Friday, December 2, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Free-Motion Quilting

Always trust a quilter. She knows her way around the block.
–Unknown


When I did free-motion quilting for the first time at the end of July 2010 I absolutely hated every second of it. I did a fairly tight meander across the whole thing. It took me about 10 hours to do a 52" x 68" quilt. It was tedious. I missed dropping off my quilt top at the long-arm quilter and getting it back transformed into something amazing. I saw every single imperfection. I worried the whole time that I had ruined it. I didn't think I would ever want to quilt my own again.

After a trip through the washer, I was fairly content with my first attempt at FMQ. Necessity {i.e. lack of income} dictated that if I wanted to finish any more quilts, I'd just have to do it myself. So I tried again with loopy flowers on the next quilt. It was an interesting adventure that turned out pretty well. I went back to meandering and straight-line on a couple more quilts and then did some more loopy flowers. I decided to give feathers a try and they didn't come out too badly. I branched out from there, adding in a bit of something new to each quilt, along with the old stand-by favorites. My skills improved, my stitches got more consistent and my quilting got more elaborate.

At the end of June 2011, I finished a second snowball quilt, identical to the one I'd started with. This one took about 35 hours to quilt, there wasn't one straight line or meander anywhere on it and I didn't find it tedious to spend all that time at the machine. As a matter of fact, I loved it. I loved free-motion quilting.

I know I'm tooting my own horn here. I'm not exactly sure how to go about this in a humble sort of way. I'm far from perfect at it and I can improve in so many ways. But I really like the rhythm of machine quilting. And there is something very satisfactory in making a quilt start to finish and having part of that process be producing something that is a reasonable facsimile of free-motion machine quilting.

In the interest of improving this skill, I've decided to do two things. The first is to {start and} finish the Free-Motion Quilt Along by Christina at A Few Scraps. I have my quilt top cut and ready to put together, the back cut and the batting waiting. I'm hoping to squeeze it in after I finish my Christmas crafting but before the New Year.

The second thing I've decided to do is to join Sew Cal Gal's Free-Motion Quilting Challenge.

There will be a new challenge each month from some really great FMQ experts. I've come a long way on my own, but I'm really looking forward to using these challenges to improve the way I quilt. There will be lots of mutual encouragement to keep me motivated and of course, prizes don't hurt either. Free-motion quilting is something that I really love to do and I'm hoping that I will love it even more as I improve.

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8 comments:

elizabeth said...

Your free-motion quilting is what has inspired me to get going. I especially love what you're doing on the pinwheel sampler quilt. That is a quilt on my wish list.

P. said...

I SO hopped right over and signed up for SewCalGal's FMQ challenge! Thanks for the link, and thanks for your inspiration. I feel toward FMQ a lot like the character in Green Eggs and Ham. I do not particularly like it, but that's because I need to try it (practice and do it) more. I am hopeful that one day I will say I absolutely love it.

Jen said...

Yes, your pinwheel quilt is certainly inspiring! FMQ is one of my favorite things too. It is hard to get used to and takes a lot of practice. But it's worth it! And much cheaper too :) great post!

Shay said...

You've come such a long way in just over a year and I'm still sitting round twiddling my thumbs whining that I cant free motion.

Your quilting is beautiful but then again everything you make is perfectly gorgeous !

quiltfool said...

Whoo-hoo, you! Great job of trying and doing and honoring your work. There is no humble way to toot your own horn, so blow it loud and often. Lane

Michelle said...

Your FMQ is simply beautiful Elizabeth. I think we started about the same time. I'm not as practiced as you, but I am getting to the place where I actually enjoy it.

mom said...

I love it, you are doing such a beautiful job! I too am sitting around saying I can't do it. my attempt at the class we went to was misbable and I can't bring myself to try again. three cheers for you! You have such an artistic talent!

QuiltNut Creations said...

woo hoo! it looks great!