Monday, November 21, 2022

Move Over: A Modern "Klimt" Strip Quilt Finish for Julia + A FMQ Refresher for Rebecca

And now, back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming...  Look at this beautiful Move Over quilt that my client Julia brought me for quilting a few months ago!  Back in the Summer when I was quilting this, the staggered strips of turquoise blue in this quilt reminded me of ocean waves crashing on the shore -- the white strips were the foam.  But now, with all the snow getting dumped on the Northeastern United States, I see a blizzard in Julia's quilt, and the black and white polka dots are snowflakes!

Julia's 60 x 77 Move Over Quilt with Rolling Waves E2E

Move Over is a pattern by Mari Martin for Connecting Threads that is available as an instant download here.  It's a beginner-friendly pattern that would go together quickly for a more experienced quilter, and I can envision it looking great in a mix of red, green and white fabrics for the holidays.  I quilted this for Julia with Rolling Waves E2E, a digital design that can definitely suggest waves as the name implies.  On Julia's quilt, this quilting design in conjunction with the straight line "bars" and irregular speckled polka dot fabric also reminds me of a recurring motif in Gustav Klimt's fabulous Art Nouveau paintings from early in the 20th century:

Bildnis Emilie Flöge by Gustav Klimt, 1902, Wien Museum

See those wavy lines with swirls in the woman's dress?  
Let's zoom in and turn it sideways, the way the quilting design is oriented on Julia's quilt:

Detail of Bildnis Emilie Flöge, rotated like the quilting design

Klimt also used "quilting swirls" for his famous Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze:

Tree of Life, Stoclet Frieze by Gustav Klimt, 1909

Now do you see Klimt in the Rolling Waves quilting design, and swirl quilting designs in the Klimt paintings like I do?  Although some quilters may have been quilting utility quilts with their sewing machines in the early 1900s, I doubt any of them dreamed of covering their feed dogs and churning their quilts around beneath the sewing machine needle to quilt swirls!  

By the way, the first photo of Julia's quilt at the top of this blog post was taken at night when I finished quilting it, with bright overhead lighting casting shadows that emphasize the texture of the quilting design.  The photo below shows the exact same quilt, but it was taken the following morning with all of the lights in my studio turned off and morning daylight coming in through a window to the left.

Same Quilt, Different Lighting

The detail shot below was also taken at night with bright overhead lighting:

Rolling Waves E2E with So Fine Thread, Color 504 Silver Screen

I used a lightweight So Fine thread in color 504 Silver Screen on Julia's quilt and the batting is Quilter's Dream 80/20 Select loft (this post contains affiliate links).  I love how this quilt turned out!  Here's the photo of Julia's quilt top before I quilted it for her:

Julia's Move Over Quilt Top Before Quilting

I just love seeing the dramatic transformation that happens when we take an already striking quilt top like this one and superimpose a second, three-dimensional quilting design on top of the modern patchwork design.  It doesn't get old, ever!  Thank you so much for choosing me to quilt this for you, Julia!

And Now, Without the Training Wheels...

Of course, the allover design I quilted on Julia's quilt was done by computer, ensuring that the waves and swirls were quilted smoothly and consistently in size and spacing from the top of the quilt down to the bottom.  In preparation for resuming custom hand guided quilting on my personal Jingle Christmas quilt, I spent some time thinking about and doodling some FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) design possibilities for the pieced blocks and appliqué backgrounds that still need quilting.  

Pen and Paper FMQ Filler Doodles

Practicing these designs on paper is good for visualizing what you want to do where, and it can help with learning how to build a filler design so that you can fill an area completely without getting stuck in a corner on your actual quilt.  However, because there is more resistance on a frame-mounted long arm machine when moving diagonally than there is when moving up/down or side-to-side, you can't learn to quilt round circles by practicing on paper even if you spent a thousand hours and filled a thousand sheets of paper.  If you try to FMQ a circle on a long arm machine the same way you draw one on a piece of paper, you get a square with rounded corners, like an ice cube starting to melt.  So my paper doodles were just to remind me of which filler designs I wanted to practice quilting on my little sample quilt sandwich.  I haven't attempted any free motion quilting on my long arm in at least two years, and as you can see below, my skills are somewhat rusty!

I Am SO Out of Practice!!!

So clearly, letting my computer drive the machine all the time to stitch digital edge to edge designs on hundreds of quilts does not make me a better "driver" for free motion work, any more than riding in the back seat of a cab for a few years would prepare me to drive in a NASCAR race.  Mastering a couple of the designs that looked good to me on paper would require more practice time on the machine than I have time for, so I think I'm going to have to simplify my grand ambitions!  

Yes, You CAN Quilt Seated Even If Your Machine is On a Frame!

By the way, there is a misconception out there that if you get a long arm machine mounted on a frame like mine, that means you have to quilt standing up all the time.  Not true at all.  I got the optional hydraulic lift for my Bernina Q24, allowing me to easily adjust the height of the frame to better reach the area of the workspace I'm quilting in or to alternate between standing or sitting at the machine.  Since quilting filler designs has you working in small portions of the quilt for long stretches of time, it's nice to be able to alternate between standing and sitting on my adjustable height saddle stool that you see in the photo above.  The little IKEA cart on the right pulls right up next to me so my TOWA gauge, alternate hopping feet, pins, thread snips etc are in easy reach, and I have a stack of reference books and design notes on a wooden stool to my left.

An Hour Later...  Looks Better From a Distance!

