Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Do It...I Did

I did it. It's done. My first free motion quilted quilt. It's a baby quilt and it's my baby. I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I can hardly believe I did it. I dreaded for months learning to do this, now I wonder why. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a breeze or easy, but I enjoyed it. I have a long way to go, but I'm getting better and better. The quilt is my fractured pinwheels (tutorial really is coming). I used a combination of a vintage sheet and quilting fabric to make this one. I used a couple of leftover blocks to piece the back. I had a little scissor incident when I was trimming threads and I accidentally sliced one of the blocks right on the seam, but since it was on the seam it was a pretty easy fix. I didn't freak out about it, I just did my best to repair it. I love this quilt...the whole wrinkled quilty goodness of it. I so wish the pictures were better, but the sun was setting and I couldn't get a good shot, but there was no way I was waiting for tomorrow.













































































Some of you have asked a bunch of questions about my free motion quilting experiences. With my vast experience (hear the sarcasm) of ONE quilt under my belt, here is what I've learned so far:
*no one can really tell you how to do this. you have to experience it for yourself. the more i asked the more frustrated i became. i really wanted someone to tell me how to do it.
*a good machine is a must. my machine wouldn't do this kind of quilting even if you talked nice to it for a year. you have to be able to lower the feeddogs and have a darning foot. i used my mom's bernina. (thanks mom!!!)
*relax! easier said than done. i imagined everyone quilting away and never stopping till the quilt was done. i have no idea if this is the right way, but i stop often, to relax, to see where i am, to adjust the quilt, to think about where to go next, and most importantly i stop if i'm getting flustered. as long as your machine stops with the needle down you can stop as much as you like. learning how to coordinate hands and foot so that the needle stops without a hop, skip or a jump is a skill to practice. i think i stop my hands and then lift my foot.
*look ahead - not at the needle. again, easier said than done because that needle is mesmerizing. the more i look ahead the better i do.
*find your style i've found that i move to the right. i started in the center of the quilt and just started. i'm more comfortable moving to the right and i found myself going round and round the quilt working to the right. i can make smoother curves and more even stitches when i work that way. if i force myself the other way, it's sort of like trying to write left handed. so, i guess what i'm trying to say is find what works for you.
*practice for real everyone told me to practice, so i did, but i practiced on scraps. when i finally did a mini quilt which was for real, i did better. when i was going to throw my practice away, i didn't pay as much attention or really try my best.
*slow and steady hands i found myself moving my hands too quickly and then i got jerky and flustered which made for some interesting shapes. i'm finding that slow and steady hands and a moderate rate on the machine works for me. it's a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. (not the most natural motion!) slow hands, quicker foot speed on the pedal. that's what made the nicest curves and the most even stitches.
*attitude you know it's what they say about everything, if you think you can, you can.
i'd love to hear about everyone's experiences with free motion quilting. are these the things you experience? Lastly, thanks for answering all my questions and for the encouragement and support. I'm gearing up for the next one!

66 comments:

nettie said...

it's so great! I LOVED reading what you learned, it's right on. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

i've found that even if my curves aren't perfectly smooth, it's virtually undetectable once the quilt is washed!

Exuberant Color said...

First of all, sheets are tough fabric most of the time and congratulations for not getting a bunch of skipped stitches. I never start in the middle, always in a corner. Hand quilting starts in the middle but machine quilting can start anywhere if you baste it well.

I think it looks great and now you should do another while you are in the rhythm of it. Congratulations!

Vicki said...

It looks so good! Congrats on your first machine quilted quilt. I love those colors.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

You gave some really good tips Jacquie. I have a tutorial on my side bar for beginners. I did 50 hotpads before I did my first quilt. And I would free motion on paper with no thread. Practice is the biggest tip anyone can get. I also drew on paper in the kind of loopy look I was going for and that helped me know how to even start.

Cami said...

