Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Helpful FMQ Tools

Quilt made by Angela Walters

There are a few tools that I have come across that makes your free motion quilting flow much more smoothly. One of my favorites is The Supreme Slider. It is a sheet made of Teflon that sticks to your machine. It has a single slit that is placed over the hole that the needle falls into during stitching. The slider reduces the friction between your quilt and machine making it much easier to glide the quilt along your design. For someone like me that carries all of the tension in my neck and shoulders, it makes a world of difference. The less strain on your muscles, the less likely you will fatigue them and have to stop early :) The cheapest one that I found was on Amazon:

Another tool that comes in handy are quilting gloves that helps you to grip onto your quilt better. I just use a pair of Fons and Porter that you can purchase for $5 at JoAnn's. I don't use them a lot now. I used them mostly in the beginning when quilting felt more foreign to me. They are very useful, but they can get in the way when trying to grab onto little things like thread. Sometimes I get tired of taking them off and on so when I feel like I'm really in the flow of things, I'll just take them off completely and set them aside. They are still good to have, though.

Useful item number three would be bobbin washers. I have not tried these yet but I plan on ordering my own set. Adding these into your bobbin case help prevent your bobbin thread from bunching up and breaking. They also help to prevent the bird's nests that can sometimes form on the back of your quilt (yucky!).

The most important tool of all is your sewing machine. If you are looking for a sewing machine specifically for quilting, make sure you really do your research. Last summer when I knew that I really wanted to get into quilting, I bought the first sewing machine that I found that had the basic fmq capabilities (ability to lower feed dogs and had a darning (fmq) foot that came with it). It was fine, but I knew I was never going to be able to quilt the way I wanted to without some major struggle (ain't nobody got time for that!). So here are some things you must consider when picking out a machine-
*the ability to drop the feed dogs
*darning (fmq) foot for free motion quilting
*walking foot for regular, straight quilting (you can still have cool/modern effects with a walking foot- I quilted my first three quilts with a walking foot and it's a great transition from never quilting at all to fmq)
*An extension table
*As much throat space as you can find! The throat space is the open space to the right of your needle. This was the biggest thing that my first quilting/sewing machine was lacking. I could barely fit my big quilts and my hand in there to comfortably quilt. The quilting machine that I currently have has 9in of space. I feel this is sufficient for me to feel comfortable while quilting.
*Also, fmq puts a lot of wear and tear on your machine. My first machine was a lighter, computerized model and I thought it was gonna blow up, it was shaking so much from my fmq attempts. So the second machine that I got was more industrial-made with metal parts (instead of plastic) and had the ability to sew at higher speeds.
I have the Brother Nouvelle 1500s. I am so pleased with it! I didn't have as big of a budget for a sewing machine so I had to find one that gave me the biggest bang for my buck. I couldn't be happier. I'm glad I didn't decide to buy a more expensive one. Janome and Bernina are both very popular (and very nice), but I couldn't justify financing a sewing machine (even if it is the love of my life! Just joking...).

Are there any other tools that you find helpful in fmq? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you :)

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