FMQ practice has begun

PREFACE:   I am NOT a novice to machine quilting.  I began using the technique back in 1988 and have machine quilted ALL of my quilts since that time.  I started it back in the days where machine quilted quilts weren’t considered to be “PROPER” quilts.

I have, however, gotten into a bad habit of believing that I can rush thru the quilting and get to the fun part of starting yet another project.   I have stuck stubbornly to the motifs and designs that I am most comfortable with and have not fully explored the new and exciting FMQ motifs that are being developed.  This post is about my efforts to reacquire the fun and excitement that I first had when I started machine quilting.

Now….back to the blog……

 

I have heard that there are three tricks to great Free Motion Quilting…..

Practice……..PRACTICE………PRACTICE!!!!

I have mentioned here previously that I want to “up-my-game” where my quilting is concerned and that is the next project in the queue…..named FMQ3P!!

I purchased a top from Spoonflower and added a couple of borders to bring it to a nice size….

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I pulled out a number of quilting books, both old and new to help me plan out the quilting…….img_8473.jpgimg_8472.jpgimg_8474.jpgimg_8471.jpg

To prove my determination to do this FMQ study well I made a few changes to my usual set up.

First, I decided to pull out the Little Genie Magic bobbin washers and see if they would help reduce thread nests that I was sometimes seeing on the back of my quilting…….img_8468.jpg  Previously, I had only used this with a drop-in bobbin so it was interesting to see how it fit insde the bobbin case.

Finally, although it makes no difference to the actual quilting process, I switched to a new, clean pair of gloves rather than the old, VERY dirty ones…..

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I began by using the walking foot and doing all of the dtich quilting although for most of this process, it was just following along the printed line.  I did find that since I was trying to be so careful that it helped to turn the machine speed down so that I had more control…..img_8469.jpg

I also concentrated on stopping to reposition my hands more so that my “hand hoop” was never far from the needle.   I ended up stopping about every 50 stitches.

I decided to do a funky flower in the first block and was getting ready to mark some guidelines but remembered a product that I had bought at Houston but had never used. It is called the “Cross Hair Ruler” from Sew Steady …..

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and it did it’s job perfectly. ……img_8478.jpg

My design sizing is not perfect, particularly the petals heading into the corners (those long curves are hard to quilt with marking them), but I am fairly happy with this first foray into FMQ3P……img_8479.jpg

Now I wanted to try the “Paisley Tulip Motif” from Murphy’s idea book…

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…but on a smaller scale…..

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Not too shabby!!

Now that I was having some success with free motion motifs, I worked up my courage and  pulled out some of the rulers to give them a try.   I started with the straight edge and had no problems with it.   I was encouraged by that so wanted to try one that was a bit more complicated….ie CLAMSHELLS.

I began sewing on the two block borders and was pleased with how it was working, although I did have a hard time figuring out exactly where my ruler needed to be positioned on the successive rounds…..   The “oops”is on the left with the amended version on the right……

After quiting clamshells on half of the border, I opted for a simple undulating line for the other two sides.   The finished block looked good…..

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The last block for the day was one of the funky, slanted stripe blocks.  I did the first two sections with a simple right to left sway design and then added pebbling of various sizes to fill in the rest of the “patches”…..

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Since I was trying to do everything free-motion I was avoiding  marking as much as possible.   I was happy to remember that I could use the outside of the darning foot as a 1/4 inch measure……

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At this point it was time for me to stop for the day and am happy with the practice time that I accomplished.  But…..

Note to self…..being uber careful takes time!  It does take longer when you are concentrating and trying to do a better job, but it is definitely worth the effort.

This isn’t a “quilt it fast and get it finished” project…..  Three blocks done……nine to go!!!

 

Pineapple Upside Down Quilt

Well, I have finally finished all of the piecing for the never-ending pineapple quilt, but it has come at a cost.    Let me explain….

When I was at the retreat and working on these blocks, I started having an allergic reaction to some unknown substance.  I thought that my bed was probably previously occupied by some cat-fur covered individual and that I was picking it up from the bedspread.  However the symptoms weren’t the same as I normally get with cat hair.  Instead,  the skin around my mouth and lips became red and swollen….weird!!!   When I returned home, I took an immediate shower and promptly washed all of the clothes that had been at the retreat, and the allergy symptoms went away.

But then, a week later I started working on the quilt top again and, low and behold, my allergy symptoms returned.

