Monday, October 14, 2013

Free Motion Quilting Practice

So I have a love-hate relationship with FMQ'ing—I want to be able to do it and I love those (rare) moments when I seem to be challenging an actual, real-life quilter and it works, but I find the learning curve to be slower than I'd like. Let's face it, as adults, who likes to have to learn to be competent at something? But since I've had to do that for sewing and quilting, I guess it makes sense that I have to be patient and keep working on my free motion quilting!

My friend April recommended a Craftsy class by Angela Walters, who is a quilting superstar. For those not familiar with Craftsy, it's a great site for craft-sters, complete with patterns, projects, and online classes. While a lot of the classes and patterns are for sale, there are also some for free. April had recommended the "dot to dot" class that Angela teaches, so I signed up. One of the benefits of these online classes is that once you buy it, you can keep going back to it and replaying the parts you need.

My FMQ efforts to date have been mostly my attempts to replicate what I see out there on other people's amazing quilts. The difficult aspect of that, however, is that it means I'm trying to get mine to look like the others without necessarily knowing how to get there. Also, I started by practicing circles and stippling. While my stippling is coming along, circles are hard for me overall. What I really like about Angela's class is that she's easy to understand and provides great tips for improving my skill. The first lessons are on straight lines—which, despite some waviness here and there, seems to be more forgiving than the circles are.

Here's what I worked on today for practice:

They're the same essential shape—triangles—but used in different ways achieve a different effect. Angela's class provides the pattern for a quilt to use as a test quilting surface, but I didn't want to go to that effort of making a quilt I like only to put quilting on it that I don't like, so I just made a quilt sandwich from leftover batting and some old fabric that's faded and I won't otherwise use. Clearly, I still need to work on straightening my lines, but it's getting better! I also feel fairly proud of being able to do all of this with my left foot on the pedal, since my right foot will be out of commission until December! My left quad is so tired! Funny the muscles you don't realize you use until you change feet!

Angela had a great tip that has really helped me: don't stare at the needle when I'm quilting; instead, focus on where I want the needle to go. She gives the analogy of driving: when you drive, you don't stare at the hood of the car (at least you shouldn't!); instead you should look 2 car lengths ahead.

Check out Angela's blog, Quilting is My Therapy, for some great patterns and tutorials, including some video clips!

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