Monthly Archives: January 2015

Free Motion Machine Quilting Tools

Well the only thing I like better than Kitchen gadgets is sewing gadgets! I am a real sucker for anything new out there that may make free motion machine quilting easier or our stitches look better. I have used a SewSlip (silicone) ¬†or a Supreme Slider (Teflon) for years now and couldn’t imagine free motion quilting without one. I use painters tape to secure the edges so I don’t sew the slider to my quilt (guess how I learned that one ūüôā ) .

Taping Supreme Slider for Free Motion Quilting
Taping down Supreme Slider to avoid accidents

Recently I have seen Angela Huffman, an APQS educator on a YouTube talking about a polish kit for table surface areas (Formica and acrylic)  . It is a product put out by Sew Very Smooth. Has anyone used this??  I am not a lover of the Quilt Glide spray but thought maybe someone had a review on this new product. If it works it could give a bigger slick work area .

Well on to my reviews of what ¬†Free motion machine quilting tools work for me or not …..

First I have to say I love my Machingers gloves. ¬†I live in Florida and shall we say, in my mid-life years were hot flashes are a daily occurrence. Machingers are surprisingly light. I was really expecting to hate them, but ended up really loving them- just wish they came in colors that don’t show discoloration from fabric etc. . Having said that , I have tried several others but have not tired the Grabaroos.¬† Anyone out there have a comparison ?

Quilt Sew Easy Discs did not work for me. I have heard /seen people using this but find that they make my hands kind of feel stiff from using these. I also thought they were a little pricey , but regardless, it would be worth it if it worked for me.

Quilt Sew Easy Discs
Quilt Sew Easy Discs

Next I tried the Quilt Halo.¬† These are put out by Sharon Schamber. I have to say, at first, it didn’t¬† work for me either. The single ring just isn’t substantial enough to hold onto. Then I came across a video by Sharon Schramber’s daughter Cristy Fincher . Cristy uses 2 rings.¬† This makes for a more¬†comfortable¬† FMQ experience.¬† She is able to hang these rings on her machine when not in use (looks like she sews on a Juki). I am not able to do that as the Baby Lock Ellisimo sewing head is too thick.

Free Motion Quilt Halo Hoops
Double Quilt Halo Hoops

After that I tried the Husqvarna Viking Free Motion guide Grip. I had read that Lori Kennedy on the In Box Jaunt say this is her “secret weapon” ( if you haven’t checked out her blog/tutorials you should! ). Well I¬† have to say this is probably one of my favorite too. It is open on one end making it easy to move on and off the machine . When using other hoops on the George I actually have to take off the foot to get a hoop on or off. I liked the raised side hand grips making for a light grasp , but comfortable FMQ experience . The guide is small, but perfect for micro-stippling or pebbling. I purchased mine off eBay and paid about $35.00 . You just have to be patient and watch as I see prices all over the place.

Husqvarna Viking Free Motion Guide Grip
Husqvarna Viking Free Motion Guide Grip

Lastly today I have to report on the Martelli¬† Free Motion Quilting GrippeRings. I really like the way the Martelli Hoop sits on the fabric and holds it secure without being heavy. They have a knob/handle on each side of the hoop for a light- handed , almost steering feeling¬† when maneuvering your fabric. For DMS there is an indentation for easy in and out from under your presser foot ( unfortunately I still have to remove the foot on the APQS George).¬† Martelli makes 3 hoop sizes, an¬† 8″ and 11″ round ring and a 12″ square. The 8″ round is once again great for micro-stippling kind of work. The 11″ round can be used to stitch out motifs that are bigger in size . I have to caution you on the 12″ square. I purchased this thinking that it was the answer to that feeling of always running into the side of the hoop (you do stop running into the edges the more you use them). It is too big,¬† in my humble opinion , for a domestic sewing machine. It measures 15 1/2″ across from outside edge to outside edge. I took the picture below so you can see how much space it takes on the bed of my machine, leaving very little room to maneuver your fabric/motif. ¬†I think this hoop has its place with the sit-down longarmers.¬†The 11″ round is a more reasonable size for the bed of a DSM (see below). I would like to add that Martelli has wonderful customer service (thank you Patrick ūüôā ) should you need any assistance.

12" square Martelli  Free Motion Quilting GrippeRings
12″ square Martelli Free Motion Quilting GrippeRings measures 15.5″ across outside edges
Martelli 11" round Free Motion Quilting Hoop
Martelli 11″ round Free Motion Quilting Hoop

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Free Motion Quilting Tension Problems

Well the tension gremlins visited my house this week , so I figured a little free motion quilting trouble shooting was in order.  I had been quilting with Bottom Line (a 60 wt) on top and a SuperBob  prewound bobbin (also 60wt ) and my stitches looked great. Moved onto another project and switched my thread to  So Fine( 50wt) on top with self wound bobbins of the same on the bottom. Well my tension just went haywire!

note the eye-lashing on the backside the fabric
note the eye-lashing on the backside the fabric
bobbin thread laying on the topside of the swirl
bobbin thread laying on fabric on the topside of the swirl

Whenever you free motion machine quilt it has been my experience that you will need to adjust your tension, even on my DSM. Different threads, fabric, batting, and needles all affect stitch quality. I have a Baby Lock Ellisimo and a Symphony and have found that I had to tighten my upper tension when free motion quilting. On my APQS  George I find the tension needing tweaking more frequently.  After multiple adjustments with samples that looked awful I knew I had to work my way through the tension check list to fix my free motion tension woes.

