Monday, January 23, 2012

Free Motion Quilting Progress

IMG_0426 I have finished my first block on my FMQ Sampler quilt.  The first challenge on Sew Cal Gal’s website was taught by Frances Moore.  The pattern we practiced was leaves.  As recommended by many free motion teachers, I spent a lot of time drawing leaves on paper trying to memorize just how to draw them with one continuous line.  I have trouble with any meandering patterns.  I always get myself into a corner with no way out.  I suppose I just need more practice.   My solution this time was to mark 2” blocks with chalk and make a design using the leaves that I could connect with each block.  I like the tidy organized look of it and because it is a sampler I also added my name and the year.  I was happy with my sample project and it gave me the confidence to move on to the quilt, but working on the larger quilt proved to be more difficult because of the weight pulling things away from where I wanted them to go.  I was fighting the quilt a bit, so I bunched it up and adjusted the weight which helped me a lot.  In the past I have set up another table behind my table to give me more quilting space.  I am trying to think of a something I can do to make my table wider permanently without buying a new table…still working on that!IMG_0425

I signed up for this challenge because I really want to learn to quilt better and I hope that by practicing the exercises and getting more practice I will build up my confidence.  Then I will be ready to finish off some tops that have been waiting a long time for me to get up the courage to quilt them.

IMG_0424It is such an amazing effort that this group of quilters are putting into this project that is spanning through this whole year to help people like me learn this skill.  To be able to learn from so many teachers is such a privilege and all because of the internet.  Another quilter that is putting great effort into teaching quilters like me is Leah Day.  She has been putting together amazing short videos for quite a while now that are free for anyone to watch on her blog, The Free Motion Quilting Project .  If you are wanting to learn this skill be sure to visit both of these websites and practice, practice, practice!  Most of all enjoy the process and the great tool that the internet has made possible for so many great teachers to share in one place.   To top it off they are giving away prizes to a few lucky participants each month and all you have to do is to pledge to give it a try and post your progress.  I am not a total newbie to free motion quilting, but this is definitely going to help me get more practice as I learn new techniques.

Practicing …


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Constructing Fabric Houses and Barns


I have really been enjoying putting together these houses and barns for my neighborhood quilt.  Today is going to be a cold one and rain in the forecast for tomorrow so there just might be more building in my neck of the woods!  The blocks above the houses are my attempt at deciding whether I would like to jump on the Farmers Wife bandwagon or the Sylvia’s Wedding Quilt group.  Both are 3” finished blocks so I think I will keep doing the blocks I choose from both of them.  It is very fun to make a small block or two once in a while between these bigger projects.  I also have some free motion quilting to practice. 

The hardest part of quilting these days is deciding which project to work on.  For now though I will drink some coffee and see what my blogger friends are doing, that always helps me decide or gives me more options.

It's funny the things you see after you post a picture to the web...there is a tiny square of fabric on that barn that is the wrong background and the hayloft is so light it hardly to decide if I leave it or change it...

Enjoying my day off!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moving on to Building Houses

IMG_0411 I have been making steady progress on my Around the Block quilt and am happy to say that the center is complete and all 3 borders have been added and now I am back to building the houses.  The fun part of this is that you make 2 of each house, but they are all so different.  I have 8 more buildings to build and there are barns, churches and a school house besides 6 different styles of houses.  Then there are trees and fences to add to it.  This quilt looked like it was wall hanging size to me, but it is much larger, right now it is about 66” X 55” and the houses that go all around are 10” each so it will be one of the largest quilts I have made to date.IMG_0413

Yesterday I read on a blog that you should make a list of 10 quilt projects you have in progress and using this list work on each project in 3 hour intervals.  After working on a project for 3 hours stop and go to another project.  The idea is that you start to get bored and probably careless after about 3 hours so you get a whole new project out and get refreshed and before you know it you will be finishing up projects.  Well, it was making sense to me so I have a notebook by my cutting table that I have listed the projects I am working on (and I think I only found 8) and I have them neatly stacked in a box with all their components stored with them.  I should get more art boxes to contain things better, but right now I am using zip lock bags.  This little quilt has so many components and with no 2 alike that it is really keeping my interest.  I was getting bored working on the borders so yesterday I played around with making up misc. blocks to practice some Free motion quilting for the quilting challenge by Sew Cal Gal.  I am also following Leah Day at The Free Motion Quilting Project, who has some great videos and has started the year teaching as though you are a beginner.  If you are new to free motion quilting her blog would be a great place to start, her videos are short and her approach really breaks it down into something doable by any new quilter.  She is posting something new each week.  Sew Cal Gal is having guest posts on a monthly basis so you get to learn from someone new each month.  My goal this year is to practice my quilting and get all my tops done.  I have been surprised when I do get a top quilted by how long it takes…not as long as I thought!

Given that the winter weather is feeling more like Spring I have been doing more work outside than what I usually do at this time of year so my quilting time has been cut down, but I try to fit some time in each evening.  I find it relaxes me and keeps the creative juices flowing.  Today I am planning to go out and wash a few windows, really unseasonable for me, but I am tired of looking out through the dirty window in the kitchen when I am doing dishes. 

IMG_1901 A clean, fresh view… a great way to start the new year!


Monday, January 02, 2012

Building Fabric Houses

IMG_0404I was ready and willing to jump on the house building bandwagon and sew a little (3”) house block every day for the year, but that is a little unrealistic of a goal for a me and after trying to make just one, I had to give it up.  There must be an easy way to do this, but I haven’t found it yet.  I love house blocks though and remembered that I had a quilt top started last year that had some really fun house blocks.  I have made a few but have about IMG_0405 15 left to do so I pulled the project out during the holiday after all my gifts were made and dusted it of.  After I figured out what I had already done and what I still needed to do I made myself a plan and got to work.  First step is to finish the center section, which I am now more than half done with, then comes 3 borders and finally I can get back to building houses.  The pattern is Around the Block by The Rabbit Factory.  I had admired this on another blog several years ago and ordered the pattern intending to whip it out and hang it on my wall.  Good intentions, but IMG_0403 things didn’t quite work that way.  I jumped ahead and started making houses and a church and some trees.  A new project came along and this one got shelved, but I am thrilled with how it is coming out now.  Sometimes you just need some time away to come back with fresh eyes and new ideas.  I believe that having WIPs is beneficial to the finished project.   When you come back to it you have new ideas and more experience, if I push myself to just finish something I don’t put my heart into it I just hurry up and get it done and don’t enjoy the process.   I have a lot of ideas brewing for things I want to do, some are not even sewing projects, where I want to take my time and enjoy the process.  They will get done sooner or later!

Enjoy the process!