Wednesday, February 22, 2017

fearless fills and frills - free motion quilting class

finally catching up on talking about my free motion quilting class!
i have to say, i quite enjoyed this one.  the class had about 6 of us in it, which was nice.  the experience level was mixed, from ladies who had been doing fmq on their machine forever, to people like myself who had just taken the one class.  this class really built on the last one, giving us the next level of where to go.  we stitched ferns, strings of pearls and shells as border pieces.
here's the entirety of the first block we stitched on.
we started with the fern by stitching the middle section, then doing the right fronds (bottom portion) and the the left (top).  jenny lyon, our instructor, mentioned right handed people usually have a tougher time on the "left" side, but i actually found that size easier to stitch.
the shells were pretty easy, having done the double drip previously.  getting the angle right was a little tricky, that's for sure.  also, the string of pearls were... okay.  perfect circles aren't my jam really, but neither is things in straight lines.  i much prefer the "all over" look of things.  these all look too organized for my personal quilting style.
these two were a little more my style for sure.  the cute little scallop hills were fun.  some a little wider than others, but it gave them a bit of character for sure.  i REALLY like the one next to it, which she called stacked bananas.  just a bunch of looping back and forth, changing directions whenever felt fit.  this one was also very similar to the double drip from the first class... which might be why i liked it so much.
the other one i didn't get a closer up one of this jenny gave a different name, but i know it is called orange peel.  it requires a grid, which adds time to the project, but it was a nice little stitching motif.  it could be fun to do bigger as well, so that could be a potential for the future.
these second two were interesting as well.  the first one on the left was basically breaking the quilting in to chunks and essentially just echoing the lines zoned out.  almost like a topographic map... at least i think that is the name that i remember from earth science.  anyways, the second one is swirls and bubbles.  this one was a cute motif, but i had a bit of a struggle to get my swirls to lay the right way to not look funky.  the little bubbles helped balance things out for sure.
things i took away from this class:
more motifs.  obviously.
learned about using things as borders.  not sure if this is something i'll use, but i know how to do it now!
benefits of gloves/something grippy.  now, i'm the only one who showed up to class without gloves, but it wasn't required so i wasn't being a rebel.  having long fingers anyways, i have a hard time buying gloves because they really don't fit.  i did borrow some hand grip things from jenny, from a brand called "the steady betty."  these "betty bands"seemed to do the job awesomely, and i didn't have to worry about my fingers being the right length (or not, in reality).  should i see more fmq becoming a constant thing in my sewing future, i will likely invest in a pair of these.  next time i end up at meissner's, i'll also likely look for a straight stitch plate for my machine.  i heard it does wonders for piecing as well.
and there you have it!  part of me wishes that i did my 21 day practice after this class because it would have given me more motifs to practice, but i can also see how that would also be overwhelming.  oh the struggle!  i believe meissner's offers one more free motion quilting class that i am debating taking, so hang tight to see if that happens.  in the mean time, i'll be working on catching up blogging and block piecing so be sure to pop by my instagram to see what is happening :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

free motion quilting - days 14-21

the end is here!
after last week's slump and being able to laugh at my flowers, it was much easier to convince myself to knock out the last week of stitching practice.  i tried a few new things that i saw lisa attempt once she started her own free motion challenge at the start of feburary, and while they look mostly like what they were supposed to, they totally weren't my jam.  aka the bows.  but anyways.  i have officially completed the 21 days of free motioning, and this upcoming saturday is my next class on the subject matter.  here's this final week of blocks:
2/1
2/2
2/3
2/4
2/5
2/6
2/7
2/8
so in the end,
i've come to find i like the wandering all over styles, such as pebbling & the double drip.
if i was continue this even longer, i'd probably try and figure out how to make my loops and flowers look a little more randomly wandery.  if that is even a thing.  throwing some extra loops in between totally helped out, but i am still hoping to one day feel confident in my all over "doodling" if you will.  or maybe i'll just keep my training wheels on with pantographs for a little bit longer.
stipple.  yeah, it threw off my groove for sure.  it put me in a mindset of aiming for perfection instead of just going with the groove.
can't remember if i've said it before, but i don't feel that i will be quilting anything major on my machine with these skills, but as always, being able to have a skill and not use it is better than not at all.
but there you have it, the conclusion of my 21 days of free motion quilting fun!
i'll be sure to update you on whatever adventures happen from this weekend's class with jenny lyon!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

