Saturday, February 25, 2012

2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge: February Motif

Life is full of obstacle illusions. –Grant Frazier

I will admit right up front that Diane Gaudynski's Echo Feather exercise for this month scared the starch out of me. I left the post about it open in my browser for a good week, looking at it several times a day, before I even attempted to sketch out some feathers.

I wasn't very happy with how they came out, but typically my quilting is better than my sketches, so moved to a practice sandwich. I tried a branched feather for a bit of interest, but my quilting wasn't any better than my sketching and I lost focus and doodle-quilted a couple of things I wanted to do in another quilt.

Then I decided I'd better get serious. I tried again, this time with a single plume. I still wan't happy. My echoes weren't coming out as smoothly and evenly as I would have liked and I was having trouble doing the bottom of the feather and then curving upwards to do the top part. I usually do them the other way around.

I went back to the drawing board. I doodled out several more pages in my practice notebook and then drew a final version in my quilting journal.

Then I did another practice feather. I decided that my “weak” side was the left side, so I swapped directions, making my plume curve up to the left, which saved the bigger feathers for the right side. Meh.

I felt that quilting an echo feather following the instructions just wasn't working for me. I was having a hard time making pretty curves at the end of the feathers. I decided to switch it up and start the feathers at the top of the spine and work backwards to see if that would work better. That was a train wreck, which I tried to disguise with a few swirls and feathers branching off from the site of the accident.

Frustration set in at that point and I decided that echo quilting is NOT a beginner skill. Just to prove to myself that I could actually do pretty quilting, I whipped out a feather in the margins of the practice sandwich. There was a bit of drunk driving at the tip, which just goes to show that humility and patience are virtues.

After a bit of grumbling, I decided that the whole point of doing the FMQ challenge was to not only see and try new quilting motifs, but to stretch a bit and learn new techniques and that I'd better go by the instructions. I probably should have done a couple more practice feathers, but I went ahead and quilted on my sampler quilt. My shapes still aren't as pretty as Diane's and my echoes aren't as even as I'd like, but it is progress, I think.

Before I started the challenge, I decided that I wanted to use thread that shows up on the sampler. I had picked out a deep purple to use for the feathers {seen in the first two practice attempts}. When my feather didn't go too well, I decided to go use a tan thread, which still stands out, but not nearly like the purple. I'm thinking that by choosing darker threads, I'm pulling the focus off the quilting and onto the stitches. If I switch to lighter thread now, I'll have to unpick my leaves from January, otherwise they will really stick out. I suppose if I want to switch to more subtle thread, now's the time. Something to think on.

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Anonymous said...

Your progress is very evident! You're doing a great job with these. I think everyone's feathers should show some individuality - the mark of the maker - and yours are beautiful! Your sketches also are great - I'd never even think of publishing mine - my designs (almost) always come out better on the fabric than on paper.
Pat in Oregon

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

You are way too hard on yourself....they are great!

Karens Quilts, Crows and Cardinals said...

Elizabeth -- they are stunning -- your eye is the only one that perceives flaws -- to this eye -- they are beautiful ! Three Cheers for you !! Keep up the good work.


Paulette said...

If I got one to come out like your first one right out of the gate, I'd be delighted. I admire your tenacity, and I think both your sketches and your results are beautiful!

Shay said...

The difference between you and I (aside from the fact that I still cant FM ) is that you keep on giving it a go.

I think your FM practice looks fantastic and if I could do something half as lovely I'd be over the moon!

Anonymous said...

Your feathers, all of them look pretty decent to me. Maybe not the one from the top. =) Echoing is hard even on a longarm. I think you're doing a great job! Part of the problem is you are really focused on every stitch. If you had a whole piece with feathers, or if you come back and look in a few days, it's going to be better to your eye. =)

QuiltNut Creations said...

So sooooooooo good!! Great job Elizabeth.

LIANE said...

Suas feathers demonstram o progresso que você conseguiu praticando-as! Como Diane Gaudynski sempre enfatiza ...quanto mais se faz melhor fica! Practice makes it perfect. Adorei conhecer você através do seu blog. Liane

Lane said...

Keep going. To me, echoing is the hardest thing because you're matching to a line that never goes away. It's okay if you mark a line with blue washout pen and miss it a bit. The blue washout goes away and no one knows. But, when you're echoing, the original line is always there. You're doing fine work. What if you used lots of colors of threads on your sampler? If it's to show what you learned, then one of the things you learned was that different colors show mistakes differently. Lane