Wednesday 27 September 2023

To Do Tuesday #39

My goals from last week were modest
- finish the handstitching of the binding on the scrap quilt
- baste one of the little charity quilts ready to be quilted,  
- maybe continue on my cat quilt from ages ago, and 
- continue on my knitting projects in the evenings.

Finished my scrap quilt, i.e. handstitched the binding over a couple of days

As I did my shoulder in a couple of weeks ago, had to take it easy, however I did manage to baste one of the charity quilts. In order to go easy on the shoulders, I noodled all over it today, so it is now ready for binding

Looks cute and with the meander over it is very cuddly. This took no time at all, I reckon about half an hour as it is only a small little quilt. Two more to go!

Did not continue on my cat quilt, but had a look at it...
Have six completed blocks, so quite a while to go yet. 

Apart from this I did a lot of relaxing and also some planning in terms of quilting. It's funny how quickly projects become UFOs. I did a freemotion-quilting course with Bethanne Nemesh some time ago (maybe 1-1/2yrs ago). For this course we pieced together 5 improvisational pieces. Well, have not quilted any of them so also had a look at that. Decided to make a start on one of them, however that is how far that took me. Mind you, at least I am feeling clearer on what to do next...just have to follow my plans and eventually I will get there.
This quilt which is my own design will need some careful planning in terms of how to quilt that and what designs I will use. It will be dense and varied so I will need some time to figure out how many and what designs to choose. Took a photo of it and will play around a bit with that on the Ipad. The different bright colours seemed a good idea at the time but now I am also wondering about thread colours. Maybe I should do the class sample first to do a trial...
Actually, now that I said that, that is probably a good idea as that will definitely clarify the thread choice but also could be useful in design choice. Hmm...

So, as you can see a lot of planning going on over here with somewhat limited action. However, I am happy with my progress. At least I have got some clarity as to what to tackle next.

So, my list for next week is as follows
- bind the charity quilt
- baste the class sample from above and work out the quilting design, path and thread
- cut the pieces for a couple more cat blocks (no piecing at the moment as I am taking my machine to the workshop and leave it un-connected in between sessions)
- maybe baste another of the little charity quilts.

We'll see how far I get.

Linking up to Quilt Schmilt  for the To Do Tuesday #39


Friday 22 September 2023

Practice, Practice, Practice...

I am sure you heard that before. What makes good practice when it comes to freemotionquilting.

I have been thinking about this when I sat down to practice a little bit the other day after a few weeks of not quilting.

This is what my practice piece looked like
Looks random but it actually is not. In order to get the most out of freemotionquilting practice it is important to:
1. Decide what you want to get out of your practice, i.e.
- preparation for a particular design you might want to use on a quilt, i.e. an allover design or a particular motif
- trialing a new design that you have seen and would like to try out
- improving your muscle memory concentrating on the quilting path of designs that you already know
- improving your stitch quality
- trialing a new thread combination
- concentrating on a particular machine function like for example the use of the stitch regulator or a particular speed or even ruler quilting.

In the above example I started with a particular design, i.e. the swirls. Had seen a little video on IG and thought I give that a whirl. As I am not looking to quilt this on a quilt any time soon, I then continued with my usual practice which has the purpose of strengthening muscle memory.
2. Working on muscle memory
This can involve working on a design where you might feel that you need to get better at or just going through your repertoire of designs to reinforce the quilting paths. As you can see I did a lot of feathers in all sorts of direction because I have got a workshop coming up where I will have to demonstrate some feathers. In going around the perimeter I practiced different shapes and sizes and different ways of stitching the plumes. Sometimes I used a continuous feather and other times I used the heirloom feather. Some sizes were too big or too long, I then practiced building groups of feather plumes to manage not getting too big and also did the dragon fin feather for a bit of fun. In doing this I stitched very deliberately, not necessarily nicely but really thinking about the shape and sizes I was stitching and making a mental note of when the plume just got too big and started to look wonky.  Started echoing around some of the shapes and moved onto backfillers.
3. Working on auditioning different backfillers, looking at density and transitioning
Once I get going there are usually areas that are empty and lend themselves to filling. I usually do some pebbling or stacked swirls, just moving around and concentrating on the speed that I am quilting the pebbles with. I quilt them in manual mode and often need to start a bit slower until I can into the swing of it. As I am pebbling along I start incorporating other fillers into my arrangement which is a good way to manage transitioning from one design to another and finding out where you might struggle.
Moving on from the pebbles, I did little swirls, some flower arrangements, little swirls and a fern which completely went under and clearly did not fit that arangement.  

Preparing for quilting an allover design onto a quilt, I usually do the following:
- practice the design on a smaller scale by drawing on my Ipad until I feel that I got a quilting path worked out
- draw the design on paper and have it sitting next to my machine so I can glance at it from time to time to remind myself which way I am going
- prepare a large practice sandwich so that I can practice the design to the scale that it needs to be for the quilt that I am about to quilt
- quilt the design out following my drawn design
- repeat the process, sometimes a few times depending on the difficulty level of the allover design.
- once I feel comfortable with the scale and the path, go on the quilt...
Sometimes I practice particular motifs that I might want to use in a quilt like the Amish feathers in the picture below. For some reason I could not get that together in drawing it and found it easier to stitch it out. This clarified the way I had to draw them into a wholecloth design.
Similarly when I want to quilt with a ruler, I usually practice on a scrap piece first to familiarize myself with how the ruler sits in my hand, whether it slips and where it might need a sticky grip thingy on the back. 
This is the piece I quilted when I got Bethanne Nemesh' heart ruler
So, all in all, I guess what I am saying is to practice with purpose rather than doodling, although at times I also just doodle for the fun of it. But I think if you want to get better at FMQ practicing with a distinct purpose is more beneficila.