free motion quilting - days 7-13

well here we are again, with another update in the world of free motion quilting.
days 1-6 seemed to be pretty okay... but it wasn't easy to make it to day 13.
to be honest, this week i wasn't really feeling it.  at all.  you'll noticed i didn't get it done on friday.  or on sunday.  and i almost let it not happen a few more times.
i was ready to be a quitter.  it wasn't really fun anymore, and it started to feel more like a chore than anything else.  which is exactly how i get when it comes to going to the gym sometimes (hence why i haven't done that in a week or so.  oops.)
on monday of this week, i decided to get it together, make all my quilt sandwiches for the remainder of the time and just do it so i didn't feel any regrets.
back to fmq talk.
so i made my sandwiches, and then on monday just decided to try something new.  i decided to meander and stitch some flowers, and i got a good laugh out of myself.  i could at least feel myself being entertained by the flowers (or lack thereof in some cases) and i was starting to enjoy it again.  no more frustrating stipple practice nonsense. no more doing just what i had seen done in class.  just doodling and stitching.  and entertaining myself with some very squashed flowers.
1/23
1/24
1/25
1/26
1/28
1/30
1/31
so this week i learned:
looping each flower petal instead of doing a figure 8 is easier (at least for me)
don't do something if you're not in the mood (see 1/25... i only stitched that day just because i felt like it had to be done.  not because i wanted to fmq)
aaaaaand... i'm over halfway done!
if i keep to a daily pace from here on out, you'll see another post next thursday or friday just days before my next fmq class on the 11th.
here's to another hopeful week of fmq-ing.
but also one more week until i feel like i can get back to block piecing :) 

Friday, January 27, 2017

bronco diamonds baby quilt

first quilt post of 2017!
(not exactly my first start to finish project of the year though, since i was quilting and binding on new year's eve and then sewed all the binding on the next day)
with lisa's baby boy number three nearing his due date, i had to kick it in to gear to figure out what to make for the little fella.  since the broncos are kind of a big deal in that house i wanted to come up with something inspired by the team colors but not in your face football.  i looked through some of our texts of pictures sent back and forth and remembered one from when i made the charm and 10 quilt for baby a.  there was another one i had considered for it, and i remember commenting about that pattern herself.
the entire thing was made up from half square triangle blocks, which made it look more complex but still went together like a breeze.  i found the blues all by the yard, but ZERO bolts of orange fabrics were making me happy.  i then stumbled by the fat quarter packs that joann's has, and found a great pack of oranges with some metallic to them.  they became the perfect balance to the blue prints and i was nearly ready to go.  i had the pieces to the front, but nothing at all for the back.
i scoped out the flannel section one day, and found this super cute fabric of woodland animals that was just the right color scheme for this quilt.  i pretty much love flannel backing on quilts for kiddos (and myself... lets be real) so this was such a great find for it.
one more tag goes to use, and now i'm down to two!
but really.  aren't those little forest friends adorable??
i originally bought blue thread to quilt on the white, but it was WAY off color wise. i pulled out the thread left over from erika & matt's wedding quilt, and it was a perfect balance of all the shades in the orange fabrics. i kept the bobbin thread white to keep from adding any color chaos on the back. super happy with it!
and there you have it!
it is always fun to make baby quilts for people, but especially fun for someone you know AND has been in your life since the day you were born.  though on completeing this quilt, i realize i've made one for each of lisa's boys, but lorelai got the short end of the stick by being born before my quilting game really started.  maybe if she's nice to me, i'll consider doing something for her 10th birthday next year.  maybe i'll even invite her to have some junior quilter input ;)
welcome to the world, baby jace!  can't wait to meet the little nugget in hopefully a few months.
yep, you guessed it... the idea of a colorado visit is calling my name for spring break again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

