I went searching for something on the out-of-reach top shelf in my craft room last week, I didn't discover any hidden, long-forgotten treasures, but I did find a quilt which I was using last year to practise free-motion quilting. It has 30 blocks and I had quilted six or seven then put it up on that top shelf. It hasn't been looked at for eight or nine months.
All the projects that I am working on at the moment have heaps of hand-stitching which I like to do in my recliner at night in front of the TV. Apart from school fund-raiser projects, I didn't really have anything much that I could stitch on the machine during the day. So this quilt was a good find and I decided to attack FMQ again!
We are not great mates, FMQ and I. My theory is that some people have it and others just don't ... and I am definitely in the latter category. I send off my magazine quilts to have them professionally quilted. I will tackle something that looks good with straight-line quilting, but I balk every time if free-motion quilting is required. The problem is that there is often a project that needs just a little bit of FMQ, so it's about time I conquered it!
Everyone says to start with stipple quilting as that is the easiest. Well, guess what, it isn't for me! I have tried basic stippling and all sorts of variations and they just do not flow. I come up with a jerky mess which I would give 1 out of 10. I'm probably being generous to myself and a fairer assessment would be a half mark!
After watching lessons by expert tutors and trying shells, spirals, and feathers, I have realised that I am just not a "traveller". I find it impossible to travel back exactly on what I've stitched to get to the next section and travelling in long flowing stipples and loops is not my forte. What I have discovered is that I can sort of do "pivot" quilting, where little or no travelling is required. I tried quilting hearts and my mark shot up to 4 out of 10:
I got really adventurous and decided to tackle some pebbles:
The mark dropped back to 3 out of 10 as there was a teeny bit of travelling to do, but I slowed down on the next attempt and got my mark back up to a 4.
So I have made my decision - forget everything else FMQ and concentrate on pivot designs. I have a lot more blocks to quilt so I'm hoping to get up to a pass mark (or maybe even better!) by the time I have finished!
On top of the knowledge that my FMQ skills are so poor, I have come to the realization that my piecing skills leave a lot to be desired too! I am finding the gorgeous Jinny Beyer free BOM quilt design to be really quite challenging.
I haven't had too much trouble in the past with 45 and 90 degree points, but all the acute angles in this third block required plenty of use of the seam ripper!:
After the third attempt and being almost in the situation where I would have to recut all the pieces and start again, the light-bulb moment came when I reread the instructions: Transfer the dots to the wrong side of your patches to assist you in matching your patches and sewing accurately. What a difference it makes, when you follow the instructions!!! This quilt is really going to be a great learning experience.
Back in my comfort zone, I am happily stitching a new design which puts a smile on my face every time I pick it up!
I hope you have a smile on your face this week, too.