Tuesday 19 September 2023

To Do Tuesday #38

My list from last week was rather small, i.e.
- finishing the quilting of the scrap quilt and if time allows, sew on the binding (which is already sewn together)

I did finish the scrap quilt

and the back...
This certainly has taken much longer than originally planned for! However, I am really happy with it, as this is all leftovers. The scraps are from my scrap collection which dates back sometimes by as much as 10 years. That's why I like scrap quilts. When you put them together you come across fabric that you used years ago and think about what you pieced together then. The backing was also pieced together from fabric out of my stash that also has been sitting around for years. Obviously liked it at some stage...but not so much now as my taste seems to have changed over time. This has a bit of a country feel to it, so suits this scrap top quite well. On top of that I was able to piece together some batting, so also used what I already had. The binding was also already made...cannot remember when I used this last, but must have mis-calculated the binding requirements by an enormous amount, as I had enough left over to bind this entire quilt.
Now I have to handstitch this to the back and then it's done and ready to be gifted.

That was all I had on my list due to a shoulder issue which I am still a bit careful about. Definitely better though, so for next week I am planning to 
- finish the handstitching of the binding on the scrap quilt
- baste one of the little charity quilts ready to be quilted,  
- maybe continue on my cat quilt from ages ago, and 
- continue on my knitting projects in the evenings.

Also still need to make a plan for the next few months on what  FMQ project to do next because you can't just have one project to work on 😄. First though, my workshop is coming up which will run over the next three weeks keeping me somewhat busy.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #38 over at Quilt Schmilt.
Also linking up to Oh Scrap over at Quilting is more fun than housework.

Thursday 14 September 2023

To Do Tuesday #37 - Re-Emerging!

I missed a few Tuesdays in a row due to an injured shoulder. Really struggled with that and in the end had to really not do anything much. Went to physio and in the end to the doctor as the pain was just a bit much. Got some tablets which helped to settle it down a bit.

My list from a few weeks ago was:
handstitch the binding to the table runner to finish that off.
- pin and baste my other scrap quilt ready to be quilted, and
- probably just relax a bit (strained one of my shoulders a bit and will need to go a bit easy on the quilting for a moment)

I did finish the table runner binding, but have shown that table runner now several times, so I'll give that a miss.

I was in the midst of my second scrap quilt when my shoulder went out. Today was the first day where I quilted again for a couple of hours. Got two more rows done and am nearing the end.

A close up. As you notice one can hardly see the quilting. On this second scrap quilt, I used a rust coloured Aurifil 50/2 thread and it just blends in. Had a fair amount of thread breakage as well which was a bit odd, not something I have experienced with Aurifil thread a lot. In the end I thought that it most likely has to do with the drag of the fabric. The quilt is fairly wide and even on the big Koala table it pulls at times when you do not pay enough attention to it. Very frustrating, but I am on the home run now.
Stopped today as my shoulder was beginning to ache again, so will do another two rows tomorrow I think. Need to take it easy as I need my shoulder for my workshop which will start next week! 

Apart from that I knitted another sock. Also not good for the shoulder but I had to do something! Took it easy and it turned out fantastic. Looks as if I have got an enormously long foot but this is a size of 9-1/2. The ribbing makes it look as if it is gigantic...too funny!

So, for the remainder of the week I will concentrate on
- finishing the quilting of the scrap quilt and if time allows, sew on the binding (which is already sewn together)

After that I will need to sit down and re-plan what I am doing. I have several projects lying around, a lot more in my head and then there are also some charity quilts that need quilting. I do need a plan...these few weeks of inactivity have completely thrown me out of whack.

Linking up to To Do Tuesday #37 (even though it is a bit late by now) over at Quilt Schmilt.


Tuesday 5 September 2023

Having a Break

Just checking in for a short post. I have done my shoulder in and am pretty much out of action. Went to the physio but that just seems to make it worse. So have got nothing much to show for.

However, the table runner got finished. Put the binding on and handstitched it to the back. This is the second sample for an upcoming workshop. Should be interesting to see how people go with that.

I did baste my other scrap quilt and made a start on it, however did not take any photos as yet. Am about half way through with an allover Baptist Fan design. This proved a little bit more difficult this time as the quilt is much wider, however I will just muddle my way through that. Have been doing about one row every couple of days so as to not aggravate the shoulder too much.
Will post a picture next week.

Being out of action is incredibly hard for me. I find it quite difficult to do nothing much, so I decided to start my next sock project. 
OMG...still a challenge and a half. This new sock is a mesh up of about three patterns as I could not find one pattern that had the ribbing I wanted in my size. Also did some more experimenting with different cast ons and heel treatment. All was well until I got to the heel and had to do the rounding...I reckon I did this about five times as I kept on ending up with the 'wrong' number of stitches. Somehow I do not get the 'math' around that. Today then I fixed this and was finally able to continue...plain sailing from here.  Just need to knit the length of the foot now and then finish off with the toe. Learning a lot but have to admit, this is also not good for the shoulder. Will go to physio tomorrow and no doubt will get a lecture.

Will be back with some photos of the finished scrap quilt by next week I hope. 


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