Monday, July 28, 2014

Free Motion Monday: Feathers, Week 4

It's the last Monday of the month and we're just about done with focusing on free motion quilting of feathers. I feel like we've barely scraped the tip of this design, but it's certain that feathers will show up frequently in my posts!


 Today I've got a few samples of feather variations to show you.


This first one is a fern feather. When I was still new to free motion quilting and first tried feathers, I couldn't get the tips just right, so I did quite a few of these instead. The plume shape is a simple echo of an open "S" shape. The bottom part of the feather is very similar to a regular feather, though there's no back tracking to worry about. Be careful not to pause too long at the tip with the machine still stitching, you'll end up with a knot at the tip.


Then there's this fancy feather. The right side is a variation on the hook feathers of last week. On the left side there are a variety of ways to dress up the inside of feather plumes. My favorite is the simple echo of the plume.


Finally, at least for this series, there's the molar feather. The dented plume is reminiscent of a molar tooth, hence the name. I haven't done many of theses, but it's not too shabby.

So, what feathery goodness do you have to share? Maybe you are new to feathers (or even FMQ) and you can show how you are progressing. Link up and share! Don't have a blog to link up? Go visiting instead.

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Next month I think I'll continue with the linky party, but it will be "quilter's choice". So you can share what ever free motion quilting you've been doing. This will be a great time to share additional work on a previous design from earlier Free Motion Mondays too.

Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards. There's my Youtube channel also with plenty of free motion quilting videos.  I'll be visiting you too!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Zen Free Motion Quilting

I really wanted to do some fun free motion quilting today. I didn't want to work on the projects I wanted to do, just stitch for the fun of it. Martie Rowland of Purple Hat Fabrics posted a pic of a drawn Zentangle on Google+, wondering what it would look like as a quilt. I totally felt challenged to quilt it out.

"She thought she could, so she did." That's a quote I like to think of to keep me motivated on my quilty adventure.

zentangle quilting with ruler

It was the perfect design for using a longarm ruler. The 1/4 inch space around the foot made it easy to space the ending of the line. I marked a 10" square and divided into quarters, then again diagonally. Then around and around each triangle with straight lines that start from the end of the previous line and finish the line 1/4 " away where it intersects the line from the next side. (Clear as mud? It's easier than it sounds)


The big design forms from the repetition of the triangle shapes. I had to make sure I filled them in the right order to make sure the orientation was repeated. I bet there are variations of this design that are worth exploring.


It works great and I like the resulting design. I worked the design backwards from the original drawing, so the resulting psychedelic pinwheel rotates the opposite direction. That's perfectly OK.

free motion quilting a zentangle

Once I finished filling in two triangles, I shot a video.


This certainly isn't the first time someone's been inspired to use Zentangling in quilts. In fact, there's a lot of cross-over between free motion quilting and Zentangles.

Both Pat Ferguson and Susan McNeill have books out on using the meditative drawing process to inspire quilting stitches.

Martie Rowland might not be aware of it, but she lives very close to me. It's pretty neat to think of how we can "meet" someone online whom we might not know of otherwise and find they don't live to far away. It's also pretty neat to find I have readers all over the world (Hello Australia!) and I'm looking forward to visiting with my friend Robin, who is now a real-life-friend, during the Charlotte AQS show.


And in other news, my new business cards arrived! They turned out great. So much better than what I could do on my computer with those tear apart things.


I made my hubby run over to the neighbor's house to scan the QR code and make sure it worked. He tried to tell me it pulled up a naughty site, but I didn't buy it. The code went straight to the blog. Isn't that cool? They make me feel a little big for my britches, but it's a good thing I think to stretch myself a bit and lean into my work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keep Calm and Sew On

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I can get so many ideas to inspire my free motion quilting (and more!) but it can be a huge time sucking vortex!

But I love the different encouraging memes that are out there. (A meme is usually a picture with a message layered over it-- some funny, some encouraging, and some more opinionated.)

I made my own adaptation of a Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Did you know the originals were printed by the British government in 1936 in reference to the build up to World War II?

Free Motion quilted Keep Calm poster

Fusible raw-edge applique stitched down with a free motion quilting outline, done in the same thread as the background, no stops and starts except for the interiors of some letters. The letters were made using MS Word on my computer, printed out and traced onto Wonder Under.

A friend asked if I had the Accuquilt letter die set when she saw this. I don't, but it wasn't hard to do these letters. But if I do more of these, I just might get it.  I use their dies whenever I can for some fast applique projects. There are a whole bunch of new dies at Accuquilt too and they are having a sale. See the link on the right.

Can you see where I started quilting the 'A'?

Various cotton scraps for the letters. I took way too long trying to make them go together without being too matchy-matchy.

I also tried something new. Since this was to hang on the wall, I thought I'd try stretching it over wooden stretcher bars (for artist canvas), and stapling it on the back. No binding needed! So it can't be washed, but do you wash your posters? (It can be dusted or lightly vacuumed, of course.)

Keep Calm and Sew On quilted version

Turns out that actual artist's canvases are cheaper than buying individual stretcher bars! So I picked up a 16x20 canvas for $8.44 at AC Moore's (on sale, but very frequently on sale according to clerk). Also turns out I should have made note of common sizes before making my project. I nearly didn't have enough fabric to go to the back! I think that shows how much a piece can shrink up once quilted, since I thought I had left plenty of room.

I ran out of staples and also decided I need my very own staple gun. The hubby's was a bit more than I could handle and it was a bit too grubby for my liking. When I get one, I'll show more pics of the back and how it's stapled down.

