March 1, 2015

FMQ - my mark out of 10!

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.


Nanna Chel said...

I had a smile on my face reading your post, Val. I can't imagine that you would find anything to do with quilting challenging. LOL! Personally I wouldn't know where to start and am always in awe of the beautiful work you do.

Susan said...

It's good to have something safe to go back to after all those challenges! I am thinking I may be the same about FMQ - there are some bits that I can do sort of OK and some that just do not work for me..thanks for that light bulb moment.

Kate said...

Your FMQ is lovely! Your baskets are so tiny - well done!

Carolyn Sullivan said...

I don't think it looks so bad! really. I've seen worse come off my machine. If you don't follow Angels Waters, you should

sandi s said...

Hi Val, I think your quilting looks great! I am only a straight line quilter myself so most of my things go out to the longarm quilter. I did use a stencil once and drew the design in the borders and then quilted over the lines, very time consuming but I was happy with results. Have a great day. Hugs,

Ondrea said...

LOL Val, you know what they say "when all else fails read the instructions". I reckon your quilting is lovely. I can't even do that much. I have done pebbles on a practice block at a class and was okay at it but can't get used to FMQ . They say to practice practice practice but then I have no time for stitching . LOve your bright blocks.

Janelle said...

I too had a smile on my face, knowing that on the rare occurrence that you make something that is not perfect, you will rate it poorly!

Sisbabestitches said...

Such a great idea to break up fmq into the different techniques, I hadn't considered that :) While new challenges are fun it is also so lovely to go back to something 'easy'(for you) and that you feel you are good at :)

Anonymous said...

I went so far as to buy a longarm because I couldn't get far with my baby machine. =) After ten years, I had to sell it because we retired into a 5th-wheel (a type of caravan) to live full-time and travel the US - no room for a longarm. Now that I have a house again, I want another longarm! I'm definitely in that group of it's not for my brain. I barely make straight lines with a walking food, actually. Yours looks really good to me! I liked the way you analyzed what works best for you.