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My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

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    My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

    Hello everyone! I am new here and new to quilting. I have made my first part of a quilt for my 8 month old niece and just got finished with the quilt sandwich part of it. I am now needing to choose a free motion quilting pattern for it. I put some pieces together to practice on and realized it is a lot harder than I thought. And if I can't get the hang of it I guess I will have to put a walking foot on it and just have lines. As I was practicing a whole lot of problems and questions came to mind that I would like to ask this forum. Any advise would be very helpful I think.

    O.K. First, I am noticing the big needle holes on the back of the quilt after I do my design. Is that just how it's suppose to be on the back of your quilts? I am using a 90/14 needle. I want my back to look nice as well. I already know it won't look as well as the front because the pattern won't be matching the fabric pieces I have on the back. So, I imagine when I am finished it would look like a bit of a mess on back. And then big needle holes on top of that would not look good. I am really nervous about it because as it is while trying to do patterns on my practice piece I did a horrible job. And is it normal to have your design not match the back fabric pieces? I have different shape boxes on the front that I want to put different patterns in depending on what the box is. But my back piece has a whole different look to it and obviously won't go with whatever stippling pattern or design I use on the front. Is this O.K.?

    Second, I noticed myself doing sudden jolts to the right or skips and then I would have one small line going in a different direction. Will this stop when I get more practice. If you do that on your quilt what can you do about it? That will look horrible! I am already wearing quilting gloves and am on a slick smooth surface to move the fabric piece around. But it still happens.

    Third, when it comes to doing a baby or child's quilt is less more? Should I do one simple pattern or maybe two and forget about having any more than that? I notice the more design the less flexible the quilt seems to be. And I want it to be a really comfy quilt. Or maybe it isn't the design but rather the spray glue I used putting the sand which together. Which leads me to my fourth question.

    Fourth, is it better to just use pins than the spray can glue? I notice that my quilt is stiff because of the spray glue. Will this go away or does it need to be washed first? Is it better to just use pins because it is more flexible while stippling or free motion quilting and overall in general? I realize stiff mat actually be good while you are stippling right under the needle but I was thinking of when you need to roll it up or gather it on your lap.

    Fifth, I chose a thin cotton batting. I think for a baby/kid blanket I should have chosen a thicker batting because there doesn't seem to be much to it and when you put the free motion quilting design on it, it doesn't puff out of the design at all. I like that effect. For a baby or kids quilt anyway. I chose the thinner one because it seemed like that is what every one on the web recommended. Where I went anyway. Especially, for beginners. Opinions?

    Sixth, when practicing free motion and trying to do designs I notice because I don't know what the heck I am doing that I keep going over the same lines to get to other places. Is it just a matter of needing to learn the design your using? Where to start and where to finish? This is probably a no brainer. Just wondering if any of you have any good ideas regarding this?

    Seventh, in the middle of stippling my thread broke. My sewing machine has a auto and that is what it was on. I was using a regular stitch and with the regular settings that the machine gives you for it which is the auto. Is this wrong? Should I change it?

    And lastly I don't know what color to use. I am doing a eight month old girls quilt and I did it with pink, lime green( I think this is what it would be) turquoise (like in a baby's quilt) and soft baby blue ( also, like in a baby quilt), some yellow and teal. I shouldn't have put the teal in there I don't think but it's too late now. And it matches because it came in a pack together at Walmart. Although I used two different color packs they were very close together in color. And I say I should have left it out because the teal is dark while all the other colors are soft( Except the yellow I guess. It's more of a medium yellow) and in my opinion it might have looked better left out. I was going to go with a off white color that I bought. It's Aurifil 2311. It doesn't say the color on it but it's a soft white I guess or a light cream color. Almost has a hint of beige in there super lightly. It's definitely not white white. I don't know if this would be good for a beginner although it won't probably matter if I end up doing just lines. But then will that look good doing just lines in this color? What thread color do you think would look the best with these colors? No matter what I choose it's going to stick out on some of the fabric.

    I know these are a lot of questions and I am sure they all won't be answered ( by one person anyway) but maybe if some of you have advise on one or two maybe they will all eventually get answered. Thanks so much! It is sooo appreciated!

    Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

    Hi and welcome to the forum...

    Free motion quilting takes practice, practice, practice. The more you do it, the better you'll get.

    My first quilts, I stitched in/close to the ditch. I found it easier for me and if the piecing is small enough for your batting recommendations, that's probably what I would do. I also did straight line stitching in the background blocks if I needed to fill in that space a little more.

    The more you quilt, the less softness you'll have in your quilt. So if you're looking for comfy, I'd do less quilting.

