August 21, 2010

Free Motion Quilting Basics: Supplies


#1: A darning foot. The entry ticket into this quilting party is a darning foot, sometimes called a free motion foot. This is a darning foot for my Singer.


This is the darning foot for my Bernina. One is plastic, one is metal. One is a square, one is a circle. They both do the job they need to do - keeping the fabric down against the needle plate while the machine is stitching, for a nice consistent stitch. Find a darning foot that fits your machine. There are a lot of different darning feet out there, if you are just getting into free motion quilting just find the standard darning foot for your machine. As you progress in free motion quilting you may decide you want to try other free motion feet, but do not stress about this right now. If you are trying to choose between two darning feet, choose the one that gives you the most visibility.

#2: A quilting journal. Here's mine:


I made it, as I'm sure you can tell. That was before you could buy this sort of thing all over the interwebs. I suddenly feel old. Anyway, I try to take this little thing with me whenever I expect to be inspired. It is full of ideas for quilt blocks, quilt tops, quilting designs and notes taken during talks.


I want you to have this available to write down all the great inspirations you get for quilting designs and things you need to remember like tension details. You are a quilter. Give yourself a quilting journal. Maybe the first page should look like this:


Less romantic, but still important are the following supplies:


Needles - starting a quilting project with a new needle can save a lot of frustration. Many people have fine luck with Universal needles but some machines need a specialty needle. Quilting needles or topstitch needles, size 90/14 are a good place to start. In recent struggles, I needed a topstitch needle to stop my machine from shredding my thread. If you experience problems, one thing to try will be a different needle type or size.


Thread - many different types of thread can be used for free motion quilting. I have the best luck with cotton threads. Threads that are made from "long staple" fibers are less likely to break while quilting. They also shed less lint, and lint is the enemy of a smoothly running sewing machine. Two brands I like using are Aurifil and YLI. Feel free to start with any brand of thread you would like, but be prepared to try a different thread if you are experiencing problems. 


Basting pins - I use curved quilt basting pins. They are easy to find and long lasting. A package of 50 should be enough for a small project. If you have another way you prefer to baste your quilts (spray, basting gun) that will be fine, though I have no experience with these methods.

Masking tape - the kind used when painting. This will be used on the quilt to guide some quilting designs. Ours is in the basement. I'm too lazy to go down there just to take a picture of it.


Something for marking quilt tops - I have a couple of pencils like this - a white one for dark fabrics and a silver one for lighter fabrics. You can use anything that you can draw with that will show up on your fabrics without leaving permanent marks. You will only use this occasionally.


Grippy gloves (optional but strongly recommended) - any lightweight glove that will help you get traction on the quilt top. I've used flag bearer gloves and quilter gloves with the dots and they behave entirely the same. I've also heard of people using latex gloves, rubber office supply fingertips, dishwashing gloves, utility "glove liners" or even a special kind of lotion. My toddler insists on wearing these gloves anytime they are in her field of vision. So I have two sets. The white ones look grungy because they're old and they've picked up color from the fabrics of the quilts I've used them on. I've quilted 7 or 8 quilts with them, they last a long time. Don't feel bad about investing in these, they really make things easier. You need something to help you grip your quilt top.


Scissors - a small pair of sharp scissors should be at your side while quilting to snip threads. Even better, wear them around your neck and you'll always know where they are! I put mine on a length of elastic ribbon.


There are other products marketed to free motion quilters, and if you want to try them, go for it! Rest assured that the only supplies I think are essential are the ones I've listed above.

39 comments:

Nancy said...

YIPPEE!! I have all my supplies, except for that quilt journal, which of course I will be able to find at all the back-to-school sales..

Linda said...

Cant wait to get started.

Stray Stitches said...

I have all of the tools and am ready to go!

tvbleak said...

I am ready. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Pat said...

So far, I'm doing GREAT with this free-motion quilt-along...LOL

Patty B. said...

I'm excited to get started!!!

Gene Black said...

I still need to run out and buy top stitch needles...other than that I am set! I even have a couple of "extra" helpers.

Polly said...

Man, I am bummed... I already HAD all the supplies you mentioned so no excuse to go shopping....sigh!! Polly :-)

Gra said...

Can´t wait to start my "acolchado libre"!!!!

Jennwith4 said...

yay!

Caroline in NH said...

