I am giving FMQ a second chance!

FMQ being free motion quilting, which is a quilting technique in which you use your hands to guide the fabric through your machine instead of letting the feed dogs do it for you. This gives you a lot more options for different quilting designs because you can stitch in every direction. It also requires a lot more practice than a walking foot because it’s not so easy to get a (somewhat) consistent stitch length as you are manoeuvring all over your quilt.

I tried FMQ when I was still quite new to quilting back in 2012 or 2013. I mostly remember being frustrated by the whole process which is why I gave up pretty soon and never tried again.

180609_2

This is one of my first practice sandwiches.

So, why am I trying it now? Over the past two years I have been making a lot more quilts so I am also doing a lot more quilting. It would be nice to occasionally use something different than straight lines for the quilting of my quilts. During the gettogether of the DMQG last weekend we also had a show and tell and I loved some of the FMQ designs that others had used, it made me a bit envious and willing to give it another go.

So, over the past couple of days I’ve been playing a bit with FMQ and, much to my surprise, I actually find it a quite pleasant activity. Even after only a couple of days I already feel that I am getting more control over where I am stitching and I don’t think the stitching looks all that bad for something I’m only just trying out.

180609_3

Today’s practice piece with (not so straight) lines.

I can think of several reasons why I now find the process a lot less frustrating. My expectations were pretty low this time, so perhaps I am more easily pleased by what I am creating? I think the back of my stitching looks a lot better now than it did all those years ago, perhaps the Aurifil 50 wt thread that I have used for these practice pieces works better with my machine than what I used before? I also have less physical issues right now than I did 5 years ago, possibly allowing me to move the sandwich through the machine a lot smoother and giving me a more pleasant looking result.

180609_4

The back of today’s practice piece.

Anyway, the only way I will eventually dare to use this technique on an actual quilt is to practice a lot more. So, my goal for the coming month is to attempt some FMQ every day. Today I have made several small quilt sandwiches to use in the coming week so I only need to grab one and start stitching. This way 10-15 minutes a day should be totally doable.

180609_1

Stack ready for some quilting fun this week! The squares on the sandwich were also free motion quilted to get some extra practice.

Advertisements

Completed: Ombre equilateral triangle quilt

180407_3When Vannessa Christenson from V and co. released her first fabric collections for Moda, I was intrigued by the ombre fabrics in her lines, so I bought a yard of each of the 7 colourways. It took a while before I dared cut into them.

For my first quilt with these fabrics I used chartreuse, plum, blue, orange and grey and combined these with 2 flowery prints from my stash that I thought fit with these colours.

180407_7

Front, quilted but unbound.

I cut a whole bunch of equilateral triangles from each fabric using an equilateral triangle ruler (really, if you want to make something like this get yourself a dedicated ruler, it makes your life at least ten times easier). At first I just threw the triangles onto my design wall and didn’t really like it that much because it seemed a bit too messy. When I placed them in a diagonal dark to light gradient I started to like it a whole lot more and cut even more triangles to achieve the effect that I was after.

The assembly of this quilt was no walk in the park. I had to unrip it several times because I realized I had made some mistakes in the layout, certainly learning a lesson about being a bit more patient when I am making something and letting the design sink in first before I run to my sewing machine.

180407_6

Can you spot the differences with the final lay out that you can see in the next picture? Do you also see that the left part is already pieced here?

Unripping is not something I enjoy so this caused some quite extensive delays. I knew I had to do it because the mistakes bothered me too much but I kept putting it off. The unripping probably also caused some of the triangles to stretch out a bit because in some parts it became quite difficult to match the corners.

180407_4

The sun was a bit too harsh when we took pictures of the finished quilt.

For the back I kept the piecing a bit simpler. I didn’t have anything in my stash big enough that I liked, but I still had quite a bit of the ombre fabrics left and decided to make a jelly roll race quilt. Instead of cutting 2.5’’ strips I cut mine 3’’. It turned out slightly too small so I added a strip to the bottom and top to make it tall enough.

180407_8

Back, quilted but unbound. The quilting lines are easier to see on the back.

