I continue to read articles and blog posts about the “perfect” stitch length for free motion quilting, as though it were a singular number. All that I have read and heard refers to the standard 2.5mm stitch length we would get with the default setting on our machines for feed-dogs-up quilting. Nope! It depends.
This is a good example of my point. I hope it’s clear from the photo-the stitch length on the background with thin blue thread is much shorter than that of the thicker white thread.
I hope my less-than-excellent photos can convey my message. Stitch length really depends on the thread you’re using. In all cases you are looking for the same thing: each stitch should show the beauty of the thread.
NOTE: Your stitch length when free motion quilting is regulated by the combination of the speed of your hands and how fast your machine is revved: slow hands, slow machine, biiiiig stitches; fast machine, fast hands, teeeeny stitches.
As an obvious exaggeration, the bottom row has ridiculously long stitches and the thread is just laying there, forlorn. In the middle row, the stitches are way too short and the line of stitching is lifeless. In the top row, the beauty of the thread shows.
But there is no standard best stitch length because it depends on the weight of your thread. Thick threads need a longer stitch and skinny threads need a shorter stitch. In the following I put the feed dogs up to assure a standard stitch length to illustrate my point.
I’m using uber-skinny 100 wt Superior Threads Kimono silk thread. On the right is the standard 2.5mm stitch length. It’s too long; the stitch lacks beauty. On the left, I shortened the stitch length to 2.0 and the beauty of the thread shows.
There is no formula for the right stitch length, your eye is just seeking that length where the beauty of the thread shows. When I begin a project I’ll do some stitch-outs on a scrap piece or in the seam of my project to find that sweet spot. Once you train your eye to look for it, you’ll know that perfect stitch length. It’s worth the time to get it right–you want the beauty of your thread to show. Of course you also need to have good fabric, quality thread and perfect tension, perhaps subjects for a later blog post.
Not that I’m opinionated about stitch length or anything…
On a personal note, we put in the final touches on our remodel that mostly finished 2 years ago. It took us awhile and the help of an excellent designer to finish things up. This is one vignette from our Living Room. Yes, we do hang out in our Living Room-it’s comfortable, not formal or stuffy, and you can put your feet up on anything–unless you’re a Basset. I’ve got bullet-proof fabrics (well, maybe a little bit of an exaggeration) and new technology makes them impervious to spills. Obviously Basset Boy enjoys it too!
I’m going to link up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. I learn something every single week from the linky party.