Saturday, December 5, 2015

Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen Day 4 - FMQ sewing machine vs HQSS

When it comes to FMQ I would like to give a shout out to Leah Day. I learned to FMQ by watching her videos and taking Craftsy classes with her. She has a really great teaching style, and her designs are free on her website, along with "how to stitch" videos.
FMQ done on Husqvarna Emerald - Leah Day lollipop tree pattern
When I started free motion quilting I upgraded my Singer, bought a machine with feed dogs, read a book, and expected to learn how to do it fairly easily. How hard could it be? Well, hardish it turned out. Thread "bird nested" or "eyelashed", stitches were really hard to control, and I was either racing along at 80 miles an hour, or negotiating a tricky turn like an elderly chicken crossing a busy highway. My Husqvara also gave me endless issues with the free motion feet. Their design is a bit silly and the top of the foot would get a stress break really easily. At $50 a foot this was a big deal, and the dealer just shrugged and sold me a new one.
The one on the left works better than the one on the right!!
 Once I'd found Leah's site, I stopped buying feet and wound an elastic band around the top of the broken foot and it worked better than before. I also invested in a Supreme Slider, and that was a game changer. The silicone surface gave me sufficient "glide" that I finally began to feel I might be able to master this FMQ thing. I started using Bobbin Genies too, and they seemed to help with bird's nesting on the back. I never got to terms with gloves though. I have 2 different brands, and frankly, I can't quilt with either of them. I need to feel the fabric.

Then I bought a Bernina and, partly because it is such a great machine, and partly because I had been practicing, FMQ seemed to have a lot less thread issues etc. but I was still using the Supreme Slider. Actually it was my third, because I ripped one, and sewed through another one. When they say wash after each use, that is advice worth taking... I still struggled with visibility though. I always felt I was craning my neck to see what the heck I was doing.
FMQ done on Bernina 350 PE
And now I have the Sweet Sixteen. I know it's early days but I do feel a little as though I'd died and gone to heaven. No feed dogs for the up/down controversy. No peering around the machine to see my work area, no wondering how to get more light where I'm working. No need for a Supreme Slider, Bobbin Genie etc.

Now the only thing I have to get my head around is that all the controls are on the control panel. I do still find myself looking for the lever to engage the machine, and the hand wheel to drop the needle into the fabric! And I wish there was a thread snipper like on my Bernina.

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