I posted this post on my QQQ team for Etsy last week and thought that some of you might be interested in it too.
I like to Stipple... or do the Meandering Stitch. It is a carefree stitch and soothing to do. I took a class once to learn how to do it, which once you figure it out.. was probably not really needed. (lol!).
To start off.. you have to be able to drop your feed-dogs on your sewing machine. If you can't- then you can't stipple. So, drop your feed-dogs, change out your sewing foot to a free motion one-- mine looks like this.. (Yours might have a circle on the end.)
Set your top tension to "0"... and I don't really touch the other tension.
And get ready to sew. I pin baste.. so I remove a few pins from the edge or center or where ever you want to start. (make sure you have an extra bobbin wound to be ready to use when you use one up). Once you get going-- it goes fast and you want to be ready.
If you have Needle In or Needle Stop option on your machine-- USE it now-- it is very helpful. I take one stitch and pull up the bottom thread to the top and hold it for a sec until I take a stitch or 2 to secure it. Then I snip it off.
Now my machine can be used with out the pressure foot being used... that is helpful-- but if you have to use yours-- that is fine too. Start small on a pot holder or just fabric with batting in between to practice.
For me -- I set my sewing machine to it's fastest stitch and let it go.. I find it is easier to go faster than slower. They make special quilting gloves that have plastic grippers on the ends to help you hold the fabric. They are somewhat helpful. Sometimes I use them and sometimes I don't. It just depends on the project. I like the gloves when I am quilting a bigger project. They don't seem necessary with a smaller project.
As you start to stitch-- your needle stays in place and you basically pull the fabric in any direction you want. If you pull the fabric to much- your stitches will look too loose-- you can either pull them out-- or go back over them- either way would be fine. Depending on how much I have sewn and how big the stitches have pulled- I just go back over it in the other direction. It looks fine.
Make your meanderings small or big- do circles or in and outs. It really does not matter. It is your quilt- do as you want. So what if your stitches are not even-- it is OKAY- your item is handmade and not meant to be perfect. The big machines have a stitch regulator to make them even-- on a home machine you don't. And it is really ok. Do your best.
Once you get good at this-- then practice with a feather stitch or shells or whatever. It is lots of fun! And it can give a nice look to your quilted item. Stippling purists will tell you-- Not to cross over your own stitches. Nonsense.. sew as you want. I like to put curly Q's in my quilts. Don't think about it.. just have fun with it.