I was racking my brain trying to figure out how the supposed cat hair could have gotten onto my quilt top and wondering if I needed to stop working on it.    Then, as I was steam pressing a seam on my Wool ironing pad, I realized that there was a smell coming from it and realized that fumes were also rising from it.  I started to wonder if this product was causing my allergies.   I stopped using it immediately and the symptoms started to disappear again.

They resurfaced briefly when I was handling all of the blocks that had been meticulously ironed on the wool surface!!

So, it looks as if I am allergic to something that resides inside the wool pressing mat.   I am so disappointed as I loved the way that the mat worked for pressing pieced seams but it simply is NOT worth the allergy!!  I will probably give it one more test in a few weeks just to be sure but I want to be completely symptom free before I do so.

Now, back to the pineapple……

The plan for this quilt was to have something to use as a bedspread on my Queen bed during the holiday season, so I sized it to fit like a bedspread.  But when I laid it on my bed, I really didn’t like it!!IMG_8448.jpg

The original plan was to have a yellow border separating the center from the border, but it  didn’t look good to have the border falling off of the edge of the bed.  So, I decided to skip the border and simply add the next set of slightly different colored blocks directly onto the main section.

This is the result…..

IMG_8459.jpg…and to be honest, I am not fussed with it!!!   The pillows here are the back of ones that are currently on the bed but knew that something was going to be needed to break up the monotony of the top.   In the long run, new pillow shams will help tremendously.

I think that this quilt does not have a “hook” to it and seems pretty boring to me, but it will suffice to be on the bed for the month of December!!

And, look how many strips I had left over…..

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I dont know WHAT I was thinking, but I will never start something like this without a plan again!!!

I am thinking that I might use the Non-Christmas Red strips in a Quilt of Valor….maybe with some white strips interspersed….but that is for another time.

Back to the pineapple again…..But now the problem of how to quilt it….

First…..I wasn’t planning to do a lot of special quilting on it…..it doesn’t need ANY more design.

Second…….I am now concerned about having my hands all of the quilt top that has been ironed on the wool pad.

Third……I REALLY didn’t want to spend days quilting on something that I didn’t like that much!!

SOLUTION…..contact my friend Sherry and ask her to quilt it for me.   I seldom quilt by check, but this is a good opportunity to do just that!!  I felt SO relieved once that decision was made!!

Now I needed to make a back for the quilt and decided that it was a good opportunity to get rid of many of those Christmas fabrics that I have had for YEARS and will probably NEVER use for anything.  It took all of one day to put the back together and I did make a dent in my Christmas stash, even using a panel that was langushing in the bottom of the box.   I dont have a large enough area to lay it out, but you can get the idea here…..IMG_8463.jpg

So, on Tuesday it goes to the quilter and I can move on to something FUN and EXCITING!!!

I hate that I am not happy with a quilt that I put so much time and effort into, but the nice thing about this quilt is that I have happy memories of the many hours that I worked on it at our guild retreats.   Those hours of fun and fellowship will add greatly to my enjoyment of the finished product.

Oh….does anyone want to buy a wool pressing mat….I have one going cheap!!!!

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Retreat = Relaxation

Last week I spent four wonderful days at my local guild’s retreat.  As I was working at my desk on the day prior to the retreat, I realized that I was clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth which made me think that I REALLY needed some relaxing time.  The quilt retreat did exactly that!!

We gather at an FFA camp that is about 45 minutes from my home.   It is a marvelous place, with a wonderful working area, 3 solid meals every day, endless coffee and tea bar, and great rooms for sleeping.   What more could you ask for??

Here is our quilting room……

IMG_8294.jpgIt is amazing to look at this and realize just how much STUFF we all brought with us!!

Joan, our fearless leader always brings a gift bag to get our days off to a good start and she outdid herself this year…..

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My favorite is the wonderful mug, although I am not so sure that I shouldn’t be offened by the sentiment……

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True to my plans, I immediately started sewing on my pineapple blocks…..

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The wool ironing mat and the travel iron were the perfect companions!!

Things went really well except for running out of bobbin thread.   My record was to have sewn strips onto ELEVEN blocks before I realized that I was sewing with air.   My sweet husband starting sending me texts reminding me to check the bobbin thread!!

I spent the first two days sewing blocks for the borders and then put the center section together to see how it was going to look.   I was not disappointed…..

img_8316-1.jpgI played a bit with the border blocks…..

IMG_8318.jpg…..and went right back to sewing!!!  It was great that I had already cut the pieces needed for the blocks so I could just sew like the wind!!

