If you've already been free-motion quilting, or have been looking into it, most of you already know tips such as creating a surface even with your machine-bed, adding table-space behind the machine, using a "slick sheet" such as the Gliders on the machine bed, reducing the machine's speed, and using gloves to help with the grip.
You may also know about keeping the quilt's weight from pulling on your work area - reduce drag by making a pool for your hands to work in at the needle area, place your quilting table against a wall so that the quilt doesn't fall off in front of you, etc.
I just finished this adorable mini - blogged in the last post.
But if you're going to FMQ on a fusible art quilt such as the cute "Who, What, Where" quilt above (designed by Toni Whitney), particularly one with several layers, you're going to experience some unique challenges. Even the best-quality fusible will tend to grip needles and wreak havoc with tensioning, and the stiffness also plays against you at times. So here's what I've found works like a charm:
1) Use the Superior Titanium Topstitching needles! They will be your best friend. When you're newer at FMQ, go with the size 90. [These are also awesome buddies for FMQ on normal quilts when you're new at quilting.] When you're comfortable with the rhythm between your hands and your machine, you can go down to size 80 needles without breakage (this'll leave smaller holes) (and also, you can go back to regular universal needles with non-fusible FMQ work). But at first, you're going to break quite a few needles, particularly if you don't spring for these wonderful little guys.
|Note that these are size 80 - you'll want size 90 |
when you're newer at FMQ
2) Your other best friend is going to be Sewer's Aid, a silicon liquid. Put it right on your needle - just rest the tip of the bottle against it, and run a miniscule dribble down the length. This will let your needle slip right through the fusible barrier, and help prevent the build up of tackiness that messes with your tension otherwise.
You'll need to do this every so often when you sense the needle starting to stick in the fabric as it's working. Once in a while, especially if I'm in my groove and toodling right along at a good speed, the needle will still get gummed up. I keep a scrap of cotton batting on hand to put a drop of SA on it, and then gently wipe down the needle shank (I do it right around the thread in it - no need to pull that out or move the quilt - I just forgot to take a shot of this before I was all finished with the quilt).
3) Oh~! Speaking of the tackiness that can happen, you do NOT want to use a floating FMQ approach with these quilts. You will have much better results with the spring-action approach. This way, the foot holds the fabric down as the needle is pulling up and out, rather than the way the floating foot lets the fabric lift up too much with the exiting needle. Spring-action equals No More Skipped Stitches. And that makes me happy!!
So add these three tips to your arsenal of details that make FMQ a happy experience instead of a nightmare of frustrating skips, tangles, and tension blights.