Free Motion Design

MarveLes Art StudiosArt and Collage Quilts, Blogs, Mixing It Up 2 Comments

Hey there~

It’s a simplistic shape ~ a heart.  {anyone… yes anyone… can draw a simple heart shape!}…  

I drew this in an app called “Paper 53” and thought I would use this digital manipulation as a fun way to  illustrate a few free motion designs.  I personally call this  technique “free motion applique” when I teach it in my free motion class.  And one of the best ways to begin, is to do this same exact technique with a piece of paper and a pen/pencil.  Then… take it to the next level with fabric, thread and needle!

I’ve shown several different designs in the picture above… some are using a straight stitch, and some a zig zag.  I LOVE free motion applique!  For me, it’s creative, quick, unique, and easily mastered with practice… whether it’s pen and paper, or fabric and needle!

This is how you get started: draw a heart pattern {at least 5″x7″ in size} onto one side of your fusible web {usually this the paper side that comes off the most easily}.  and fuse your fusible to the fabric.  Cut your heart out, and fuse that heart directly to a muslin fabric base, {or any kind of fabric – just make it inexpensive}. The size of the muslin should be about 12” x12″  or so.  Now add batting, and backing fabric.  There’s your quilt sandwich.  

Now… prepare your machine… add your favorite free motion foot {for me this is usually Bernina #29}.  

Choose your thread.  I recommend a CONTRASTING thread against the muslin top; {this is so you can see your design well against the fabric background of the heart}. 

Bobbin thread:  choose a 50 weight, or a matching 40 weight is fine too.
Use this type of needle: 90/14 topstitch, metallic, or microtex needle will work great with any 40 weight thread you use on your top.  

Lower your feed dogs.  Lower your top tension, probably at least one full number setting.

Now choose your stitch.  Straight ~ or zig zag.  No need to set a length or width with a straight stitch, right?  {since you are the one who controls that by the movement of your hands and foot control pedal.}

When you choose a zig zag, you DO want to set a WIDTH setting {just not a length ~ again you determine the length by how fast you move the fabric sandwich under the needle}.  The width of the zig zag?  Ah… that is  determined by personal preference, the width of your free motion foot, and width capacity of your machine.  Generally speaking, choose a 3.0 or 3.5 to start, just for kicks and giggles {and don’t forget to smile and have fun}

Use the heart doodle above as some ideas to begin, and see how many different styles and shapes you can do on your heart.  Keep in mind that the stitches are radiating from the outside edge of the heart, going inward.  You can reverse this process, too!  Go from the outside edge of the heart, outward, onto the muslin base, for some extra practice bonus time!

Now make some time to just do it. {that’s truly the hardest part isn’t it?}… get those fabric sandwiches made and stacked up, so they are ready when you are! 


Comments 2

  1. Nice tutorial, Leslie! I ve been using the App too. Yesterday, I bought a stylus. I've yet to translate a design onto fabric yet though? Too many ideas. So little time!

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