Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Chats with Grandma week one Project Size for Beginner Free Motion Quilters

straight line quilting on a pillow I made 3 yrs ago

I have a confession to make.  Though I am a "quilter" and have designed, pieced and quilted several quilts, I really prefer to make small projects.  There I said it.  Cat's out of the bag!  I have always loved sharing my quilty love with others for holiday and birthday gifts, but I have a big family and making quilts every time just never was practical.  I grew a deep love of the small project- pillows, placemats, table runners, pot holders, purses, zip bags you know- all the little things.  They had tons of impact without the huge investment of time and money.  Typically I could utilize scraps and not spend a dime- and not spending much became a source of inspiration for me.  If I didn't have much to spend I could see it as a hindrance or a fun creative challenge.  Being a sunshiny optimist I preferred the latter.  This is something I really found was an asset when I started learning FMQ.  I had tons of go to projects I could first quilt and then make as usual- with some small clever adaptations that gave me lots of little things to work on instead of being stuck on one big quilt.  There is no pressure to perfectly quilt a small free project for your niece or sister- and if they love it (which my family thankfully always does) your confidence gets a nice boost.  That mentality was my basis for teaching myself free motion quilting- and it worked so well for me that I am sharing it all with you in the book.  By starting small I feel you have the chance to work out the rhythm, the design, the tension, and build confidence so when you are ready to move to something larger you are only dealing with the one new element of moving a larger piece instead of many potentially overwhelming elements at one time.  I asked Grandma to give her thoughts on project size and what she thought was good to begin quilting on.... I really loved what she had to say and I hope you all do too!

a tote bag I made for a friends birthday early in my FMQ days

Whether you start with a big project or a small one is purely a matter of personal choice. What is more important is that you choose a project that matches your skill level. If you are a beginner you probably don’t want to choose a bed-sized quilt with the Lemoyne star pattern. There is nothing wrong with challenging yourself to make a project using a new skill, but unless you have practiced that skill you may waste a lot of time and money if it doesn’t work out, not to mention causing yourself a lot of frustration. I like the idea of making a practice square of a pattern before actually starting a project. I have a stash of material called “what was I thinking”. I use it to make a practice square and this allows me to find out ahead of time what  problems I might run into with the project. Another practical way to prepare is to make a place mat or table runner using the pattern I have chosen. That is something I can always use and is another great way to practice the pattern.

Human nature being what it is, most newbies want to make a bed quilt. If that is your passion, go ahead. A few tips if you go that way. Find a quilting buddy. When you get overwhelmed or frustrated you will have someone to work through the problem with. Practice the pattern first – it could make a big difference. On the other hand, if you are a patient person wanting to work on your skill level, then find small projects with quilt patterns that help develop your skills. Honestly, if I had it to do over I would not have made that bed quilt first. I would have taken the time to learn more techniques before tackling a big project. There are so many cute small projects out there – like the ones in your book, Molly – that are skill builders and then when you start that big quilt you will be ready. Now here is the most important part of all. If you aren’t having fun, don’t do it. Quilting should be a fun, relaxing time. It should never be the dread in your life. Build your skills and enjoy.

Grandma Pat 

Had fun practicing swirls on this pinwheel pillow - some of my first ever swirls!
Please make sure and stop by my facebook page to join the conversation!  What project size did you start learning free motion quilting on?  If you haven't yet tried to learn and are planning to what project size do you think would work best to start?  Have you tried to learn free motion quilting and been overwhelmed by a large quilt and quit?  Let me know what you think and if you have any questions you would like Grandma and my thoughts on for upcoming weeks. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

I couldn't have done it without some help!

When the task of writing the book came up I was slightly comforted by the fact that I had a secret weapon in my corner.  I would like to introduce my secret weapon.  My lovely grandmother Patricia Ditter, without whose help this book would never have gotten done.  She was essential every step of the way from allowing me to bounce ideas off of her, to editing my patterns and testing them for me, to cheerleading and being my number one fan.  Lets just say dedicating the book to her was the very least I could do!  I felt so fortunate to have another quilters experiences to draw from.  Grandma Pat (as I call her) has been quilting ever since she retired, but didn't try free motion quilting until around the same time I did.  She has been a huge encouragement along my whole quilting journey, but we really bonded over learning FMQ at the same time.  It was so fun to share tips and tricks and new design ideas- and though our methods were a little different, we both have learned so much and gotten much better.
Grandma and I
 All that got me to thinking that if I enjoyed her take on different quilting topics than perhaps you might too!  I have asked her if she would be willing to weigh in on some topics with me so you can get an even broader perspective on free motion quilting, and perhaps gain some new tips and tricks from learning and sharing together like we did.  And what's more, I have started a facebook like page for the book Free Motion Quilting for Beginners and I am inviting you all to hop over and like the page.  I also welcome you all to weigh in on our topic on our facebook page so we all can get even more tips and tricks from you!  I will have our first chat with Grandma this Friday and will host them every Friday for the near future.  I hope you all enjoyed meeting Grandma, and come back Friday for a discussion on quilt size and what size is best to start learning FMQ on.

One of Grandma's beautiful quilts

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners (and those who think they can't)

I can't believe the time has finally come that I get to reveal something that I have been secretly working on for the past year and a half.  I am proud to announce that I have written a book titled Free Motion Quilting for Beginners (and those who think they can't) for Martingale Publishing!  Wow, it feels really amazing to say that after being quiet about it for so long.  I was approached by the amazing recruiting coordinator Karen Burns at Spring 2013 Quilt Market after she saw all the samples I made for Angela Walters booth.  I was lucky enough to be helping out in Angela's booth the whole time which was right next door to Martingale's booth.  After Karen and I got to know each other she mentioned how they were looking for the right person to write a book about Free Motion Quilting for the brand new beginner.  I decided to submit a proposal (along with some cupcakes but that is another story) and they accepted it.  It is pretty unbelievable still to me that all of this has really happened... that this time a year ago I was sewing and writing like mad to try to finish before my deadline- and now I am here getting to share the happy news with you all!
I have so much to share about all this, and will enjoy doing so over the coming months.  I have created a facebook page for the book and you can see more info on my author page at Amazon and at Martingale.  It will be in stores mid November, which is just around the corner!  I can't wait to share more with you all about this book and the process of writing it, it has been a long wait to announce it, but now that the time has come there is so much to share!  Thanks in advance for checking it out, and stay tuned for more of the behind the scenes story!

Monday, September 15, 2014

My work is in a book!

I wanted to share with you all how excited I am that the book Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place is out and I can tell you all about the small part I played in it.  I was asked by both Karen Johnson and Mary Green to quilt projects for them for the book.  It was beyond exciting to get to work with these fantastic woman and collaborate to pick out what designs would look best.  Karen knew she wanted pebbles and was pretty open beyond that.  I talked her into a star quilted into it, with pebbles on the inside of the star and swirls on the outside.  I just love how it turned out.
photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing
 Mary didn't have any particular design in mind and gave me creative control to come up with something... anyone that knows me will know what that means.... FEATHERS!  I love to quilt feathers and look for every opportunity to do so, so when the creative control was given that was the first design I started exploring.  I added some cross hatch to the center of the rings in her project and joined my feathers in the center of the table runner with a heart.  I really liked quilting this little table runner and Mary tells me she is quite pleased with it too.
photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing

photo courtesy of Martingale Publishing
 Oh the fun.  Hope you enjoyed my little foray into the world of books- please do check out the book, lots of great holiday projects and inspiration!