  1. Re-thread your machine both upper and bobbin- even if you think it looks right. It may not be sitting in the tension discs properly.
  2. Change your needle. Is the needle the right size/type for the thread you are using? Superior Threads¬†actually has a “learn more about” link attached to each of their threads that tells you what size needle to use for both DSM users and longarms. Even if you are not using Superior’s thread they have some interesting information on threads and needles.
  3. Clean your machine, especially the bobbin case. I cleaned my bobbin case (the APQS George has a front loading bobbin) with rubbing alcohol on a q-tip and then ran a business card under the tension spring very gently. If you have a drop in bobbin case, brush out your case well and then gently pull a thread  between the tension disc of the bobbin.  You would be amazed at what can be lodged under there. I have been told by APQS that a business card is the perfect thickness- never run anything plastic or metal under the tension spring.

    Cleaning tension spring with a business card
    Cleaning tension spring with a business card
  4. Place a drop of oil on the race in the bobbin area before re-installing bobbin.
  5. Take a good look at your thread. Hold it up to the light. It shouldn’t be fuzzy. Poor quality thread causes uneven feed of thread through the tension discs. Even high quality thread manufactures have a “bad” batch occasionally.
  6. Lastly- your batting. I was being frugal and using some leftover, gosh knows what- from what batting. It felt super flat and thin when I stitched on it. I changed my batting back to Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 and could see the improvement in my stitch quality immediately. I don’t think my “leftovers” had enough loft for my stitches to meet in the middle of my quilt sandwich.
Improved tension
Improved tension

The other thing I noticed is that when my bobbin on the George is running low, my tension goes a little out of whack.  I am thinking of trying the Magna Glide bobbins by Fil-tec. I have heard that the little magnet in the bobbin keeps an even tension with no backlash or over spin . I like the idea of winding the bobbins to match whatever is on the top, as  it helps hide some imperfections as a new-ish free motion quilter.  What do you all like in your bobbins???  What have you found to be  more trouble free ?

I hope your week is free from tension issues (thread or otherwise ūüôā ),
Happy Quilting !


APQS George

I hope you all are have a great week and getting some quilting in. This week I was going to write about my decision to purchase an APQS George. As I stated in earlier posts, I made a commitment to quilt all my own quilts in the¬† summer of 2014 due to various reasons. The main being I wanted to keep the creativity flowing from the very beginning¬† of a quilt project to the end. As I quilted larger quilts I felt that it would be nice to have a little more throat space to juggle all that fabric. When¬† I began to look at sit-down longarms¬† I was confronted with the lack of dealers¬† in my area. Luckily I was going to Houston Quilt Festival with good friends who¬†patiently accompanied me from one manufacturer to another, as I test drove any sit-down longarm I could get my hands on . While there were several that I liked ALOT , it always came back to how far my nearest dealer was. I felt it was a security blanket to have a dealer to tap into if I had problems ( that’s my current way of thinking I’ll let you know how it plays out ) . After much running back¬† and forth between longarm manufacturers I decided on the APQS George.¬† I liked the way the machine orients like a domestic¬† sewing machine. It has a 20″throat space. It does not have a ton of bells and whistles- it’s very basic.¬†¬† George comes with a life-time warranty, and I have a dealer about 1 1/2 hours from my home.

Now that it has been delivered I am slowly getting acquainted with him. George definitely has a different industrial feel from free motioning on my Baby Lock Ellisimo. ¬†¬†I love the fact that it orients like a domestic sewing machine and am looking forward to suspending larger quilts behind the machine to support the quilt’s¬† weight . You can see how Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry suspends her quilts at ¬†¬† . Patsy Thompson also has two great methods with great pictures on how to suspend a quit on her blog at t . Patsy Thompson really aided me in my quest for a sit-down longarm. After seeing that she got an APQS George I contacted her to see if she was happy with it . She replied very quickly with a detailed email of her positive thoughts of what she liked about George. It was so generous of her to share her time and expertise. Having someone that you hold in high regard give such a positive review went a long way toward pushing me in that direction and I can’t thank her enough!

Happy Quilting !





Free Motion Quilting Ruler Foot

Today I was catching up on reading my favorite blogs. This past summer when I really started the free motion quilting journey in earnest, ¬†I began researching all I could find on the internet . I happen upon a YouTube video and subsequent blog¬† of¬†Amy’s Free Motion Quilting Adventure at¬†. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† ruler-foot-ellisimoruler-foot_edited-1 .

I have to say- I just love¬† Amy- she is one of my favorites! Her videos are great and I look forward to reading her blog. It was there that I discovered free motion quilting ¬†ruler work. Once I saw her doing her free motion quilting ruler work I realized that I have seen this on my own quilts that had been done by ¬†longarmers many times. The problem came in that I sew/quilt on a Baby Lock Ellisimo. I ordered the Janome foot kit (made sure it was returnable ), but the needle position was not centered. I tried making my own ruler foot super gluing various washers and nylon spacers to the Baby Lock “C” foot only to figure out that that foot is manufactured at a slight forward angle so the needle position still wasn’t ideal not to mention the visibility was terrible. I called Baby Lock to complain/request they look into a free motion quilting ¬†ruler foot. The gal told me she had no idea what I was asking for. I gave her the link to Amy’s Free Motion Quilting Adventures on YouTube showing her demoing the Janome foot. You cannot imagine how happy I was in Amy’s latest post when she said ¬†Patsy Thompson (another talented quilter that I love to follow) told her about a potential ruler foot coming out that would work on Baby Locks. ¬†In the meantime I found a ruler foot on eBay that works great on my Ellisimo. I emailed the seller first and verified that I could return the foot if it didn’t fit. I paid $65.00 with free¬†shipping ¬†¬† ¬†.It isn’t a completely closed foot , ¬†as you can see in the pictures, ¬†but that hasn’t been a problem so far. ¬†I hope this helps others looking to try out ruler work !

Happy Quilting,