    The holes in the back, I would think would close back up when you wash the quilt. Maybe someone else has had that issue. I don't know that I've ever paid that close of attention to the back... other than when the nest monster was inhabiting my machine!

    For more information and practice on FMQ check out Angela Walters, she has some excellent tutorials with all kinds of designs and hints.

    If you used a lot of spray basting, I'd be sure to wash the quilt before you gift it. That should help puff it up and make it softer.

    I think my turkey fed brain is used up now. Anyway, I know there are smarter folks than me here that can probably fill in more blanks. Welcome to the forum and Happy Thanksgiving!
    From NC, retired in FL
    “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Maya Angelou


      Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

      Welcome to the Forum from Colorado. You came to the right place! I can't guarantee to answer all your questions, but I'll help if I can. I have been FMQ for 6 years. First let me say, it takes a lot of practice! So don't be discouraged at your beginner attempts. There are many videos and info. on the web. about how to go about this.

      Basting: I have never used the spray basting. I baste with pins, then I baste the edge of the quilt sandwich all the way around using a long serpentine stitch with the walking foot.

      FMQ: If this were my first quilt, I think I would use the walking foot & do straight lines until you get more familiar with FMQ. You don't say if you have the darning foot for FMQ or if you can drop your feed dogs. I set my stitch length on 0 when FMQ. If you haven't done so yet, you really need to make several small practice sandwiches, maybe fat qtr. size, on which to practice to get the hang of it. You also can practice your design using a white board & marker or just using pencil & paper; this helps to get muscle memory.

      Needles: The Top Stitch 90/14 are good for doing FMQ or using the walking foot for quilting. I wouldn't be concerned about the holes. Those will fill in with washing the quilt. Are you using a brand new needle that's good & sharp?

      Batting: I use Hobbs 80/20 for everything. Other quilters really like Quilters Dream Blend 70/30, but I can't justify the added expense. You'll get a puffier look if you use a thicker batting.

      Thread: On my DSM I use 40 wt. cotton thread for quilting, both in the bobbin & on top; 50 wt. also will work. The color thread should be something that will blend in with the colors of your fabrics. I now quilt on a table long arm; I've been using 40 wt. Glide thread, which is a trilobal polyester thread.

      Your backing fabric(s) don't have to match your quilt top -- however, I'm a person who likes to coordinate & match, so I always use a coordinating fabric.

      You mention you were quilting with your machine on "automatic"; exactly what does that mean? I suspect that could be part of your problem.

      It would be helpful if you could post pictures of your quilt so we would know better how to help you. Wishing you the best.


        Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

        Welcome to the forum! The first quilt I ever finished was a baby quilt for my niece, a few years ago! It's still being used for the dolls, now the owner has outgrown it.
        About your questions: #1 Holes will wash out, don't worry. #2 This kind of inconsistencies will improve with practice. #3 The distance between quilting lines depends on the type of batting. For a small baby quilt, I'd assume 2-3" appart (refer to the batting's package). #4 If the glue is making your quilt stiff, my guess is you are overspraying! I like spray basting and only use pins occasionally on the edges. Once you finish your quilt, you should wash it to remove any chemicals. #5 Thin batting is the easiest to start FMQing with, although I like the looks of fluffy poly blends for baby quilts. #6 Travelling is something I also struggle with. For most designs you need to plan ahead: paper and pen help drafting how you will need to move to complete the design with the less travelling on the same lines over and over. #7 Thread breakage happens. Wrong tension, bad needle, cheap thread... If it only happened once or twice, it could have been you moved too fast. #8 Thread color is personal preference. It should blend well with the lightest fabrics, even if it is noticeable on the darker ones. A light yellow should work well with the colors you describe.
        Remember: babies don't care. Your niece is not going to mind any imperfection.


          Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

          I jumped into fmq 3 years ago with no tutorials or experience just the want to. You have been given good advice. I do not like straight line stitching as I always get crooked. I like using a jumping foot or darning foot with the feed dogs down and the settings all at 0.
          I found that making a big flower starting with the circle and then looping petals (5 of them) and then traveling out with a stem and making another helped me learn to travel around the quilt and made a cute baby pattern. Then I learned to echo the flower and that was good and then Angela Waters videos showed me how to fill in all the negative space. You will get good at this with practice. I made 300 quilts in 2 years for charity with the help of this forum and so I do have more practice than the average newbie. Keep at it and joy will follow
          success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiam
          Terry of NC


            Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

            I can only add that being new too I found the cotton thin batting much easier to use. It will crinkle really well once washed and that alone hides many small imperfections.