I was going to hit JoAnne's tomorrow for a new ironing board cover; I'll pick up the topstitch needles, and some grippy gloves as well. That will complete my supplies. I even have a couple of baby quilts that may suffice for practice after the initial lessons are over!

Winona said...

I have wanted to learn to free motion quilt for a long time. I even have all of the supplies already on hand. I am actually going to try it this time. I'm ready. Winona

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Get ready, get set, go!!! Can't wait to get started :-)

Gladys said...

Hola, Christina! Ya estamos con todo sobre la mesa para iniciar este aprendizaje conjunto! A descansar y hasta mañana! Un abrazo!

Megs said...

Your presentation at PMQG was so great! Reading again through your supply list reminded me that gardening gloves are also a good substitute because they often have those little grippy nubs. Can't wait for the next installment!

Prissy said...

Yay! I have everything. Bummer..... I don't get to go shopping. I can't wait till tomorrow.

Dot said...

Although I've read about them many times, I've never kept a Quilting Journal of my own. I think it may be time for me to start. ;o)

This is exciting and I'm really looking forward to it.

Allie said...

Woohoo - I've got everything I need except a journal - I think I'll make one too! Oh this is SO exciting!

Quiet Quilter said...

check and double check!

Elsa said...

I"m in ... all I need are the gloves! really looking forward to this new adventure!!! thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Elizabeth said...

I'm so excited! Thanks so much for putting this together!

xo -E

Carme said...

Tengo todo preparado y con ganas de empezar.
Besos

Dori said...

Qué ganas de empezar a aprender el acolchado libre. :-))))

eileen-themissingpiece said...

Are you a scrabble playing quilter, too?

Elizabeth said...

I think I need to go raid my art supplies for one of my drawing books now. :-)

Mari said...

I'm ready!!!

Mama Pea said...

What weight of thread do you recommend for machine quilting? Thanks for doing this quilt along. I am really looking forward to it.

SarahVee said...

My darning foot is called a satin stitch foot. I have an older Kenmore. It's always good to check your machine's manual - it will have a little bit of advice in there, too. This is going to be great. My pile of quilt tops is vibrating in anticipation:)I'm going to fancy up one of my empty journals for this adventure. I don't have any gloves, but otherwise, I'm ready!Thanks for starting slow and making sure we have what we need. No procrastinating this time!

Debora said...

that arrive late penalty to enroll you enjoy it ... Greetings from Argentina.

Vesuviusmama said...

OK, I've added a few things to today's shopping list. Can't wait to get started!

Elcarov@ said...

Yuppy!!!!
I'm ready!!! but I need my journal ..

Elcarov@ said...

Hi Christina, I'm ready but I wanted to mention that "free motion quilting" in Spanish is:
"Acolchado Libre"....
thanks

Weatherbee ;) said...

Funny. So many people are bummed they don't get to go shopping. I on the other hand, have to go buy a darning foot and top stitch needles...and I'm bummed about having to go spend the money. :) Can't wait to be a part of this!

martameiga said...

I have all the supplies!! Ready to go! :) Just need to get the fabric

Fat Chick said...

I got all my bits today, excitement! Its only a practice piece, or a sewing machine pad as I am calling it, but I am well excited.

I couldn't get gloves yet :( and my foot has a spring in it & is open toed, is that ok?
Oh and my pins are not bent.
Its not sounding too good actually! :(
Can you let me know if it any of it is a major problem please Christina.
Thank you!
Fat Chick
:)

Elcarov@ said...

you can use a latex gloves in case of emergency , hahahha
well is an idea because is more easy to move your fabric

June Dodge said...

I've got everything except the paper version of quilting journal. I have recently started doing a weekend zendoodle - will use that for my quilting notes now too! Thanks for organizing this - now back to reading the other posts on this project!

Jan said...

A few years ago I found my marbles from when I was little. Instead of using curved pins, put a marble under the quilt layers while pinning together. It scoots along with just a nudge & any scraping goes against the marble, not the surface of your table or floor. Don't remember where I learned this trick but it works very well.

HRH-DMK said...

I have recently started watching on a Seattle-based PBS Channel a show called "Quilting Arts" with hostess Pokey Bolton (yes, that's really her name .. but she's very nice and enthusiastic about quilting, has lovely guests demonstrating a myriad of techniques, very inspiring!). They often show "free motion quilting", and I've always wanted to try it. Now thanks to Christina, I know the tools I need to get this show on the road. Can't wait--Thanks!

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