Sunday, 30 March 2014

My First Real Adventure in Free Motion Quilting

I recently finished a quilt top that I made from a Moda Jelly Roll. I wasn't all that happy with what I ended up doing but at the time I just didn't have any real inspiration for it. Basically I made squares using 3 strips of each fabric (I had originally intended to mix up the different fabrics but really struggled to get a layout that looked right) and bordered them with white fabric.

The end result was actually quite fun and fresh, with the lovely crisp white borders and the bright colours from the jelly roll. The quilt ended up pretty huge, and naturally I decided it was the perfect one to do my first ever free motion quilting on (I don't like to start small!). I honestly wasn't sure how on earth I was going to manage to get this quilt through my machine as the throat of the machine is pretty small and I actually did quite a bit of research with the idea of getting a new machine that would make everything a bit easier. After my research I realised I'd be saving up for quite a long time to get one of the machine's I wanted so went back to my trusty machine.

For my first quilt, I had managed to machine quilt it by rolling it up into a huge sausage, but that was for simple stitch in the ditch quilting and I didn't think that would really work for this one. Also, that sausage of quilt gets pretty heavy and I didn't fancy wrangling with one on this massive quilt! I had read somewhere online that some people basically just smoosh the quilt into the throat as they go. I thought I might as well give that a go, as if others can do it then I surely can too! 

I also read that I should get the trickiest part done first. As the quilt was 9 squares by 9 squares I would have to get the 9 central squares done first. This was definitely the hardest part, it made my arms ache so much trying to get all that quilt smooshed over into the throat. I marked the central area using quilter's tape, as I thought it would be easy for me to forget where I was and end up doing something the hard way that could have been so much easier! I had decided on stippling for my first go as it is apparently the easiest method to learn first. So I got the middle all done and thought I'd try the outer edges to see if they were more manageable, and I soon got into the groove! Before I knew it, I had finished 5 of the 9 areas I had mentally mapped out on the quilt. I had a bit of a stretch and then glanced up at the machine and to my horror I saw this:

There is nothing worse than seeing this sight when you don't have any more thread! I sucked up my disappointment and decided I would just have to take a trip to the shops in the morning. I also decided that I would invest in some more bobbins as one of the best tips I found was to pre-fill a bunch a bobbins so that when one runs out you can just pop a new full one in without having to refill them and break up your quilting momentum. I only had two bobbins that were nearly empty when I started so kept having to stop to refill and it did get annoying!

I'm actually pretty glad that I did run out of thread as I'm sure I would have carried on until I finished. The amount of pain I felt in my shoulders that night was ridiculous! It reminded me of the pain you get in your arms when you paint a wall and you haven't done it in a long time!

So this was my first section of stippling, along with the quilter's tape. I think it looks so much better than it does on the section where I haven't done any quilting so this picture made me feel pretty happy. It also made me realise that my FMQ looks a lot better from a distance than it does close up! I have REALLY got to work on my hand/foot coordination! There are some really long stitches and some really really tiny ones! I have considered ripping out the really bad areas and redoing them, but I think I will actually keep it as it is, so that as I get better at FMQ I can see my progress by comparing it to this one. Also this quilt is for our guest room so it won't get used that often. Also, despite it's flaws, I'm still pretty proud of this one!

The next morning I ventured out into the world to get myself some more thread and some new bobbins. I may or may not have also ended up buying a book of quilt blocks while I was there! I got home and got straight on with it!

I whizzed through it as I was getting a bit more confident with moving the fabric. I realised at this point that as I moved the fabric around I was ducking my head around, up and down and to the side with each squiggle I drew. It really reminded me of playing on racing games on the xbox, as I am unable to stop myself turning the controller as I go round corners (it definitely helps you get round them better!)

And pretty soon it was all done! Hurrah! My first attempt at FMQ all finished and looking lovely! Now I won't let myself look at it too closely because it is so inconsistent, but I love it (from afar). 

Now all I had left to do was to trim off the excess background and wadding and get it binded! So I started trimming away and as I turned the quilt around to get at another side, tragedy struck! The open scissors in my hand caught the quilt right in the middle and cut a little V shape right through all three layers! I don't think I could have been more upset at this point, to go through all that hard work and ruin it simply by not thinking before I acted! I decided the only thing I could really do at this point was to satin stitch the hole closed. So now there is a satin stitched V right in the middle of my quilt! If this was a quilt that I was giving away I think I would have had a complete meltdown, as there's no way I would be able to give someone a quilt that I had ruined like that!

But anywho, there was no point in crying about it, the quilt still needed binding. I had chosen a light purple backing for this one so went for a darker purple binding, as it would pick out some of the colours in the quilt. So here it is, in all it's glory:

And here is the approval of the quilt inspector:

That looks like a thumbs up to me!

No comments:

Post a Comment