Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses

Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses

In Part 2 of The More You Know @ DreamWeaver’s Quilts, Machine Quilting Edition, we talked a bit about checking your quilting design for trouble spots where you might be stitching over multiple layers of fabric that could cause the presser foot to hang up, making stitches smaller, uneven or just wonky. Being prepared by marking those spots in the pattern, repositioning your hands and the quilt for more control when approaching those trouble spots, and slowing down or even stopping the machine to make one stitch at a time can help keep free motion quilting stitches even over those rough patches.

What about your own weaknesses? What weaknesses in your technique could be causing wobbles and uneven machine quilting? Yep, we all have them and usually we know what they are, and sure, we’ve tried to get better at it all–we practice every day, right??–but still those weaknesses sometimes persist. There are a couple of specific things that affect the quality of my own quilting and I’ll share my correction methods with you!

Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses
Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses

Even after free motion machine quilting for all these years, I still have issues restarting in the middle of a line of quilting after a pause. That first stitch usually be too big, too small or landed in the wrong place and leave a nice big jog in my otherwise smooth quilting line. There are two things I do to work around that weakness. One, if there’s a really long line of quilting coming up in my pattern, I stop and rearrange the quilt and my hands before this line of quilting, so I don’t have to stop in the middle of it and be very likely to create a wobble. Two, if I absolutely have to stop in the middle of a smooth line to readjust the quilt and/or hands, I bring the needle up to the top of the quilt and carefully move the quilt so that the needle is hovering right over where I want it to go for that first stitch. Taking that first stitch from a needle up position gives me a better shot at getting that stitch right.

Another small thing that can have a big effect on the quality of my quilting is quilting direction. I find that my stitch length is more consistent if I’m stitching backward or sideways rather than forward. I think it’s because I can see my stitches (peripherally, since I’m not looking directly at them usually) and therefore the stitch length, which helps me maintain that consistent quilting speed and that balance between the speed of the machine and the movement speed of the quilt. If I’m quilting forward, the stitches are behind the needle and I can’t see them. I generally try to work around that weakness by changing the quilting direction if possible by turning the quilt top to work in the direction that’s most likely to result in a better stitch length. It doesn’t always work out perfectly when free motion quilting, but planning for it does help.

What are your machine quilting weaknesses? How do you combat them? Share your solutions here or on Facebook!

The More You Know @ DreamWeaver's Quilts

**This is Part 3 of The More You Know @ DreamWeaver’s Quilts, Machine Quilting Edition. Because the more you know, the easier it is! 😀 Further parts will be linked here as they are published!

Part 1: Machine Quilting: Know Your Tools
Part 2: Machine Quilting: Know the Design
Part 3: Machine Quilting: Know Your Weaknesses