Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Old Dog--New Trick

I started Free Motion Quilting a little over a year ago when I bought an antique treadle machine. Up until now--except for a little practice block--my FMQ has only been meandering. I really enjoy it. It's easy--relatively mindless, with few stops and starts, and few threads to tie off. And I like how it looks.

But this week I decided that it's time to learn something a little more structured. So I'm quilting a simple flower in the middle of each colored square of the Quilt for a Big Girl Bed. I didn't trust myself to FMQ without a pattern (although that is a goal), so I drew a pattern on plain paper and then used it to needle punch through stacks of folded tracing paper. I chose this method because I'm not a fan of marking pens, and a soapstone pencil didn't show up on my fabrics.
126 tracing paper patterns!!
It's a little hard to see the needle punching, but it's there. Before I started on the big quilt, I taped some tracing paper patterns to a little practice quilt and tried out two versions of the flower pattern (with either one circle or two circles in the center), and then meandered in the sashes and space around the flowers. I liked how it looked with the two circles better because that detail set off the flowers from the meandering a little more.

Of course, quilting two circles is more challenging, but oh well. It's taking me some time to learn to do this smoothly. I'm not enjoying quilting through paper that much. My biggest challenge is keeping my thread ends out of the way so I don't quilt over them. (I like to tie off and bury my thread ends as I go, but because of the paper, I have to wait until I get the block quilted.) The paper does tear off easily, though, so that's good. I asked an expert treadle quilter about my problem with the thread ends, and she said she only buries them on show quilts, so that's something I'm thinking about as I continue.

I was hoping to have a finish this Friday, but it's pretty clear that's not going to happen. This project is much slower than meandering. My stitches aren't great, but I hope that by the end, I'll be more comfortable with the technique. It's probably a good project to use for practice because I don't think my toddler granddaughter will be checking my work for accuracy. This is the biggest project I've ever quilted on my treadle, and I'm happy to find that it fits very easily under the arm of the machine. I'm looking forward to the reward of meandering once I get all those flower squares done!

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday. 


Stacey @slostudio said...

The quilted flowers are really cute - this quilt will be so beautiful!

Wendi said...

Awesome, looks like you're really getting good a FMQ on your machine.

DianeLoves2Quilt said...

I too am working on my FMQ skills and fortunately I have two granddaughters to make practicing quilts for. Those flowers look really great and I am impressed that you managed to photograph them so they show up. Lighting in pictures is always an issue in my blog posts.I am also impressed that you are so steady following a line. That usually distracts me enough that my stitching lines become all wiggly.