Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Free Motion Quilting for the Humane Society

Free Motion Quilting ProjectAs part of my goal to learn how to free motion quilt this year, I am following along with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project. I first discovered the project a few months ago when I went looking for some quilting feet for my sewing machine. It turns out that the nice people at Kenmore (apparently a best selling Canadian brand) can't be bothered to ship accessories for their sewing machines to Canada. Instead, I bought a set of 3 sewing machine feet from Leah, which came pre-customized and cost less than the brand name equivalent.

The first exercise for the 2012 project is to practice stippling, the most basic of quilting techniques. I first drew the pattern on a piece of paper, and then tried it on a six inch square to see how it would turn out. You can see the basic shape at the top, and then a little bit more development on every row until I arrive at actual stippling on the bottom.

This turned out well for a first try, and I managed to make the back look just as good as the front. I figured this meant I was ready to practice on a big piece of fabric. This year, I've decided that all of my practice material will be turned into blankets for rescued cats at the Edmonton Humane Society through the Snuggles Project. These are the flannels I chose for my very first kitty blanket:

I tested the pattern on some flannel scraps first, and when I got the tension just right, I started on the blanket. My stippling was looking great!

Unfortunately, about three quarters of the way through the blanket, my sewing machine completely gave up on me. I didn't change anything, but all of a sudden the back of the stitching turned into a disaster of loops and my thread kept snapping. I've tried every tension setting, and I'm using a brand new needle, but I just can't get my machine back into its groove. Finally, I realized that I was just making a mess and gave up trying to readjust my machine. Here is what I've been able to do so far:

As you can see, there is just the bottom right corner left to quilt. I'm not using batting for this, just two layers of flannel. I know it's possible to quilt this material, because the first 75% worked perfectly, I just don't know what to adjust in order to get back to that. I hope there's someone out there who has worked with flannel before who will be able to offer me some pointers so that I can move on.

On another note, I finished two amazing projects this week and can't wait to share them... but I'll be away for a few days visiting family so they'll just have to wait. Come back next week to check them out!


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your machine, but your stippling looks great!

  2. Thanks for dropping by Gwyned Trefethen's Musing and posting a comment. I second Pat's comment. Your stippling is looking great. I hope to do my stippling assignment tomorrow.

  3. Darn! You were on such a role with your stippling, it's such a shame your machine gave out on you. Think back to when it happened - had you just changed a bobbin? Hit the machine weird and maybe thrown off the thread?

    Try re-threading the machine completely. Especially check the bobbin if that's where most of the issue is mostly coming from. You might also want to brush out the machine because flannel can be very linty.

    That's all the ideas I have! I hope something works and you'll be able to get back to stippling. Your stitches are looking great!

    Leah Day

  4. Whenever something goes wrong with my machine the first thing I do is turn it off and back on. If that doesn't work, then I go back to normal sewing with regular thread to see if the machine still sews properly. If it still sews properly, then go back to setting it up and trying FMQ. Hope this helps.

  5. You're stippling looks great - you have that mastered. When I have nests on the back side of a project - it sometimes is because I am coming to the end of a bobbin. Also if the bobbin has not been wound evenly I will sometimes get problems. I agree with Leah - flannel can be very linty and I have to clean often. Good luck solving this.

  6. Stippling looks so good for a first timer. Great idea to have practice pieces being useful.