Free-motion inspiration

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on 24 Oct 2011 2:15 PM

Where do you find inspiration for your free-motion designs? Do you look for patterns in nature? Or perhaps adapt motifs from various sources?

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ckquilter wrote
on 24 Oct 2011 5:22 PM

hi esee

where don't inspirations come from !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

take a walk outside - look at the trees (i don't mean glance at them and say its a tree) i mean LOOK - stop and close your eyes - feel the bark. what does it feel like; what colors is it (they are NOT brown!)    how do the branches grow? what shape and color are the leaves?

what lives on the tree? whats crawling in the leaf litter underneath?

or LOOK at something else. the ocean, mountains, a park, your favorite animal, your child, a pumpkin...............................


designs come from everywhere.     nature, pictures in magazines, pictures on the tv, designs on fabric on the chair in the waiting room of the doctors office.............................................

what do you love? what story do you want to tell? what is your favorite flower? favorite bird? favorite ocean creature? special tree? favorite fruit or vgetable?                     

for free motion quilting i like to find something that relates to the theme/story the quilt tells. so for a horse quilt i like toquilt in horsedesigns, or use thekinda half circle shape i call nested horse shoes.

for flower and leaf and tree quilts - i like flower and leaf and fern shapes; add curlicues.

for underwater themes - waves and ocean critters.

for a bird quilt, feathers are a tradition and are beautiful.

i will use the same designs for thread sketching.           and they can also be used for thread painting.

there are copyright free designs online. you can start there.   very seldom will you find anything that is perfect to start with. you will always have to make adaptations. and your final design mayhave very little resemblance to the original.    childrens coloring books have fun designs in them. dover has a buncho copyright free designs, in books, at the store or library.    i tear pictures out of old magazines - if i like the shape, or color combination. put them in a folder, and when you need an idea - go through your folder.     old seed and flower catalgs have great shapes to use for quilting designs or thread sketch/paint designs.

i have                    also thread painted landscapes. i print my picture onto fabric ( 4 by and 5 by 7 work well) and then cover the whole picture with thread. dn't make it too big or you will be stitching forever. and matte finish cotton thread looks more natural than shiny rayon.          i also simplify the shapes, if needed; and clean up the background undergrowth.

you don't have to be able to draw.  find somethingthat appeals, and start adapting. i can't draw either - but i can adapt with the bestof them! and as i do more, i am able to draw better. remember, NO ONE starts by being able to draw everything - they learn the same way you will - by practice.  and when adapting, i go through lots of paper. you needto try different variations of the lines. sometimes moving it just a bit, can make a big diference inthe don't have to always redraw the whole thing - i will lay a piece of tracing paper over the base and then try several ways of positioning a wing. or add more feathers, or change the shape - but i don't need to redraw the whole horse each time. (my current project is a winged horse).

next time you go to a quilt show - look closely at some of the quilting. what designs did they use? and how many colors of thread? and how can you adapt those to your project?

so i would start with something you love; something important to you; something that tells the story in your voice. do what appeals to you currently.  when you are working on the project that you really want to do, right now, you will find it very easy to progress on it. the work will go faster because it is closest to your heart right now.                                           if you want help with a specific idea, let us know.  ckquilter


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joenboo wrote
on 30 Oct 2011 8:41 AM

Hi ckquilter

I loved all the ideas you posted. I am new to art quilting and you offer a lot of great ideas. I love free motion quilting design but I have been havinga problem using rayon thread. It keeps breaking and I was wondering if you could offer some tips on using rayon thrread. I am getting a lot of fraying, it seems like it is being overstretched as it comes through the needle. I use an embroidery needle and the same weight thread in the bobbin. Your expertise wiuld be much appreciated

Thank you


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ckquilter wrote
on 31 Oct 2011 1:53 AM

hi maggie

i also love free motion !!! i is the most fun you can have on the sewing machine !!

i don't usually expect to have problems with rayon thread. they are usually strong and smooth, and designed to sew quickly through the machine.

but you can have problems with any thread. so lets see if we can figure out where the problem is.

you say you are getting fraying - so something is rubbing the thread until it shreds.    that is different from a clean break, and different from jamming.

whenever i have a problem - always

1. take the thread entirely out of the machine, and rethread.     and do the same with the bobbin. then sew and see if it is still a problem.

2. try a new needle. very rarely, even a brand new needle, right out of the package, will cause problems.   i always start a new project with a new needle.

3. a frayed thread is often caused by the needle. you are using an embroidery needle - good start. but what size?  and what size thread? a regular weight rayon thread should run through a size 11 needle just fine. but if you are using a thick rayon thread, 30 or 12 weight, you will need a size 14 needle for the 30 weight, and probably a large topstitch - size 14 or even 16, for the 12 weight.   

4. if i am appliqueing on the top, i will use a bobbin weight thread in the bobbin.  it helps reduce the thread build up underneath if i am satin stitching.      but if i am quilting, then i will use a 40 weight in the bobbin - which is the standard weight rayon.

5. check the machine. some machines have a very tight/sharp last thread guide (my bernina does). it has a tendency to shred everything - no matter how tough the thread is. on some machines you can simply bypass the last thread guide.   unfortunately, on mine, the machine will kick the thread into the thread guide in just 2 or 3 stitches, and then shred the thread.  sooooo, i just took the thread guide off entirely.  end of problem.   my mom has a slightly older bernina - and the last thread guide is a fabulous smooth bar - no problems with it for any type of thread.

6. make sure the hole in the throat plate does not have any burrs on it that will snag and shred the thread.  sometimes, if a needle hitsthe plate before breaking, it can put a nick in the throat plate, and that nick will fray threads that catch on it.

7. check the tension on your bobbin - most machines are set awfully tight at the dealer.  and you need to loosen it just a bit. and then loosen the top tension a little bit also.   this is usually moreof a problem with metallic threads than rayon, though.

8. you can also sometimes just happen onto a bad spool of thread. are you having the same problem with several spools? and with any other type of sewing thread (cotton or poly?)      and do you still have the same problem with a different brand of rayon thread?  

when you say the thread seems overstretched - that sounds like the tension. check the bobbin tension, and reduce the top tension. if the tension is too tight, and the thread hits a sharp thread guide, that would be one combination that produces exactly what you talk about.   the needle is another likely culprit. a dull needle, or too small of a needle, or one with a burr in the eye, will also cause the problem you mention.

work your way through the list, and pay close attention to results as you do.   and then, if you are still having the same problem, after checking threads, needles, tension, thread guides, i would take the machine, with your thread and samples to the dealer, and ask for help.     good luck and i hope you figure out a simple solution to the problem.                   ckquilter

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joenboo wrote
on 31 Oct 2011 3:41 AM

Thanks so much for takiing the time to post these. I bought my Bernina a few month ago and I did notice that the rayon thread seems to pull through the guides tighter when I am threading it. I am using a new size 11 needle. I will check all these solutions out and again thank you

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