Saturday, September 29, 2012

September Free Motion Quilting Challenge

Here's my September challenge sample (at last!).
This month, SewCalGal gave us Paula Reid who gave us lots of great hints for how to manage big quilts in a little machine. It's probably about time to give that a try and use some of these FMQ patterns I've been learning!

Her practice lesson was about using stencils in FMQ, so she and The Stencil Company allowed us to use this "Fancy Feather" wreath design (as a PDF).  Since I don't have any transfer papers, I went back to Don Linn's Tutorial and used his method of transferring a design to fabric.
First to trace the design on tulle with a permanent marker,
 and here's what you see after the xerox copy is removed
Then after heat setting the marker, put the tulle stencil on the fabric and go over the design with washable pen
 and here's a closeup where I've moved the stencil slightly so you can see the tracing.
Then you stitch!  Using plain old Mettler Silk Finish Cotton 50 weight thread here - since there would be some traveling stitches (going back over lines) I went to a lighter weight to reduce bulk in those areas.  
And I've set the design on point and added a background grid (from Cindy Needham's tutorial).  Though if I did it again, I would either put an echo or a straight line border around the stencil design first (meant to do that, planned to do that, drat those best laid plans anyhow).
 Front above (white) and back below (black)
I deliberately did not match my top thread and bobbin thread, since I wanted to see how I was doing as far as thread tension, and noticed an interesting phenomena - in one direction my stitches look fine, but in the very next row (opposite direction) I get bobbin dots on the top!  What's that about? 
Well, clearly it's to re-emphasize that it's best to match the colors in top and bobbin since there's no tension adjustment to fix dots on both sides!  (and yes, it is the opposite rows that have dots on the other side)

So here it is after washing out the blue lines (post washing back is at the top of the page).  
If you look closely there's lots of funky irregularities, but it looks just fine from a distance.
I think that means not to stress so much when irregularities happen on a "real" quilt and just go for it and have fun (especially if the threads are chosen to match instead of contrast) (and you're not hoping to win a prize or something).

Still having fun, learning lots, and feeling more confident.  Thanks SewCalGal!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

4th UFO Sunday, er, Wednesday?

This week's UFO Sunday is brought to you by the day of Wednesday!  

This week is a WIP/UFO week, so I'm just cutting out diamonds - and there's lots of those little rascals to cut!  And of course, I found a few new fabrics that would work on this quilt, so I'm cutting a few diamonds out of them just to see if they need to be part of this project too!

I'm running a little behind the times, thanks to having too much fun!
Stepdaughter's zoo birthday trip (and the 3 week old Sumatran Tiger Cub), 

the Rigid Heddle Weavers Study Group (back in the indigo vat with woven Shibori), 

the Vashon Weaver's Meeting (fun and inspiration and yummy yam hummous), 

the Island Quilt Guild meeting (Sharon L Baker's amazing trunk show of quilted art kimonos), 

and the good fall weather creating an unbelievable berry harvest.  It's all good!


Monday, September 10, 2012

3rd UFO Sunday

Revised Diamonds and Quilting Travel Kit!
This week I had 2 goals - to continue with my Diamonds Quilt (so it doesn't fall back into UFO-ness) and to create a handwork travel kit so I could make use of down-time at meetings, on ferries and in ferry lines, and any away-from-home wait times.

1. Diamonds Quilt Revision - after living with this on the wall for several days, I switched a few fabrics (OK, so I switched quite a few but came back to something really close to the original) and ended up with this revision that I think is going to be the final version (only two fabrics got switched - feel free to compare with last week's photos and comment).  
Now I just need to cut out more diamonds so I'm ready to start sewing.

2. Created a little kit for my applique sampler so I'm ready for up coming meetings and traveling - blocks and cut pieces are in a simple portfolio, needles/thread/scissors/markers/etc. are in pencil bags, and everything is safely stored in a zippered tote.

2 UFO goals completed!

Monday, September 3, 2012

UFO Sunday #2

So last week, I took inventory and checked the status of my many UFO's, and this week I chose one to work on.  
The Diamonds Quilt was stalled in the design process due to lack of vertical space, but the downstairs bathroom has a cathedral ceiling (don't ask me why, the house came that way) and though the bathroom is probably not the ideal design studio, it has wall space and light, and if you stand in the back of the shower stall, you can get far enough away to see the whole design.

1.  Cleaned out cobwebs, evicted spiders, took down wall decorations, got out the ladders.
2.  Pinned all the diamonds to the flannel (for transport), took down the flannel, pinned the flannel up in the bathroom, and there you have it, ready to go!  (Luckily there's another door!
3.  Went up to the studio and cut into the fabric I'd collected for this project (some nice stuff came out during those 2 years!)
 4.  With the project up where I could see it, it really didn't take long to get a layout that I think I like.  The colors and patterns flow from one to the next without either mushing into each other or fighting with each other - they have a "conversation" with their neighbors, and sometimes say good things about someone farther away.
 5.  With the bottom section under control, then I had to finish the top, which was now too high up to work on!  So I pinned all of the new diamonds down and moved the whole thing back to the other room, added some flannel at the top (safety pinned a strip on), and finished the top.  
And here it is, in two photos, from top to bottom.
I'll let this hang for a few days, til I get used to it and can really see what I've done and whether or not this is the final version.

Now I just have to decide how big to make it (my husband wants it on our bed, so it may be destined for a queen size), then cut out the remaining diamonds needed, and start sewing. 

I think this one just moved from UFO to WIP (works in progress)!
Thanks Leah, for putting out the challenge!