As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve followed Right Sides Together for any length of time, I don’t FMQ. Free-motion quilting just isn’t in my wheelhouse, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I’ve never been talented at drawing or doodling, and I’d rather use my quilting time focusing on the techniques I have a shot in hell at improving. So I do digital long-arming most of the time, and straight-line quilting with my walking foot for the rest.
But as Jacquie Gering’s ragingly popular Craftsy class indicates, it’s possible to go beyond just simple straight lines with a walking foot. Curves, waves, squigglies, and spirals are definitely a possibility for even those among us not gifted with any Zen in our Tangles. I recently worked on a baby quilt (that I can’t show here as it hasn’t yet been bestowed) where I used a spiral quilting motif. I was pretty sure how to do it, but I consulted this tutorial first—and I’m glad I did, because Amanda Jean has some pretty fantastic tips.
I marked out the first few turns of my spiral, got the walking foot on, started quilting, and started struggling with feeding and twisting the quilt all at once. Some of the curves were okay, but others just weren’t feeding at the same speed through the machine, resulting in tiny little stitches and a disgraceful-yet-typical number of expletives. And then I thought, HUH.
Behold: THE PRESSER FOOT PRESSURE ADJUSTMENT. Does your machine have one of those? Most decent quality machines do, and most are, by default, cranked up high. You want a lot of pressure on the foot, usually. It’s what helps two pieces of fabric feed evenly: feed dogs underneath and presser foot above. But I wondered what would happen if I raised the presser foot a bit. Like, as light as the dial would go. My machine will not run if the presser foot is actually lifted with the lever, but I theorized that lightening the pressure just might allow enough “slip” in the process to let the quilt wiggle around a bit.
And you know what? It was perfect. For those of us who are not FMQ-friendly enough to lower the feed dogs, we don’t have to. They’ll still pull the quilt through. But not having the additional pressure of the foot forcing more weight on the quilt sandwich let it smoothly guide through and let me have more control of the quilt underneath. Perfect curves!
I’ll have to do some more experimenting with other options. Because the feed dogs are still pulling the fabric forward, it’s not a substitute for FMQ. But raising the presser foot does allow for more flexibility and, to my mind, more possibility for creativity. Guess I’ll go sign up for Jacquie’s class now!
Have you experimented with quilting curves with a walking foot?