20 January, 2012

FMQ Challenge - progress for January

The key, it would seem, is practice, practice, practice. So, I watched the video, thought about it for a while, made up a quilt sandwich, and got going.

I elected to use dark blue thread on calico so that I could get a proper 'warts and all' look at how I managed. The whole point of the challenge is to improve, and I felt that I needed a good harsh look at my efforts to see what was going on. And here is my practice piece.

I started in the centre and moved in an anticlockwise direction. Looking at this picture I can see that my leaf shapes are not ideal - they are too elongated - and there are irregular gaps in the fill. However, I know where I went wrong, and they are simple things to fix.

As I was doing the central portion, it became clear that this pattern would lend itself very nicely to becoming a linear design for borders, so I had a stab at that too, at the top and bottom. Although they are not ideal, it was proof enough in my mind that it would work!!

My next project was one of my favourite things that I make - a square LOVE wall hanging. Normally I would use 4 layer cake squares and add a binding to the edge. I would topstitch around the letters then quilt the '+' and around the letters. And that would be it. Very nice result though - I have one hanging on my pantry door. In light of this months challenge I decided to add a narrow border around the egde, then binding, and I would FMQ the leaf design in the border. No further practice, no marking, just lots of concentration and focus. I like a bit of pressure! I also like the result! See for yourself.

A detail from the rear of the bottom left hand corner

The whole of the rear (I hadn't stitched the hanging sleeve down at this stage!)

 Detail from the bottom right hand corner

Detail from the top left hand corner

And the whole wall hanging. The quilting isn't so clear.

So, a definite improvement between the two pieces. For sure, the leaf shapes aren't regular, the stitch length is definitely quite random, but for me those two things are part of the appeal of FMQ. You can definitely see the human involvement! I started stitching, it all flowed, my needle moved where I felt it should. It was wonderful.

I do quite a lot of work with narrow borders, so this style of quilting fill will be something that features quite heavily.

I can hardly wait for February's challenge.

Why join the FMQ Challenge?

A week or so back I took the pledge and joined in with the Free Motion Quilting challenge 2012.

I have issues with quilting. I know how to quilt - I have been sewing for 20 years (cripes!) but I have always limited my quilting to outlining the main features in whatever design I am working on. What I don't know how to do is get started on a blank piece of fabric.

When I look at fabric I can pretty much envisage how I will use it. When I look at a piece of constructed fabric I have NO IDEA of where I would begin to quilt it. I don't know how to choose designs; I don't know what designs there are out there; I don't know what is right or wrong; I don't know how much quilting on a piece I should do. Just baffling! I have seen some fantastic, beautiful work done both on pre-programmed machines and free motion, and I want to be able to do that!! I feel that there is something missing from my work, and it is quilting! 

I got a new sewing machine in 2011 with the intention of doing more FMQ, or in fact just doing SOME FMQ. But I just carried on with my foot firmly planted in the ditch. Boo!

So it was perfectly timed that I should find the FMQ Challenge, hosted by http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com/  The challenge consists of 12 monthly tutorials throughout 2012. Each month focuses on a different quilting design with instructions given and then off you go. Practice, practice, practice! I am a member of the Facebook group where I am finding lots of support and sharing of photos and ideas. There is some good work going on out there.

January's challenge is 'leaves'. I have done 1 pratice piece (details to come) and have incorporated it into a project which would otherwise have remained virtually unquilted, apart from the ditches! I have thoroughly enjoyed the start of this quilting year, and am very much looking forward to the next months challenges.


Can you see this?

Okay, so, finally I am doing something that I said I would never do - I am blogging!! Am I? Is this working? Hello?

I have to confess to being REALLY bewildered by all this, so I am probably about to spend the next few days trying to figure it all out.

Wish me luck!! .....and hopefully I'll be back.