How to Choose a Needle for Free Motion Quilting

 

Needle Choices for Free Motion Quilting

 Are you confused about the myriad of needles available today?  Do you have a system for choosing your needle for each project?  Or, do you use whichever needle is already in your sewing machine?

If you are confused about needle selection, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  Today, on Open Line Friday, we will begin our discussion of needles.  We are looking for everyone’s input on this important topic-so please tell us what works (and doesn’t work) for you!

Let’s start with two guidelines:

  1.  Choose the size of the needle by the weight of the thread  A general rule of thumb is 40 wt thread requires a size 75 needle.  If your thread is heavier (smaller number), increase your needle size (larger number)–and vice versa.
  2.  Choose the type of needle by the type of thread and the type of fabric.  Here is where things get a bit more complicated.

First–What type of thread are you using?  If it is a specialty thread of any kind, consider a Topstitch or Embroidery Needle-The both have larger eyes.

Second–Do you want a sharp point or a slightly rounded needle point.  A slightly rounded point allows the needle to stitch between the thread fibers, and doesn’t damage the fiber.  A sharp needle is necessary to penetrate fabrics with high thread counts such as batik, some hand dyed fabrics and fabrics that have any coated design on them–like white on white fabrics.  The downside .. this needle penetrates the fiber causing micro-tears to the textile.

The sharp needles:

  • Topstitch
  • Microtex

The slightly rounded needles: 

  • Universal
  • Embroidery
  • Quilting

Needle Choices for Free Motion Quilting

 My Choice for FMQ and Why

When I free motion quilt, I most frequently use Aurifil 50wt and Sulky 45 wt threads and I have found the Universal 80 to work quite well most of the time.  I like the rounded point of the Universal needle because it does not stitch through the fibers, but rather it  stitches between them.  That means the fibers are not damaged.  I also like the Universal needle because it is the least expensive.  (Though the needle is the least expensive part of any quilting project and we should not be penny-wise and pound-foolish!)

If I am stitching on tightly woven fabrics such as batik or hand dyed or if I am experiencing any problems, I switch to the Topstitch needle.

My two favorite needles are The Universal and The Topstitch (usually size 80).  

Needle Choices for Free Motion Quilting

We will be discussing a lot more about needles in the weeks ahead.  There is a great deal of information available on the web about needles and needle selection.  Schmetz Needles has a great deal of educational information available.  I particularly like their iPhone app which has a trouble shooting guide and a needle type guide--look for that on your smartphone.  Schmetz has a very succinct needle guide  PDF HERE.

Also, Superior Threads offers a great YouTube Video HERE--Thank you to Melody for bringing this to my attention.

Finally, we have a reader that is really struggling with monofilament thread and needles breaking–Can anyone recommend a monofilament thread--and does anyone have trouble with the thread breaking their needles?  I open this up to the group as I have little experience with this thread type.

What are YOUR favorite needles and WHY?  Do you have any needle tips you’d like to share?

Stitching safely,

Lori

 

Back to School

 

Quilted pencils, FMQ

Now that all the kiddies are back to school, I have been educating myself on the fine points of blogging…One thing is for sure–I hate being a beginner–and I am a remedial student when in comes to all things computer…

Quilted pencils, FMQI have been working my way through the blogging primers and I am trying a few new things here at The Inbox Jaunt.

Quilted pencils, FMQ

 

Take note…I have added Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.  (I couldn’t bring myself to add Twitter just yet…)

Quilted pencils, FMQ

I am trying to make The Inbox Jaunt as user-friendly as possible, so please give all the new options a try. (But be patient if not everything is A+ work just yet–and please let me know...)

Quilted pencils, FMQ

I know many of you are beginner quilters, and I reminded again, how much patience it takes to learn any new skill!  I keep repeating to myself “Baby steps, baby steps…”

Quilted pencils, FMQ

May your learning curve be swift,

Lori

Tuesday Tutorial-The Double Loop Vine

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

Welcome Quilters!  Today is Tuesday, and hopefully your Monday chores are complete:  paperwork filed, laundry tucked neatly in drawers and the garden watered.  Well, even if it’s not all done…let’s sneak away and do a little stitching in our sewing rooms…Today’s tutorial is the Double Loop Vine (I’m open to renaming this one if anyone has any suggestions???)  There are two variations to this pattern to test drive today.  The Double Loop Vine is pictured in the image above and Variation 2 is in the photo below.Free motion quilting

This pattern is a little different than the motifs we have stitched so far.  In this pattern, we will introduce a “wavy” rail.  (Note:  A “rail” is a drawn line used as a guideline and is erased after the stitching is complete.)  For this pattern, draw two straight line “rails” to serve as top and bottom guidelines- two inches apart.  In between, draw a third, slightly curvy “rail”.   Simply, free -hand draw this line.  The curvy “rail” should be a gentle wave.   If you like, draw another wavy rail a scant 1/4 inch away from the first line.  I usually draw the first wavy rail and just “eyeball” the second line as I stitch it.   Do whatever is easier for you.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

We will be stitching the first vine directly on the wavy rail.  The second vine will be just off the first vine.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Begin stitching on the wavy rail a short distance, then stitch a small loop.  Try to keep the loops perpendicular to the top and bottom rails.  

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Next, stitch a second loop around the first loop and stop.  Stitch along the wavy rail.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

You are ready to begin your second “leaf”.   Try to keep the double loops or leaves the same size for The Double Loop Vine.  This will create a little space within the top and bottom rail lines.  Also, try to keep the spacing between each set of loops on the vine consistent.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

 

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

Once you have completed the first row of the vine, begin the second row.  For best results, try to keep the spacing between the two lines as even as possible. (Drawing the second wavy “rail” might be very helpful–see above.)

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

In Variation 2--the entire space between the top and bottom rails is filled by the vine.  As the vine dips, the loops get larger.  Each loop touches the top or bottom rail.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Both patterns have their own character.  Cousins you might say…

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

I stitched these motifs on my domestic sewing machine… a Bernina 820, but they would work quite well on a long arm sewing machine.

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

Double Loop Vine, Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

 

Later in the week, I will be posting readers’ questions for everyone to help solve…Tomorrow is Work in Progress Wednesday...can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on…and to hear about YOUR current projects!

Stitch Away!

Lori