This afternoon we finally got the thunderstorms and rain our weather people have been promising us, so I thought it would be a good time to tackle, um, practice some free motion quilting.

I made a set of placemats and only have one quilted. Since I made these for myself I decided to practice my quilting technique on them. Who cares if they all don’t look the same, right?

On my first one I tried to use a turquoise thread in the bobbin and white on top to match the backing. But I couldn’t get the tension right so the dark thread was coming thru to the top. (Didn’t take a pic)

I ended up picking out all the thread, loading up a white bobbin, and starting all over.

With the first placemat I found myself tugging and pushing and pulling the fabric around. I about exhausted myself!  I found that I had to adjust my presser foot — per Leah Day — so my fabric would glide more easily.

The second mat is better, and the third one even better. I still don’t have the tension right so I’ll be working more on that. I also have some missed stitches, where the bobbin thread doesn’t catch the top thread. I’ve tried to take a close-up picture so you can see what I mean. It’s probably related to the tension problem I’m guessing. Anyone else have this issue?  And if you do, is there a way to fix it without picking out all the stitching?

Free Motion Quilting FMQ Placemat

See how the stitches have missed on the top? They look the same on the back.

This is the back.  It's easier to see here the inconsistent stitch length.

This is the back. It’s easier to see here the inconsistent stitch length.

My stitch length isn’t consistent and neither is my meandering pattern. I know with practice it will get better. One of the things I found myself doing was listening to the sound of my machine. If I had the sound right, and the movement of my hands right then my stitches were much more consistent. Does that make sense?

I’m glad I started with the placemats. I can’t imagine doing this on a larger size quilt yet. Even though I’ve been practicing on scrap pieces, working on a placemat helped me more. I found I had to plan ahead a bit so my lines wouldn’t cross and so I would end where I wanted.

FMQ Free Motion Quilting

The meandering pattern. This is on the third placemat and is getting easier for me to do.

I found myself tensing up a lot during the time I was sewing.  I tried to relax my shoulders and neck as I was sewing and when I did I was able to do a better job.  But I had to keep reminding myself to relax.

So, on my next practice session I’m going to work on my tension problems (both in my neck and on my machine!) 🙂  Any suggestions from the pro’s out there would be greatly appreciated!

It’s been a fun afternoon and now I have 5 quilted placemats.  Yay!  All that’s left to do now is the binding and I can officially check this project off my list!

FMQ Free Motion Quilting

One section on the front of the placemat. This is on the third placemat.

Don’t forget – the next group of bloggers (links below) in the New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop will be posting tomorrow. The hop is hosted by Beth of Plum and June. Please take some time to visit these great blogs and leave some comment love!

Plum and June Blog Hope

Sarah @ Berry Barn Designs
Liz @ Green Cheese Quilting
Janet @ Simply Pieced
Ruth @ Charly & Ben’s Crafty Corner
Kristyn @ Melon Patch Quilts
Jo @ Riddle and Whimsy (
Linh @ Calling All Stitchers
Alida @ Tweety Loves Quilting
Rachel @ Quiltineering
Shauna @ Shauna’s World
Pam @ Sewing Wilde
Wendy @ Wendy’s Quilts and More
Jan @ The Colorful Fabriholic
Carole @ From My Carolina Home
Lin @ Lin’s Quilts
Helga @ Green Mill Vintage
Kate @ Thread Everywhere
Cheryl @ Texas Quilting Gal
Jenn @ Sew Crafty Jenn
Heather @ QA Creations
Cornelia @ Pieced With Love XOXO

Have a sewfully happy day!!