When you plan the set up of your quilting room or quilt studio take into account both comfort and ambiance.
Your space should be comfortable so that you can quilt for extended periods of time without strain or fatigue—that's body, eye and/or brain.
Ambiance, well that means something different to everyone.
Sometimes it's the little knickknacks that remind us of time spent with our quilting buddies. Maybe it's the perfect candle scent for a long, restful day of piecing.
Or maybe it's that bag of Dove Dark Chocolate hidden in your sewing machine cabinet drawer.
It all depends on what works for YOU!
For the purposes of free motion machine quilting, you'll need the following equipment for your quilting workspace or studio:
Use a plexiglass extension table like the Sew Steady, a portable sewing machine table like the Sew Ezi or a full size sewing table such as one from Tracey's Tables.
I own and use all three with the Sew Steady being the least
expensive and the full size sewing machine table the most.
My personal favorites are the Sew Ezi for taking to class and bee treats and vending. The Tracey's Table is perfect for my quilting room.
I do have a warning about the Sew Ezi table. It is almost too handy to have around. When bee meets at my house, the Sew Ezi gets set up in the living room where we meet. Unfortunately, a month later that darned table is still standing in my living room...thread and fabric everywhere. Could it be ‘sew ezi’ to use? Just might be!
For all of these options your sewing machine sits even with the tabletop and provides the necessary space to put your hands and support for the quilt.
Ceiling and sewing machine lights are not enough.
It is hard to see thread that matches the quilt top. Try a number of lighting set ups. Mine includes a goose neck, floor Ott light behind the sewing machine head and a small, table Ott light in front and to the right of the machine head. Trudy's Viking Designer Diamond has an awesome light system. But she also places her machine in front of a daylight window and uses additional Ott lights.
It's helpful to sit a bit higher to have a better view while you're free motion quilting. An adjustable chair makes this easy. Be sure that your feet are neither dangling nor on tip-toes when the chair is adjusted. This would be terribly uncomfortable over a long quilting session.
Sit directly in front of the needle so that hips, waist and shoulders are properly aligned. This helps minimize fatigue.
It is imperative that the quilt does move on its own while you are quilting. There should be enough horizontal surface to the left of your machine for support. At least half of the quilt is to the left of the needle at all times.
Additional horizontal surfaces behind the sewing machine are necessary for large quilts. My preference is for folding banquet tables (found at Costco and the like). They have the plastic top so they are light enough for me to set up and move on my own.
Trudy has an extra large sewing machine cabinet with all the bells and whistles. But even so, she had her husband install a two inch high fence at the back edge of the gate leg table top to help corral the quilt.
While using an ironing board is often recommended (because it is handy), it is not stable enough in my opinion.
These days, many exciting quilting threads are sold on cones. A metal stand doesn't create the static electricity that a plastic one does. It is heavier and sturdier than plastic.
To provide enough guidance for the thread before it reaches my first sewing machine guide, note the safety pin which has been taped to my sewing machine. Your machine may already have additional guides for use with a thread stand.
A wire shelf unit with four shelves sits directly behind my sewing machine so that any notions are no more than an arm's length away. I also keep my sewing machine manual on this shelf for easy reference.
Make your quilting room an inviting space to work in. For ambiance add music, TV, scented candles, a good cup of something hot or cold. Have a space to hang your current or favorite quilt to inspire you. Do whatever it takes to make this a quilting room that you can't wait to get to and hate to leave.
Table of Contents
Free Motion Quilting 101