As simple as it may look to just guide your fabric under the needle and do what feels natural, getting the best results starts with two things: planning your freeform design and having the right tools.
The right quilting tools can make freeform stitching with quilting machines a joy.
1. Free Motion Quilting Presser Foot
The first and most important item you will need for great free motion stitching is a free motion quilting presser foot that is designed to stitch while the fabric moves around freely beneath it, unlike regular presser feet that hold the fabric in place.
2. Various Quilting Rulers and Marking Tools
Although it’s called free motion quilting, it’s best to plan the design you want to make with the stitching ahead of time. This usually involves creating shapes and marking the quilt top, then finding the best way to closely follow those lines.
A great free motion design can involve more than just random stitching. Available in countless shapes and sizes, quilting rulers provide a great guide so your stitching looks even and your curves are correct throughout the project.
3. Extension Table for Tabletop Quilting Machines
Free motion stitching does not require long arm quilting machines; however, it does require a lot of space.
If you’re working with a tabletop machine, an extension table will give you more space to slide the fabric around under the needle and prevent pulling or stretching.
Extension tables are made of clear plastic and fit right onto most machines to extend the level sewing surface.
4. Fabric Guide and Quilting Gloves
While it’s important to keep your fabric loose and able to slide easily under the needle, sometimes all that freedom can allow the fabric to roll and bunch a little. A fabric guide for quilting machines will help with that.
These weighted supports have rubbery bottoms that grip the fabric to stay in place, keeping the fabric under the needle from bunching or shifting.
Similarly, quilting gloves designed with little rubber grips on the fingers will help you hold on to the fabric while you're sliding it around under the needle.
5. Self-Sticking Slider Sheet
If you find your fabric dragging on the sewing surface, a slider sheet for the top of your sewing bed can help. These self-sticking cling sheets allow the fabric to slide around with ease, reducing the fatigue you might encounter if you're constantly having to tug the fabric around to stitch your design.
Free motion quilting can take some time to perfect; however, the results can be truly stunning. If you’re learning to use this technique with standard quilting machines or even long arm quilting machines like the Juki TL-2200QVP, start out right way with the most important tools.
When you’re well-equipped for the job, you’ll see much better results from your efforts!