Free Motion Quilting – Stops and Starts

When you are working with a conventional presser foot, beginning and ending a seam is a simple process. You simply need to work in the opposite direction and stitch over the first few stitches a few times. When free motion quilting, it can be difficult to determine where to begin and end a seam.

However, if you have never done free motion quilting before, the answer might not be so evident to you even though it is actually rather straightforward.

In the same manner as when you are quilting in a straight line, you will need to stitch over the stitches at the beginning and the end of your seam. You will no longer have the ability to reverse the stitching once you have lowered the feed dogs so that the quilt may be moved to the desired location.

Overstitching the beginning and finishing stitches is something that can still be done. In point of fact, it is simpler than going backwards and forth in both directions. When free motion quilting, you should begin the stitch and then simply stitch over it three or four times before moving the fabric. Continue in the same manner when terminating. Simply leave the fabric where it is and stitch over the same area multiple times. This prevents the stitch from moving and ensures that the seam is secure on both ends.

When you are free motioning a start or end stitch, it is not necessary to stitch ahead and then backward after each other. The worry of backing up slightly off the first stitches is eliminated when you start and stop free motion knitting with no restrictions. There is no possibility of the stitches becoming misaligned because you do not move the fabric until after the stitches have been locked.

Those who are just beginning to do free motion quilting should practice on small projects or test quilt blocks before moving onto the first project. Practice the stops and starts; then, move onto practicing your quilt patterns.

Stippling is usually the easiest free motion quilt pattern to do. Stippling is a series of squiggles or loops that never connect. One builds on the other without ever closing. In a way, each line echoes the previous.

If your stippled project were to be judged, it would be important for none of those lines to touch or cross and for the width between them to be consistent throughout. If you are quilting for fun and practice, don’t fret over such minor details. Intersecting lines add character…when you are not having your quilt project judged in a competition.

Once you have the hang of moving a quilt sandwich around with the free motion technique, you can move onto quilting specific patterns. The easiest way to do this is to mark the patterns directly onto your project using a water soluble writing utensil. Simply move the quilt sandwich, carefully planning to sew on the quilt lines you have marked.

Quilt stencils are a very easy way to transfer a quilt design to your project. Since they are generally made from plastic sheets, they last a good long time and can be reused numerous times.

You might also trace a pattern from a book, magazine, or Internet resource to use for your free motion quilt pattern. Keep the patterns you choose to transfer simple at first. They will be both easier to trace and to stitch. Transferring these kinds of patterns is a little trickier than using a plastic stencil. When you work with paper, there can be a tendency for it to slip.

In just a little time, your free motion quilting skills will improve from beginning to end. You will transfer patterns more quickly and accurately. Your stippling stitches will become more even, and your projects will take on the look of those done by an experienced quilter. And you know they will be sturdy because you know the proper way to lock in those start and stop stitches, too!

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