Thursday, November 24, 2011

Free Motion Quilting

Our group project at the Free Motion Friday has come to a close. I've learned lots during the 8 weeks it was existence but still  continue to take two steps back for every one forward.  The latest problem is that the top thread breaks just when I get going with a bit of confidence. In order to figure out why I retraced my steps.  This was easier to do than retracing my stitches as you can clearly see here. My "Pine Needles" look more like corn stalks.
  That's why I liked doing  "Stomach Lining"  better. Sewing in one direction was easier. I think they look more like flowers, don't you?
Anyway to get to the story, it turns out that back in the early weeks I was using regular 50/2 sewing thread and the trusty Schmetz H-Q 90/14( with a green dab) I use to sew with most of the time.  I love this needle because it has slim point and does the job of piercing multiple seams.  Then I decided to change the thread to the kind I would use if I were really quilting a top.   For the next few weeks of free motion practice,  I alternated between using either Superior Threads King Tut or YLI machine quilting thread both of which are 40/3.  I'd  noted that Superior Threads recommended using a Topstitch needle, so I duly replaced the H-Q. It was at this time that I began having issues with the thread.  But I figured it WAS the thread, or the bobbin, or lint in the bobbin case, or even the needle.  So I changed it, again.  And herein lies the rub, instead of the correct 90/14, I put in an 80/12 which of course has a smaller eye. Duh! No wonder the thread was shredding.

I now have a greater appreciation for needles.  So, I decided it was time to read up on them and after reading a bit more about them, I appreciate them even more. 
Did you know that the top of the Schmetz package is actually a little magnifier so you can read the number printed on the needle?
Did you know it takes 45 steps on 100 different machines to make a needle? And that one of these steps is to polish the eye so it is smooth.  
Did you know that the major culprit behind skipped stitches is a dull needle?  So change them often, especially if you are making pot-holders like me.

Sewing with synthetics like insul- brite wears down needles even faster and can cause the dread skipped stitch.  Which is the other problem I have been dealing with of late.  

I have got to admit, I wasn't too crazy about H2O as there was simply too much retracing for me. Our last 
challenge Superstar was much easier for me.  No retracing!  I plan on continuing practicing FMQ and so I ordered a Supreme Slider from Leah Day's website. She is the
originator of the Free Motion Quilting Project and has generously posted all these wonderful designs and video instructions on her website.  There's one for everyday of the year!  My slider should be here any day now and I can't wait to try it.  If you don't have one, I suggest you visit her.  It's a way to support small businesses this season as well as fellow bloggers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Fest

I work in a small office in a big park with a woman I've known for more than ten years.  The other day I showed her my quilting blog and she told me that her daughter's brother-in-law is a quilter who blogs.  So I looked him up and "lo and behold" he led me to Amy and the Bloggers' Quilt Fest. Carpe diem!

So here's my festival entry, about the quilt that lives in a drawer,

which I made back in 2007.  
I chose it because it says a lot about me.  I love traditional quilts.  
I was inspired to make this one after seeing the Flying Geese quilt made by Sarah K Headley in 1838  from the International Quilt Study Center's collection.  Sarah made her geese all the same size but I like to be different so I made my birds in a variety of shapes and sizes to represent many migrating species. I used ElectricQuilt to draft the blocks which I machine pieced.
This quilt lives in a drawer because I am a perfectionist and while I think I designed a great quilt, I wasn't able to execute it.  I tend to get in over my head.  So, instead of sticking with the walking foot, I decided to try free motion in order to get the curves.
What I got was simply a mess.  But I kept on going because I believe in finishing what I start. I used a stripe for the binding.                                     
                                                                                                 And I pieced a great back.
I even gave it a name - Migration - and then I put it away.  But now that it is exposed it to the world, I think I'll continue to let it see the light of day and hang it on the wall if only to remind me that it is by trying that we learn what we can accomplish.  And besides I'm finally getting serious about learning how to free motion quilt.