I'm glad I reacquainted myself with how my machine handles for free motion work on this practice piece, and I did see improvement over the hour or so I spent on my scribble quilting.  I'm pretty happy with my tight stippling, little loopy circles and some of the paisleys, especially from a distance.  I used a contrasting variegated 40 weight thread for the practice quilting, but on my real quilt I'll be using matching thread in a much lighter weight so the wobbles and imperfections shouldn't be as glaring.  If I wanted to get really good at custom freehand work, it would require the same ongoing commitment to regular practice that is required for learning to play an instrument like the piano or the violin, and that just isn't where I want to focus my efforts right now.  There are stars of Bethlehem waiting to be pieced and appliqué waiting to be started and finished, after all, and I can't practice free motion quilting on my long arm machine when it is always loaded with client's quilts for edge-to-edge work.  

Takeaways from my little practice session:

  • My denser stippling and pebbling is a lot smoother and looks much better if I use Manual mode (set at 800-900) than if I try to use stitch regulation
  • I speed up and slow down too much when quilting larger spirals, paisleys or feather plumes and get ugly long stitches in the fast stretches in Manual mode, so BSR Mode 1 set to 13 SPI with Speed 350 worked better for those types of designs
  • I was able to go down one needle size, from the size 100 needle that I would use for computerized quilting with this 40 weight thread to a size 90 needle for hand guided work, with no thread breaks or skipped stitches
  • It probably took me 20 minutes of awkward trial and error and "warmup stitching" before I got my handles positioned comfortably and relaxed enough to quilt smoothly.  So it was definitely a good idea to throw this practice piece on the frame first instead of diving right in with the real quilt

Well, that's all you get from me today.  Next time I'll share pictures of how I started using these designs on my actual quilt.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the United States who is celebrating Thanksgiving this Thursday, by the way!  I'll have both boys home from school plus my mom with us for the big feast and we'll be "hauling out the holly" (putting up Christmas decorations) on so-called Black Friday and throughout most of next weekend.  Safe travels to those of you who will be taking to the highways and the skyways to meet up with friends and family for the holiday, and a big hug for anyone out there who will be spending the holiday alone or who is grieving the loss of a loved one.  I'm linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties, listed on the left sidebar of my blog, and I hope YOU find some time for quilting this week!


Pamela Arbour said...

That is beautiful. Julia chose some beautiful fabrics and the quilting did its job to enhance them. I tend to be a dense quilter with free motion. I can put a million paiseleys in a quilt. Your test is very nice. I hope you will make something with it like a pillow or add something to it for a table topper?

Gale Bulkley said...

Your comparison of the quilt to Klimt's work is very interesting. I enjoyed that. That and the practice FMQ.

piecefulwendy said...

Now that is a pretty jellyroll quilt, and your quilting just finishes it off so nicely! What will you do with your practice piece now that you've filled it all up? Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

The photo of your machine reminds me of a flamenco dancer. 😘

Sandy said...

Gorgeous quilt/quilting, as always, Rebecca Grace! Your practice piece looks awfully good to me!

Pam said...

I think you got the knack for this, Cheeky!

Kathleen said...

I love what you did on the Julile's quilt - definitely "Klimt" like in its design. I totally get what you mean about needing to practice that free motion. Your's looks soooo good. I need to do more to keep those skills up. I have not changed to manual and do wonder what I would for thought!

Lu Ann said...

Hi Rebecca, I just had a FMQ class from Amanda Murphy- and she said if you are doing a small dense design, to reduce the stitch length to make it smoother. Hope that helps.

The Joyful Quilter said...

Fun E2E design on that client quilt, Rebecca, and your FMQ looks really good, too!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! What an interesting post. That fabulous quilt is gorgeous and the quilting design choice really pushes it way over the top. Very interesting seeing the difference in lighting and the vibe the photos share. I am immensely interested in your longarm convo - I'm test-driving a friend's APQS Millie on Friday. I apologize for being MIA reader but I've seen so many fabulous finished quilts that were quilting by you for friends. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

Anne-Marie said...

Nice work!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, that was really interesting. As you mentioned it does take a while to get re-acquainted with FMQ. Don't forget that you are comparing your FMQ to your computer, who does everything perfectly. You're the human behind the machine, so very good might be as good as you get, unless of course you practice like that violin soloist :-) Your practice piece looks great and I'm really glad that you saw the progress. I also really appreciate your two photos of Move Over in the different lights, and the swirls found in Klimt's paintings. It's one of the reasons that I love Art Nouveau. Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. Happy Thanksgiving!

Linda said...

I've decided that you are the best quilter in the world. I mean it. The way you study your quilts and draw from art to make the blocks "pop" is amazing. You would not only be able to teach us to quilt but also the theory of choosing a pattern. So in my mind you don't just have a degree, instead you have a doctorate in quilting! It is interesting to know that quilting on a longarm does not a master free motion quilter make, and I love your backseat driver analogy.
Thank you for sharing your expertise with To Do Tuesday!

Vivian said...

The swirl quilting on Julia's quilt really, really complimented it! Isn't great how inspiration from other art forms can influence your direction in quilt projects. As they say, "quilting makes the quilt". Yes, free-motion (or hand guided) practice is the only way to get better. I DIDN'T know you could sit at a frame machine! The caution of doing the quilt stitching is that we spend so much time right on top of the work that it can be hard to over look what are actually very miniscule "misses" until you step back and view the overall effect. We have to remember the "man on the galloping horse" rule and take frequent steps back to really assess the quality of our work. Yours is just wonderful!!

dq said...

The movement you added to your client's quilt is PERFECT and stunning!
YOur whole cloth project is so fun!!!

dq said...

I also love your doodle designs! A ton of planning goes into machine quilting to get it just right.