Back to the Future Free Motion Quilting Tutorial by Free Notion
Hey there fellow crafters!! I’m Becca DuVal, blogger and photographer over at www.freenotion.com.This is my crafting con debut, thanks so much for having me and my handsome little man along for the ride! Apologies in advance for the many terrible puns you’ll be subjected to. It’s just how I roll. 😉
I shared my 80’s childhood with a remote-dominating older brother. Which means most every movie I’ve come to identify with the decade are the power-male types. Think: the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy, every episode ever of the A-Team, good ol’ 007, and – of course – Back to the Future.
So today, I honor Mr Back-To-The-Future himself with a toddler-friendly Back-To-School spin. Here’s my 2.5 year old rocking the iconic Puff Vest (See Kate Sew, Aztec Vest), Denim-on-Denim (Chambray: Sis Boom, Ethan; Pants: Charming Doodle, Kudzu Cargo) and “Really, Marty? Another Layer?”ing tee (Terra’s Treasures, Suburban Basic Tee):
I have really begun to LOVE boy sews. But it’s been a long road here. (Who am I kidding? Where we’re going… we don’t need roads. Yeah. That one was a stretch.)
See – with girl sews, I can have myself a blasty-blast picking and pairing prints. The more the merrier. But for my son? My husband intervenes. It’s hard to create one-of-a-kind pieces for my kid when my fabric choices are limited to the same stripes and solids I could pick up at the Target down the street for the same cost as a yard of fabric.
But – as Marty will remind you “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” And that’s exactly what I did. I started by sneaking in contrast fabric for yokes, the undersides of collars, the insides of cuffs.
Then I introduced some faux piping here and there…. (The Kudzus are great for that!)
And then I got bit by my friend’s oh-so-infectious Free Motion Applique bug… and it hit me. The really inspired idea I was hoping to have for a guest tutorial post like this one…
“Self, why not introduce the concept of FREE MOTION FAN ART?” What a great way to add interest and texture to a solid fabric garment!
First up, of course, is applique. I did this Delorean Time Machine applique to liven up my son’s layering tee. It couldn’t have been easier. I just printed off an image from google, traced the outline and select details on wax paper, and transferred it to some Heat’n Bond Light to affix to the contrast fabric and the shirt. But – not before [I digitized a copy for you all] <<<<
But then there’s also Free Motion Quilting (FMQ). Which is done just like Applique, without the contrast fabric. So let’s delve into that with more detail, shall we??
“Quilting” is the act of fusing multiple layers of fabric/batting together with stitches. So I grabbed my puff vest – with multiple fabric layers needing to be stitched together – and allotted the top back portion to my FMQ tutorial. It’s kind of small (My son IS only a 2T), so my first (of many) “do as I say and not as I do” tip today is – pick a larger area. It’ll give you more freedom to design, and be more forgiving in your overall design as you learn FMQ.
I traced myself a template on wax paper, and got to work sketching some possible designs. Mine was pretty intricate (yeah, don’t do that either) so I transferred it to tissue paper. Once you have finalized your design, my preference would be using a vanishing fabric pen or chalk pencil to carefully sketch out your fan art on the garment itself. My tissue paper idea got kind cumbersome.. starting with pinning a 2D template onto a 3D garment. Behold:
To do any kind of Free Motion art, you’ll need a quilting, darning, or embroidery foot. Mine looks like this:
You’ll also have to drop your feed dogs. My machine has a little switch on the back to make this step super simple. Check your manual if you’ve never done this before.
Now the only thing moving YOUR fabric across YOUR design… is you. Play around with it on some scraps first, to get a feel for it. I like to go at a medium speed, using a regular stitch length and tension. Some like to go much faster and vary their tension. I guess it depends on how much of a perfectionist you are (GUILTY) 😉 My friend Jeanine made a great video of this process in action – you can check it out here.
Carefully stitch overtop of your design, and try to keep a sense of humor and embrace the chaos of your first few attempts. Once you get the right balance of speed and control, you’ll be on fire!
When you’re done – since you followed my suggestions instead of my example – you’ll just wipe off your vanishing ink with a damp cloth, clip your threads, and enjoy your end result!
I……. spent an hour with tweezers tearing tiny pieces of tissue paper out from under tiny stitches… and never did quite get them all out. Bad call, self. Bad call.
Now, I could have quilted in a contrasting thread. But feeling rather confident passer-by’s would think there was a clock tower taking a leashed car for a walk, I thought it best to go the camouflage route. It’s there for me pat myself on the back and know it exists – but I’ll go bolder with my threads and designs the better I get at FMQ.
So there you have it! Free Motion Fan Art! Perfect for incorporating designs of all kinds to your garments: your calligraphy, your art, or even your kids art – how fun would that be?? One of a kind for sure! What are you waiting for?? Go give it a whirl 🙂
Thanks so much for having me here at Crafting Con! XOXO, Becca DuVal, www.freenotion.com