Learn Free Motion Quilting with Heat Erasable Fabric Markers and a Hopping Foot

Marking. It is one of those things that often brings dread to quilters. Of course we want pretty quilting on our quilts, and most free motion tutorials for domestic machines emphasize doing loops and swirls so you don't have to mark. But, lets take the angst out of marking. I know when I began to do more marking, the one worry I had was if the marks would come out. Now that I am confident that they will, I am more willing to mark my quilts. Free motion quilting takes practice, and following lines does as well. So, to begin, mark some simple lines on a practice piece, and get some experience moving the fabrics under the needle.

Practice until you are making smooth lines.  I have found that it is easier to move the fabric if you sew at a higher rate of speed on the machine, and move the fabric slowly and smoothly.  When you are confident, move on to a practice block.

Begin by stitching in the ditch around in all the seams to stabilize the piece, and prevent puckers and tucks on the back.  I will sometimes use a roller foot for this as it is a quick snap on and works pretty well.

Mark simple lines to begin.  Here I have done a simple curve around the outside edge using a ruler.  I am using the blue gel marker.

Mark several areas for quilting all at once.

Use a darning or hopping foot, Number 14 in your MadamSew Presser Foot set.  This foot is similar to the type used on longarm machines, with a circle that holds the fabric while the needle sews in the center.  The bar above causes the foot to rise when the needle rises, allowing the fabric to move unimpeded. Don't forget to lower your feed dogs. For these three, I'll begin in the left square upper outer corner, quilt halfway around the square to the right.

Then I'll move to the triangle, quilting two upper sides.

Then going on to the right hand square, I quilt it all around it back to the starting point.

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I move back though the triangle and completing the first square.

Quilting of these patches finished, now to take out the marks.  It is so easy, just iron them out.

In a moment, marks are gone with no lingering residue.

Moving on to the border, using the white gel pen makes marks on dark fabrics easier to see, and removes just as quickly with heat.

Using the heat erasable gel pens can add a custom look to your quilting, whether you use a domestic machine or a longarm.  Practice on the smaller pieces with simple designs. As you gain experience and confidence, more elaborate designs will be possible in your quilting.

Here are a few more tips to make your free motion quilting easier -

1. Use a size 18 or larger needle to take the stress of moving the fabric and decrease thread breaks.

2. Plan your quilting path to quilt as much as possible without tying off and starting again.

3. Stabilize your pieces with stitch in the ditch, or spray basting so the sandwich doesn't shift.

4. Begin with simple curved lines and move up to more complicated designs.

5. Know that this takes practice, and more practice. Allow yourself the time to do the practice so you will be confident in quilting your pieces. Make small pieces to give to charity to get in more practice using up your batting scraps and leftover fabrics from other projects.

But don't stop there, the gel pens are ideal for marking darts and sewing notches on your garment patterns too!

Happy Quilting!

Carole Carter

I’d love to invite you to visit my blog, From My Carolina Home, for more fun projects, quilt alongs and mystery quilts! My blog is a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living. Happy Sewing!!