When I teach my “Beginning Machine Quilting” workshop, the best piece of advice that I give to new Free Motion Quilters is to Practice…..PRACTICE….. PRACTICE!!!!
Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to “up my game” in the FMQ department so finally realized that I needed to follow my own advice!!!
I started this project back in May and first blogged about it HERE. As I had some free time on the week prior to the IQF show, I determined to get this project finished!!!!
I was pleased as I started using the rulers again and have found that this is my favorite one….
It has a straight line on one edge and a slight curve on the other and it is so versatile!!!
I enjoyed using one of the “petal” rulers to add some interest to this block….
And, for this block, I just played around with several rulers to see what type of design I could come up with…..
One of my favorite (and fastest) designs was this block…..
I started by marking alternating dots at specific intervals…..
….and then used the ruler to quilt back and forth between them (and this is a better photo of my favorite ruler)…..
Back in the summer, I purchased a set of circle rulers and this was my first try at using them. They were interesting and I think that they will be helpful, but I will definitely have to get used to how they feel!!! They are pie shapes with a small hole at the top of each one.
You place a thumbtack in the hole and then quilt around the circle…..
It worked well, but I had to really concentrate on how to hold the ruler and to remind myself that I didn’t have to press down on the thumbtack as that caused the quilt sandwich to stay in one place and not slide!!!
This is how the circle block ended up…..
….certainly not perfect, but something that I think I could learn to do!!!
Here is finished quilt…..
I truly enjoyed my practice sessions and hope that this quilt will find a good home thru our Guild’s charity work.
Now it is time to push myself and try something new (that I am scared of)!!!! Will I do that or will I go into displacement activity…..only time will tell.
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…..
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….
I pulled out a number of quilting books, both old and new to help me plan out the quilting…….
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……. 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…..
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…..
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 …..
and it did it’s job perfectly. ……
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……
Now I wanted to try the “Paisley Tulip Motif” from Murphy’s idea book…
…but on a smaller scale…..
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…..
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”…..
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……
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!!!
I have been using a ruler to quilt the borders on a cute baby quilt and have learned a few things as I quilted along.
I first used the straight edge to quilt lines inside the inner border…...a nice ease-into using a ruler.
Then I started using a curved edge to quilt the pieced borders……
….and that is where I started having issues.
Firstly, I found that the foot was getting stuck as I crossed seams and, because I was having to force it along, I was making long (toe snag) stitches. I kept raising the presser foot height but it wasn’t getting any better.
Then, I had a good look at my ruler foot and realized that there is a spring and screw that, amazingly, raise and lower the foot!!!!
Then a few hours later, I started having trouble with the thread breaking. I completely unthreaded my machine, cleaned out the lint, including a small piece that was stuck in the bobbin case and started over but it still wouldn’t work for long.
As a last resort, I decided to change the needle and it fixed the problem. I seldom think about the needle being the issue but obviously it had a burr on the eye that was causing the thread to shred.
Here is the finished border…..
I was able to quilt it without having to make any marks and it adds so much more than my normal 3 squiggly lines down the middle.
This was a simple pattern, using the easiest of the rulers, but I am pleased just to have made a start!!