Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

Once again I am sliding in on deadline day for Sew Cal Gal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge! I always work well under a deadline but this month I was hampered with a freak accident that left my index finger badly injured. It's now greatly improved so I was able to spend several hours in my studio this morning to create this small (9" square) piece. While on injured reserve I did spend an evening visiting 88 of the blogs listed as participating in this month's challenge. Thank you all for sharing!

The quilt artist for this month is Cindy Needham. She's another of the talented quilters and teachers who have been generously sharing during this challenge. She emphasized three techniques. her" basic three".  They are repetitive lines, circles and feathers. She suggested we do a swirl design and then fill all the spaces with quilting.

Although I did make a copy of her swirl and even sketched in possible designs, when I got into the studio I simple grabbed a washout pen and began to draw freeform. At my machine I simply let the design flow.

Cindy shared how she begins and ends her quilting lines using a Clover Soft Touch Thread Pic and curved tipped scissors. As much of a tool freak as I am I don't have the Thread Pic. I have used a modified version of her technique using my scissors only.

The biggest help for my quilting is on each side of the free motion foot: rubber shelf liner. Ann Petersen uses this in the courses I'm taking. It was my breakthrough! I must have a dozen different gloves,  helps, etc. but this is what has finally given me the right touch for FMQ.

When I finished my sample I liked it better than I thought I would. It looks a lot better at arm's length. What I didn't like was the messy border. I did a quick fusible border. So I could fuse easily I did a line of stitching about 1/8" away from my stitch border.

I'm learning a lot from this challenge. Do give it a try!

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

The May 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge from SewCalGal featured Leah Day. She taught two Foundational Patterns.

For those who are not familiar with Leah, she began a project to quilt a design a day for a year. Yes! There are now over 365 designs that she has done. She has become a professional quilter. Pretty great for a young mom! While I've visited her site on a couple of occasions I've never really dug into all she has done. Now, I want to take time to do a deep dive. I highly recommend you do the same. I've added her to my favorite sites.

This table topper began as a project for the class Quilting Quickly. I think I signed up for this soon after Craftsy started a year ago. The first project is a charm pack quilt. I bought a batik charm pack, put the squares together and put it aside, like so many things I have done. A recent clean-up-the-studio project (tax season is over!) reminded me of it and I put it into a UFO box.

I've been working on other Craftsy class projects but as I headed into this three day holiday weekend I reminded myself I had to get busy to do the May challenge. I decided I would use the charm UFO to learn  the technique.

Since this also  is a Craftsy project, I've written more extensively about it on the project page -- --but the summary is as follows:

Do I like this technique? No
Will I use it again? Probably not, at least not in this large scale.
Did I learn? YES!
Is my UFO finished? YES!

Here's my practice piece, enhanced to show the quilting stitches used with this technique.

I'm glad that I am participating in this challenge. I have learned a lot and very much appreciate learning from the teachers and all who are sharing their projects.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Stupendous Stitching Class Project

Stupendous Stitching Number 1 - 9 1/4" x 12"
Batik covered with couched fibers, machine and hand embroidery

Some time ago I learned about and began to take quilting courses, specifically the machine quilting courses. Of course, the good folks who run this website are excellent marketers and before long I began to add new courses.

  • TIP: Sign up for, get their newsletter and follow them on Facebook. Classes regularly go on sale for half price and occasionally less. Their fabric deals are great and those deals will often have discounts after they are first offered.

During one promotion I signed up for the Stitch & Slash course taught by Carol Ann Waugh. There were a number of references to her Stupendous Stitching course so I added that as well. I must confess that I'm one who rarely uses the decorative stitches on my machines. And I'm not all that enthusiastic about hand embroidery. Of course, those are key elements to the course!

I think you can tell I'm now enthusiastic about both. For this first piece I kept close to the teacher's instructions. That's what I tell students when I teach so I try to follow my own advice! I did choose to design horizontally rather than vertically.

I am really pleased with the final result! I learned a lot and will definitely include these techniques in future projects.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

With the 2011 individual tax season brought to a close at midnight April 17 I finally have a chance to relax and focus on some creative projects before gearing up in July for the 2012 tax season! Tax is a year round process with peaks of intense work during fall and winter. The guest for the April session of the Free Motion Quilting Challenge is Don Linn and it focuses on a technique for copying quilting designs on fabric using tulle. He has published a book, Sophisticated Stitches, containing 66 designs. The designs aren't where I want my free motion quilting to go at the present time but it was worth every penny for his practice suggestions. Many designs require precise backtracking over the preceding line. He says anyone can learn to do that in about an hour of practice and gives some tips on how to accomplish this. My first practice piece shows a lot of wobbles but as I practiced I became much more comfortable and experimented with speed and direction.
Following this practice I went ahead and used Don Linn's technique for copying a design on tulle. I used a dark tulle and copied the design with the suggested silver Sharpie. Since I like the Clover white marking pen that erases with heat or water I decided to see if it would mark through the tulle. It did! This is a marvelous technique and I plan to use it whenever I need to transfer a design. My practice design, taken from Sophisticated Stitches, isn't perfect but I can see definite improvement.
In addition to the Free Motion Quilting Challenge I am also taking FMQ classes at I highly recommend their classes and will be blogging about some of my projects as time goes on. Happy quilting!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Free Motion Quilting Challenge

I'm sliding in against the deadline again. With tax season going hot and heavy I haven't had as much chance to practice the excellent lesson by Ann Fahl as I would like. This was done this morning to add several of the designs she included. I must say this looks a lot better in the photo and from a distance as it does close up.

My biggest FMQ project this month as been working on the Craftsy classes also am taking. I'm feeling better with what I have been doing. I have to remind myself this is a learning process. I don't have to be perfect, just on a path to improving!
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

February Free Motion Challenge

I'm sliding in under the deadline again. This time though I've spent most of the month thinking about free motion quilting and how to do feathers, among other designs. I won't show my work in progress items but this one, done a few days ago, actually looks pretty good in the photo!

Several years ago I bought a Juki for free motion quilting. I haven't done much free motion on it, but I have done a lot of piecing. It's a wonderful machine!

The challenge got me excited but I wanted more so I have signed up for two free motion quilting classes at Craftsy. This has been a wonderful experience! I highly recommend you check out their courses. Some are free and the others go on half price sale every so often.

My success with feathers so far has been the result of one tip: there are NO STRAIGHT LINES in feathers! After making the circle I was coming down straight. Disaster. Remembering there are no straight lines has helped me immensely. If you're having problems, remember that.

The other tip comes from Ann Petersen, the teacher in one of the Craftsy courses. She recommends using that nubby shelf paper (the kind I'll give out in my fusible classes) instead of gloves. It was like a light going on! I detest gloves because I'm always having to put them on and off. I've gone from hating to enjoying the process! She also advocates spray basting which has become my favorite method, even with large quilts.

As a teacher I tell my students to try the teacher's method first then explore other methods. As a student, I like to try many methods until I find that one that fits me. Rarely does one method meet every need.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting Restarted

Goodness! Has it really been this long since I posted to my blog? Wow! Seduced by Facebook and the short status updates and ease of posting from my iPhone and iPad.

Now I'm brought back to blogging by the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge by SewCalGal. One I refigure out how to post links, correct photo sizes, etc. I'll be able to do things a lot better than this. So apologies in advance if you have come here from the challenge to view my January entry. I'm sliding in right before the January 31 deadline!