I did spend a bit of time walking around the beautiful camp and enjoyed seeing all of the spring flowers/weeds that were making their appearance.IMG_8307

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I was enamored with this lacy leafed tree that had been recently planted…IMG_8302

My local horticulturist told me that it is a Grancy Greybeard!!!

Other’s were madly completing projects as well.   The three Sue’s did some great work…..

Sue B. made a Quilt of Valor…..

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Sue T put together this wonderful top using a panel that she found…..IMG_8334

And Sue L. had us looking at stars…..

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On Thursday evening a group of us took a fieldtrip to a local-ish art gallery that contained the work of Steffen Thomas.  He was a very prolific artist and I was astounded with the many mediums that he worked in.   There were oil paintings, scultures, metal work, block printing and mosaics…..and they were all wonderfully done!!

One of the reasons for our expedition was that local quilters had been asked to make quilts that were based on his art.  Some were very traditional and looked much like the painting…..

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While others were much more representational……

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Our own Sue T. posed with her quilt based on one of his sculptures…..IMG_8392

I loved this mosaic and would have enjoyed making a “flying geese” quilt to go along wth it…..IMG_8418

But of course, I would never have been able to resist this lovely rendition of my FAVORITE flower…..

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The fieldtrip was well worth the time spent….both in seeing the magnificent art but in spending time with quilting friends….they are the best you know!!

I left the retreat at noon on Friday, feeling relaxed, encouraged and ready to enjoy the upcoming season of creating!!

Just make up your mind already!!

Over the last few years I have been slowly working on a Christmas Pineapple Quilt that will be big enough to be a bedspread during the holiday season. It has been a SLOW process as I have only worked on it at our Guild Retreats, and, let’s face it, much of that time is spent talking and eating….with a little bit of sleeping thrown in for good measure!!

But, the Pineapple blocks lend themselves to mindless sewing and that is exactly what I have wanted!!

When I first started this project, I spent quite a bit of time designing the perfect combination of blocks…..

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……but when I laid it out, it looked really muddled and you couldn’t see any defined pattern. It was disappointing but I wanted to keep sewing so just continued to make blocks.  When I got home, I tried even more layouts…..

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….and MORE layouts……img_8281.jpg

 

So, another year rolled around and I changed my mind AGAIN about how I was going to set the blocks, and made TONS of Red and Green blocks and cut out COPIOUS red strips to use in the new design……..

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Unfortunately, when I pulled it out last week, I couldn’t remember exactly what my plan had been so I had to start over yet again!!!   I THINK that I now have a good plan although I did realize that I had planned it to be 16 inches too big!!   Obviously, the Math side of my brain shut down after April 15th!!!  

Anyway, I leave on Tuesday for another guild retreat and I want to finish as many of these blocks as I can and JUST GET THE QUILT ON THE BED!!!!

I have cut all of the pieces, and bagged them up in order of use……

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Operation “FINISH THAT QUILT” commences at 10:30 Tuesday morning!!!

 

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This is what survival looks like!!!

long-story-short-i-survived-20714755.pngWell, it is April 16th and I can breathe a sigh of relief that the first 3.5 months of 2019 are over with.

When I first wrote about the craziness of the Winter and Spring, I said that I was concerned that all of the busyness would mean that I would get to the end and not remember anything about the months.   But, I can honestly say that these months have been fun and that I have wonderful memories of the Quilt Show, the Wedding and everything in between.

I am also happy to say that I kept my pledge to spend time in my studio and probably only missed 10 days during the 3.5 months.  I didn’t actually accomplish much during those times but at least put my hands on fabric and thought about upcoming projects!!

Now, the plan is to clear a few items off of my to-do list……things like cleaning house (it REALLY needs it), clearing out Quilt Show stuff that was placed into storage after the show, spending some time in my yard planting flowers and generally getting ready for the next stage of the year.   We are traveling overseas for a month starting mid September, so the next 5 months are reserved for a LOT of fun activities.

The first of those fun activities was doing some photography at a local Hunting preserve.  It was fun to see the beautiful birds…..img_4594.jpg

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…..and to watch the dogs in training…..img_4734-1.jpg

It was a great start to this new season in life…..

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Just hang it!!!

For MANY years I have changed the decorating in my home every 2 to 3 months, using various themes.   The normal schedule is ……

–  “Winter Blues” for Jan, Feb & March

–  “Spring Flowers & Birds” for April & May

–  “Take Me to the Beach”  for June, July & August

–  “Autumn Splendor” for September, October and November

–  and I can bet that you can guess the theme for December!!!

I also change the decor in my Kitchen and Keeping Room every month…mainly so I can display the small quilt that I have made based on the theme for the month.