Batting is Hobbs Tuscany Wool/Cotton blend and I quilted it with a light and dark grey Gütermann Sulky thread following some of the patterns that I saw in the design. I quite like how this turned out. For the binding I used a light grey fabric with a subtle print.

It took a while to get this quilt done but I am glad I persevered. It has already been given to a sweet little girl.

180407_1

Week 20/2018: What’s on my design wall?

I am now much happier with this quilt backing than I was last week. The changes that I made are not huge but I think they make a difference. I cut some fabric from the left side and sewed that to the top. Last time I had a partial improv border at the bottom that is now less high and I also added it to the left side. I am going to look at it for a couple more days but I’m fairly certain that this is what I’ll end up using for the quilt. Next up: basting, auditioning of threads and picking a quilting design!

180516

My very first quilt or how I started quilting

My first quilt never made an appearance on this blog because it was made before I started blogging. Since I am doing some catching up right now I figured I might as well show some pictures of it. This quilt has lived on our couch ever since it was completed and it still makes me happy when I look at it. 180502_6I started sewing after taking a beginners sewing class in 2009. At first I mostly made clothing and bags. Quilting I associated with old-fashioned, a lot of hand sewing and a lot of brown and drab unappealing fabrics (the latter may have had something to do with the quilting fabrics that were available in The Netherlands at the time?).

180502_5

The quilt top was made by creating nine 16 patch blocks using half-square triangle units.

At some point in the autumn of 2011, however, my interest in quilting began. I had started reading more blogs and came across really beautiful bright and modern quilts and thought “Wow! Quilts don’t have to be drab and boring!”. I still thought it would be difficult to make one but I read (a lot) more blogs and watched YouTube videos on how to make quilts and at some point I realized that I wanted to give quilting a try.

180502_3

The back is not as purple as it looks in this picture. The binding in the pictures of the front give a better representation of the true colour.

How to start though? From all the reading and watching I had done I realized that I would definitely need some new tools before I could begin. At Christmas that year I received some money from my parents and in-laws and I knew what to spend it on! During a shopping trip with one of my sisters I bought a large cutting mat, 2 rotary cutters, 2 rulers, marking pencils, pins, a large piece of batting and quite possibly several other items that I now no longer recall. Anyway, the owner of the store probably had a good day because of my visit.

In a second-hand bookstore I had found a book by Katharine Guerrier called Scrap Quilt Sensation that looked really interesting so I brought it home and after looking at all the projects I decided to make a scrap quilt. I didn’t have any quilting fabrics, but this was easily remedied by buying several sets of scraps from a webshop. Most were 4’x4’ and some pieces were a bit larger and I cut them down to 4’x4’.

180502_1

Two books I used to learn more about the quilting process.

It took ages to decide what kind of design I was going to make. In the end I followed Sew Katie Did’s Value Quilt Tutorial for making a value quilt using half square triangle units, but instead of making a quilt with a single design I made 9 different 16 patch blocks inspired by some of the quilts in Katharine Guerrier’s book.

I had a lot of fun deciding how to lay out the 16 patches and I love how I managed to make some of the designs continue into the next block. I started with 6 blocks but quickly realized I would end up with a super tiny quilt and added 3 more. It’s still a small quilt though; it measures less than 40’’ square.

180502_4

Detail of the front.

So, at some point I had a quilt top and still needed to quilt it. I bought a walking foot, a spool of Gütermann Sulky variegated thread and a book on machine quilting by Maurine Noble. After some practice swatches I very carefully basted my quilt with safety pins (which I now no longer do because it is a pain to remove safety pins when you are quilting). For the backing I used a fabric from my stash because I liked how the colour looked with the fabrics on the front. Batting is Hobbs 80/20. I didn’t do any marking on the quilt and just started quilting somewhat following the shapes that were created by the different values.

180502_2

On the back you can really see how crazy the quilting is.

I had just enough fabric of the backing left to create the binding and attached it by machine, folded it to the back and then sewed it down by hand. To my surprise I even liked the hand sewing part.

It felt really great when I finished this quilt. Every other quilt I have made since completing this quilt is no longer in my possession, but this one is not going anywhere. It shows me that if you are willing to invest some time to learn a new skill you can end up with something you truly love.

