Seriously, I found something last month, used it today and immediately bumped it to the top of my favorites list. The quilt halo. It is a hefty iron ring coating in a slightly tacky plastic. It really keeps the fabric from bunching up right under the needle. Keeps the fabric flat and at just the right tautness or flatness which helps with tension issues. I don’t have to wear those uncomfortable gloves any more. It makes me happy! Oh, it also seems to lessen the need for a free motion slider.. but with both in place.. it’s like quilting on an ice rink. Seriously, I like this tool. If I had to choose between the slider and the halo. I’d pick the halo. Before you ask, NO! I’m not getting paid to endorse. I just like this tool a lot. If you local quilt store doesn’t have it, you can buy it from the source. http://purpledaisiesquilting.com/collections/top-10-products/products/quilt-halo-free-motion-quilting-tool
Frustration City! Skipped stitches can really make free motion not fun. And it really should be fun. I can’t recommend enough to always test your exact materials and design elements on a test sandwich first before you start on your quilt. Also, fresh needles can solve many problems
Skipped Stitches are caused by a lot of things. But usually the culprit is misthreading or a damaged or dull needle. You might have just put a new needle in the machine and that needle could still have a micro sized burr in a bad spot somewhere. Or maybe you are like me and think you can eke out the whole darn quilt including patchwork and quilting with one needle. Well, that needle is probably the problem. There is a reason that sewing machine makers make the needle so easy to replace.
The needle is easy to replace because we are supposed to do it pretty often.
Are you sewing with your presser foot down? Often new free motion quilters will forget. If the presser foot isn’t down, then the tension discs can’t help form a stitch.
Replace the Needle – needles are the cheapest part of your sewing expenses. Try just changing it out. You don’t have to use them, but I like titanium coated needles. I explain why in this post.
Take the thread out of your machine and clean your machine. Be sure to take the bobbin out for good measure too. Clean it, clean the bobbin area, if you can remove and clean the bobbin casing then do it. Take the presser foot plate off and clean under it. Clean lint off the needle holding metal bar thingy (very technical term there). Clean it all.
Rethread the machine properly.
Is your presser foot up before you thread? If you don’t bring up the presser foot, the thread can not get in-between the tension disks. This is a problem as stitches can’t form..
Is your bobbin oriented the correct way (does it spin the right way once it is inserted in the machine)? If there aren’t arrows stamped in your machine, are you sure you’ve seen the manual to know. One friend actually sewed for years with the bobbin going the wrong way. It was okay for straight stitch, but when she finally wanted to learn free motion quilting, it didn’t work well at all and caused skipped stitches.
You can look through my troubleshooting posts on this blog and hunt online for answer. These are collated from personal experience, other free-motion quilters, Superior Thread Company, Schmetz Needle Company, and a lot of other sources. This is all common knowledge stuff, no rocket science here or proprietary info. But I hope it helps you. I use my blog as a resource all the time. I love comments too. Please help if you know something else that should be added, or another solution.
I do have a chart in the works that I promise to post in the near future.
Free Motion Quilting Project – This is probably the best site for learning free motion quilting that I can think of. Leah Day clearly explains what she is doing, how to do it yourself and she has Craftsy classes too. She has done tons of online examples. She recently started publishing her designs in books, so if you are a person who prefers to browse books for ideas, she is there for you too.
You also might want to follow along with Leah’s Building Blocks Quilt Along. You can find it on Facebook and her website that I linked to above.
The book the store did not have in stock because they sold out. I highly recommend this for a beginner or never ever free motioned before person. It is a short book at only 32 pages. Don’t be fooled though. It gives you exactly what you need and nothing more. No silly same old filler pages like so many other quilting books have now days.
Free Motion Quilting On Your Home Sewing Machine by Kent Mick. You can get it on Amazon or at almost any large quilt shop. It should be $12.95 or under.
Books I passed around class: Free Motion Quilting From Feathers to Flames by Leah Day is available on kindle and as a regular book.. She has a DVD and other books available too. I call this Leah’s red book. It is a great portable spiral bound smaller sized book full of examples. Wonderful textures of feather and flame designs. I use this for inspiration often. She includes over 50 designs and instructions. She also shows how to transform a simple design into something more complicated looking by just changing it up a bit. I love this book.
Quilt Savvy: Gaudynski’s Machine Quilting Guidebook by Diane Gaudynski has great examples photos. It is in a vertical format so easy to carry around to retreats or keep by your machine. This book as great trouble shooting tips. Want to know why you have little wads of thread at your points? She tells you. I think this book is very wordy if you think it’s just a reference guide. It isn’t. She gives lots of advice on many aspects to machine quilting (aka free motion).