adventures in long arm quilting

yep, you read that right!
if you follow me on instagram, you know that last saturday i was able to rent the long arm machine to get some practice in.  i took my certification class on december 30th, and after that rentals weren't actually available since meissner sewing was having their annual floor model sale.  i got a call from angelina saying that not all the machines were sold yet, so they were trying to get those of us from that last class in so we didn't have to wait even longer.  i jumped on a date, and had my fingers crossed i wouldn't get the call saying it sold.
all last week i sewed and sewed in anticipation of saturday, getting ready to use the long arm machine for the first time without having to pass it back and forth with anyone else.  it was mine all mine for the day.  friday night, i was getting all my backs and battings prepped, hence why i didn't get any free motion practice in that day.  though, i think this could help count.
i had planned out which ones i would do in which order, going from my most basic project (an olaf panel i bought at beverly's in rocklin) to the one i wanted to be the most practiced for (the fancy fox pattern by elizabeth hartman)  i got to shop, got all pinned in after a quick refresher, and then was ready to go.  i decided i wanted to use the pantograph "african samba" since it was said to be a popular one that didn't have any sharp corners or perfect circles.  angelina got it all rolled out and marked off for me, and off i went.
i kept all three projects with the same color of thread, since they all had shades of blue in it, as well as the same pantograph to really get a feel for it.  i took a short lunch break after my second one, and came back to bust out my final one before calling it a day.  in total, it was about 3 hours combined, but it didn't feel that way at all.  time flies when you're having fun, right?
while i do love my walking foot, i absolutely love that i now have this option open to me!  i have a few projects in mind coming up, and i hope to find the perfect patterns to combine with a perfect quilting design.  it might take a little time until i feel ready to free motion an actual quilt, but i'm hoping that all my combined efforts will pay off.  clearly starting smaller before i brave it to quilt my disney sweater blocks quilt.  i'm imagining that will be my end of the year goal.  i've already got the panto in mind, but it involves a lot of circles.  oy!
i'm excited to show you my fancy fox quilt once i get it all bound up.  after a week of constant sewing, i now find myself anxious to start another project.  i have a few ideas in mind, so stay tuned!

Monday, January 23, 2017

free motion quilting - days 1-6

hello!
as i mentioned previously on my 2017 kick off post, this year is intended to be all about education and learning new skills for me.  i should start off by saying i DID attend my first guild meeting as a guest, and i will absolutely be back to sign up and become a member.  i also won a STELLAR 12 pack of bohemian garden aurfil thread, but that's not the only reason i'll be going back ;) also mentioned, i would be practicing my free motion quilting on my janome daily for 21 days, and let me tell you what... it has started off rough!  i've had some bumps in the road, but i think i may have found what my troubles were and will hopefully have smooth sailing from here.
each day, i generally have the same process.
draw the motif four times on 8.5x11 paper
draw the motif once in my sketchbook purchased for doodling purpose
stitch on fabric block. mine are 13-15 inches, depending on what i could pull together this week.  i bought yards of a solid teal fabric to use, but then felt it would be better used as a quilt back.  ha!
here's each day from january 16-january 22 in chronological order, with a full photo first, then a detailed one of a specific area within the block. then i'll give you some of the things i noticed at the end.
yes, i did miss one day (friday, 11/20) due to preparing quilt backs for another venture.  i'll leave you in suspense from there  :)
1/16
1/17
1/18
1/20
1/21
1/22
notes:
i started off with my game face on, and went straight for stipple.  in the class, it was a breeze.  stitching it at home, not as well.  i had my machine set up at the normal sewing table ready to practice and then had a traumatic machine injury by knocking my mom's machine off another table and broke the bobbin winder which messed with my plans for one .  my parents brought in a portable sewing table to use, where my machine bed would sit flush with the rest of the table, and so the blocks wouldn't hang.  simi
day 1 & 2, i stitched it with my machine like normal and felt like i was yanking it around.  lisa mentioned something about dropping my feed dogs, which i had no clue about.  after she showed me how to do it, from there i dropped the feed dogs down and was still feeling frustrated.  day 3 i switched fabrics to see if that was a factor, and it didn't seem to make a difference.  after 4 days of trying to work on stippling, i decided to take a brain break from it and did some meandering with loopy circles.  yesterday, i moved my machine back to the sewing table, since i needed to work on some photo editing and blogging and the space was quite tight, and i decided to stitch the double drip motif.  even though my block wasn't laying flat, i felt like stitching when a whole lot better and i had a lot more control.  
now that i feel better with my stitching set up, i feel back to confident and that i'm not about to throw something.  i'll probably take a break from stipple for the rest of this week and feel better about things and return to it towards the end of my 21 days.
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feel free to drop any questions or suggestions you might have.  this is all still a huge learning process for me!