Thursday, June 28, 2012

Do FMQ Judges Live In Your Sewing Room???

The last couple days I've gotten some really kind comments on the FMQ on my Urban Nine Patch. Many say they would love to be able to FMQ, but just don't think they can do it. Well let me first tell you that I am NO expert, I don't even think I that good. But what I can share with you is how I got started, since it was just about a year ago that I first dropped my feed dogs. I hope this will give your the courage to try FMQ, maybe for the first time.

NUMBER ONE THING TO DO BEFORE YOU START- Check your sewing room thoroughly for any FMQ Judges that may be hiding in your closet.  What you are about to do does not need to be shown to anyone! (No judging, just doing)

9"x9" quilt sandwich - fabric, batting, fabric (use a solid color so you can see your stitches). You don't even need to baste this together. Use contrasting thread, different colors in the top and bobbin. DON'T use old, cheap thread!!! It most likely will break and give your heartburn!
 Don't start out on a big quilt or quilt sandwich. Start small, something big enough to hold on to, small enough to fit in you sewing machine throat without having to fold it. Try something 6" to 10" square or rectangle. If you don't have a solid, go to some place like Walmart or JoAnn's and pick up a small cut of cheap solid fabric. Don't use a print, it will be to hard to see where you are going and where you've been. This is just for practice.

If you have gloves, use them - you can even use garden gloves if you like. If you don't have them, don't worry. These are my favorite, Fons & Porter from JoAnn's.
Drop your feed dogs. There is likely a switch like this on your machine. This is my Babylock Esante, the switch is on the front of the freearm, it's on the back of the freearm on my Babylock Ellegante. Just look for it on your machine. If you machine is too old to have a switch, you can cover them with a Supreme Slider.

This is a Supreme Slider. I highly recommend this if you find out you like FMQ. It makes a WORLD of difference in your stitching.

Pull your bobbin thread up to the top and tuck them to the back. If you don't know how to do that click here and read a post I did a while back on how to start, stop and tie off.

If your machine has a speed control, put it on medium. If not, just be careful how hard you step on the foot petal.
Tension seems to cause most people the most tension when it comes to FMQ. I'm lucky, mine is digital and it goes back to the default setting when I turn my machine on. If you have a dial, take a picture or use a pencil to mark your normal setting. For goodness sakes folks it's just a dial - TURN IT if you have to, but you may not even have to.

Put both hands on the fabric, like I have my left hand. (I couldn't show both and take a picture.)

Push the fabric backward and just stitch a straight line (you have to move the quilt sandwich, no feed dogs). REMEMBER, you have already checked your sewing room for any sign of FMQ Judges.

Stitch a line backward by pulling the quilt sandwich forward.
 OH MY GOSH!!!! You just FMQed!!!!!

If you see the bobbin thread or loops on the top, lower your tension. If you see your top thread or loops the underside, raise your tension

This is my normal setting for my machine for FMQ.

If your having lots of problems, start by cleaning your bobbin case -- it is amazing how fast it gets linty. You may also just need to just rethread your bobbin or top thread.

Practice! Make yourself a dozen or so little practice quilt sandwiches.

YOU CAN FMQ! Just do it!

I'm linking up with the fabulous Melissa at Happy Quilting for TNT Thursday!

Color Me Quilty!


P.S. I would LOVE to know if anyone tries FMQ for the first time! I really want to give you all the courage to Try New Things!


  1. Most excellent tutorial and awesome pep talk. Thank you!
    Have a great day.
    Always, Queenie

  2. Haha, great advice! I'm thinking of trying it for the first time on my current project (a baby quilt). I'm not sure how well it would work on my old machine, but I might go to open sewing at Quilter's Corners. And you better believe I'll try some practice sandwiches. ;)

  3. Wow this is so helpful! I have never tried it but really want to. Your foot looks interesting too. Do I need a special foot to do FMQing?

  4. Great tutorial! I use the same fons and porter quilting gloves and find them to be so helpful too. Thanks for sharing your process, the tension thing always gets me - most times I am guessing and test it several times on a spare quilt sandwich I keep close by for just that purpose. Someday I will get the hang of it the way you have I hope!

  5. Great post! Unfortunately I cant drop my feed dogs, dont have a darning food and dont have the surpreme slider :( but one day I will ;-)

  6. I have a Babylock Esante ESe2. I have no clue what to set my stitch length, width or tension to. It is all digital as well. I have also heard not to drop the feed dogs but instead to set the stitch length to 0 because it disengages the feed dogs, however my machine won't go all the way to 0. I also ordered a supreme slider so I am waiting until it arrives. Please help with settings on my machine. Thanks!

  7. I will soon be venturing into FMQ because I made my first-ever quilt block recently. I am going to make it into a pillow for my couch in my sewing room. I will comment back to you here when I get it made and share it on my blog. Thanks for these great tips. Do I have to use a walking foot?