Thursday, November 29, 2012

Part 3 Moving the Quilt: Extra Credit

"Batzbelow" ~ Detail of bat that appeared in hand dyed fabric.....

Some tweaks to my previous two posts about moving the quilt in a home sewing machine while free motion quilting are needed.  There are always exceptions and "what ifs" and extra info to any topic, so today I will add a little more.

FMQ Foot

Some feet can be purchased for brands of machines that themselves can be adjusted so there is less pressure on the foot, and a bit more clearance.  Investigate your brand, explore their website, blog, forum, join a forum for your brand so you can ask other owners questions. 

Take everything you hear with a grain of salt, you are the final decision maker in how you quilt.  But do have an open mind.  Don't say, well, this is the way I always do something, or this is the foot I have used forever.  Perhaps there is a better way and you are not aware.

The Bernina BSR (stitch regulator) foot has three soleplates so you can choose which one works best for the task.  It lifts and "hops" as you quilt, and it can be used with several modes.  Whenever I have worked with this foot on students' machines who do use it there have been animated discussions among them as to which mode works best.  It is different for everyone. 

Although I don't need to use the BSR, when I demo it for classes I like to remove the foot control  and use the mode that is based solely on my hand movements.  That way I don't get confused and keep pressing pointlessly on the foot control to make it go faster.  It will only run if I move my hands.  My brain can handle this and doesn't get it confused with normal FMQ when I control the speed with my foot and the quilt movement with my hands and have them balanced for even stitches. 

The BSR doesn't care about your hand movements; it keeps up with you, slow or fast, and makes pre-set stitches at a length you set on the machine.  However, it works best if your hand movements are even, controlled, not too fast (it will beep at you) or not too slow and jerky.  It does teach you how to move your hands and that will allow you to progress to quilting without it and get great results flying solo.

If you've never done FMQ, the BSR is easy to learn.  If you are trained to FMQ without this device, it takes some getting used to and trying all the modes to find what works best for you, but in the end, it does give you very even stitches.  Even, consistent stitches create beautiful designs.

Be aware there is a number setting on the touchscreen you adjust for how much pressure is on the foot when you do FMQ with the Bernina BSR.  Check owner's manual for guidance in using this, but in class we have lowered that number quite a bit to quilt easily over seam allowances, etc.

Oliver investigates my first Bernina for FMQ

My first machine for free motion quilting was a Bernina 1030, above, and I quilted for some time with the #9 darning foot.  There was never enough clearance to quilt over seams, trapunto, etc.  And there was no auto needle down; I had to tap the foot control with my heel, which I still do at times now.  I like manual control.

Now I am so used to "auto needle down" that I have on my newer electronic machines that sometimes when I sew on the 1030 I sit and wait for the needle to go down, forgetting I must tap the foot control to make this happen. 

Later Bernina came out with the metal #29 foot for this machine, a big round foot that was like quilting with a mini-hoop, photo above.  The best thing, of all the machines and feet I have used, it had the most clearance.  It SAILED over seam allowances, and I started doing tiny stippling that I could see within the foot very clearly, no obstructions.  I learned to look ahead of the needle, not at it, and around the shank and the foot edge, and my quilting speeded up and became smooth and even.  My quilting improved dramatically with this foot.

It is a great foot.  However, at the time, when used on some of the electronic Bernina models, skipped stitches occurred.  It was actually sitting a bit too high, and later Bernina came out with the plastic #29 foot to solve that problem for those machines.  But the original metal one worked great for me on my mechanical model.

Check with your brand of machine to see all the options.  Many times all you need is a better FMQ foot, or a way to increase clearance under one.

Manufacturers make new feet for machines after they introduce the machine model, so always ask or check online to see  if new feet are available, and give one a test drive at your dealer. 

Next time.....Batting and more.

Keep quilting, it gets easier and better.


NMSue said...

I love seeing Oliver pics. You definitely keep him busy-so much going on in Mom's sewing room.

Jocelyn said...

When I first got my Bernina 8 years ago, I bought a plastic darning foot for machine quilting. During a quilting session, the foot broke, right off!! I took it back to the dealer, and at that time I replaced it with the metal darning foot. It does not have as big of an opening, but it's what works with my machine (Virtuosa 155). Thanks for all of your insights. They are very helpful.


Agnes B. Bullock said...

THANK YOU for these extra lessons on your blog! Have had some of these issues that you raised and was starting to get worried! (Also have your book and never fmq without it out and next to me!)

Diane Gaudynski said...

Sue, Oliver LOVES my sewing room. It is the best room in the house, and now he has his own chair with quilts on it where he sleeps while I work. He is all grown up and doesn't attack the moving needle anymore :-)

Jocelyn, I prefer the metal feet and mine have survived countless tough quilting experiences and are fine. One #24 foot (open toe embroidery foot) was run over by a student in a chair with wheels, and it survived but was all bent and not usable. Steve, at the National Quilt Museum, found it and asked if it might be mine, and he then proceeded to fixt it for me. I still use that one as a testament to a very helpful man who took the time to fix that foot for me, and it also seems to be even better than the way it was originally.

Agnes, thanks, glad I could help with more info. Blogs are good for this; there are no space limitations and can say what we want. I have one more post about Moving the Quilt for next week.

Danih03 said...

thanks for all of the great info! I can't wait to see what you have to say about batting! I would like to experiment with different battings, but always end up with what I know, cotton.

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Seams French said...

As you are my "great guru" of FMQ, I have learned a great deal from your books as well as your blogs. Currently, I am designing a queen size bed quilt for my husband and myself, so these last few blogs come at a perfect time for me. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge so generously.

Anonymous said...

I use the Bernina metal foot #29 with my 1530 machine. It never occured to me that my skipped stitches could be frome too much clearance! I am going to have to look into that much more closely...I don't have skipped stitches when using the darning foot.

Diane said...

After hand quilting for years, I learned to machine FMQ fifteen years ago - open toe, offset shank darning foot, changing presser foot tension, tapping the back of the presser foot on the Artista to lower the needle...

Fast forward to this fall, when I gave in an bought an 830. I was so excited to have the BSR.

Eh. The first thing out of the machine was a quilt for a charity auction at work. After an hour or so messing around with the BSR, I realized I'd do a much better job - and make the deadline - if I went back to my previous methods.

Though I will say, the automatic needle down on stopping and the thread cutting funtions really, really rock.