Monday, January 30, 2012

It All Started...

It all started with Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project... Well, no, it all started with friends of mine asking if I would make a T-shirt quilt for their daughter... wait, it all started with full page doodle I did... Okay, it really started more than 40 years ago when my mother taught me to sew.

Maybe it’s easier to say where it all culminated!  Because of the reasons above, in addition to several others, I decided to finally sit down and learn how to quilt (as opposed to piecing) on my home sewing machine.  While searching online for helpful hints on how to get started quilting the T-shirt quilt, I stumbled across Leah Day’s website and her Free Motion Quilting Project (365+ designs for free motion quilting!).  Not only does she have tons of neat designs, but she’s also done short videos of each.  I don’t know about you all, but I’m a very visual, hands-on learner.  Those videos are just the tool I needed to get me started.

I can’t tell you how excited I was.  I had shown my full-page doodle to a couple of friends, including a non-quilter.  One of the first things he said was “You should make a quilt out of that.”  I laughed and said, that it would be a cool quilt, but if I had to hand quilt it, it would never get done.  And I had no idea how to quilt it by machine. Leah’s designs were so similar to my full-page doodle that I could finally see how I could do it!

The second best thing to come from Leah’s website was her showing that the free-motion quilting foot didn’t need to hop up and down.  The hopping foot always bothered me. Her explicit instructions on how to modify it were great!  Thanks to Leah showing how easy it was to slide the quilt sandwich under a properly placed, non-hopping foot I knew I was on my way!

And that leads me to SewCalGal’s 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge - another website that I stumbled upon, where quilters from around the world have been challenged to improve their free motion quilting. This isn’t a challege to be the best, just to do your best, practice and improve.  With Leah’s instructions and SewCalGal’s monthly challenge, I finally sat down to try my hand at FMQ.  

The January challenge, by Frances Moore, is some simple (?!) meandering leaves.  I dug out an old notebook and started doodling the leaves - putting them into my “muscle memory.”  

 Then I dug out some scraps of fabric and batting (courtesy of Millie, a friend that does longarm machine quilting and donates the scraps to our sewing group at church) and started playing with thread, needles, tension, batting... and came up with this for my first try.  Not too bad, but definitely need more practice! 

I did my first practice sandwich three weeks ago and then got distracted by a baby quilt.  Now it's the end of the month and I'm figuring out how to make this blog look the way I want it to (a work in progress!) and get at least one picture posted for the challenge.