Updated: Sep 12
In this blog post, I will discuss what free motion applique quilting is, some of Monica's best tips, and an easy project explicitly designed to teach you this method so you can go on and add personal flair to your applique quilts.
I am engrossed in the art of quilting but most specifically mesmerised by free-motion applique. Especially Monica's unique style of sketchy applique. It is something that I really want to try, perhaps master even. And leading up to our new online Mystery Quilt Course, 'I, Valentine,' I thought it would be a good time to share an applique quilting technique that may seem daunting. Still, after you dive in, it is fun and forgiving and adds a unique artistic flair to your quilts. Now, I am a complete novice at this technique; however, considering our new mystery quilt is all about applique quilting, it would be fun to delve into Monica's tips and techniques. Perhaps we could all learn and try something new together. What is Free-Motion Applique Quilting?
Free-motion quilting is a technique where you essentially draw with your needle. Amazing textile effects can be created from this technique, and the best part is you can really personalise your quilts with your own artistic expression, which you can see from Monica's Love Birds Quilt below.
Love Birds Quilt Free Motion Applique Quilting (Sketchy Applique): Quilt as you go. Get Pattern Here
So How Can You Get Started With Free-Motion Applique Quilting?: On our YouTube channel we have a tutorial all about it where we use Monica's Sketchy Flowers pattern to demonstrate.
Sketchy Flowers is a fun cushion designed to help you learn and improve your free-motion sewing skills in 10 steps. Each shape has a different motion for you to practice, from up and down to curves, spirals and swirls giving you the confidence to “Sketchy Appliqué” with ease! Finished cushion size is 20” with a piped edge and button closure on the back. This is a workshop in a pattern that you can follow along with the FREE YouTube tutorial with Monica Poole.
Step 1: Prepare your quilt sandwich with safety pins to stop the top fabric from curling on the edges.
As we focus on quilt as you go, if you were making a quilt, you would do this to all your quilt blocks and then join them together.
Step 2: Monica's Tip for Starting
First, place your free-motion foot in the down position and then bring your needle down and up to bring up the bobbin thread. Use tweezers to capture that bobbin thread, and then proceed to do a few small stitches. This ties off the work. From there, cut away the excess threads. The reason for bringing the bobbin thread to the top is to stop it from getting caught in your work as you free motion, giving a neater finisher.
Step 3: The Hand Frame Technique
The overall goal when free-motion quilting is to glide your work through the machine lightly; this will give your stitches a nice and consistent look.
Making a hand frame like this helps the work ease under the sewing machine, don't press too hard! One of the problems people have when they do free motion quilting is they get stressed and tense, making it difficult to glide the workaround.
Step 4: Getting Comfortable Practice, practice, practice on samples! Master the hand frame or even create your own comfortable hand position that allows you to glide your work through the machine. The key to free-motion applique quilting is to almost "become one" with your machine.
To get comfortable, start by practicing moving backward and forwards. You want to have a stitch length that looks like 2.5. A few tips - if you have a speed control on your machine, set it on a medium setting and focus on moving your hands at an even speed. Don't forget to check the back of your work to make sure your tension is ok. If you have loops on the bottom of the work it means you need to tighten the top tension, and loops on top mean the bottom tension needs to be tightened.
Once you get comfortable going backward and forwards, you can create some fantastic effects with such a simple technique.
From there, you can go on and learn stippling which is another amazing free-motion technique!
Once you progress with this style of free-motion quilting that Monica calls 'Sketchy Applique', the sky is the limit. I love the illustrative effect that it brings out in Monica's work. It adds depth and dimension to an applique design and gives the chance to provide unique detailing to applique shapes like in this quilt, Butterfly Bliss.
Butterfly Bliss, quilt as you go, by Monica Poole: See pattern here
I know I am definitely going to try this effect, as I wouldn't mind adding some sketchy details to my applique patterns. If you are interested in learning more you can watch the full video on our YouTube channel and get the pattern below.
click the image for the full YouTube tutorial
And grab the pattern if you would like to follow along with a free-motion project designed to get you started with all the shapes and curves in free-motion quilting!
If you have tried free-motion quilting or made this pattern, let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below! Next week I will have to give this a try! Stay tuned. xox Alaura
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