Sunday 26 February 2012

Drawing with your sewing machine.

When I first got my sewing machine, I new this is what I really wanted to have a go at...
thread sketching or free motion sewing.
It is when you sew without the machine 'feeding' the fabric through.
Having free motion to draw with the thread on your fabric.

I've been asked numerous times for advice on this subject but have found it very
hard to explain having never done a tutorial before, but also because everyone's machines are different. 

free motion foot for a Brother

* So, you will need a darning/free motion foot for your particular machine.
Follow your instruction book on how to fit it securely.
* You will also need a strong needle.

* Drop/disengage the feed dogs on your machine.
Usually there is a switch or lever at the back or inside.
(again, follow the instructions in your manual)
If there is no way to drop the feed dogs, some machines have a 
plastic or metal plate that comes with it to cover the feed dogs.

* You don't really need to adjust the stitch length,
as the speed which you move the fabric,
combined with the speed you sew determines the size of the stitches.
Saying that though, some machines stitch length needs to be set to 0.
You will need to experiment with this. 
(see what I mean about it being hard to explain with us all having diff machines!)

* The needle thread tension needs to be set at about 2.
But again, see if this suits your machine.

* Use the same colour thread for both needle and bobbin in case there are slight
irregularities in tension or you'll get spotty looking lines of thread.

* Move your bobbin thread through to the top before starting.

Pfaff free motion foot

* Then hold the top thread to the side while you sew a few stitches 
in one place  to prevent from undoing.

* Stop and put the needle into the fabric again. 
Then with your hands flat, lightly holding the fabric taught.
Start sewing and gently guide the fabric up/down left/right.

You will probably want to sew slowly at first,
BUT (and this is my main piece of advice)
Put your foot down at a relatively steady/almost fast pace
while moving the fabric slowly.
This will give you a good stitch length.
If you feel you are going awry or need to readjust your grip/decide which
direction you are going in next - just stop, put your needle down, lift your 
presser foot and see where you are at!

Flower Brooch

* Fast hands + slow needle = long uneven stitches
* Slow hands + relatively fast needle = stitches that are just right.
You will need to practice  getting the right balance between how hard
you put your foot down and how slowly you move the fabric.

Custom made brooch

* Depending on the fabric you are sewing, you may need
to stabilize it with some iron on interfacing before sewing.

* What ever pattern you are sewing, make sure you keep the fabric at the same angle
all the time - do not twist or turn it, as this will break the needle.
If you want the fabric to face another direction, put the needle down 
lift the presser foot and turn the fabric.

Free motion and fabric paint

* Using an airasable (air erasable) pen is really helpful, so that you can draw out your
word or pattern straight onto the fabric. Sew over it, and then
 either use a clean paint brush to wipe water over it -
for the markings to instantly disappear or some brands of this pen will
disappear over the next day if you leave them, depending on which one you get.
Just make sure you don't iron over any pen markings,
as they will become permanent!

Free motion and green fabric paint

I hope this is helpful for you.
If I've left anything out, let me know.
Just have a go, practice loads
and have fun with it!x


CurlyPops said...

You know I'm a HUGE fan of your thread sketching Jennie - just gorgeous!

Danielle said...

Great tips! I do a lot of free motion quilting and raw edge appliqué and your tute is spot-on! Just curious, do you just sew on one piece of fabric, or with another layer underneath?

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

I want to try this!!! I really do!!!

Helena said...

amazing! Got to try it myself, thanks for this wonderful post :)

Kylie said...

Wonderful information Jenny! Thank you for this. Your work really is so beautiful :) Kx

mel @ loved handmade said...

Your free motion sewing always blows me away! I'm still frightened of my old regular sewing machine, I don't even know if it could do day I'll get gutsy & have a go, I'd really love to!

Lola Nova said...

Awesome tips!
I love seeing "my" cushion in the top photo! Actually, my girl has made that cushion utterly her own. It sits on her bed with her doll and a purple unicorn!

Cathie said...

i LOOOOOOOOOOOOOve your thread stitching creations..LOVE!! ♥

Sally from Frills and Fun said...

This is amazing!!
I'm going to print this page off and show it to my Mum... see if my (super cheap) sewing machine has the things needed!! :)

Sarah said...

thank you Jennie, I will have to have a go :)

Kristy said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Barb said...

Thanks so much for this info.! I've been wanting to try this for a long time now, but I've never been able to find any information on free motion that didn't have to do with quilting.

Melissa G said...

I have a relatively old machine but I'm gonna pull out the manual and have a look at my spare footer parts. I am rather inspired by you to try this.

Unknown said...

great tutorial. thanks

Julie said...

Fantastic tutorial, I'm raring to go now! Thank you so much for such a concise guide x

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