Monday 20 April 2015

April 2015 FMQ Challenge

If you are not yet participating in the FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal, you should consider it. It is such a good learning opportunity.

The expert this month was Christina Cameli and as always there were several options to participate. As it so happened I had purchased Christina's Craftsy class "The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting" a few months earlier, attracted by some of her designs. While I had watched the class already a few times I had not really tried the designs, so this was the perfect opportunity. I really like her Craftsy class...there is something for everybody, whether you are a beginner or  a more experienced Freemotion quilter. I actually had difficulties choosing a design because there are quite a few that I really like.

In the end I chose the tuft design for one of the panels of the pillow. Practiced it a bit first and noticed that I was not that crash hot on quilting away from myself and keeping a straight line was even more of a problem. So I made use of the Full line stencil (machine quilting guide) that I recently acquired and roughly marked myself a grid on my fabric. That worked a treat.
Now the idea was not to follow the lines...they are about 2in apart and that proofed too big, however just having the grid there as a reference kept my lines fairly straight. I love the tuft design and it was relatively easy to stitch, however I must admit that I continued to struggle with quilting away from myself. Somehow my stitches turned a bit wonky going backwards which immediately made me loose concentration. Tried different needles and settings, asked Christina through the class and was thinking that maybe I am just not very used to quilting straight backwards. Yesterday then I stitched backwards with the walking foot and  to my surprise I had the same issue there, so it is definitely the machine...will take it in to the shop today to have the technician look at this. Also could not keep it very consistent from row to row (this looked so easy in the class!), but thought that this just added to the organic feel of it (which I think it did).

First panel done...colours are a bit off in this photo. I used variegated Aurifil 50/2 thread with an 80/12 needle. I love variegated thread. This is an orange type thread going from a light beige to orange to a type of deep rusty colour. This is from the Sheena Norquay collection. Very nice thread indeed...the length of each colour was just right for the leaves.

 For the second panel I chose a leaf design with an 'S' shape in there...loved the look of this.
Action shot on the second panel
Now I am sure there is an unspoken rule about not using variegated thread on a design that requires a lot of backtracking. Well, to hell with it...I could not resist and yes, the backtracking and thread build-up are very obvious and in parts look untidy, but I like it! Must say that this was rather labour intensive. I worked about two days on this little 17inx17in square. This is where the FMQ challenge is so very useful...yes, I can practice the design a bit on a small piece of fabric, however it is only when you stitch this out over a larger area that you begin to understand how to stitch the design. I had done leaf designs before and knew that they can be tricky at times in terms of moving from one area to another, so I thought this would be a good exercise in sharpening my skills. Many times I had odd areas that required me to stop and think, and as you can see I filled some of them with beads rather than more lines which added to the design, I think. And then there was the blasted 'S' shape in each leaf...I can confidently say that I have committed this to muscle memory after completing this a gazillion times...very funny, I could only do the first 'S' if I approached it in a particular way...any deviation from it and the old brain could not cope and would do anything but an 'S'.

And here it new favourite pillow...big thank you to Christina Cameli for this lovely design.

Close up of the unruly leaves
And who would have thought...I finally managed to put a zipper in properly (mind you, took about three attempts)
A decent zipper for a change

If you want to have a look at my pillows so far, I am now keeping them on a board on Pinterest

Linking up to the April 2015 FMQ Challenge over at Quiltshopgal. Have a look at the beautiful pillows and maybe even consider giving it a go yourself.



  1. First time visiting your blog-came over from the Quilting Challenge. Love your cushion/pillow-it has a very Australian feel to it the way you have quilted the leaves.

  2. Your pillow looks just gourgeous - I love the second pattern especially!

  3. So pretty Karin! Lovely adaptation with the pebbles, I think you are right that it's an improvement. : ) I agree, just playing around with a design is different than having a space you've committed to quilt. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work.

  4. Beautiful Karin! I enjoyed your explanation of your process, too. I'm looking forward to starting mine :-)

  5. my first time did gorgeous quilting on your pillow!!! I love both panels

  6. Love the leaves with the addition of pebbles, Karin! Very natural looking! I even think the variegated thread is a terrific choice!

  7. Looks lovely!!! did you find out what was wrong stitching backwards???


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