A beginner’s guide to free motion quilting: tension, stitches and speed

The creative 3.0 is a machine full of built-in stitches and possibilities. In yesterday’s post, I introduced 10 features that I enjoy and use when quilting on the creative 3.0. In today’s post, I’ll take you through my first adventure in free motion quilting which was made possible with the very useful features of PFAFF’s creative 3.0.

Getting started

There are three free motion options available on the creative 3.0. For my free motion quilting today I’m using the Sensormatic free-motion setting and presser foot 6A.

Free motion screen

Presser foot 6A

ANY stitch of the creative 3.0’s 254 stitches can be used in free motion by pressing the free motion button. I started with the basic straight stitch.

Stitch categories

Once the stitch and the free motion button were selected the Color Touch Screen showed the free motion symbol and an icon telling me to drop the feed dogs.

The switch for the feed dogs is located on the front of the machine; sliding it to the left lowers the feed dogs. When you raise them again by sliding the switch to the right, the feed dogs will not raise automatically – you need to make a stitch or at least turn the hand wheel before they pop up.

Location of the feed dogs switch

The manual for the creative 3.0 has a whole page devoted to setting up for free motion quilting. It also recommends practice – so that’s what I did 🙂

Owner’s manual for creative 3.0.

To start my adventure I prepared three quilt sandwiches layered with two pieces of quilting fabric and batting. I also used Pat Sloan’s newest book, Teach Me to Machine Quilt, to walk me through some exercises.

Here’s my first sample. I changed the speed of the creative 3.0 to its lowest setting and then adjusted it to find which speed I preferred while stitching.

The LED lights made it easy for me to see where I was going and how my stitches looked as I went.

Straight stitch free motion quilting

After a few tries with the straight stitch, I tried out some of the built-in quilting stitches. The creative 3.0 will make the stitch you can see on the Color Touch Screen. With the feed dogs lowered, I could move the fabric around under the needle and change the density of the stitching.

Stippling stitch 2.3.1

Free-motion stitch 2.3.1

Stippling stitch 2.3.3

This stippling stitch has some potential – I’ll have to try playing with its size.

Free motion stitch 2.3.3

For my second sample, I played with filling in the different colors on this floral print with different designs.

Second free motion sample

I noticed that I was experiencing some tension problems with my quilting, and thanks to Pat Sloan’s book realized that it was most likely caused by my hands and the machine not going at the same speed.
I tried again and also started to experiment with some of the basic movements recommended by Pat.

Third free motion sample

I was still noticing that my bobbin thread was pulling through to the top so I went back to the instructions in the manual and realized that I probably had not lowered my presser foot enough.

On the Sensormatic free-motion selection Color Touch Screen there’s a corner triangle which indicates that there’s another option inside. I pressed longer on the button to open the next field which displays the presser foot adjustment.

The creative 3.0 has several features to make the free motion quilting experience easier; being able to easily adjust the pressure of the presser foot on the fabric is one of them.

Presser foot pop up

After adjusting the presser foot to a lower setting I tried again and did some free motion stitching that I think turned out pretty good!

Free motion stitches with lower presser foot

I’m so glad that I tried free motion quilting for the first time on the creative 3.0 – it gave me the confidence to keep practicing and made me look pretty good on the first try!

Free motion sample on the creative 3.0

This is just the beginning of my free motion quilting adventure. I’m so glad that I finally got started and that PFAFF’s creative 3.0 made my first attempt so successful.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Top 10 features of PFAFF creative 3.0, quilting is bliss

Go to part 3: Stitching words and custom stitches to enhance a quilted placemat


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