It’s time to lower the feed dogs! This week I’ve been building my confidence using the free motion quilting features on PFAFF quilt expression 720. In yesterday’s post, I used the built-in stippling stitches to quilt several of the several sections of a banner I’m making for my sewing room. Today I’m free motion quilting!
What’s the difference between quilting a quilt and free motion quilting? Quilting is the term for stitching through three layers of fabric to secure them. Free motion quilting is when the quilter is fully in charge of moving the quilt and when done on a domestic sewing machine, this usually means that the feed dogs that help feed the fabric under the needle are lowered and it’s up to the quilter to move the quilt under the needle.
Maybe that sounds easy, but moving the quilt with your hands under the needle so that the stitches are still and even, takes practice. And that’s what I decided I would do for the last two sections of the banner.
I used the regular sewing stitch and touched the free motion mode icon. I selected the Spring foot free-motion setting and attached the open toe free motion foot. There’s a little screw at the top of the presser foot area that part of the foot goes in to attach it to the machine.
I used my neutral thread to stitch on the yellow fabric and lowered the machine speed to the lowest option. This is one of the first tips about free motion quilting I heard many years ago: have the machine set at its lowest speed so you can still press all the way down on the foot pedal. In this case, I used the Start/Stop button so I could just focus on moving the fabric with my hands.
While I’m not sharing a closeup of my yellow section, I wasn’t disappointed. I knew it would look like beginner free motion and I did use it for my banner. I think it will be fun to look back one day and wonder why it took me so long to try free motion quilting!
In addition to the quilt expression 720 being set up to make free motion quilting an easy option, I also referred to Pat Sloan’s machine quilting book to show me a few beginner stitches to try. On my orange sample, I tried doing the loops of squares. My first sample I was going too fast and my stitches were really pulling.
Then I remembered what it sounded like yesterday when the machine was doing the work and how rhythmic the stitching was. I decided to try again and paid more attention to the speed of my hands and was pleasantly surprised with my second attempt! Check it out!
Now that all of the sections are quilted, it’s time to cut each one out using the banner template.
Once cut out, use the template with the window and guide marks to center each letter in its section. Peel the paper off the webbing and iron to fuse the letter in place.
Now it’s time to stitch around each letter. I used purple thread to stitch around all of the letters. I used stitch 2.1.6 and attached the Clear Open Toe Foot for IDT system to let me see the edge of the fabric and watch where the stitch was landing and to keep turning the fabric as needed.
I’m pretty happy today after finally doing some free motion quilting and pleased with the results. It definitely isn’t hard, but does require practice! I think the features on the quilt expression 720 helped push me into the land of free motion. Now I really want to finish my banner and get back to finishing quilts!