Quilt ADD in therapy

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Colorado, United States
Other than my family, the passion of my life is quilting. An eclectic, I love a wide variety of styles and techniques encompassing both machine and hand work. I am a longarm quilter who can work for you. I enjoy any style, from pantographs to all-over to full custom, ranging from traditional to modern. I love bringing vintage tops to life and am willing to work with a challenging quilt top. Instagram: lyncc_quilts

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tips for Free-Motion Quilting on a Fusible Quilt

Hi there!

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. 

Happy Quilting!


  1. What great tips! I haven't done much few FAQ on larger quilts in a while. This gives me courage and good hints to help. By the way, thanks for commenting on my blog as well.

  2. Great post Lynette! Just bought one of each....:)

  3. I wonder how much of the problem is the fusible, and how much to do with sewing through batiks? I haven't really done a huge amount of quilting through multiple layers of fusible, but have lots of problems quilting through batiks... wonder if your suggestions would also help? But oh, my, god... how cute is that! They are insanely cute! Glad you are back in the saddle :o)

  4. Hi, Suz J recommended I read your post :) thanks heaps, these tips are very interesting & helpful. I've never had much luck using the 'floating' version of FMQ (maybe because I taught myself on a maschine that only had the spring version). Not that I've done much applique work lately, but I found using Mystifuse helped with 'gummy-ness', too, because there's just the fine web to stitch through. Like Suz I've had trouble with tightly woven fabrics incl. batiks, they seem to dull the needles (my longtime go-to is Universal 80), but I read more often about Titanium now, so I'll go and look for them. Do you solely use the SA for the gummy residue, or do you think it helps the needle glide through the fabric, too? Would I need to be worried about staining? What a shame it's Monday morning here now, I won't get much time near my maschine until next weekend now... Thanks heaps or sharing, from summery New Zealand!

  5. Great advice! I haven't had the opportunity to try fmqing through fusible applique, yet, but I know I will sooner or later! Thanks a million! Cal


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