Quilting – a design element

IMG_0841I returned Sunday from QuitCon! My next post will be all about QuiltCon, but for now, I want to share what I have been doing since I got home. As many of you know, one of the premises behind “Modern Quilts” is that they are pieced and quilted by the same maker. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my long-arm quilter, but I came back super inspired to give FMQ (free-motion quilting) another try. I love the texture that quilting gives the quilt and I think it could be fun if I can just get past this awkward phase.

IMG_0842I feel like a first grader trying to learn to write, so I drew lines on fabric, similar to lines on the paper we used to practice our letters in elementary school. I find that for now, working left to right and top to bottom, just like we write is working best for me. I have been experimenting with threads, needles, tension and stitch length, with BSR and without BSR. I think I have finally come up with a good combination for stitch quality and that involves the Bernina BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator). I am using BSR1 setting and am getting alot better with hand, eye and foot coordination. I have been watching Craftsy videos because I am a visual learner. The instructors (Angela Walters and Leah Day) make it look so easy!

IMG_0843I am currently trying to figure out which method of moving around the fabric under the needle works best for me: Machinger gloves, foam pads or Sharon Schamber’s hoop.  I think I have the best control with the hoop, but I am still experimenting.  I’ll report more later, but so far it has been 4 days and I haven’t given up yet. Just making lots of “l” and “e” shapes. It is going to take doing it everyday, practicing lots of shapes before I’ll feel comfortable on a real quilt.

How long did it take you until you felt comforable with FMQ?

I’m joining the WIP Wednesday link party over at Freshly Pieced. Please check out what others are working on and leave comments for them. Have a great Wednesday!

4 thoughts on “Quilting – a design element

  1. My husband works with a lady who is a long-time award-winning quilter. They rap about quilts at the water cooler. 😉 Anyway, yesterday he told me that “Susan” went to QuiltCon and she was not impressed with the sewing, choice of colors and overall quality of the quilts. She said some were “pregnant”. I have never heard this before but my husband’s understanding was that they didn’t hang properly and kind of billowed out in the middle. ?? New one to me. Anyway, after he rattled off all of the problems, and “some of them were even pregnant!”, all I could do was clap and shout, “Hooray!!! I’m so proud of the them!!” We (I’m talking about women here mostly) are sooooo hard on each other and that takes away all the fun. To me, the modern quilting movement is about creativity and fun and if we have to fudge the rules to get there, then so be it.

    I just got up the nerve to start quilting last spring after years of thinking I wasn’t good enough to do it. I had been to fabric stores (staffed by quilt police) and read a few books (written by quilt police, including a prominent “modern” quilter) and was soooo disappointed when I would try to sew and not get perfect results, with seams lining up perfectly, as ALL the books said I should. So I gave up. For years. Two books *literally* changed my life when serendipity made me check them out from the library on the same day. “The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss” by Kathleen Krull and “Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration” by Malka Dubrawsky. Dr Seuss was rejected by 27 publishing houses before his first book was accepted. Twenty seven! Can you imagine if he said after #26, “I just can’t do it.” What could our world be like if other Dr. Seuss’s hadn’t given up? Unfathomable, really. And Ms. Dubrawsky’s book was a breath of air (which is MUCH better than a breath of fresh air!) for me. The idea that fabric doesn’t have to be cut perfectly straight or seams DON’T have to match *JUST SO* was scandalous!! Eye-popping!! That very same day, I pulled out my years of stash, dusted off my hand-me-down Viking, and sewed two pieces of fabric together. And then 2 more. I haven’t stopped since. I feel a little twitchy if I go too many days between sewing sessions. Since then, I have found many wonderful people through blogs and 2 local quilt stores that I adore. I told Lora that she’d be sorry that she offered to help me if I had questions! She has settled my nerves more than once when those nagging quilt police in my head were about to throw me down to the ground and handcuff my hands behind my back. THANK YOU, LORA!

    I’m sorry to blather on and on, but my husband’s conversation at work REALLY “got in my craw” as my mother used to say. :0 I am SOOO proud of people who are willing to share with others, warts and all. Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement! 🙂 xxoxo–Kim

  2. Must have taken me a couple years to feel comfortable FMQing. And even now, 13-plus years later, before each quilt is officially started, I still find I need to “warm-up” to get the right feeling again. Let me give you the best FMQ tip ever… don’t use gloves or a hoop. Just use Neutrogena hand cream; work a dime-size squirt into your hands. Works fabulously without leave any residue on the quilt. And you can feel the quilt under your hands a whole lot better. I learned about this from Diane Gaudyinski’s quilting book and have never used anything else since then. Besides, it keeps your hands nice and smooth! Keep up the good work, but quit practicing so much on nothing. Just quilt on a quilt you plan to give away. Mission/charity quilts are the best way to practice.

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