Adventures in Free Motion Quilting

“What’s all the stitching in the background?” I typed to the artist, quilter and stitcher, Sue Spargo while taking her terrific class, Embroidering Texture and Dimension By Hand, on Craftsy.  I didn’t know the world I was about to be transported to with that simple question.  More ‘here‘ on Sue’s class.

A quick back track, seriously, it will be quick.  This is a quilt I made when I was 15 years old for my home economics class in high school, which also included sex education and fire prevention, presumably all things that happen in the home, though not necessarily at the same time…

1stQuilt
My First Quilt Ever When I Was Fifteen

In a previous post I wrote that I knew nothing about quilts and quilting and now this photo will show me as an unreliable narrator, but in my defense, when I found Sue Spargo’s class and saw her beautiful art, this project, made more than forty years ago, did NOT leap to mind.  As you can see I got a little tired of all those circle blocks and decided to alternate with a plain white block and then in the middle just added huge rectangular pieces of dark blue (a polyester satin-like fabric, if I’m not mistaken, it was the 70’s after all) and some cotton paisley fabric top and bottom, because it was all becoming so endless and tedious.  By the time I was finished with the various blocks I tied each corner with a little knot and called it a day. I think I used a polyester filling, not sure I knew the word “batting.”  I do not remember particularly loving the process and I think this project may have been the reason I didn’t think much more about quilting for the next forty years!

Okay, so that was brief-ish, right?

I blogged about my first large quilting project ‘here‘ so I won’t go into all of that again, but now I’m at the quilting stage of the quilt.  Quilting the quilt is a whole other beast indeed.  There are some who like hand quilting and then there are those who like machine quilting and then there are those like me, who think both are amazing and want to do it ALL.  Which led me to Free Motion Quilting.  This is where you put the feed dogs down on your machine and guide the fabric to obtain beautiful fluid looking stitches that add a whole other layer to your quilt.  But since I knew very little about FMQ I decided I needed to take another class.  Christina Cameli teaches one on Craftsy called Free Motion Quilting Essentials that I love, as it’s perfect for the beginner (me) and plus, she’s lovely.

I had a quilt sandwich that I’d prepped for another class and began practicing.  After a few days I decided to leap in and began quilting the first block I made (and then didn’t like the background fabric and so remade for my queen-sized Flower Pots quilt designed by Kim McLean).  I designed a border to match Kim’s queen-sized border and now have a top perfect for a 30″ square pillow, which will go nicely with the queen-sized quilt.

Free motion quilting
Free Motion Quilting

I started with the center and did swirls and whirls, but ran into problems with my stitch regulator, which broke (it’s still not fixed) but I barreled ahead without it, rationalizing that people make beautiful quilts without stitch regulators all the time.  This idea, people-have-been-doing-it-this-way-for-centuries, was also how I rationalized giving birth to both my children without drugs, cutting my own hair, as well as my children’s when they were small (my son may still have some trauma from that.)  Then I did the sashing and each 2-inch square was a chance to practice something different, with a different colored thread and finally I began stitching the outer border in a pebble motif, which I love, love, love!

Now here’s the thing…  I know people who never pull out stitches, but I’m not one of them.  I can.  I’ve done it.  It makes me very, very uncomfortable.  Kind of like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.  So after I finished the outer border, which I really like, I decided the center swirls and whirls had to go.  And besides, the stitches were uneven, its all about practice and the process, which I’m thoroughly enjoying…  So yeah, I pulled the whole thing out.  Yup.  Five hours.  That’s how long it took.  This is what television is for, I’ve decided.  My husband watches a couple of movies and I sit beside him allowing my obsessiveness to flow.

Pulling out swirls
Free of Swirls

Now back to quilting.  Oh, but what fun, and it’s only just beginning!

 

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