Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July FMQ Challenge is Challenging, Indeed!

My July FMQ Challenge Sample
I have jumped onboard with an in-progress Free-Motion Quilting Challenge for 2012 hosted by SewCalGal.  Each month, a different expert in machine quilting will post a guest tutorial for the challenge on SewCalGal's blog.  Challenge participants must complete the practice exercises at some point during the month, post their results on their own blog, and link back to that month's tutorial post on SewCalGal's blog so everyone can be inspired and encouraged by the efforts of others.  Isn't that a fantastic idea?  There are even prizes!  What better way to stay motivated to continue practicing FMQ long enough to see improvement!

July's challenge tutorial was written by professional quilter, teacher and author, Angela Walters.  The exercise involved stitching overlapping squares and rectangles, filling each one with a quilted fill pattern to create the illusion of layers of decorative tiles.  If you want to see what this looks like when it is done well, you can check out the July tutorial here

For this practice piece, I used a scrap of Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting sandwiched between two fat quarters of quilting cotton, with orange 60 weight 2-ply Mettler cotton embroidery thread in the needle (Schmetz 75/11 Quilting) and in the bobbin.  I used my Bernina 200E/730E machine, but did not use the BSR Bernina Stitch Regulator foot.  I wore goofy rubber-tipped gloves that make my hands sweat, and I had that Teflon Super Slider thingy on the surface of my sewing machine cabinet, completely surrounding the needle to eliminate any drag when moving the quilt sandwich.  In short, I have no excuses!

What did I learn?  First of all, it took me over an hour to fill this placemat-sized quilt sandwich with all of the quilting you see above.  That was longer than I'd expected.  Second, I felt like this was an "intermediate" exercise, but I only have "beginner" skills right now.  I have not practiced enough with any fill stitches yet to where I could comfortably fill a given area without getting stuck in a corner or accidentally leaving an unquilted "island" surrounded by quilting so that I can't get to it.  I tried spiral swirls, which I've admired but have DEFINITELY not mastered, and I also tried filling some tiles with meandering/stippling.  I started in the bottom left corner of this sampler and was working my way up, as Angela suggested, and I discovered that I am not very confident quilting in that direction!  I also have not practiced straight lines, as you can tell from the shaky edges of my "tiles." 

Close-Up Included to Make Others Feel Better About THEIR Quilting!

After quilting tiles on the bottom half of my sampler, I decided that I really needed to practice the background fill stitches I was using, so that's what I filled the rest of the sampler with.  I quilted my name and the date, I worked on my spirals and stippling, and even practiced some skinny echo quilting in a couple of places.  I think the tile concept is interesting, and it's something I'll come back to and try again once I've got a better command of the basics.
Why Oh Why Are My Meandering/Stippling Stitches Always Enormous?

Even though it's July already, I've pledged to complete all twelve months of the challenge.  That means I have January through June to catch up on.  But before I do that, I'm determined to get Lars's "Drunken Dragons" quilt back under the needle for some free-motion quilting! 


Angela Walters said...

I think you did a great job! The great thing about this design is that you can make it bigger and it will be much faster to quilt. I especially love how you quilted the date on it as well, so fun!


Jenny K. Lyon said...

It's lovely-and you are way beyond beginnner! I like your combination of thread and fabric-balanced.

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, both of you! I've been adding the date to my practice samples lately so I can compare where I am now to earlier samples, and see how far I've progressed.

Sew Gramy Sew said...

I like your practice piece. I am hoping mine turns out great like yours. very inspiring, thanks for posting

Debbie said...

Your swirls look good for a beginner. They take practice, but you are getting there. I cheated and drew my lines...your sample looks really good, I think.

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Looks good to me too!!

Helen in the UK said...

Great job on the challenge, especially as you say you are a beginner! Take heart, we all started out at beginners. I'm just printing out the instructions and will try it on my next quilt :)