This week I expanded my free-motion skills using the features of the performance icon. In yesterday’s post, I completed the embroidery stitching on the heart cushion cover and prepared it for quilting. Today I put all that practice and confidence using the PFAFF performance icon to the test as I added free-motion quilting around the heart.
I’ve become much more familiar with the PFAFF performance icon during this extended time at home. It’s been a great time to really focus on learning a new skill and free-motion quilting is definitely the one I need to improve. I was pretty confident going into finishing this cushion cover that the features on this machine would help me have a good looking project even with my beginner level of free-motion quilting.
I’ll admit I hesitated at this next step as I wasn’t sure how to go about free-motion quilting the cushion cover. At first I thought about echo quilting around the heart and then adding free-motion feather swirls, but that just didn’t feel right. Then I remembered the fast-fade marking pen I used on my last QUILTsocial project Modern Baby Quilt and realized I could leave a wider space between the heart and the free-motion quilting.
I used the UNIQUE Quilter’s Fast Fade marker and drew a line about 1″ away from the heart. It was barely visible and I knew it would erase before I would be finished all of the quilting. With this hurdle out of the way I was ready to start.
Then I had to decide which presser foot I was going to use for the free-motion quilting. I knew I was getting comfortable using both the Open Toe Free-motion foot and the Embroidery/Sensormatic Free-Motion foot.
I decided to quilt the line with presser foot 6A, The Embroidery/Sensormatic Free-Motion foot I had practiced quilting lines with earlier.
Then I needed to get the performance icon set up for free-motion quilting. I pressed the Free-Motion icon at the bottom of the Multi-Touch Screen and then selected the Sensormatic Free-Motion Foot which lowers the feed dogs on the machine.
My beginner skills started to reveal themselves. Of course I didn’t practice before heading to the cushion cover today and really didn’t like how my stitches looked. I took a moment and went back to practicing to warm up my hands and get into the groove of moving the fabric under the needle.
Then I switched to the Open Toe Free-Motion foot and started quilting around the top of the heart. I planned to start on the line I had quilted and create a stem with a leaf and then do swirls around the leaf. I had also practiced stitching a heart and putting swirls around it too.
I got tired. I forgot I hadn’t really been able to quilt for very long before I tensed up. I decided to stop for a bit. And then I got a delivery!
The Extension Table arrived! I figured this could help keep more of the cushion on the quilting surface.
Not only that but included in the box was a foot that was a cross between the two I’d been using. The Open Toe Sensormatic Free-motion foot has the opening at the front and it uses the sensormatic option which keeps the presser foot low to the fabric when going slow and lifts to float above the fabric when the speed increases.
Needless to say, I got back to quilting!
I realized part of my problem was I was practicing my free-motion quilting in the middle of my panel when the actual quilting I was doing was along the edge with little room for both hands to move the fabric. I started to turn the cushion cover more as I was quilting, stopping with the needle in the fabric, and then pivoting the cushion cover. I also added wearing the UNIQUE quilting grip gloves I had practiced using to quilt shapes. A little finicky with having to take them off to remove pins, but they helped me move the fabric with less pressure making it easier for me to keep quilting.
The reverse side of stitches started to look better too. I can tell which parts I struggled with and where I changed to the Open Toe Sensormatic Free-Motion foot. And when I put on the UNIQUE quilting grip gloves!
Now I’m happy enough with the heart cushion front to keep going, it’s time to make it into a cushion cover. I wish I had started with a bit bigger front because as I trimmed it square I started to lose some of my quilting. Next time I would definitely cut it a bit bigger and maybe even mark out an edge to not quilt into – like having extra around a quilt when you’re quilting.
Then I cut two back panels, one 18½″ x 20″ and one 18½″ x 9″. I added a hem to one 18½″ edge on each of them. With the cushion front right side up, I layered the larger back panel next with the raw edge at the top and the hemmed edge at the bottom, and then put the short panel on top with it’s raw edge lined up with the bottom and the hemmed edge overlapping the larger panel.
Then I pinned all the way around to secure the three layers together. The photo below shows the short panel at the top because I had turned the layers to pin the final edge.
I knew I could step up my game in sewing this final seam too. I used the Blindhem foot for IDT System to sew the layers and cover the exposed edges in one go. This way the pillow edges won’t fray when it gets washed. I love having all of the options ready for me in the performance icon and really, it’s easy to switch feet and give a project a more polished look.
I am pretty happy with the results. In the bottom corners of the cushion where there was more space I added a larger heart and then added swirls around it. I had a lot of fun, and eventually found the process of moving the fabric and filling it in with quilting cathartic. I was able to find a few peaceful moments once I went beyond having to keep track of all of the things and just be in sync with the machine.
I think I’m safely on my way to being one of the quilters who enjoy free-motion quilting! I have experienced the benefits and really come to realize that it takes practice and getting to know your machine to really have success with it. The PFAFF performance icon is a great companion on the free-motion quilting journey. I’m looking forward to more!