That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the last 2 days. Honestly, I really don’t know the answer to it either, I can only say that everything does happen for a reason. Free-motion quilting is something most quilters are truly terrified of, and with good reason! This technique requires tons of practice, and (believe it or not), a lot of thinking. Sure, ya could just draw lines or designs and simply follow along without thinking about it or really even concentrating. However, that is so not me! I have yet to be able to even stitch a straight line, let alone follow one. Gah! I have half of the last quilt I showed all ya’ll quilted, in just the last 2 days. I am so happy with the speed and even the results, I cannot begin to describe it. I mentioned fear of this technique and a good reason for that fear, let me explain a bit, if ya will.
I use a darning foot/hopping foot/quilting foot, whatever ya’ll wanna call it. Mine has been modified so it is now an open foot. I cut off the front part of the ring so I could see my “lines” better and hopefully that will keep me from crossing them. For some reason, that is a big no-no…? * Pfffffffft! That is what I say, cross those lines, make loops and wonky, wavy lines. Do it your way, not theirs! Anyways, I ramble off-topic. Sorry. So, ya get your foot on there, drop the feed-dogs,(I also tape a business card over the throat plate since I don’t have a straight-stitch plate and my machine loves to eat fabric!), ya “lace-up” your machine and now you’re all ready to go. Now, if ya’ll are anything like me, ya sit and just kinda stare at the machine. Intimidated and even a bit scared, maybe? After all, the foot is just there for what seems like decoration, exposing the needle with no protection for your fingers. It’s just begging for a bite, right? I mean, once ya get to quilting, the needle is running so fast and you are not even aware of how close your hands come to that very fast, sharp needle that’s just drooling for a taste. No wonder I am scared chitless to actually start!
Ok, I am gonna have to just say it…, it seems like ya’ll need a push here.
“Load it and let’s get this done!” “Tain’t nothing to be that intimidated by, trust me, this is actually a lot of fun and truly does get easier the more ya do it. But, ya ain’t never gonna feel that if ya don’t get to doin’ it. Don’t worry about how it looks, just focus on getting a rhythm, your rhythm. That is the key to this technique, rhythm. You have to find that perfect groove between your machine and yourself, the speed of the needle, the movement of your hands, it all works together like a masterpiece. Once ya find it, you will then ask yourself “now why didn’t I do this sooner?”, and quilting even a huge quilt will be F-U-N, I promise!
I didn’t say easy, just fun. Believe me, shoving a queen or even king-sized quilt into an 8″ opening is never fun and can actually wear ya out right quick. I gave up on the “roll, fold, or tuck neatly through the opening” routine YEARS ago. For one thing, it makes the folded/rolled layer too damn hard to maneuver. I puddle, shove, pull, wad, whatever it takes to fit that dad-gum thing in there! I stop often, redistribute the bulk, and continue on. The middle of the quilt is the hardest thing to quilt. Period. Once ya get that outta the way, it’s all downhill from there, and before ya know it, ya have a side done, then a half done, until eventually the whole thing is done!
Don’t let those nasty old Quilt Police run ya off either! Your stitches are gonna be inconsistent, wonky, and even cross. I’ll let all ya’ll in on a little secret….. once ya wash it, most(if not all) of those boo-boos are gonna disappear! I guarantee they will still be there, however, the texture FMQ’ing puts on a quilt hides them beautifully and most of those mistakes will just sink right on in to the layers of the quilt.
Do ya see? I have tons of mistakes in just this small section, uneven stitches, crossed & touching lines, jagged turns, you name it, it’s there. So what, they are only gonna be noticeable if someone “studies” the dang thing for hours. I ain’t gonna be doin’ that, I guarantee it, I’m a gonna be curled up underneath it, enjoying its warmth and the fact that I did it, it’s all ME! So make ‘em up, baste ‘em up, and quilt ‘em up. You can do it, BUT, only if ya TRY to!! Happy quilting!