what’s the deal with stitch length?

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what’s the deal with stitch length?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’ve been doing a lot of free motion quilting lately. I started with a metallic thread that has never had issues in the past and it shredded like crazy. I changed to an old reliable 40 weight and fortunately it worked well–for awhile. Then I changed the machine needle and rethreaded both the top and the bottom threads. That seemed to have solved the machine issues. But…for whatever reason I could not get into the groove of a nice stitch length that made me happy. Fortunately I was working on a test sandwich–not the good project. I already was going to have to go back and pull out the shredded stitches that started this whole session. Do you ever have days like this at the machine? I must not be the only one.

Anyway as I was working my way through the troubleshooting process I got to thinking about the stitch length “issues” for free motion quilters. I do have a stitch regulator feature on my machine, but I seldom use it. I find it is too herky-jerky for me. I once heard Ricky Tims describe a stitch regulator as training wheels for free motion quilters; he found that with practice he preferred to do his own stitch regulating. So what stitch length should a FMQer be aiming for anyway? Should it vary dependent on the design or the fabric? Or should one just aim for consistency? I know what I think the answer should be, but do you have an answer in mind?  (I did finally finish the quilting on that bugaboo of a project, after several times walking away from it.) Here’s a link to a short video from Angela Walters, quilter extraordinaire, where she explains her take on this. See if you agree with her. Click here.

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