            I am still practicing FMQ. I did find that I could do curved flowers even with my feed dogs up and a regular foot.

            Tracing a design with a continuous line on paper helps decide if that design will work for you. Once I have it down I write a start on the paper and arrows so I don't get stuck. It helped me reduce starts and stops as well as traveling.


              Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

              I learned to quilt from Jenny, Leah Day, and this forum, so you have come to right place.
              I drizzle glue to baste now. I don’t have patience for pins - I learned that the first quilt I did.
              I didn’t read my batting the first time and probably won’t have understood stitching requirements. But I do now and try to keep my quilting patterns at most 5 inches apart. I stitched in ditch with a pinwheel pattern that first quilt. I gave this first quilt to my great niece, and it has help up three +years. So I am a great believer in stitching in the ditch as the first quilting you should learn.
              Also washing a quilt gives it the crinkling.
              FMQ takes, as had been said, practice. I learned a lot from Leah Day’s videos. is a nice one to start with.


                Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                Hello everyone, thanks so much for the replies. A lot of the things I was thinking about was answered or put me more at ease. This isn't in order but I wanted to start with the last post I read which was Old Newbie. I guess I will go from the last post to the first.
                However, let me tell you how big my quilt is since I forgot to tell you guys. It's 45 inches in all four directions without the added 4 inches to the batting and back fabric. I didn't follow a pattern that's why it's a funky number. I used 9 inch patch blocks and did a disappearing nine patch design. From there I added a 6 inch rectangle border around it with the same colors on the quilt. By the way my quilt fabric has prints. And then I put a yellow border around that. On the back I have one huge block in the middle that's like 12X12 inches I think of the same fabric as the front. But the rest of the fabric include 8 more big blocks (same size as the middle) but all in one color each of the front fabric. I am going to use a different fabric all together which is a turquoise to bind it up. I did the back the way I did because I ran out of the colors I had for the front. Remember I am new so be kind. And at the time when I began this project my niece was only 2 months old. I was thinking I would be giving it to her when she was a lot younger and I thought about those square activity type blankets that you put baby's on. That is why my quilt is square now. I wish I didn't but oh well.
                Old Newbie, thanks for the links I will go look. I was wondering what you meant by drizzle glue? I think stitching in a ditch is a great idea. This is actually what I very first thought of before I ever started my quilt. I even bought that invisible nylon thread to do it with. I don't have it here in front of me and would have to go find it so I am not sure what it is called exactly. I am sure you know what I mean though. It doesn't have a color. Should I go with that you think or a color thread if I use the stitch in the ditch? I will definitely wash my quilt before giving it to my niece. I am just afraid it is going to get all messed up and out of shape because my measurements aren't perfect. But someones got to do it and it might as well be me. Thanks so much!
                Babs Quilts, your idea about tracing with out lifting my hand I will put into use. I see what you mean. If I choose to go with one it will be the one where my hand is most comfortable doing the pattern without lifting and is easiest for me to do. I was wondering myself what would work if anything, if you kept your feed dogs up and used the same presser foot. I am glad you told me about the flower. I am definitely going to try this. Thanks!
                grammaterry I am glad I am not the only one that went crooked with straight lines. What was upsetting is when I put on a walking foot I still went crooked! I am pretty sure I followed instructions correctly when putting it on. So, I am thinking it's because my practice piece is too thin to use a walking foot. And so my quilt is going to be too because it's the exact same thing. This is upsetting. I was assuming that you can use a walking foot on any thickness of material just that it is good for thicker quilts. The walking foot wasn't snug to the fabric. I am not sure what a jumping foot is? But I have a darning foot and tried that. Unfortunately my feed dogs don't go down on my machine but I put the darning plate on that comes with the machine. I like the idea about the flower and using it on your baby blanket. I am going to try and do that on a practice piece and see how it turns out. Thanks so much!
                lourixe I am happy to know that the holes will wash out. And I had no idea about there needing to be a certain space between lines so thanks. Someone else mentioned looking on the back of the quilting bag for instructions. Unfortunately, in my excitement I took the batting out in the beginning getting it ready and throwing the bag away. I don't recall there ever being instructions on it though or I probably would have noticed and not thrown it away. I got it from Walmart. Not on a roll like the fabric. But in a bag for a little bit more money meant for quilting. It looked more like the ones I see on the net and a little more expensive so I figured it would be better. I don't remember what it was called. I can kick myself for this! The batting glue I feel I used sparingly. In fact in some areas it is already coming up a bit so I don't think I over used it. I was concerned about going too light and it falling apart in the middle of sewing. I did it as close to the instructions as I could. I bought Elmer's Craft Bond spray adhesive. On the back it says it can be used on fabrics even leather. And it was in the quilting area. Is this the wrong stuff? I have a feeling it might not be what is recommended and might be causing that stiffness I talk about. Well, if so I can always get a different one for future quilts and use this one for photos on scrapbooking. So you think fatter batting is better for puffiness and looks good on baby quilts. I thought so. And you also agree though that beginners should be using the thinner batting. What did you use with your nieces quilt? And I am glad I am not the only one that travels! I learned this word today reading back these posts. And I love that you told me that the thread should blend well with the lighter colors. I didn't know that. This gives me something to play with. My lightest colors on this quilt is probably the baby blue I think. I will definitely try the light yellow and see what it looks like. Do you have any ideas on thread choice. I don't have much money so I can't afford those really expensive threads. But I don't want something really cheap that will come out of the quilt in a year either. Anything in mind? Thank you!
                JCY, thank's for the post. You mentioned that you stitch with a sepentine stitch( I am not sure what that is but I will find out)all the way around the quilt. This is in the beginning right? Right after you pin? I wasn't sure about this because on the net I saw that some had this but at the same time they say to have the batting and the back piece at least 4 inches more than the front. I think it was 4 inches. And this is so as you are going a long meandering or what ever you choose to do it will need more space than you think and you don't want to cut it short. Is this correct? But if it is sewn then that defeats the purpose. Doesn't it? I am a little confused on this part. O.K. I am a lot confused. I see both ways being important. What do I do? Oh, and I came to find out that my walking foot doesn't work well on my quilt. Apparently it's too thin of a quilt because the walking foot doesn't go snug against the fabric and jolted out of it's lines a few times making the lines not straight. I was horrified! I watched a video on You tube on how to put it on with the guide and followed it perfectly. But it still didn't seem right and this is the only thing I can guess. And to answer your questions Yes I have two darning feet. One is a metal one with a regular loop and the other is see through plastic that isn't a complete loop. Unfortunately, my feed dogs don't go down. But I put a darning plate over them that came with the machine. And yes my stitch length was on 0. And what the auto means is it's the automatic tension for the preferred stitch you use that the manufacturer gives the machine for each stitch. It's suppose to have the perfect tension with what ever stitch you choose. Its computerized and every stitch has it's manufacturer settings. You can however adjust it manually if need be. And when I checked out reviews with this machine a lot of people had to do just that. I have just got this machine from a Aunt and haven't had a lot of practice on it. It's a 7258 Stylist Singer. I was working with a Brother. I am more familiar with my Brother but I know Singer's are suppose to be the best and plus this one has the computerized stitching and a lot more stitch designs than my Brother did. I used a brand new needle.Thanks for the batting info. Next quilt I will take your advise. My quilt front is the same colors as my back. I was thinking more of the stippling design or lines that you make on top of the quilt not matching the back and it looking messy. You know you will have a line going around a box on the front but on the back that same line is going right through a box. It won't match up that way. Wouldn't that look bad. Maybe I should use that invisible thread for stitch in the ditch. The nylon stuff. I can't remember what it is called. What do you think? I will try to post pics for you all. Thanks so much!
                KPH thanks for your post and also welcoming me. Someone else mentioned stitch in the ditch as the preferred first design so I think I may do this. Thanks for mentioning it. And as well as lines in some of my boxes. You answered my question about there being more lines the less comfy the quilt will be. Thanks for that. That's what I needed to know. Now I won't go crazy on this quilt.
                Thank you everyone for your replies!


