Sunday, June 16, 2013

Better Late Than Never: February 2012 FMQ Challenge Completed, Feathers With Diane Gaudynski

Embroidery Disaster Saved by Free-Motion Quilting!
Remember the 2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge hosted by SewCalGal?  Each month last year, a different free-motion quilting expert provided an online tutorial with a practice exercise.  We were supposed to complete all twelve by the end of the year, but I didn't even find out about the challenge until June I only managed to complete seven by year's end.  Although I was brand-new to free-motion quilting at the beginning of this challenge, I found that setting aside a couple of hours once a month to practice quilting motifs has made a HUGE difference -- like the difference between drawing with a pen in my hand versus trying to draw with a pen clasped between my toes.  Well, SewCalGal recently announced a "second chance" for those of us who did not meet the goal in 2012, and I now have until October 31st to finish the remaining challenges. 

So, back in April I spent something crazy like 6 hours embroidering this enormous Jacobean bird design, only to have it shrink up and pucker when I attempted to press the finished piece from the back side?  (I have a theory about that, by the way -- I had layered a piece of unwashed muslin beneath the silk shantung prior to embroidering for extra stability, then trimmed away the excess when the embroidery was complete.  I think the muslin backing shrank when I ironed it).  

Ruined Embroidery Project, Ripe for FMQ Practice
I decided to use this ruined embroidery project for FMQ practice, to see whether I could quilt out those ugly puckers and ripples between the embroidered areas.  I spent several hours yesterday and today working on Diane Gaudynski's February 2012 feather tutorial, and I could not be more thrilled with the results.  I have admired Diane's machine quilting, and the machine quilting of her students, for years, and I own both of her wonderful books.  Still, I've not felt up to the challenge of trying to quilt feathers until now.  This is the first time for me just sitting down at the machine and quilting feathers over and over again.  They're far from perfect up close, but much better than I ever thought I would be able to do.  And, thanks to the FMQ challenge, I now know that my quilting skills WILL get better and better, the more I practice.  If I can do this, ANYONE can learn!
So yes, I was able to quilt out all of the puckers in this embroidery design, and what's more, I managed to quilt some passable feathers and lumpy-but-acceptable pebble background quilting.  I have long struggled with both of those designs and have been practice-doodling feathers on my iPad for months.  Wahoo!
Can you believe this is the exact same project as the ugly wrinkled mess in the previous photo?  I almost threw this away!  Now I like it so much that I have to come up with something to do with it.  The finished piece is 16" x 20."  Any ideas?  I suppose I could just square the edges, bind it, and call it a "mini wall quilt." 
I'm Quilting Feathers! 
I attempted several different feather styles, but even though the traditional, backtracked feathers are supposed to be the most difficult to quilt, those were the easiest for me -- probably because that's the way I've been doodling them.  However, I was NOT doodling the stem correctly, so all of my stems are a bit wonky.
My fabric is a glitter-flecked silk shantung layered with Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting and muslin backing.  I used #100 silk thread in the needle and 60/2 Mettler cotton embroidery thread in the bobbin, with a size 60 Microtex needle, tension reduced to 1.50, and BSR stitch length set to 1.5.
It even looks cool from the back, see?
Back View
So now that's one more down, and only four more to go.


Tina said...

It is very lovely. well done. I think it would make a great pillow.

Rebecca Grace said...

Hmmm... It would make a beautiful pillow, but where in my home could I put an off-white silk pillow without my kids destroying it? I have to think about that some more. Thanks, Tina!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

WOW-good save! This. Is. Stunning. I would make it into a mini wall hanging and put it where you will notice it. I love, love, love the way it turned out. If it were me, I'd hang it in a bathroom-I love a luxury piece in the bath.

LJ said...

Wow! It's turned out so beautifully; your FMQ is lovely. I also do machine embroidery and can feel your pain when you saw your project pucker like it was. I'm totally surprised that the FMQ solved the problem. Whatever you decide to do, I think it should be visible to you most every day - as a reminder that a problem is just a creative moment ready to happen!!

Lane said...

It looks wonderful. So glad you didn't toss it and instead used it for a lovely practice. Get that one on the wall. Lane

Chris said...

Oh, it's gorgeous!! And I agree with other comments--it needs to be visible. It's truly stunning.

Jackie's Stitches said...

I agree with the suggestion of a pillow! Put it on your bed! Or make it a "company" pillow for special occasions. Or just put it on the couch and if the kids destroy it, so be it - it sounds like it was destined for the trash anyways. You did a FANTASTIC job of quilting this - thank you for posting it, it's very encouraging to someone who has no skills!

Marjorie said...

This is definitely a wall hanging in my book. Just saw this post and your feathers are wonderful. The whole thing is wonderful. Isn't it amazing what a little quilting can do?

Pam Carlson said...

I am completely awestruck with this saved piece. I really am going to have to practice FMQ now. Thank you for the inspiration.

Jo said...

Your quilting is amazing. Don't worry about those wonky stems

Mary Huey said...

Great save and clever idea to repurpose it as a FMQ learning task!!

Zenia Rene said...

Rebecca, I'm so glad I read this post. It's very encouraging. It seems as if I'll never be good at FMQ and I so want to be good at it!! I know the key is I recently started an instagram challenge called #dailyfmq to encourage daily fmq practice. Your feathers and pebbles are so beautifully done the entire piece is STUNNING! I found you on Val's linky party. Please stop by and check out my blog when you get a chance. A Quilted Passion.