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Freeform machine sewing

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  • Freeform machine sewing

    Hello! Please bear with me, I may struggle to describe things or use the right terminology! I'm an overly enthusiastic armature at just about everything Google is failing me here...

    I've been doing some felting, and then wanted to enhance the surface with some 'scribbly' stitches, using the machine for speed and a bit of randomness. I did some research and came across the idea of 'freeform quilting', which sounds like a hilarious extreme sport, but also sort of like what I wanted to do

    I removed the foot of my sewing machine so I could see where I was stitching, and lowered the feed dogs so I could go in any direction. Other advice I saw was to reduce the stitch size to 0, but mine only seems to have 1-3 and some things to do with buttons (cheap ALDI special offer machine!). I played with the tension a bit on a spare piece but didn't really understand what I was looking at so I think I left it around 3 >.<

    It started really well and was brilliant fun but then things kept jamming, and the thread kept snapping. I think not having a foot holding the fabric down means it jumps around and the thread knots. But I couldn't steer it as I wanted with the foot down.

    Can anyone offer any advice or suggestions that might help me solve this? It was so much fun when it was working and I can't wait to try again, but also don't think I could bear to be re-threading the machine every three stitches. Sorta takes the random spontaneity out of it a bit...
    Please don't be horrified with me, I've never been taught how to use a machine and I do tend to jump in the deep end and just try to work stuff out! (which is obviously working REALLY well for me here..)

  • #2
    Ooooooooh I've just found a tutorial that says if the foot is up, the tension won't be right and you'll get knots - and to use a darning foot for scribbly things. This might be the answer! *excited*


    • #3
      It seems you've found an answer to your question! But thanks for sharing, because now I know what I need should I try freeform sewing.
      Lucy Blossom
      Shop and blog:


      • #4
        You need to use either a darning foot or free motion foot with the feed down. The darning foot protects your fingers as it has been known without a foot that you can stitch through a nail.

        i did a lot of free motion for my exams but not done for a few years now, it is fun and can be addictive as you can add all sorts of fibres and special effect fabrics. Will have to look in the attic to see if any of my exhibition course work is still up there as had sample pieces as well as finished wall hangings and clothing items.


        • #5
          Thanks It's loads of fun, isn't it? It took me a bit of getting used to controlling it but once I was going it was great, which is why it was so upsetting when it got tangled so often - sometimes literally every few stitches! I was swearing at it at 1am because I just had a tiny bit to finish and wanted to get to bed!

          This is the trouble with figuring things out like this, when you don't know what it is you're doing and what words to research! The one tutorial that stuck with me said to take the foot off (but to make sure to 'drop' it when you sewed, I recall that now) - so I hadn't realised what was missing, or that the darning foot is a common piece of kit.

          Would love to see pics of yours Caroline if you find it! I'm going to trim mine down tonight and try and photograph it in daylight this weekend, so I'll try to remember to share too. It's my first go so it's nothing special but I had fun so it makes me smile


          • #6
            You will need a darning or free motion foot, but be warned its very very addictive.


            • #7
              I had the same problem with the snapping thread but was told to adjust the tension a little. I used a free motion foot. Sadly that sewing machine has broken and needs a service now but happily Mum has given me her 'spare' so I will try with that one!!!
              Lou x

              Lou la Belle Crafts
              07890 624171
              Find me on Facebook - Lou la Belle


              • #8
                You don't actually need any sort of foot as long as you stabilise your fabric well and/or hoop it. A darning, free-motion, or 'hopping' foot simply makes things easier.

                Neither do you need to drop the feed dogs. If you have a machine where the feed dogs don't drop, it's usually possible to buy a small 'coverplate' for it - many machines are, or were, supplied with one. In any case, if you set the stitch length to zero, the feed dogs do not move and often interfere very little, if at all, with one's free movement of the fabric. Different machines vary in this respect, though.

                It is a very old technique which was at the height of its development when the treadle machine was well-established in people's homes; the free-motion embroidery which was done on those machines has to be seen to be believed. You would think you were looking at hand-made lace with some of it!


                • #9
                  Thanks for the info Eena, the more the merrier! The issue I had with the foot (or lack of) felt a bit more like a thread tensioning problem rather than the stability of the fabric (which was dense felt) - probably the issue was that I didn't remove the whole foot, just the wobbly bit on the end, so when I dropped it there was still the... leg... pinning the fabric down. Since I didn't want this, I tried working with it lifted - though it seems that knackers the thread tension.

                  The feed dogs on my machine do drop, which is just as well since, as I said, I don't think I have a 0 option for stitch size!

                  I have ordered a darning foot and I'm really hoping that will help solve a lot of my issues! Fingers crossed.

                  Interesting to know some of the history behind it It's certainly a lot of fun and I already have a second piece lined up to have a go on. First efforts attached - I am aware of its many faults, but you don't learn what's a mistake until you've made it, right?!


                  • #10
                    Oops. If anyone can remind me how to add an image as an attachment instead of a whopping great inline image, that'd be lovely