                  Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                  Sorry guys. when I was replying to the post above I thought I put enough space in between names so you can find yours easier if need be. But when I posted it, it went all together. Hmmmm I am sorry.


                    Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                    One thing I meant to mention but didn't.......
                    When doing curves/flowers with the feed dogs up go slow. It helped me to avoid those weird side steps to get to a point or stopping place before readjusting where your hands are and watch where the needle ends up. I noticed as I would pull my quilt around the needle would end up shoved to one side......then when I pushed that pedal I had odd side steps.

                    I hope this helps.


                      Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                      welcome to the forum,
                      don't worry about the feed dogs not going down, setting the stitch length to zero they bob up and down in the same place. am a rebel because do not fit a darning plate either.

                      tend to use quilting bent safety pins, the bent ones are easier for me, and just plain batting,
                      sprays tend to irritate breathing for me. But have heard 505 mentioned a few times.
                      have used hobbs fusible batting / wadding, just to see what it was like to use, this just needs ironing rather then spraying, but still pin at the edges as a belt and braces approach.

                      tend to use a jeans needle, this needle works best for my tension set up, in fmq, have used a singer titanium needle and that lasted longer but needed the upper tension adjusting.

                      here is a website you may like

                      finally don't forget to sign your quilt & date am sure your niece will love it.
                      happy stitching


                        Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                        I would use a cotton thread that matches the background of the quilt. I usually use a very light beige or a light gray as these are usually background for me. I would not go with a bright color if I was new to fmq.

