FMQ Questions? Ask me!

Kimberlee Tanner

What is the most common thread you use when there are a lot of color changes in the top? And bobbin?

I am not one to constantly change thread color (unless that is what a client requests). I’ve found, that for the most part, the quilting blends well enough that I can use the same color.  For example, my Christmas Whirl quilt (the first photo) was done completely in white, regardless of the bold red, greens, and yellows. Currently I use Glide 40 wt in most of my quilts, top and bottom. 95% of the time, if I have white fabrics in the quilt, I’m going to use white thread. Anything else really stands out on the white. If I have cream or linen color backgrounds, my favorite color is Bone. It’s my magic thread that blends well with so many things. It’s a cool linen/off white color. Two other ones I use regularly are a pale yellow and a light gray. The second quilt was quilted entirely in light gray. Most of the time I match top to bottom. I actually love being able to see the quilting on the back of the quilt, so I don’t mind if it sticks out.


How do you decide what design you use when you FMQ? I’m working on a double wedding ring that I’ll be quilting soon and I’m not sure where to start.

Do you plan out a design like this or just forget ahead on a whim?
This is one of the hardest things about FMQ. There are so many options and many times it’s hard to know what to use. First, I like to keep a sketchbook and quilting books on hand that have lots of ideas in them. Whenever I see a new FMQ design, I’ll try and remember to sketch it down in my book so I can refer back to it when I’m ready to start designing. It seems like everything I’ve ever done disappears as soon as I start quilting. Second, I always start with a printout of the quilt top, as flat as possible and a pencil. I’ve tried goingon a whim and it usually ends up in more unpicking then when I have a plan. That doesn’t mean I’ll always have everything figured out though and will make changes if it’s not quite what I thought it would be once I start sewing. Third, break the space down. When you are looking at smaller sections, it’s easier to figure out how to fill them. Then you can move to other spaces and use contrast, repetition, and size changes to easily fill them in and keep everything very cohesive. These are all elements I go over in my YouTube videos, so check that out if you want to see my whole process of designing a quilt.

I want to learn but I have never touched a sewing machine where should I start? I appreciate your advice please

First, you’ll need a machine. To successfully Free motion quilt, you’ll want one that will allow you to drop the feed dogs and use a free motion quilting foot, so you can move the fabric freely. Second, read the manual, learn everything about the machine. Third, practice. Get two pieces of fabric with batting in between and start moving them around under the needle. Start small, so you aren’t overwhelmed by the weight as you learn. Find designs you like, watch Youtube videos, and doodle everything along with the people showing them. Doodle as often as you can, pick one or two designs and practice, practice, practice. After you feel comfortable doodling them with pens/pencils, move to your machine and try recreating them under the needle. Don’t be hard on yourself when it doesn’t look like you hoped. With practice you will get better. If you have any questions related to free motion quilting, shoot me an email and I’ll add them to the list. 

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