Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Free Motion Quilting- My Favorite Tools

I'm in the middle (literally) of quilting my Berries and Bluebirds quilt.

I am halfway done and I thought I'd share with you my quilting set up.  I have a foldable sewing table and to support the weight of the quilt, I put another folding table behind my sewing machine so my quilt can lay out instead of drag on the floor.

I have used the Supreme Slider for a couple of years and I swear by it.  It really helps glide my quilt around the table and it is indispensable.  For those who are unfamiliar with this, the Supreme Slider is a Teflon coated sheet of material that you lay on your sewing surface.  Since it is slick but not sticky, your quilt slides on the surface easily for free motion quilting.  It is important to tape it to your table.  As you can see, I have inadvertently sewn the Supreme Slider to the back of my quilt a time or two and have had to rip it out.

I have the 8 x 11.5 size and it is getting a little ratty and torn so I thought about getting a replacement but it is not cheap.  A few other bloggers and quilters have recommended using an oven liner (a Teflon sheet used to catch drips in your oven for easy cleaning).  So, I thought I'd make a $10.00 investment and try one out.

I love it!  It is very similar at a fraction of the cost.  The one I got from Walmart is black (no other colors were available) and it is 30 inches wide so it covers my entire table.  You just need to position it on your table and cut a hole for your needle.

Since it is made from Teflon, you can also use the sheet for protecting your iron and ironing board from fusible webbing.  If you do crafting with a hot glue gun or rubber stamping, you can also use this to protect your table.  I'm not trying to take business away from the makers of the Supreme Slider.  As I said, I love their product.  However, in this economy, I can't afford to spend a lot of money and have had to find a more affordable substitute.

The next FMQ tool I highly recommend is Sharon Schamber's Quilt Halo.  I saw her demonstrating this a couple years ago at the Long Beach International Quilt show and it does help alleviate strain on your hands and shoulders when free motion quilting.  The rubber surface on the ring grips the fabric of your quilt so you don't have to work so hard to move your quilt around.  I have used quilting gloves in the past but I find it a hassle having to take off my gloves every time I want to re-thread my sewing machine.

My favorite marking tool is the Pilot Frixion.  You can get this pen at a quilt store or any office supply store, Target, Walmart, etc.  I also use this pen for tracing Redwork or embroidery patterns onto fabric.  The nice part about it is the marking disappears with the touch of a hot iron.  This pen has only been in the market for a couple of years so who knows if the ink will reappear in the future.  I've heard that it does in very cold temperature (i.e. if you put the fabric in the freezer).  But since I live in Southern California, I am not too worried about the temperature dropping below 32F.  

I have tried the water soluble pens you normally find at JoAnns- the kind you have to saturate with water to make the ink disappear.  The bad news is that the ink never really goes away. It does tend to reappear in a few years like the annoying ex-boyfriend you thought you had completely eradicated from your life.

Moving on...here's another good tip I learned from a teacher.  Use a piece of clear plastic and lay it on top of your quilt to audition quilting patterns.  Use a dry erase marker so you can wipe it off with a tissue and  re-use.

Most important, change your needle frequently and use good quality thread to avoid skipped stitches and thread breakage.  If you have any tools or tips for successful free motion quilting, I'd love to hear from you.

Next week, I will be taking a workshop with Kaffe Fassett.  I am so excited!  I love his fabric and have a few in my collection from 10 years ago.  I don't know if I can even cut into those.  I was at Cotton and Chocolate last month and bought a few Kaffe fabric in jewel tones.  This wonderful lady helping me (I wish I could recall her name) is also taking a workshop with Kaffe Fassett- but in Carpenteria.  So, I am curious how her quilt will turn out.  I am really hoping to learn more about color from Kaffe.


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  2. Hello, my name is Arantxa and I love the quilt berries and bluebirds. I wonder where you bought to make patterns. Thank you.
    By the way I really like the colors you've made ​​your quilt!

    1. Hi Arantxa,
      The pattern is by Gail Pan. She is an Australian designer. If you live here in the US, please contact Keepsake Cottage in Bothell, Washington. www.keepakecottagefabrics.com. They have the pattern and they may also have some kits left. Good luck!

  3. Thank you very much for the reply, that fast!
    Now I'll watch the link and I'll put you in touch with the store. I hope you send to Spain!
    See you soon and thanks again