Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a year of free motion quilting

I recently just came across my first ever attempt at free motion quilting and realized it was just about 1 year ago (give or take a few days) that I received my new darning foot for my Birthday and sat down to try FMQ for the first time.  1 year ago - and even though it is a bit embarrassing to show this I decided it was worth showing to make a point.  I had never taken a lesson- only watched a few videos via Leah Day's Blog and some serious inspiration from Angela Walters fabulous quilting.  I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve- gorgeous modern FMQ just like Angela does- and was armed with a bit of knowledge with Leah's fantastic video tutorials.  I went for it- and at the time was pretty proud of what I produced- you can see a bit of really bad stippling in the upper left corner, a few daisies on the center right side, some super wonky pebbling in the lower left corner, as well as a bit of tree bark just above that and on top of it all my first spiral.  Looking at this now makes me laugh.  But in a good way.  I can see the driven optimism in each stitch and even though my quilting has come in leaps and bounds I won't pretend I am a perfect quilter yet or that I won't marvel at my current projects a year from today and see how much I have improved.  It is a journey after all.  What I do find to be pretty special is that I stayed focused on this all year- rarely did a week go by that I wasn't quilting in one way or another.  I was like an addiction for me, and I did get better.  Much better.  And now one year from my starting point I am quilting my second quilt for a paying customer- and have several quilts and smaller projects under my belt.  It shows you that if you want something bad enough and are willing to work at it with reckless abandon you can achieve your dreams.  My goals have grown and so have my abilities... but it is good to see what I started this venture with, and remind myself to keep working hard and keep challenging myself.  I leave you with my top 5 quilting tips garnered over my year of experience. 
1) quilt with your shoes off, bare feet is best- in order to get your stitches relatively the same length you need to have full speed control over your machine and this cannot be achieved while wearing shoes- the subtle nuances of the foot peddle can only be felt bare foot- this was a game changing lesson for me and helped me get a lot better much faster.
2) always use the same color in the top thread and the bobbin- I promise you this is imperative.  Everything goes awry when you don't use the same colors for both. 
3) don't spend hours quilting on practice squares- don't don't don't do it!   You will get bored.  You won't do your best work because it is a throw away project.  You won't experience the pressure of quilting on something you care about which is half the battle.  The size of a practice square isn't accurate to what quilting on a real quilt feels like.  You need to be brave to get good at this- and have a can do eternal optimist attitude.  Quilt real quilts and be okay with small imperfections as it is part of your journey- a timeline of your skills and the repetition of a design on the scale of a real quilt allows that muscle memory to be formed much faster then on practice squares.  They have their time and place, but don't spend too much time with them- go for a real quilt and be proud of your results regardless of what they look like- nothing is learned overnight. 
4) play to your strengths and practice your weaknesses even harder.  I am much better at certain designs- pebbles, feathers- then other things (this is funny I know) like stippling!  I know stippling is where most people start and what they master before moving on to anything else.  Maybe my brain is just wired different then most but stippling was always a huge challenge for me- the randomness of it all was just hard.  I could do it well for a while and then things would just start looking wonky.  If I had forced myself to get good at that first before moving on to anything else I would have given up long ago.  So I found things I was good at and did them a lot- featured them in prominent areas of my quilts so I felt I was doing a good job.  But I made myself stipple other areas on almost every project- not because I wanted to, but because I needed to.  That combination of confidence heavy designs mixed with the designs I was weaker at has allowed me to be a more well rounded quilter- and now I am not afraid to try anything. 
5) relax and enjoy it.  It is supposed to be fun- it is a hobby!  If you aren't having fun move on to something else until you are ready to try it again- keep the music loud, relax your shoulders, don't clench your teeth- take lots of breaks- and enjoy it!  Quilting is fun when you let it be that way!

and lastly- a picture of the current quilt I am working on for my second customer- this quilt is a beauty and quilting it has been loads of fun for me- I am still very much in progress- but it's coming along and I sure am enjoying it.  It will be fun to see what another year of experience brings me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WIP Wednesday #17 It was a great Birthday!

