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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Challenge - January's Entry

In her newsletter, Cindy Needham mentioned a wonderful opportunity for FMQ practice - a Challenge by SewCalGal.

You can read about the Challenge here. Anyway, it did seem to be a great way to learn more about FMQ and get some practice, so I took the pledge and started off the new year viewing the first tutorial, which was a lovely leaf pattern by Frances Moore.

After viewing the tutorial several times to get the feel of the pattern, I started by drawing it over and over. I drew this pattern for the first week or so. I wanted to get it into my brain first, then into my hands, hoping it would then come out more easily when sewing. Here's a sample of my drawing:

Early, somewhat messy drawing.

Later Drawing. Getting better!  

So, after drawing for a time, I decided to take a deep breath, drop my feed dogs and have at it! I put a bright orange thread into my machine so that I could see the stitches and started out. Here's a sample of that first trial:
Pretty jerky and not very well formed. Hard to believe all that drawing and this was what came out at the start. I do tend to feel out of control a lot when FMQ, hence the need for practice! After several more attempts,and much more drawing on paper, my most recent pattern looks like this:

Still not completely smooth, but much better, I think. I just need to keep practicing. I am having fun with this, just wish I had more time!

So this is my first entry in the FMQ Challenge. Looking forward to next month's tutorial! Bring it on!

Learning By Doing

Well, I've been working on my quilting for almost the whole month of January - in my spare time, which seems pretty spare right now - and I've made some progress. So now I have to learn to to document it on this blog, adding pictures and links. The only way to really learn is by doing, they say. So here goes...

As I mentioned earlier, this all started when I got an email from Cindy Needham. Cindy had visited my guild, The Village Quilters, last May. She gave a very interesting talk about thread and showed us her lovely antique linen quilts. You can see samples on her website, which also has some wonderful handouts and is really inspirational. I also attended her Open Thread Bar, learned a lot about using different types of thread in my machine, how to adjust the tension, etc. and for only the third time in my life got brave enough to drop my feed dogs and try Free Motion Quilting (FMQ). I felt totally out of control, but Cindy is a very patient and kind soul and a wonderful teacher. She helped me find a rhythm and by the end of the day I was doing some (kind of sloppy but wonderfully fun) thread painting on some pre-printed panels. I knew I wanted to learn more, so I began reading about FMQ and getting ready to try it on a real quilt.

I started by drawing a meandering pattern on paper with a pencil. Maybe it sounds silly, but I filled several notebooks with meandering patterns. I was trying to get the shapes and the flow into my brain. I figured if I couldn't draw the lines on paper, how would I ever be able to sew them? Even when drawing, I would panic when I drew myself into a corner, or couldn't figure out where to go next. I'm kind of a slow learner in that respect. So I practiced. By the end of the year, I had made two quilts using meandering FMQ; they weren't the best, but they were mine. And when they were done, my friends seemed to like them. They didn't notice (or at least they didn't mention) the starts and stops or places where I had crossed my lines ( a no-no according to what I had read) so I started to feel better about FMQ, but realized I needed a lot more practice.

One of the quilts with the meandering FMQ.

That was when I got Cindy Needham's newsletter that mentioned a FMQ challenge...