I think you did a great job with the free motion quilting. It looks fantastic! I had the same issues when I was trying to learn to do free motion quilitng. I just wanted someone to show me how. It wasn't until I actually tried it that I got the hang of what everyone was trying to explain to me. When I first tried it, I was going as slow as possible trying to make my stitches perfect. That does not work. A faster and constant speed is what works for me and I'm more of a right working way girl too.

Two Dogs and a Quilt said...

Yeah!!! It looks so cozy and crinkly, especially with those soft colors. You pretty much summed up my experience with free motion quilting. I like to take breaks too. Congrats for taking the plunge.

Kim said...

Congratulations on your first machine quilted quilt! You did a fine job of it, too.

Vicki W said...

It's an adorable quilt! Aren't you glad you jumped in? Once you get over the nerves it's kind of a zen experience, isn't it?

Alissa said...

Oh congrats! Now that you have made the leap you will never go back... The quilt looks amazing.

I've had many of the same exact experiences you mentioned. And I stop all the time. I love to pause, relax my shoulders (I find they get so tense without my realizing it...) and gaze and how the quilting makes it all so much prettier! It's become my favorite step of making a quilt.

audreypawdrey said...

This is beautiful! You also brought up everything I learned from my first (and only) experience so far free motion quilting.

I tried to start in the middle but ended up with one side completely finished and the other...not so I had to go back and fill it in. That was okay, too. I had to consciously not hunch my shoulders because I kept trying to move my head down to the level of my needle so I could see better-not a good idea because my shoulders hurt after a while. It is a lot of fun though!

ellen said...

Oh, wow! It's beautiful and you deserve to be proud. It seems kind of like learning to swim by just jumping in the creek and going for it.
I think that you gave such good advice. (Listen to this person who has never made a quilt.) BUT and HOWEVER...I do think you have provided lots of encouragement and very useful advice for someone who has never plunged into that creek.
It is super. I love the colors and you are one amazing woman.

Penny said...

I think the pictures (and the quilt) are excellent! It is so pretty. Personally, my favorite time of day to take pictures is at sunset because of the shadows.

Regi said...

Woot! It turned out so beautifully... Congratz on your first machine quilted quilt!

I know someday i will work up the courage... thank you for the awesome advice for when that day comes!

Nancy said...

Your quilt is beautiful. I have tried maching quilting and free motion quilting and I am determined to get better. I am no where near as good as I would like to be. Your suggestions are very good. I have a hard time relaxing when I am doing free motion because I am trying so hard.

Karyn said...

Oh, this is just lovely! You did a wonderful job!

Libby said...

Beautiful! My favorite part of quilting (after hand stitching binding) is that wrinkly, crinkly look that comes from free-motion quilting. Your tips are right on. The hardest part is -R*E*L*A*X! Sometimes chewing gum or listening to favorite music - really loud - lets you free your mind to let your hands do their thing.

Jackie said...

You did a terrific job! And you should be proud, rightly so! All your tips are very accurate. The next one will be that much easier. Sooner than later you will see yourself venturing into harder and more detailed quilting and will love every second. Very satisfying to finish something of your own from the beginning. Woo Hoo to a job well done!

Stephanie D. said...

What a terrific job--it doesn't look like a first time!

I always thought you had to start in the middle and work your way out, but guess that isn't so. I do find I have to go back and fill in sometimes, and I forget to relax my shoulders and neck, so they do wind up achy later on. The first time I tried it, on my Kenmore that doesn't have an adjustable feed dog, was an AHA moment, too! It all fell into place.

I'm first on the waiting list for the beginning free motion quilting class at my LQS on Friday, so will let you know if I learn any new tips or tricks you didn't mention.

Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

Jacquie your quilt looks fantastic...I agree with all your points as well...now on to the second one.

Lina said...

Great advice thank you. I've not attempted this yet, so it's great to pick up some pointers. Looks fab by the way!

Amber said...

Yeah - it looks fantastic - I totally agree with all your ideas!

MichelleB said...

I knew you could do it! It turned out great. I love that wrinkly and crinkly look. Your tips are great. Really, you just need to do it. You learn as you go - you can't overthink it.

Janis said...

