Machine quilting

Today I’m going to talk about free motion machine quilting on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale. Free motion quilting – to some it is a bad word, to others it is freedom!

I’m going to show you how easy it is to do free motion quilting on the Ruby Royale and I’m throwing in a few related tips along the way.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale

Basting the quilt

The first step is to baste the three layers together. I laid out the backing (wrong side up) on my work tables. I love to use the 505 basting spray because it is fast and easy. However, I do not like the over spray which leaves sticky residue on surfaces and has to be cleaned up.

Keeping that in mind, I decided to try a different way of using the spray. Instead of using a light steady stream of the spray, I spot sprayed and those three layers were basted together perfectly and NO RESIDUE and nothing to clean up!

Yes, I just went spritz – spritz – spritz and that was enough to hold the quilt together. A can of basting spray will go VERY far when used like this. I kept checking the back of the quilt as I quilted to make sure that there were no tucks or wrinkles. It was perfect and I didn’t have to make any adjustments.

Nothing to clean up – I like that. More time for quilting. One of the other reasons I like the 505 basting spray is that while it has a bit of a smell, it is not over powering and since I didn’t use a lot, the smell dissipated rather quickly.

Backing taped to the work surface in preparation for basting

505 Basting Spray

Quilting Gloves

A pair of quilter’s gloves are very useful for getting a grip on the quilt and helping to move it around. As you can see, my gloves are well used. They do NOT look that black in real life. The lighting did something to the color. Oh my – perhaps they need to be washed!

Machine quilting gloves

Prepping the Ruby Royale

I installed the Open-Toe Free Motion Spring Foot on the Ruby Royale. Then I selected the appropriate free motion technique. In this case, Free Motion Spring Action.

Select the appropriate free motion technique

Next up – load the quilt beneath the needle and pull up the bobbin thread. Ready, set, quilt!

Notice that for the design that I was quilting, I started at the bottom of the quilt and worked my way to the top. Sometimes, it is easier to see the design that way. If what you have just quilted is behind the needle, it is hard to see where to quilt.

When you’re doing your practice stitch outs – try starting at the top, then try starting at the bottom. Which direction is easier to see and quilt?

Open Toe Free Spring Foot on the Ruby Royale

Ready to start quilting

Just in case you are wondering about my thread – I was using a cone of thread so it was sitting on an external thread stand behind the Ruby Royale.

I placed the Ruby Royale in my sewing cabinet, making a nice flat surface to work on. I have the extension surface on the left hand side (it’s under the quilt) and you can see as I was pulling the quilt towards myself, the quilt is very nicely supported by that extension surface.

You absolutely need something to support the quilt on the left. Otherwise, you will struggle to support the quilt.

Quilt is supported on the left by the extension surface of the quilting table

For some reason as I was quilting, I kept hitting the screen and  I was afraid of changing a setting.  It was easy to set the Lock Screen function so that it didn’t matter how many times I touched the screen, no changes were made unless I wanted them.

I love this feature. It’s brilliant.

Lock screen setting

The Design

Let’s talk about the design. I’ve been contemplating confessing this to you and I finally wrapped my brain around the fact that I need to fess up. It is (was) a good learning experience for me and hopefully you won’t make the same mistake.

The quilt that I choose to “practice” on is the one for the What’s Good for the Gal, is Good for the Guy Challenge. That was my first mistake.

It would appear that QUILTsocial has become my confessional.  While I’ve done many hours of free motion on a domestic sewing machine, I’m out of practice. I’ve been quilting smaller items on the domestic sewing machine or quilting on a long arm. So if I am out of practice, what possessed me to pick this one to experiment on? Obviously – I was having a delusional moment!

I’ll be revealing the entire quilt tomorrow and my concept behind the design. Let’s just say that I wanted an overall design of vines and leaves on the quilt. Note the word OVERALL. What do I tell my students?  Break up the quilt into sections – it’s harder to do an overall design on a domestic sewing machine. It can be done, but it’s harder.

The other thing I tell the students – think about density. I love dense overall quilting, but NOT on a lap or bed quilt. Guess what size my challenge quilt is? Yep – a lap quilt.

I think that makes three strikes against me!

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve always had trouble quilting leaves. Don’t know why – just happens. Do you see where I am going with this??

Anyway – I did practice on paper. I was very happy with my doodles. The leaves were wonky – just like leaves are, I was able to travel around the design – no problem.

I did a test stitch out sample on fabric and yes – I was good to go.

Practice doodling the quilting design on paper

The quilting looked pretty decent. I was happy with it. I had chosen a thread color that blended into the front and the back of the quilt as I didn’t want the stitching to be dominant.

