In theory I know how to free motion quilt. I've read articles on it and watched videos on YouTube showing how it's done. I have a darning foot and my machine allows me to drop the feed dogs. However, as often is the case, *knowing* how to do something and actually *doing* it can be two different beasts. I started practicing free motion quilting yesterday morning and had some difficulty with it. The foot kept bouncing around and I thought it was much harder to maneuver my test piece around than it should have been.
Poking around on the web led me to a website devoted to free motion quilting, Leah Day's The Free Motion Quilting Project, which has some GREAT teaching videos on it. (Even if you don't quilt, take at look at Leah's website and see the beautiful quilting patterns she's produced and illustrated.) In particular, I found this video on modifying your darning foot to be very useful. Following Leah's suggestions, I hacked my darning foot and voila! That annoying bounce disappeared and I was able to maneuver my fabric around much more smoothly. I spent another hour practicing and felt much more confident in my ability to free motion quilt.
Then this morning I sat down to practice again and had nothing but problems with thread tension. Snarls with excessive loops of thread on both the top and the bottom of my practice piece. I adjusted the tension up and down, trying to get rid of those ugly bird's nests, but nothing seemed to work.
I've learned from past mistakes that you can't force a project that doesn't want to cooperate. It's best to set it aside and try again later. And that's how I wound up sewing a couple of Christmas stockings and attempting to make fleece socks today instead of free motion quilting. The stockings had been in my work-in-progress pile for awhile, so at least that counts as cleaning up!