Week 18/2018: What’s on my design wall?

I finished piecing and there is no denying that the top is now lopsided. If this was a traditional sampler quilt this would be quite an issue. The beauty of improv, however, is that this is absolutely fine. Just add something to the sides to square it up and you’re good. So, what to add to the sides? I am now leaning towards ordering some Cherrywood yardage in a dark blue like indigo, but also still wondering whether a lighter colour would work better.

180502_week18

Curious what this project looked like in week 17 and week 16?

Completed: a round quilt with a sheep in the center

180414_3

Does a quilt always have 4 corners? Of course not! One of my friends asked if I could make a round quilt that they could use as a mat in their round playpen. Challenge accepted! Luckily, I already had a 25’’ 9 degree wedge ruler that makes it (almost) a breeze to make a circular design. You can make really spectacular designs with this ruler but I kept it fairly simple for this first attempt at making something circular.

180414_6

After a look around the recipient’s living room I decided on a blue with some orange colour scheme. For the front I used some fat quarters from Elizabeth Hartman’s Rhoda Ruth collection for Robert Kaufman. I used 8 blueish/greenish and 2 orange fabrics from that collection and I added some grey fabric from Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park collection, also for Robert Kaufman.

180414_1

From the grey fabric I cut 8x 3.5’’ strips, from each orange fabric 4x 3’’ strips and from each blue fabric 1x 7.5’’ and 1x 5’’ strips. They were pieced in the following order: grey, wide blue, orange, narrow blue. The ruler was used to cut 5 wedges from each strip set, alternating the grey fabric at the wide and narrow end of the ruler.

180414_5

Fabric strip sets waiting to be cut into 40 wedges.

Since the quilt will be mainly used as a playing mat inside a playpen the back probably won’t be on display very often so I only used the grey fabric. That I was 4 or 5 months pregnant when I made this quilt also made me want to just move on to the quilting stage instead of piecing something else first. Quilting was done with my walking foot and I kept it simple by just following some lines in the quilt.

To cover the hole in the center I enlarged a sheep silhouette picture I found somewhere (but I made this quilt so long ago that I really can’t recall where, sorry!). It was attached with a satin stitch after quilting. To secure it in the middle I quilted the child’s name inside the sheep.

180414_2

To cut the quilt to size (95 cm diameter) to fit the playpen I made a circle out of tracing paper and used that as a template.

The quilt was also bound with the grey fabric. For a square quilt the binding is cut on grain, but since for this quilt the binding had to go around a curve I cut it on the bias so it had some stretch. The outermost edge of the quilt has a larger circumference than the 1/4” from the edge which is the stitching line for the binding as it is attached. To make sure that the binding will fit around the edge as you fold it to the back it is essential to somewhat ease the binding in when it is attached to the front so the binding strip is as long as the outermost edge. I was a bit anxious about getting this right, but in the end it worked pretty well.

This project pushed me out of my comfort zone but I am glad it forced me to finally make good use of that ruler. It was a lot easier to use than I had anticipated. The trickiest part is that you really want to be very accurate with your cutting and piecing because your circle will otherwise not lie flat when it is completed. Luckily, I didn’t run into any problems and it turned out to be a lot of fun. I’ll definitely use this ruler again.

180414_4

Oh, the absolute joy I felt when my 1/4 circles were exactly 90 degrees!

Week 17/2018: What’s on my design wall

Last week’s 2-coloured units were stacked in layers of 4 and I made another angled cut. The two sides were mixed and matched to make 4 new units with different colour combinations. I put them on my design wall and started shuffling. I did want the colours to be somewhat evenly distributed across the quilt, but I also wanted some bleeding to occur so that from a distance you can’t immediately tell that the quilt is made from rectangular units. I have started assembly of the top by sewing 4 of the units together to make larger rectangles.

I didn’t use a ruler this time. Quite liberating.

180425

I am already thinking about the back. Somehow I am pulled towards recycled denim, but deterred because of the weight it will add to the quilt sandwich which may prove quilting a bit more challenging than I prefer.

If you want to have a look at how this project evolved from last week click here.