No binding, no hanging sleeve......I'll be using this method again for similar projects!

This will hang in the shop where I work part-time, to encourage those who are bringing in their machines for service or repair.

If you like quilty goodness on Pinterest, you might want to see some of my Pin boards. Do you use a timer like I do when indulging in Pinterest? (My son just read part of this post over my shoulder and wanted to know why 'quilty' was underlined by the spell checker. I explained that spell check doesn't consider it a word and he said,"That's silly, of course it's a word!")

Monday, July 21, 2014

Free Motion Monday: Feathers, Week 3

Happy Monday everybody! (Yes, I have had too much caffeine.) Time for more free motion quilting fun with feathers!

First, I did a little feather video for you. My feathers are far from perfect, especially when shooting video, but that camera is putting all of us with our eyes just a few inches from the needle! Put a minimum of 24 inches from eyes to quilt before you look for the faults in anyone's quilting. On my first customer quilt, I was freaking out that it wasn't good enough. I was told to spread it on the bed and take a picture....all of a sudden, it was much better!



On the video, I talk about tension issues you can have when quilting feathers, especially if you're still learning to free motion. It can be easy to truly "whip out" the plumes. Your hands get faster in the curves and it causes a minute change in tension, just at the feather tips.


To show this, I tasked myself with quilting badly for you! This showed me the value of muscle memory, because it was hard to make my hands do what I wanted them to do.

To cure this, do not adjust your tension!

You need to adjust your hands instead. Slow them down in the curves just a bit. Conversely, you could speed up your machine a bit in each curve, but I find slowing down the hands easier to do. You'll notice the stitch length is longer at the tips too-- proof that the hands are speeding up.

If you adjust your tension for these trouble spots, you'll just throw it off in other areas.

I hope you are enjoying this series and are getting some feathers quilted. I am seeing such wonderful work from so many of you! Thanks for sharing.



We've got one more week on feathers and then it will be time for something else. What designs should we do next month? Next week I'll cover some feather variations. We could continue on with the variations into August. Thoughts?

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards.  I'll be visiting you too!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Playing with a Feather and Photography

I did a little free motion quilting practice yesterday in the thoughts that I could use the result as a background image for some new business cards.


The quilting was fun, the colors fabulous. I used a variegated turquoise, purple and teal thread from Superior Thread's Rainbows line on black Kona cotton.

I forgot how hard it is to photograph black quilts. Not to mention I am severely lacking in photography skills.


There's the flat horror of using the flash:


Poor focus, even though I used a tripod and the 2 second timer to keep from shaking the camera:


Used the landscape setting by mistake instead of the portrait setting which gives a better focus at close quarters:


If you can't beat them, join them......Something about the above photo clicked with me. Fiddle some more with camera settings and it's starting to look like an artistic background.


Now to go fiddle with the computer to make my business card. But which one will I use?


Maybe I'll stick to the above picture. I sometimes feel like I'm at the eye doctor when trying to edit a number of pictures, "Which one looks better, One or Two? One or Two?"

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Peek into a Project in the Works

Taking a short break from my usual free motion quilting in order to put something a little encouraging for the shop where I work. Here's a peek....


Sorry, couldn't help myself! This is to go near the area where we take in machines to service or repair. It'll be another day or so until I get it all fused up and stitched down. You can figure out what it says even though it's backwards, right?


I tried a different pair of scissors to cut out the letters and I really liked them. Someone gave me the pair in the middle for trimming threads, but I am way too fond of the double curved scissors with their retractable holder for cutting threads (on right). I usually use the scissors on the left for cutting appliques out, even though they tire my hands out.


But the spring loaded pair worked beautifully for cutting the letters out and the spring action made it much easier on the hands. I think I'll be using them from now on! They're from Fiskars.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Free Motion Monday Quilting Adventure: Feathers, Week 2

So has anybody been feathering their nests this week? With free motion quilted feathers of course! This is such a huge design topic to cover, I can't possibly do more than whet your appetite for them.


Patsy Thompson's book, Feather Adventures, is the most comprehensive book I've seen on feathers. I really like the name for some reason....


Her book is great, with plenty of examples and tips in a variety of styles. But the best help in learning to do feathers was to just keep drawing them! Draw them until your hands can't help but make smooth feather plumes.

free motion feathers



My attempt at a traditional feather from the video above, closely cropped to leave out the ugliest bits.....


My back tracked feather above, and the two non-backtracked styles (regular and hooked) below.

no back track feathers

And my bump-back (or bump-bump) feather.


I finished up my tiny feather fill this past weekend. My hands want to cramp up just at the thought of it. I took a video and will post it later in the week. Now it goes into the bin of unbound quilts.


In the pic below, notice that my stitch length is getting too long for these feathers. The fabric starts to ripple where lines of stitching are running parallel. this can happen with all types of designs when stitch legth gets too long, but it shows up in feathers easily.


I had to restitch that so-called traditional feather from the video. Just to make sure I could. It's....meh.


Then I moved on to a fun feather to help counteract the tenseness I felt as I quilted that traditional one.


So I hope to see some feathery goodness from you this week! If you are new to feathers, show us a drawing if you prefer. Make sure you don't compare your beginning to someone else's 'middle'.

So post something on your own blog about feathers and link up here so we can all go visiting and learn from one another!

Some quick rules:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply commenter, especially if you ask a question. 
Don't forget to bookmark this blog, follow, or sign it up in your favorite feed reader. Like the facebook page (I do post some short things on it pretty regularly), or even check out my Pinterest boards.  I'll be visiting you too!