Well, today is the day we're beginning to delve, learn and experiment with free-motion quilting with the help of the quilting designs in Angela Walters book
We have a few folk who are going to stitch along and others who are willing to keep an eye on us and hopefully add advice, hints, tips ( please... :) ) to keep rest of us on the right track so that we can make a success of this. (If you wish to join in there's a Facebook group over here where we're going to share this journey, warts and all.)
I was thinking that as a general structure to this 'free-motion' a-long, it would be good to start with a design, practice it, practice a little more and then practice maybe still more until it feels natural and flows, a little like to learning to write I suppose. Then, as we progress, experiment with mixing the quilting designs and motifs to achieve almost endless effects (and droolworthy gorgeousness.) as you can see in some of the quilts in the photos below. When we come to an end it might be good to conclude with a real live quilted piece, either an existing piece or a small design that we can all make. What do you think?
These are a couple of examples of quilts that Angela has quilted...
and this is another modern improvisational quilt which I think has been made stunning by the quilting.
This is a smaller detail of it;
(Note the swirls...)
I'm not brave enough to do all this experimenting on a real live, pieced quilt top (not yet anyway - you'll see why shortly.) so I'm going to use some largish squares of calico sandwiched in-between with some wadding or other scraps so they're just like a mini quilt. I've also lots of pieces of fabric left from dyeing experiments which I can use for this.
My mini quilted pieces (the better ones anyway) I can keep as examples for future reference, to spark new ideas perhaps ? ( I have ambition.)
I'm definitely going for stitching scraps ('cos I'm a coward :) ), but I'd love to know whether you decide to go straight for a quilt top or scraps first?
As it's the first design in the book I thought this week we could learn and practice the 'swirls'.
Angela stresses that there are no rules and that practice makes perfect. That isn't new advice but it is important advice. So, Step 1 for me is to to do as I'm told and draw out the design before setting needle and thread to fabric. That way I should get to understand how the design works across a quilt top, how not to get myself hedged into corners and how to avoid any unquilted spaces. I'll be able to do this 'cos I'll have worked it out on paper beforehand. Easy!
That's what I've been working on! (Step 2 ?)
It's definitely easier said than done but I'm being brave.
I've begun. Swirls, is a nice rounded design with a nice organic flow to it... oh how I have practiced this on paper.
My scrap paper pile is shrinking... the bin is filling up....
It's working though, I can see how to cover the area, get into the corners and fill in the spaces...
I think I'm ready to try this for real on fabric... I'm probably making too big a deal about this...
Ok - remembering to sit properly at the machine, sort out the feed dogs and the appropriate feet (the machines not mine :) ) I've had a first attempt (and a second and a third). It's not best but it's a beginning. You can see just how honest I'm being at saying that I am a total novice at this.
Going at a reasonable speed seems to help. If I go too slowly the stitches get a bit jerky and frankly just plain ugly. Please do not compare my swirls with the swirls on Angela's quilts above because really that would be just unfair ...
My homework this week is to keep practicing this design until I can get it to flow. I'd pretty much succeeded on paper with getting the flow of the design going, keeping it fairly consistent and managing not to get empty spaces. This didn't quite happen for me once I transferred to the sewing machine. But I recognise that I just need more practice and it didn't help that I forgotten the cardinal rule about checking the bobbin thread. (face, palm) I'll keep at this and show you how I get on. Hopefully they'll be a vast improvement to show you.
Please show me yours? Be brave and share your swirls. You can post them to the Facebook group so that we can share each others successes and failures and perhaps just help each other along.