Several other things have fallen by the wayside...need to still complete the write up of the pattern of my baby quilt, do the binding on my table runner, write up a new pattern that I have ready to go, continue on....and so it goes. Also have run behind in the Blockbase Sew Along due to illness when block #10 was due and just have not had the time to pick it up again.
FMQ requires practice, practice and more practice...you read and hear this a lot. What does that actually mean and how do you go about this? I was thinking this weekend that it is more than that, i.e. it is purposeful practice that will eventually help you to master this skill. When pondering about this I thought back to how this more purposeful practice started for me. About 2 years ago I was visiting the local quilt show and again standing in front of one of those truly amazing works of art...a FMQ wholecloth quilt of enormous proportions...all done on the domestic sewing machine. I could do some basic FMQ at that stage...some stippling, some loop and leaf designs, but that was it. While admiring this I began to think that yes, this is possible and no, I did not need a more fancy machine or the seductive Handi Quilter machine Sweet Sixteen (that I soooo would love to have).
The problem for me was that I would spent up to 6 months on creating a quilt (alas, I also have to work in my spare time) and when it came to the quilting I would revert back to what was comfortable, i.e. the stippling or similarly simple designs. Any attempt to do something different required more skill than I had at that time and even if I practiced a different design, after 6 months I did not have the flow or rhythm to see that through. Usually I ended up pretty discouraged going back to what I knew would work. It occurred to me that I needed to take the whole idea of practice to a new level. It required more than just a bit of practice here and there or even attending the occasional workshop...it needed to be the purposeful building of your repertoire of designs and capabilities.
Initially I was going to set myself tasks to complete to guide my practice, but luck had it and I saw Leah Day's FMQ Along Wednesdays on the Freemotion Quilting Project which was run for the entire year on a weekly basis. I participated almost every week and within 2-3 months saw the difference...no more tension issues, far less hesitation...the improvement was actually quite amazing. I could just sit down at the machine and go...
Also started my feather practice last year....very tentative to start with but eventually got there. This year I am focussing on feathers...for this purpose I got some of Patsy Thompson's Feather DVDs which I am currently going through. I find that DVDs and videos work well for me as I can go back and re-watch particularly tricky parts (have a look around the internet, there are heaps of free YouTube videos available).
Well, I continued on my border practice piece....this got a bit involved as I did end up practising the mirrored feather wave I had stitched the other day. I was just too curious of how I would go with trying to mirror the plumes on either part of the centre...probably should have continued with something a bit simpler.
My stitching and the shapes turned out a bit wonky as I could not concentrate on too many things at once. The mirroring of the plumes worked fine as I had worked out beforehand an approximate way to go about it, i.e. start smaller, than getting bigger and then going smaller again to go around the curve. As I am working in a border the outer edge provided a guide of how far to swing out, so this was all good. Funny thing though...the brain made the same 'mistake' each time I went around the outer curve. The mirroring in the centre was a bit trickier...I thought I had done this quite well, but when I went around to fill them, realised that only two of them actually match...so if I was to do this again, I would have to pay a bit more attention to this, but overall... first attempt...I am impressed. To get around the trickiness of the centre I would lightly mark them in next time, I think.
The second border is a nice one...I am thinking about using this for my quilt...it has that simple elegance about it and was quite fast to stitch all around. Also did the loopy border for those more narrow borders...find this very challenging, although looks alright in the picture.
This was a lot of fun to stitch...I think it's time to go onto the quilt.
Linking up to Anything Goes Linky Party at Stitch by Stitch and
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced to show that I am actually finishing some of my many WIPs.