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Monday, December 31, 2012

Sew Cal Gal's FMQ Challenge - Completed!

Sew Cal Gal's 2012 FMQ Challenge Completed!
I'm going right down to the wire again this month, but this is it; I have finally completed the challenge!

Note: If you click on the month in the paragraphs below, it will take you back to the monthly post. The pictures are here so that you can see that I really did do the projects.

It started in January with Frances Moore's leaves. I was a true beginner, and the leaves showed it:
Then in February, it was Diane Gaudynski's beautiful feathers. Hers were beautiful; mine, not so much. I started drawing a lot to learn the pattern, and practicing in earnest:

March brought Ann Fahl and a number of new filler patterns to try. Again, I did a lot of drawing on paper. Actually, I began to realize how important doodling and sketching were to the final product:

In April, Don Linn (Mr. Quilt) taught us a new method for transferring a pattern, and I learned to follow a drawn line:

May was Leah Day's month, and we learned two more filler patterns. I did a lot of drawing again, and began to understand how to fill the space without getting "stuck" somewhere. It's still a challenge, but it started to get better in May:

June's expert was Cindy Needham, and this was fun! It was based on Zentangle; putting together all sorts of filler patterns! I doodled and doodled, and loved the result:

In July, Angela Waters had us making overlapping tiles. Lots of drawing again (see the pattern here?) because it combined visualizing the tiles and using a filler; kind of a new skill:

Wendy Sheppard taught us how to do Jesters Hats in August, which was a fun filler pattern:

September had us following a pattern again. Paula Reid also showed us how to quilt a big quilt on our small machines, a very handy thing to know:

In October, Teri Lucas challenged us to use silk fabric and a cotton/wool combination of batts. The result was fun and puffy; it looked almost like trapunto:

November had Sarah Vedeler's excellent tutorial and practice materials for swirls. This was a pattern I'd admired, but never thought I'd be able to do. I've used in two other quilts since:

Finally, December! Patsy Thompson taught us so much about quilting borders. I used to just leave my borders quilted in the ditch. No more! This took me a lot of time to sew, but it really shows just how much progress I've made this year:

I took this challenge for two reasons: 1.) I have some neuropathy and arthritis in my hands, and my hand quilting just doesn't look very good, and 2.) I have two children who are getting married and I wanted to make each of them a special quilt - including quilting it. Thanks to this challenge, I am now planning the quilting of both quilts, and I really feel I will be able to do a decent job on them. This makes me really happy! 

I'd really like to thank Sew Cal Gal for the wonderful opportunities she has provided for us all. Because of this challenge, I've also read a number of quilting books, taken several Craftsy classes on quilting, and took a workshop with Ann Fahl! I'm far more aware of machine quilting, and my own quilting has improved tremendously. I never would have come so far without this challenge. Thank you so much!

December Sew Cal Gal's FMQ Challenge

December Sew Cal Gal's FMQ Challenge Entry!
Wow, the last month of 2012 brings the final monthly challenge, and it was a difficult one.

This month's expert was Patsy Thompson, who, in addition to making beautiful quilts, does fantastic how-to videos. I have long been a fan of her website and blog. Her lesson for us was on borders.

Now, borders sound easy - they're so small, right? But these borders were freehand, and I found them difficult. I started, as usual, by drawing. Patsy provided us with some wonderful blanks to work on. Here are a few of my sketches.

I drew and drew, but the feathers really scared me. I find it really hard to get them to flow when I sew them. So I worked extra hard on the drawing.

Now it's New Year's Eve, and I have to sew, or I will miss the deadline on the 12th month, and so, in my mind at least, I would have failed the challenge. So I sat down at my machine and sewed. The feathers aren't as smooth as I would like, but they are so much better than they had been back in February. Here is my final monthly trial.
Close Up of Corner

Overall Project

Now I need to post my retrospective and enter both the monthly and the grand prize drawings. But I feel I've already won, because my quilting has improved so much! I'm so glad I stuck with this challenge.