How long have you been doing free motion quilting and what kind of machine do you use?
RHIANON: I taught myself free motion quilting 3 years ago when I got involved in making quilts for the victims of the Japanese Tsunami.
These quilts had to be made in a hurry and hand quilting was out of the question. When I started, I had no darning foot so I didn't use one at all (not recommended) but carried on with a simple stipple and it looked OK. Shortly after, my darning foot arrived and I have never looked back!
The machine I used then was purchased from a supermarket and very basic. Good enough to learn the rudiments on. I then progressed to a slightly more expensive machine but still with a 6" arm space.
I now have a Janome 1600P which is a straight stitch only, semi industrial machine with a 9" arm space.
How do you quilt a big quilt on a domestic sewing machine?
RHIANON: Although the machine I am using now has 9" of arm space, I have quilted large quilts on a domestic machine with a 6" arm space. I never roll my quilts as I'm working on them. I make sure it is well supported by a table/ironing board or a chair and push it through as I can. As long as the quilt is well basted (I use safety pins so I can move them around) and that the area being worked on is nice and flat under the foot. I find gloves for grip an absolute essential!
How do you get good at quilting feathers?
RHIANON: I think all quilters love feathers and I was no exception. It really is all about practice, practice and more practice. As well as sewing feathers, draw them. I was forever drawing feathers everywhere - just little doodles on any scrap of paper and drawing pads are cheap and easy to come by. If you can draw them - you can quilt them.
How do you get your quilted feathers to look so puffy?
RHIANON: I mainly use Hobbs heirloom wadding (batting) but sometimes for a really puffy look to feather plumes I will use a very thick 6oz wadding. It is about an inch thick but is very lightweight. Nice shaped plumes are emphasized by the background being "flattened" by a dense filler such as a tiny stipple, close together lines or small pebbling. People often think it is trapunto.
What threads do you use?
RHIANON:I still have many threads I would like to try but I buy a polycore thread made especially for machine quilting by a company in England. I have tried Aurifil and King Tut's threads and liked them very much. I also like variegated threads and metallics, although these can be tricky and frustrating to work with.