                        By drizzling glue I mean this


                          Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                          201 Treadler Ty for the welcome. Wow, goes to show there are many ways to do a quilt. I put the darning plate on but I don't like it. I really wish that my feed dogs went down. Although, I wish there was a way altogether to have some more control with your fabric/quilt that feed dogs supply. Until, I actually started practicing I didn't even know this would be a problem. There is nothing keeping your quilt controlled and even in one place ( when you want it to) and from jolting side to side when your trying to do your free machine quilting. I didn't even realize how hard simple lines would be because of this! I realize from watching Leah day that it is all about your hand placement and controlling the fabric with your hands. I guess I just need to keep practicing. Thanks for the link. I will check it out. I also used the curved pins. Although I need many more. i ran out in the middle of putting them on my quilt and now my quilt is taped to my bedroom floor for an even longer time than it's already been. I live out in the middle of nowhere so my shopping includes online at Amazon or driving a little over an hour to a Walmart. I am not sure what 505 is or what a jean needle is? Are you talking about jeans such as the ones you wear? You mentioned signing and dating my quilt. I never even thought of that. How would I go about doing this? Thanks so much for the post!

                          Old Newbie, thanks again for your advise. You said to match the back ground of my quilt. I don't have a background color so to speak. I did disappearing nine patch blocks. With my first border I did 2 1/2 x7 rectangles all the way around with the same fabric. And then a outer yellow border. I bought the color that I did which is a soft white/cream with a hint of beige. LOL I really can't explain the color and it doesn't have a number or name on it. But, I chose it because like yourself I found that most people I have come across on the web went with those type of colors. But my quilt colors are medium pink, soft baby turquoise, baby blues, lime green and a medium yellow I would say. They came in a color coordinated pack from Walmart. I found some of the fabrics on Pinterest and Etsy that I used for my quilt. I put links below of the fabric if you would like to look and give me suggestions. Thank you!

                          I am not sure if these links will work on here but there is still the copy and paste method. Let's cross our fingers!

                          I can't find any pics of the darker teal fabric in my quilt but I'll keep looking or try to post a pic of my quilt.
                          Of this first one the only pic I could find of this fabric is here.







                            Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                            You've come to the right place for answers, and have received some good suggestions. I have a couple thoughts that weren't addressed fully so...

                            About the basting spray- Normal "craft adhesive" is not ideal for basting. Basically it's an aerosol contact cement, and while it will bond fabric, it isn't designed to be stitched on. The rubber content will gum those needles something fierce, and the result is thread breakage, at which point you either clean or install a new needle. There are products to treat the needle to keep the glue from sticking, but it's advisible to use a "sewable" spray.

                            Walking foot (sometimes referred to as an even-feed). It's purpose is for joining fabrics of different stretch characteristics. Don't be fooled into thinking it will help with sewing straight lines. Anytime you have different amounts of fabric to the sides of your needle, the piece will pull to the side with the most fabric. It will help with puckering and tucks caused by the top and bottom fabric not feeding the same. It still requires guidance.

                            The "jeans" needles mentioned have a thicker shank and a larger eye. The needle has less tendency to bend as you move the quilt around, which causes dropped stitches or broken thread.

                            Hang in there. I like the thorough-ness of your questions, and your curosity shows real interest in the process. You're on your way. We were all newbies at one point and had many of the same questions. Time and experience fills in the blanks, but most of us encounter something new and different all the time.

                            Come on back here. It's a great place, and once you gain a bit more experience you'll have some input on how to do things as well.

                            Lastly, and maybe most important... If that first quilt is a tough finish, and doesn't meet your expectations, do it again. Learning is really the fun part, and it gets easier which each successive attempt, and as you learn some tecnique. Give that first quilt as planned, smiling and beaming that udunnit! It will be loved and most don't notice a thing except for how warm it is. Don't be too tough on yourself, and don't give up. The fun is just beginning.
                            You gots to risk it to gets the biscuit-


                              Re: My first Quilt and time to do free motion quilting! Questions

                              wow. I had a panic attack just reading this thread! And, all of the above problems and solutions are exactly why I hand quilt!! Good luck eascusa!!