Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can I quilt with these two feet? part 2

Can I quilt with these two feet? Part 1 was about what a walking foot is and what it is used for.

As I said in part one, machine quilting is a time saver over hand quilting. Now for those of you who still enjoy hand quilting I am not stopping you from your slow tedious process. In fact I still enjoy it a little. (Even if it takes years to complete my quilt)

When referring to "quilting" of course I am talking about the top stitching that is done to hold the 3 layers of the quilt together.

Most quilt designs fall into 2 categories. One being straight lines and the other being curved or continuous lines. When dealing with straight lines like stitch in the ditch, outline quilting or grids you are best to use the walking foot.

But for all the curvy lines like loops, hearts, flowers and all the continuous line designs you will need to use your "darning foot" or "free motion" foot. When using this foot it is important to know that you will need to lower or cover up your feed dogs on your machine. This allows the fabric to move more freely.

Here is a picture of the ones for my machine. You can see that I have one that is a closed circle and the other is open. I prefer the open one, which makes it easier for me to grab my threads and move them out of the way. I actually had a friend who cut a closed one and filed it for me. Sort of a custom foot! It's good to have friends.

You will need to refer to your machine manual to see what foot is recommended. Just like the walking foot, there are generic ones available. Check with a sewing machine repair shop, or a shop that sells your particular model to be sure you have the right one.

Once you discover how much fun free motion is, you may never want to hand quilt again! I am not going to lie to you, free motion quilting does take lots of practice to get right.

For new quilters it is best to have someone show you how through a class or private lesson. But if you are like me, and want to try on your own get a book and make a few small quilt sandwiches (16-20 inches will do) and just practice.

A teacher once told me that before you take a design to your quilt. Draw it on paper, and trace it 8 to 10 times. This helps train your brain and hands. Now try the design on the practice mini quilt. If you are comfortable with it, and it flows nicely you are ready to try it on your quilt.

Good luck and have fun with this. There are many great books out there to help you with designs as well at the "how to's" of free motion quilting.

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