side panel of the bag

side panels

back of the bag

front of the bag

pebble center

feathers in the Dresden petals and stippling on the edges
Hello fellow WIP'ers!  This past week was filled with lots of love, tons of fun, and plenty of awesome Birthday Gifts!  I am a very blessed woman and feel enormous amounts of love and gratitude to my friends and family for being so very kind to me and making my day feel so special.  I did get a bit of quilting in- not a lot though as I was pretty busy with all the celebrations.  I have continued to work on my birthday gift to myself- a bag I am making with my dresden plate template and Bryant Park Anthology fabrics.  I am very pleased with how this is all coming together and hope to get some time tomorrow to put it all together.  I definitely plan on sharing some of my fun new quilty gifts with you all too- in the coming days- so stay tuned for that!  Hope you all have had a great week as well, especially all the Moms out there.  I am linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday #16 a finish, and two starts

Wednesday is again upon us and I have gotten a bit done this week.  I finished up my Lark quilt by binding it and just love the sweet daisy print framing up the edge.

 I decided to make a quilted bag next and so I got some fabric out that I have been stashing for almost a year now- it's a few Anthology prints from a collection called Bryant Park.  I chose some gray to pair with it and pulled out my trusty Dresden Plate template- I had been wanting to try to use it to make wavy looking blocks- and my vision turned into a reality when I made the back piece.  I then made side pieces and a front piece with a traditional Dresden Plate.  I got as far as quilting the front Dresden Plate and haven't yet found any time to get the rest quilted so I can assemble the bag.  I think this bag will be for me as it is my Birthday on Sunday and every year I try to sew myself something - a little Birthday gift to myself.  Last year I made a pincushion, which I still use daily.

I got a quilt in the mail today from my second customer- and it is so lovely!  Check out all those great prints from Kate Spain's line Terrain.  I love the colors and the way she incorporated words and the sea turtles- which are very personal to the person she is giving it to.  I am only giving you a sneak peek right now- but I will be blogging about my progress, so follow along if you would like to see how I quilt this.   I am quite certain we will be seeing lots of watery flowy designs for this quilt.  I can't wait to get started.

Lastly a winner - comment #17- Ginny- you have been randomly selected as the winner of a free $25 half apron of your choice from my etsy shop - I will email you as well.  Thanks for all of your great comments, there were definitely lots of great ideas for how to use the spice vial roll up!  Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there- and hope everyone has a fabulous week!
I am linking to Lee @ Freshly Pieced  WIP Wednesday

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday #15 quilting, spice roll and a giveaway!

It's Wednesday again, and although I seem to have had lots of time for sewing, I haven't found much time for blogging lately, except these weekly Wednesday posts, so I am thankful to Lee at Freshly Pieced for hosting this link party and keeping me regularly (though definitely not enough) blogging. 
I have had a productive week.  I got my Lark baby quilt basted and quilted.  For this quilt I used a feather X design in combination of feather wreaths in every other block to give the look of X's and O's- like you are wrapping your baby in hugs and kisses.  I am very pleased with the result and am proud to have finally conquered a good looking feather wreath- I have been working hard on them.  I just need to get the binding on this quilt and I will be all finished and quite happy to be putting it up for sale in my etsy shop. 

I also got a custom order from my etsy shop this week for one of my traveling spice roll ups.  This was a design I came up with when my caterer friend asked me if I had any ideas of something that would hold her spices when she went to different events.  I thought about it for a while and eventually came across these small glass vials with screw top lids- and I thought I could make a roll up out of these.  I have made many crayon roll ups for child's gifts over the years- but a spice roll up was a new venture.  I ended up making mine like I do my quilts with a layer of batting, some free motion quilting and binding to hold it all together.  This protects the glass vials very nicely.  My customer wanted a roll up to hold 30 vials- and I am quite pleased with the results.   While these vials work great for spices they also could be used in many different ways- they would be great for a beader on the go, or could hold lots of sprinkles and food colorings for bakers- and I am sure you all could come up with even more ideas!  I hope the new recipient really loves their new spice roll up. 

I also wanted to announce a giveaway I am hosting this week.  Mothers day (which happens to fall on my Birthday this year) is coming up quickly and I am giving away any $25 half apron of your choice from my etsy store- which would be a fantastic Mothers day gift.  To win all you have to do is comment below with what you would store in a glass vial (spice) roll up- or follow my blog and enter that in a second comment for a second entry.  The winner will be randomly chosen next Wednesday, and announced here for WIP Wednesday.  Hope all of you had a great week too and Thanks Lee for hosting another WIP Wednesday!