A while back, I joined the 2012  Free-Motion Quilting Challenge. See my badge on the right? I carefully chose good but economical fabric, decided to sacrifice a nice batt, inventoried my needle supply, and purchased 505 spray and a spool of variegated thread. Then I watched the tutorial on SewCalGal's blog.

I practiced with a pen and paper. Many times. I waited until I had an entire day with great lighting in my studio and cut and spray basted (for the first time) my sandwich samples together. I selected a needle.

I practiced on a single layer remnant. Not bad, just a little shakey. Tension issues I will work out on the sandwich remnant. That would be next after a break for lunch so maybe I could address the shakey issue.
Gloved and ready. I may not find much in their magazine, but I DO like Fons and Porter quilting gloves. I am about to bring the bobbin thread up to the top and begin on the sandwich remnant. Everything is going just fine! Cute little trial on the sandwich remnant. Time to try the real deal.
Oh-oh! Thread shred. Maybe it is just a fluke. Re-thread the needle. No, that is not it. Wipe the goo off the needle from the 505 spray.
No, that is not it. Adjust the tension up. No. Down? No. TRY A DIFFERENT NEEDLE!    By now, the sun has gone behind a cloud, literally and metaphorically. I tinkered with the light in this picture but you can still see the dismal mood of the situation reflected in the no longer warmly glowing fabric.

One more shred and I am CHANGING THE THREAD. 
This is the back. There are issues with the top thread tension being too loose but that happens mostly near the beginning of the shred. I unsewed at the shreds, brought the bobbin threads up to the top, knotted and buried them. Considering the trouble I had, and the increased tension I carried while determinedly pressing toward the finish, this is not worse than I thought it would look. 
Yes. I changed the thread. I finally finished but not before I decided I still do not care to FMQ. I can HAND QUILT in the time it takes to do this and my results are MUCH MUCH better looking. I have 11 more months to change my mind. We will see.


Anonymous said...

Dear Michelle, the first needle is to thin. Use 80 or 90 Topstitch. The thread looks good.
For try single layer is not so good, better you underlay with a fusn' tear or so. Even better you use a tryout - sandwich- piece befor you use your original sandwich.
Dont give up. With that struggle your not alone.
Many greetings

Tammy said...

Hi Michelle, It is hard work to learn a new skill. Free motion quilting takes practice, practice and more practice. It is frustrating when the needle thread shreds, breaks or the thread tension is off. Generally top thread looping at the bottom means the top tension is too loose. Bottom thread looping at the top the top tension is too tight. If adjusting the needle tension doesn't fix the problem then the bobbin tension spring may need adjusting. I always test the tension by straight stitching on a piece of scrap cotton folded in half. If the tension is good when straight stitching, it should be fine for free motion quilting. That lovely variegated thread probably needed an 80/12 or 90/14 universal, top stitch or embroidery needle. Your leaves look like leaves and the stitches look good. I see a wee bit of looping on the back side which may have nothing to do with tension but with the speed of the machine and motion of the hands not being in sync. For a first attempt, I think you did a most excellent job. Well done!