Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

FMQ Practice Time

I have said this many times over the last 6 months, but I am truly committed to getting better at machine quilting!! I have been doing it for many, many, many years but have fallen into the trap of only quilting designs that I am comfortable with. This means that it has become stale and, frankly, pretty uninteresting to do!!

I did get a bit of a boost when I started using rulers and have really enjoyed learning to use the ones that I have purchased. BUT, it is time to move on……

To that end, I started trying to figure out an INTERESTING way to practice!! As I looked thru some of the books that I owned…..

….my eye was captured by this one from Leah Day……

I still remember when she announced that she would post a new FMQ pattern every day for ONE YEAR. I thought that she was nuts but she proved me wrong and designed some amazing filler patterns along the way!!

As I had been reading posts from other FMQers, they consistently talked about the importance of drawing the design on paper first so that you could get the muscle memory going, and I KNOW that my muscle needs lots of memory!!!

Before I left the studio that morning, I had all of my supplies out…..

…..and her video website bookmarked on my phone…..

The final step was to get some practice pieces organized!!! I had decided that I wanted to sew with a light color thread on a dark colored fabric. That way I can easily see my stitches….both the good and the bad…… and can critique my quilting better.

Picking a fabric was the HARDEST part of the process because I couldn’t find a SINGLE ONE that I was comfortable using for a practice piece. I know that is silly to say but I just couldn’t fight against that feeling!! Finally, my eye rested on a piece that I knew had a faded line on it and within a few minutes, I had the fabric and batting cut and ready to go……

Now for the first block…..

The first block in her book is called “Shadow Waves” and it looked fairly easy.

In all honesty, I almost skipped it!! But I decided that, if I am going to do this, I need to follow thru block by block.

I began by drawing it on paper first…..and then again……and one last time!! It was harder than I thought!!

As I moved to the fabric, I decided that I could get 4 practice blocks on one of my sandwiches so I drew chalk lines for guides…..

The first hurdle was to quilt the outline of the block without turning my fabric. This meant that I had to move from front to back, side to side heading left, back to front and side to side heading right. I found out that I am NOT super good at going backwards!!!

Although, part of this problem was because the sewing line was too close to the fabric edge….at least that is what I will tell myself!!!

I quilted the block once and it was okay but I wanted to do it better so I tried it again.

During this process, I tried turning my machine speed down to 5% but the stitching was jerky and looked awful. I finally determined that 20% was optimum for me!!!

So, now I have one block done and 364 to go!! I have no idea just how long I will keep this up but I have already learned a little something, so who knows.

Why don’t you consider joining me on this journey…..we can get better together!!!

Geese Opt In

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