June 01, 2023

After last week's Live with Annie show (which you can watch here, if you missed it) someone wrote in to ask if she needs a slider sheet for free-motion quilting.  This is a question I get asked quite ofter, so I thought today I'd share the answer with you all.

A slider sheets is a sheet of Teflon that lays over the bed of your sewing machine when you do machine quilting. Its purpose is to eliminate friction so you can move the sandwich easily as you quilt. 

Do you need one? Well, that depends . . .

First, think about what causes friction: either the sewing machine bed is rough, or there is pressure on your sewing machine bed.

Sewing machine manufacturers know that you need to move fabric over the bed surface, so obviously they're going to make is appropriate slippery. That said, if your machine is older it might be worn and less slippery than you would like. In this case a slider sheet would help. I have also heard of people using car wax to polish the bed of the machine and restore a slipppery surface. There are silicone sprays you can use as well, but I wonder about where the spray is going besides the bed of the machine. I wouldn't want it to get in the gears, or breathe the fumes, or find the overspray in places I didn't intend for it to go.

That brings us to pressure.

What causes pressure on your sewing machine bed?  It's coming from one of two sources: either your quilt is heavy or you are pressing down too hard.

If your quilt is heavy, the weight of it may be dausing drag and a slider sheet might help. (I'm assuming that your sewing machine is already sitting in a table so that the bed of the machine is level with the surrounding table.  If not, you're trying to move the quilt up and over the sewing machine bed, making it difficult to move. The solution to that is to get the machine down into your table.)

That leaves the last -- and frankly, the most common -- cause:  your hand pressure.  You''re probably pressing down too hard on your fabric.  What causes you to press hard? 

You might be tense -- you're just trying too hard!  Take a breath, take a break, stretch, adjust your posture, listen to music, find whatever you need to relax and lighten up your hands.

Or, you might be having a hard time getting a solid grip on your fabric. I have noticed that when humidity is low my fingertips are less grippy on my fabric. Using gloves or grippy pads solves this. Get a secure grip on your fabric and you won’t press down hard.  So, you won’t likely have a problem with friction and won’t need a slider sheet.

If you decide you do want one, look for a Supreme Slider, or Sew Steady makes one with a grid on it.


Happy Quilting! ~ RaNae
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