Quilt ADD in therapy

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Colorado, United States
Other than my family, the passion of my life is quilting. An eclectic, I love a wide variety of styles and techniques encompassing both machine and hand work. Instagram: lyncc_quilts

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tips for Free-Motion Quilting on a Fusible Quilt

Hi there!

If you've already been free-motion quilting, or have been looking into it, most of you already know tips such as creating a surface even with your machine-bed, adding table-space behind the machine, using a "slick sheet" such as the Gliders on the machine bed, reducing the machine's speed, and using gloves to help with the grip. 

You may also know about keeping the quilt's weight from pulling on your work area - reduce drag by making a pool for your hands to work in at the needle area, place your quilting table against a wall so that the quilt doesn't fall off in front of you, etc.

I just finished this adorable mini - blogged in the last post.

But if you're going to FMQ on a fusible art quilt such as the cute "Who, What, Where" quilt above (designed by Toni Whitney), particularly one with several layers, you're going to experience some unique challenges. Even the best-quality fusible will tend to grip needles and wreak havoc with tensioning, and the stiffness also plays against you at times. So here's what I've found works like a charm:

1) Use the Superior Titanium Topstitching needles! They will be your best friend. When you're newer at FMQ, go with the size 90. [These are also awesome buddies for FMQ on normal quilts when you're new at quilting.] When you're comfortable with the rhythm between your hands and your machine, you can go down to size 80 needles without breakage (this'll leave smaller holes) (and also, you can go back to regular universal needles with non-fusible FMQ work). But at first, you're going to break quite a few needles, particularly if you don't spring for these wonderful little guys. 

Note that these are size 80 - you'll want size 90
when you're newer at FMQ

2) Your other best friend is going to be Sewer's Aid, a silicon liquid. Put it right on your needle - just rest the tip of the bottle against it, and run a miniscule dribble down the length. This will let your needle slip right through the fusible barrier, and help prevent the build up of tackiness that messes with your tension otherwise. 

You'll need to do this every so often when you sense the needle starting to stick in the fabric as it's working. Once in a while, especially if I'm in my groove and toodling right along at a good speed, the needle will still get gummed up. I keep a scrap of cotton batting on hand to put a drop of SA on it, and then gently wipe down the needle shank (I do it right around the thread in it - no need to pull that out or move the quilt - I just forgot to take a shot of this before I was all finished with the quilt).

3) Oh~! Speaking of the tackiness that can happen, you do NOT want to use a floating FMQ approach with these quilts. You will have much better results with the spring-action approach. This way, the foot holds the fabric down as the needle is pulling up and out, rather than the way the floating foot lets the fabric lift up too much with the exiting needle. Spring-action equals No More Skipped Stitches. And that makes me happy!!

So add these three tips to your arsenal of details that make FMQ a happy experience instead of a nightmare of frustrating skips, tangles, and tension blights. 

Happy Quilting!

Finish Report - "Who, What, Where" Raccoons, anyone? :)

Whoop! Whoop! It's a finish! 
And that means I really am back now.

These little guys are just so adorable. This is a mini quilt designed by Toni Whitney. It's just over 15 x 26 inches, and when I saw it in the quilt shop when I took my machine in for servicing after The Great Wedding Job, I couldn't resist buying the kit. I decided it would make the perfect project to overcome my dread of sitting at the machines again, particularly since it'd be the perfect Valentine's gift for my husband. I knew he would really love a new mini quilt for his office. 

And it did just the trick. I've got my quilting mojo back and am looking forward to finishing the next line-up of UFOs. 

(By the way, I'm sharing on this other post the things that I've learned are essential for a happy free-motion experience with fusible quilts.)

The 3-D leaves are a lot of fun

This is a fusibles quilt. It had so many more pieces to trace and carefully cut out, that it took much longer to make and quilt up than I anticipated. Nothing like being 10 days late with your gift! But Scott's very happy with it, so it's all good.

I really love the effect of the fusible-stiff bark stripes quilted down. The fusible sits stiff and flat so that the background tree fabric puffs right out, making a very dimensional bark effect. Maybe you can kind of see that here:

Speaking of dimensionality, I've done up enough art quilts to know ahead of time that with all the layers of fused fabric, the large amount of stitching required on the raccoon faces would flatten them down terribly during the quilting stage. So I used a trapunto approach. I put the flimsy down on a strip of polyester batting and stitched most of the raccoons' pieces to that using free-motion quilting approach, but with no backing at this stage. Because these fusible pieces all needed to be stitched down, anyway, I did NOT use water-soluble thread in the bobbin as I would for other trapunto projects. I just used regular cotton thread in appropriate colors.

I really wanted to overcome the fusible's stubbornness a little more, since the detailed stitching needed had flattened the batting quite a bit. So I reserved the outlines of the muzzle/mid-nose sections and the eyebrows to do with a second layer of the polyester batting. It turned out to be the perfect approach.

Once that second layer was finished, I carefully trimmed both layers close to the stitching.

Trying, anyway, to show the dimensionality of the trapunto work.

Then I sandwiched everything like normal - cotton batting and backing - so I could do the main quilting. I used Superior monofilament to simply outline the raccoons, letting the trapunto work puff out nicely. I did also outline the eyes to form the dimension of the faces, and I couldn't be happier with the result of that strategic double layer at the muzzle/brow area. The faces would have been stiffly underfilled without it.

I know these guys are going to cheer a lot of patients up. Scott periodically tells me folks make comments about my mini quilts there.

By the way, he tested up in Taekwondo last weekend, so now he's Bodan2 with Marissa and I.  :D   I sure love my Honey - he's so good and patient with the drawn-out process I have to work through when a Lupus flare hits.  

Linking up at:

Muv's Free Motion Mavericks

Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Linkup

TGIFF, hosted by Anja this week

WIPs Be Gone!