

If your stitches are too long or too short, adjust the machine speed to bring your stitches back to 12 stitches per inch.

Now your machine and your body and tuned up, in rhythm and in sync. You're ready to quilt!

Happy Quilting! ~ RaNae
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To learn more about how Free-Motion Mastery in a Month
can help YOU learn to quilt, and shop for FMM30 products,
click this link: 
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Copyright © 2023 RaNae Merrill

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