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Must-have tools to guide you through free motion quilting

by Claire Haillot

Welcome back to my last post of the week on how to create this stunning Ariel art quilt pattern designed by Lise Bélanger. Yesterday was about 6 essential tools to help place interfacing onto your fabrics. Today, I am so happy to share my tips on how to free motion quilt this project. I must say that creating this quilt had its share of challenges, but I was able to succeed thanks to several tools I found. These tools are must-haves when it comes to free motion quilting.

Package of machine sewing needles, 10 spools of threads, quilting gloves, and packaged seam ripper laying on top of the colorful horse quilt top unquilted; Klasse Quilting Needles Size 80/12, Gütermann Cotton 30wt Thread, UNIQUE Quilting Grip Gloves, UNIQUE Sewing SeamFix Red Seam Ripper and Thread Remover

Presenting the must-have tools for free motion quilting the Ariel art quilt pattern by Lise Bélanger

Here are the must-have tools I loved using for quilting this project.

Klassé Quilting Needles Size 80/12

These needles are ideal for quilting this project using Gütermann 30 wt cotton quilting thread. Their strengthened longer shaft helps reduce needle deflections as the needle penetrates multiple layers of fabric while maintaining a perfectly straight stitch. Now keep in mind that I used Fairfield Toasty Cotton Natural Cotton Quilt Batting for the project. And I can honestly say that I used all the 5 needles in the cassette to quilt this project. As soon as you start ‘hearing’ the needle punching through the fabrics, it’s time to change needles (tops 8 hours on this piece as there was a lot of layers and interfacing).

UNIQUE Quilting Grip Gloves

I honestly can’t quilt without them! Wearing these gloves help you easily control your project as you quilt! They have soft, flexible grips that give you full hand control so you can guide fabric effortlessly reducing tiredness and tension in hands, arms, shoulders and neck.

UNIQUE Sewing SeamFix Red Seam Ripper and Thread Remover

Now this is a new tool for me and I can honestly say that it will never leave my side. Now it starts as a seam ripper with sharp blades, so there’s nothing amazing about that part. But it’s for what follows that makes this tool so great! It has a safety ball and lid with innovative thread removers on each end. Especially formulated plastic material grabs and removes excess threads without marking or sticking to the fabric.

And yes! I had to make a video to show you exactly how useful it is when you need to undo a section you just quilted.

I really enjoyed quilting Ariel using the free motion quilting. I started by quilting the eye as those were the smallest fabric pieces and I didn’t want them to accidentally peel off while quilting the rest of the project. And then I moved around the eye. Changing the thread color every time I changed sections to match the fabric.

Straight lines are quilted to reproduce the fur on the horse’s body

Quilting straight lines to reproduce the horse’s body

The trick to a smooth free motion quilting is to adjust the speed of your machine and knowing what you want to quilt before starting. Here’s a video showing how I quilted the straight lines using the free motion technique.

And here is a video demonstrating how I free motion quilted one of the manes. I also demonstrate how the bent tweezers are so useful to grab the threads at the beginning of the quilting to ensure proper tension. And listen to the end as I show how to cut off and hide the thread at the end of the quilting.

Here’s a close-up of the free motion quilting of the horses’ body and mane

Free motion quilting on the Ariel art quilt pattern by Lise Bélanger

Now I know what you’re thinking! You’re afraid to make this quilt cause you don’t think you can pull the quilting off…. Well, here’s the scoop… YES, YOU CAN! This project makes it really simple… because the mane is a collection of small pieces, they’re actually the perfect size to practice. And best of all you can practice with a pen and paper beforehand. Here’s another video to explain my process!

Once you finally finish quilting, you’ll have one last thing to do, after you finish the binding of course! The final tool you need for this project is the Odif Fabric Protect. You simply spray an even application throughout your project to protect it from dust or unexpected spills while also protecting it against sun fading from the UV rays. And don’t worry, it won’t stiffen, soak or discolor your fabrics. It’s the final touch for any art quilt.

A can of Odif Fabric Protect on top of the horse art quilt

Odif Fabric Protect is the must-have product for any art quilt

And that ends my week of blog posting on how to create this stunning art quilt. I really hope that I’ve convinced you to make one for yourself. It’s not too late to get started; it can be the perfect Christmas gift for a loved one. And remember that free motion quilting can be a success with the help of tools like Klasse Quilting Needles Size 80/12, UNIQUE Quilting Grip Gloves, and UNIQUE Sewing SeamFix Red Seam Ripper and Thread Remover.

Please do share and comment below as I love to hear your thoughts on my posts.

This is part 5 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 4: 6 essential tools for detailed art quilt appliques



Suzanne February 1, 2023 - 10:03 am

I can not find Odif fabric protect. What does it do? Is it similar to 505 adhesive spray.
Thank you

Carla A. Canonico February 1, 2023 - 10:57 am

Hi Suzanne, thank you for asking, Odif Fabric Protect is not an adhesive like Odif 505. Formerly called Fabric Shield, FABRIC PROTECT helps protect against sun fading (UV rays), spills, dust and dirt. Does not stiffen, soak or discolor fabric. An even application protects all types of fabric. Washing or dry cleaning removes protection. Use it on quilts, clothing, neckties, embroidery, cross stitch, drapes, upholstery and plush toys. Acid Free – No CF! As for finding it, I would ask your local quilt, sewing or needlework store if they can order it in for you. Other than that I’m confident you can find it online. Best, Carla

Danielle Gendron January 16, 2022 - 12:25 pm

Bonjour Claire,
Je viens de termine la série de 5 vidéos sur le projet du cheval de Lise Bélanger.
Très instructif et très bien expliquer. JE vais les regarder èa nouveau avant de commencer mon projet
Moi mon projet c’est L’arbre de vie de Lise. Je viens de terminer le traçage sur cellophane.
J’ai toujours eu beaucoup de difficulté avec les couleurs. Je comprends bien les explications mais j’ai très peur de me tromper. Surtout que je veux mettre des couleurs allant avec mon futur décors de ma cuisine.
Et mon autre inquiétude, c’est le quilting…. ouff. Je l’ai fait sur une grande courtepointe et je me dits que sur une petite pièce ça devrait mieux aller. C’est à suivre…
Je voulais juste vous dire Merci pour ces magnifiques vidéos et que je me réfère souvent à vos conseils.


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