Friday, May 9, 2014

Practice makes....not quite perfect, yet.

I have been quilting for about 10 years now and I have a love/hate relationship with free motion quilting. There. I said it. I want perfect stitches, smooth curves, even patterning and balanced tension. Right now. Is that too much to ask? Probably. After all, even after 10 years of making quilts, I haven't spent all that time honing my free motion skills. It's usually the part of the process that I have enjoyed the least - and spent the least amount of time on (so why am I surprised at my results?!) So I've been trying to take my own advice and spend some little snips of time practicing.

I have done my own quilting on many projects in the past up to twin size and I have also loved, loved, loved the talents of my favorite long arm quilters (and will continue to!) But I still want to improve my free motion skills and my main motivator is simply so that I enjoy it more!

Nothing big, nothing stressful. Sometimes just extra orphan blocks I have left over from a project, sandwiched up. I like these little minis because there's no stress and I can practice quilting designs without stressing about ruining a bigger project. It's a good time to test the thread color effects on different fabrics and block patterns. And the small size makes them very manageable under the machine.

Free motion practice, meandering with  loops
Here's the back (just batting, I didn't add a backing fabric on this one) but you can see the design better.
Under the machine, grippy gloves on - this means business!
For me, part of the success or enjoyment of free motion is becoming one with the machine! I basically have sewn on two different machines. They each seem to have distinct personalities, thread they like or don't like, certain stitches that go smooth as butter, and then others that are a thread-breaking nightmare.
This is what happens when I get too impatient and get lead-footed on the pedal.
 Tension issues!

This was the second pattern I practiced on today - kind of like a shark's fin, palm tree kind of motif. 
So to all of you fellow aspiring free motion quilters, I say, practice, persevere and may the force be with you! You are not alone! If you are anything like me, cut yourself some slack. At the end of the day, you are probably way more critical about your work than the folks that are receiving the lovely quilts you are making for them.

Happy stitching!


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