FMQ lessons learned

Every time I free motion quilt something, I find there’s a lesson in the process. Today I’m sharing FMQ lessons learned (the hard way) during my most recent finish. This wall hanging was a bonus project from a class I taught last year. I wanted it to have lots of open space for free motion quilting, giving me the opportunity to practice more. I’ve been “practicing” for 20 years!

Free motion quilting by Julie Cefalu @ The Crafty Quilter

I’m really happy with how this turned out overall. In general, I practice a design on a whiteboard until I feel comfortable with it. Often I will then use a practice sandwich to practice some more. Then I quilt the actual project.

FMQ lessons learned @ The Crafty Quilter

Lesson one for this project is to always bring up the bobbin thread to the top of your quilt even if you have a very short thread tail. I always thought if you used the automatic thread cutter on your sewing machine, that you didn’t have to pull up the bobbin thread. But, I found that I was getting a small thread nest on the back of my quilt.

When I started to bring up the bobbin thread, even without grabbing it and holding onto it, the thread nest disappeared. Okay, now we know!

Lesson two is to use a thread color that is slightly lighter or darker than your fabric so you can see it as your FMQ’ing. I stitched a feather in one of the black triangles with black thread. It was so difficult to see where I had been stitching and where I needed to go. So, I switched to a brown thread.

Lesson three. Test your thread color before you commit. I didn’t like the brown thread! So, I used a black Pigma Micron Pen and colored over all of my brown feathers. This took a while, but it was something to do while watching TV at night. If this were a quilt that was going to be washed a lot, I might not have bothered. But it’s a wall hanging and it won’t fade or wash away. Pigma ink is waterproof, chemical resistant, fade resistant, bleed free, quick drying and pH neutral.

Those are my FMQ lessons learned for this project! I hope you learned something as well. For more tips, check out my free motion quilting practice tips here.

I’ll be back on Sunday with May’s Sew Thankful Sunday blog post. Until then, I’ll be in Austin visiting my grandkids. Happy (free motion) Quilting!

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  1. The quilting is beautiful. Is there any chance you could do a tutorial of the design?
    I always enjoy your blog! Thanks!

  2. Your wall hanging is beautiful; I keep going back to look at it. And thank you for the tips! What I really want to ask you is what do you mean that you practice on a white board? What are you referring to , and how do you practice with it? I feel silly asking, but I am grateful for any information that you can give me. Thank you. And have a wonderful time with your family.

  3. Good morning. I think your quilting is beautiful. Quilting black on black is so so difficult to see, but I do like it better than the brown 🙂
    Enjoy your grandchildren!

  4. Absolutely inspiring quilting! Also thanks for the link to your tips. Helpful for a fmq wanna be!

  5. Your wall hanging is beautiful! Those thread nests are so pesky aren’t they. When I quilt on black I use Glide’s warm grey brown.

  6. You can do anything Julie! Whether it is putting colors together, piecing, or quilting, you’ve got it going on!! Your wall hanging is spectacular! You always share your knowledge and experience to make our lives easier and it is appreciated. Bravo!

  7. This wall hanging simply took my breath away! Truly beautiful and stunning, Julie! I’d say all your years of practice is paying big dividends! And with you sharing your quilting tips with others, that makes it even more special. I hope you have a wonderful time in Austin, filling your soul with your precious family!

  8. Stunning!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful tips – I always learn something from your posts 🙂

  9. Your “leftover” wall quilt is beautiful! What a fantastic job you did quilting it. So much detail in the design and workmanship. Have a wonderful time with your beautiful grandchildren in Austin. — Susan

  10. Your quilt is stunning, Julie! You did a beautiful job, and I thank you for sharing your tips. I discovered contrasting threads like you did, trying to quilt black on black. I do think that is the absolute worst. By the time I got to the borders, I wised up and used a dark grey. What kind and weight of thread did you use?

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