Sometimes I get tired of making the changes but am always happy when it is all fresh and new.

As we have collected more art, I have also been changing the pictures that are on the walls.   The latest purchase is this quilted canvas made by Charles at GeekInStitches…..

img_7969.jpgI love the colors and design.    It is hanging on the wall next to the door to my office and has been a cheerful sight as I head in to work!!

I also found this needle felted piece when I was cleaning out my studio back in January……IMG_8277.jpg

I made it and then tried to sell it in the Guild Boutique at our show.   It never sold and somehow got mixed into my quilting supplies.   It has been fun to have it displayed as well.

Because of the changes every few months, I had to come up with ways to hang quilts that didn’t require putting TOO many holes in the wall.   Many years ago I found these wonderful wooden hangers by “The Hang Ups Company“….img_7965-1.jpg

The back has one hole that can be slid onto a nail or even a push pin……

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It clips easily onto the binding of a quilt and I have fond that most of the small quilts can be hung with just one nail.img_7962.jpg

The only problem with this system is that often the top corners will bend over and flop around.   So, I found a way to stop this……I cut a strip of foam core board that is the width of the quilt.   Then I slide it into the sleeve…..

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…..and the quilt hangs flat……

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….and it can be hung on an existing nail!!!

The hanger that I like for my larger quilts is the “Hang It Dang It“.   It is a telescoping metal rod that slides into the sleeve.   Then there is a clip that attaches to the metal rod from outside of the sleeve.  The wonderful thing about this hanger is that it only uses ONE nail and it is self leveling!!    They are a bit pricey but I really like them for larger pieces.

So for now……just hang it!!!73862053_a10ea6835b.jpg

 

 

 

What a weekend!!!!

Michael and I are relaxing in our recliners, watching TV and reminiscing about how perfect our Daughter’s wedding weekend was!!!

The festivities got started on Friday with the Bridal Luncheon.  One of Jenny’s bridesmaids offered to organize the invitations and handle the decorations…..IMG_4479.JPGJenny was gorgeous …..

img_4499.jpg….it was a fun and relaxing way to kick things off and the cupcakes were to die for…..

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In the afternoon there were lights to be hung….

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….and new friends to meet…..

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The rehearsal went without a hitch…..img_8024.jpg

…and Michael managed to entertain Jenny as they practiced walking down the rather steep aisle!!img_8009.jpg

After a few photos…..img_8152.jpg

IMG_8147…we headed a few blocks over for the Rehearsal Dinner.   As usual for these dinners, the speeches were the highlight…..img_8184.jpg

Saturday morning started early for the girls with hair and makeup while the guys enjoyed breakfast out and just chilling around the hotel.  And before we knew it, it was time to get ready…..

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The final touch was the veil and she was out the door…..

56285214_10109762163537860_7773843071493472256_n-e1554079410400.jpgJenny and Kevin chose to do a “First Glance” and see each other before the ceremony.  That also meant that all of the photos could be done prior to the event and that they could get to the reception much faster.   It proved to be a really great idea….55935602_10109762163298340_237370112166854656_n.jpg

This photo was taken by Jenny’s Matron of Honor…..can you tell that she is a photographer!!!  All of the photos that follow were taken by Amber, my Daugher-In-Law.  I am so thankful that she did this as I got to the end of the night and realized that I hadn’t taken any at all!!!

The chapel is on the University of Georgia campus and is a gorgeous venue. And, because the weather was MAGNIFICENT, they decided to do many of the photos on the front steps…..

IMG_2991.jpgBecause of it’s beauty, Jenny decided to keep the decorations simple…..

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The ceremony was flawless…..img_3004.jpg

…and we were soon on our way to party…..

IMG_3005.jpgThe reception was at a local music venue with amazing decorations……IMG_3012.jpg

The Father-Daugher dance was one of my favorite moments of the evening…..img_3063-1.jpg

 

….followed by Kevin and Jenny’s first dance…..

img_3075-1.jpgAt this point, all of the “work” part of the day was over and we could just enjoy spending time with family and friends!! ….

IMG_3087.jpg Michael and I even spent a few minutes watching Texas Tech make their way into the Final Four!!  One of my friends chided me about watching a basketball game at my daughter’s wedding and I reminded her that Jenny would be here with us if she wasn’t busy!!!

We love this photo of all four of our kids!!!!

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It was a fun and magical day and we are so thankful to have Kevin be a part of the Arnold family now, even though Michael did warn him several years ago to “run away” from this crazy family.

This final photo sums up the day……

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Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Ripley!!!