Quilting design from the front

Busy backs are great for disguising any issues with stitches. Also the fact that this quilt has flannel on the back helps to conceal a lot of errors.

Quilting design from the back

And then …………..

As I was quilting, I checked the tension of the stitching – yes – looks good, I checked the back for tucks – yes that looks good as well. The consistency of the stitches – not perfect, but not so bad considering my lack of practice on the domestic sewing machine.

However my common sense ran completely out of the window when it came to density. I realized that the quilting was way too dense for a lap quilt. I didn’t like the density at all.

I spent a week ripping out the quilting. GASP!  (I have totally wiped that week from my memory bank!) They say that negative experiences like this are character building. Hmmm – let’s just say that I built a LOT of character as I patiently took that quilting out. Yes – the quilt was almost done when common sense took hold of my brain.

In order for all of us to learn and become better free motion quilters, here are some tips to help you with your free motion quilting – especially choosing a design!

Tips for successful free motion quilting

Density – this is a personal taste, but I love very densely quilted quilts. If the quilt is to be used as a table runner or wall hanging,  dense quilting is great. But a too densely quilted lap or bed quilt doesn’t drape well and isn’t cuddly. Think about the end use of the quilt as you contemplate the density of the stitching you’re planning.

Overall designs – while overall designs are great and can be expertly done on a domestic sewing machine, be careful. The area in which you’re quilting (around the needle) is small so it is harder to get that sweeping motion for a loose design. It can be done, but be very careful. Check often – are you happy with it?

Quilt in sections – it is super easy to break a quilt down into sections (visually – not physically) and then quilt section by section or block by block. So you need to consider how you can do that on your quilt. My problem was – I didn’t want to break it down in sections.

Practice – doodle your design on paper before you start to quilt. Do you have the flow? Can you travel from motif to motif? Try to doodle in the size you need on your quilt. Too dense, not dense enough?

Thread – pick your thread colors wisely. While the thread doesn’t have to match exactly, the more it blends in, the more any mistakes are disguised.

Busy backings – a busy backing will disguise a whole multitude of sins.

The good news

I’m happy to report that although my quilting skills were a bit lacking – I had no problem working on this size of quilt on the Ruby Royale. There were no skipped stitches and the stitches were well formed (a bit too well since I had to remove them all!). The Ruby Royale was a lot of fun to quilt on.

Another question that I frequently get asked is how to deal with the bulk of the quilt under the arm of the sewing machine. We tend to think of how much space we have to the right of the needle. In this case, the Ruby Royale has 10 inches of space.

However – we forget that we also have lots of room in the HEIGHT of that space. As you’re quilting, if you push the quilt UP – you’ll still have the entire space (10 inches) to work. There is slightly over 4 inches of clearance between the bed of the Ruby Royale and the top of that space. That is a lot of space to push a quilt up into.

By pushing the quilt UP, I still have 10 inches of space to the right of the needle

The second piece of good news

Because of the quilting design that I wanted, I quilted the What’s Good the Gal, is Good for the Guy challenge quilt on the long arm. It is done.

Would I try another quilt on the Ruby Royale? You bet – the sewing machine did NOT let me down. My lack of skill for this type of design needs some work. Next time, I will try a smaller piece and break the design down – just like I used to and had much success.

There is ample space to maneuver a quilt on the Husqvarna Viking Designer Ruby Royale. No skipped stitches, excellent tension, and the ability to lock that screen, made the quilting job easy.

Tomorrow, I will reveal the quilt that I made for the What’s Good for the Gal is Good for the Guy challenge and my concept behind the various elements in the quilt.

Have a great day!


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Barbara Sikich July 16, 2017 - 11:44 pm
Thank you for your honesty. I am determined to learn to fmq. I start practicing as soon as I get a practice sandwich made, yeah.
Carla A. Canonico July 19, 2017 - 9:42 am
Fantastic!! So happy to hear you're going to try it! Let me know how it turned out!
Quilting Tangent February 13, 2016 - 11:11 am
Thanks for all the tips.
Carla A. Canonico February 17, 2016 - 9:36 am
Thank you for visiting!!
Kathleen Chaney April 19, 2015 - 2:51 pm
Thanks for the tips and saying you are human.
Elaine Theriault April 20, 2015 - 8:21 pm
Kathleen - I think the saying "to err is human!" One day when I grow up - I won't make mistakes any more! Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for following Elaine
Carol hall April 8, 2015 - 9:19 am
love the info Elaine, the Ruby rose sonds like a great machine . Carol
Elaine Theriault April 20, 2015 - 8:21 pm
Carol - Oh yes - the Ruby Royale is a fabulous sewing/embroidery machine. glad you enjoyed the information and thanks for following Elaine
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