May 01, 2011

Free Motion Quilting Technique: Print Tracing

I've been thinking lately about the things I love the most about quilting, and it comes down to two things: experimenting and free motion quilting. I've been missing the free motion quilting talk on the blog lately. So today starts a new rash of it. You've been warned!

So, do you think I have the drawing skills to freehand this little vignette? No, I do not.

Am I crazy enough to carefully trace it onto my fabric and then stitch it? No, I am not.

Do I have some fabric from Thailand? And did I sneaky-stitch along the lines of the print from the back? Yes and yes!

My words of advice about this technique:
  • Choose a big print. If you think the print you're considering might be too small, it's too small.
  • Avoid very frilly flowers and really detailed leaves. The little veins on these leaves were a pain.
  • Make sure your tension is great before you start. What's on the bottom as you stitch will be what's on the top afterward!
  • Try to stitch with a thread that contrasts with your print so you can see where you've stitched. I wanted a dark thread on that light green fabric but it made it hard to see where I'd already been while I was stitching.

Print tracing is kind of fun and can be a good beginner exercise because the design is laid out for you, allowing you to focus on the speed and the movement of your hands.  Just don't take it too seriously. Consider the print as a guide for your stitching. You aim to follow the pattern but you won't always hit it. That's ok, you won't be able to see the print on the front and so you won't be able to tell where you did and didn't follow the lines.


Gene Black said...

That is a totally cool idea. Just what I need, something else to try! LOL

murgelchen said...

Great! Thanks.

Mary Ann said...

I love it! Thank you!! I'm currently participating in an FMQ 14 day Challenge...please check out

Kay Lynne said...

Neat idea! Maybe if we practice enough we will get drawing skills?!

Suzanne said...

So, Christina, this is very interesting. In the case of a "real quilt," would you use the print just for to guide the elaborate quilting, then cover it with another fabric and somehow stitch the layers together or would you leave that print revealed on one side? I'm thinking what if I find a print that I really like the design of but the colors don't coordinate with the quilt I'm quilting. Does this make sense?

Elsa said...

I've done this before and really have liked the outcome ~ I've also drawn on a quilt, little cars, airplanes and boats and then sort of followed the lines and it turned out so cute!

Jeane said...

Well Christina I have missed our FMQs sessions. I have expanded my techniques. Now this is just really nice. Don't buy much big but will go have a look.

✾Jamie Lee Cooley✾ said...

That's a brilliant idea! I saw something in a catalog--basically you can draw a design on this paper and I'm not sure if it sticks to your quilt or what, but after you quilt through it you can iron it and it disappears. Have you ever used something like that? I took a class once and the instructor had something called a pounce pad or something like that that puts chalk designs on the fabric. I didn't like that much and was thinking this disappearing paper might be a good alternative.

On another note, I finished my daughter's Bambi quilt and used the free motion leaves I found on your website. I've gotten lots of compliments on the leaves from my quilty friends who are much more experienced than me, so THANKS!!!!!

Mama Pea said...

Such a great idea and a good way to practice. I knew about it but sorta forgot. Thanks for the reminder. I love bloggers!

Anonymous said...

Hey I LOVE this technique!!! Super smart idea and you did a great job too :o) Amie in Middle Tn.

Jan said...

Thank you very much for sharing this idea. I am a new player to FMQ, which I love and this will be another trick I can add to my game plan.

Pat said...

Do you quilt in the ditck along sides of blocks first. Then free motion everything else. or do you do eveything at one time?

Christina said...

Great question Pat! I don't stitch in the ditch so I would just quilt it all from the back. But if you like SITD I would say you could just baste the quilt from the front, like normal, and do the SITD, then remove any remaining pins and quilt from the back. Hope that helps!

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