Hi Everyone!! Here’s a New Video, Finally!! So many of you have wanted more, so here’s something new to try!! Free Motion Embroidery or Thread Painting!! This technique is a great way to add dimension and design to a project. With the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, it couldn’t be easier. Setting this machine up is simple and easy unlike many other machines.
What is free motion or free hand embroidery?? It’s a technique using your machine in which you control the fabric with your hands. It takes practice to become very good at “thread painting”. Yes, there are artists out there that can actually paint with their machines using sewing machine thread. It’s an amazing artistic quality to possess. The good news is that you really don’t have to have those experienced skills to do free motion embroidery and make it look good. Part of the appeal of free motion embroidery to me, in many cases, is the abstract nature of many of the designs I’ve seen.
Years ago, I owned the White ESP 4000. It was a gift from my parents and was my “best friend” for many, many years. I made countless projects on this machine. This machine was so familiar to me, it was like an extension of my hands. Unfortunately, some machines from the 70’s era were manufactured with nylon gears that crack and break over time. I was heart broken when this happened to mine and even found 2 machines on Ebay in an effort to replace my beloved friend. One of those 2 machines was used for quite a while, but the other came with a broken gear. So the hunt was on to replace my machine. Not an easy task if you’ve ever had a machine for years, made everything on it and just flat out loved it!!
The White was the first and only machine I’d ever done any free motion embroidery on. What I never liked about it, was the set up. I had to have a separate bobbin casing adjusted just right to stitch properly and I also had to adjust the top thread tension just right to achieve a beautiful top stitch. This would sometimes get my machine “out of whack” for a while when I went back to regular sewing which was a nuisance. The Singer 9960 has a top loading bobbin, so there’s NO AJUSTMENTS to the bobbin or the machine upper thread tension. You just replace the presser foot and ankle with the darning/embroidery foot, drop the feed dogs and off you go. Also, set your machine up to do a straight centered stitch in a medium length. It’s really just as simple as that!!
Here’s a couple of pictures of what the embroidery foot looks like that comes with the Singer 9960. It a pretty standard foot and looks very much like other darning/free-hand embroidery feel as described in the manual. If you’re interested in reading the instructions from the manual, they are on page 84. As you will see, there isn’t much information because it’s not intimidating at all. Give it a try!!
As with any decorative stitching, this is the perfect opportunity to try some embroidery threads for a project. Trace out a design onto your fabric to practice. You may choose to use a hoop or not.
These are the hoops I own and use for free motion embroidery. They are not the ones that a specifically designed for free motion, but they work just fine. The important part is that the hoop lies flat against your working surface without the screw encumbering your motion. That’s why these work fine for me. The old fashion wooden hoops work just fine as well.
There are many applications to use the free motion stitching technique. It’s used by machine quilters to create dimension in quilts and quilted items. It can be used with applique to actually stitch down motifs and elements. It can be used to make traditional embroideries and names. You can even make your own fabric by stitching on a water soluble stabilizer. The list goes on and on. You’re only limited by your own imagination. I have a Pinterest board entitled, “Free Motion Embroidery” where I’ve pinned ideas that inspire me to try these techniques. Feel free to check it out for some inspiration of what you can do!!
Preparing your fabric for free motion embroidery is pretty much the same as how I’ve suggested you prepare for decorative or letter stitching. It’s important to use a nice stabilizer whether it be fusible, non fusible or tear away. It depends on your fabrication as well. Lighter weight fabrics and heavier weight fabrics should be interfaced with the proper stabilizers meaning the right weights for your weight of fabric. The reason stabilizer is so important is because at some point in your stitching you will be stitching on the bias (stretch of the fabric) and you want those stitches to remain intact without breakage. This is especially important if the embroidery is going to stitched on a garment. Stabilizer helps keep the stitches flat and smooth.
Once you hoop your stabilized fabric, and your machine is set up to do either a straight stitch or zigzag stitch, insert your hoop under your presser foot. Move the fabric around slowly and “doodle” just getting a feel for what free motion embroidery feels like. It’s actually FUN!! The more you practice the better the quality of your stitches will look. Take your time and don’t rush. Don’t push or pull your fabric and hoop around too quickly. You don’t want to break a needle.
I hope you find this video helpful to show you exactly how to set up the Singer Quantum 9960 to do Free Motion Embroidery. I hope you’ll give it a try and explore the creative possibilities by trying decorative threads, applique techniques and even quilting.
UPDATE!! I FORGOT TO MENTION WHEN YOU’RE READY TO GO BACK TO NORMAL STITCHING, PUSH THE FEED DOG LEVER BACK TO THE RIGHT TO REINGAGE YOUR FEED DOGS. THEY WILL COME RIGHT BACK INTO POSITION WHEN YOU RESUME NORMAL SEWING.
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