Looks great! Love your tips. I've done one baby quilt (turned out better than I expected) so I can totally relate to what you say about just doing it. I'm research minded too and kept waiting for the perfect explanation. LOL.

Keep up the great work!!!

BTW - I LOVE Nanette Merrill's tip about practicing on paper without thread. Why didn't I think of that?

Amy said...

It looks fantastic! I'm so glad you did it. I bet you're hooked now - I know I am! (Listen to the big TWO quilt expert here.) Did it take you days? Or hours? You must feel good and proud of yourself!

Karen said...

You did good, girl! I'm still to chicken to try;)

Amy @ Park City Girl said...

Okay - I love your quilt! You did such a great job quilting it, and your list of things learned are great :) I'm getting ready to do my 2nd - finally - your list is a good reminder. It looks great!

Elizabeth said...

Your quilt is beautiful! Also, I couldn't agree more that nobody can really tell you the "right way" to free-motion quilt. You pretty much just have to figure out what works for you.

Angie said...

That's nice. I've had a hard time with quilting on my machine. Though I can adjust it for that purpose, it just isn't that nice of a machine. Seeing this makes me think that I'll try again. My biggest problem is probably trying to sew too fast. And then, eventually I'll buy a bernina!

Tine said...

It looks fantastic!
And your tips are soooo true...
I stop a lot too, my machine doesn't allow a "needle-down" setting, so I have to be very careful :-)
I start in a corner and work my way through the quilt.

I also dream of how much help it would be to have a stich-regulator...or a speed-setting....or a to be able to set the machine to stop with hte needle down. LOL!

MightyMom said...

Well don't ask me! I've never machine quilted anything. I'm a hand quilter.

but I just love your stippleing stipeling stippelleing stippling ummm quilting all close together like that thingy.

And the quilt is adorable! It has that extra-snugglyness...makes me wanna wrap up in it.

So, teach, how many points are you gonna take off for my bad spelling tonight??

:-)

MelissaS said...

Here's a virtual high five!

I love machine quilting. My experience (6 years) says:

-Practice, practice--I spent a whole year making kids quilts for all my friends kids birthdays. It gave me confidence and improved my stipple.

-The best way not to worry about the foot and hand coordination thing is "pedal to the metal". Press the pedal down so that the machine goes fast and then move the quilt under it. My machine, I can adjust the speed no matter how hard I press.

-I quilt in quarters. I start in the middle and work right up and down until I reach the edge, then move to the next quarter of the quilt.

Anyhow, it looks great! Awesome job!

HomespunMary said...

Congratulations on yout first free motioned quilt! It looks great!

I tried it for the first time about a year ago, and have been hooked ever since. It is such a liberating feeling to just drop the feed dogs and set off in any direction :-)

Your tips were great. I too stop very often, maybe too often, but I guess it is a matter of finding your own way of quiltitng...

Sharon said...

It looks great! I've done a few quilts myself, and I think your tips are right on the mark. The only thing I would add is "breathe!". I find myself holding my breath when I do free-motion. I've found if I put on some music, I do much better. Freer and looser. Then, like you, stop often, stand up and s-t-r-e-t-c-h! Good job! Gold star for you!

upstateLisa said...

wow! it looks awesome! how is it that you have never free motion quilted???!!! Do you have a pair of quilting gloves?! they are a must for a big project like that. I actually use gardening gloves, I think they are called Atlas Nitrine. If you can't find any (I find mine at ACE hardware) let me know. The quilt, btw, looks oh so yummy. Like that wrinkly look! Also, practice!!! I would try it on small pieces to start!!!!!

Katy said...

wow. I need to stop thinking about it and just do it, don't I? But it's soooooooooooo scary!!!

Liz said...

Thanks for the excellent advice!

Stephanie said...

Beautiful quilt job Jacquie. Well I've had 3 different free motion classes taught by 3 different people. Last instructor was absolutely THE best. I learned so much. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE on quilt sandwiches is a great way to get your rhythm down and experiment with different patterns. Definitely take breaks or pauses because you'll find your shoulders tensing. Also I use inexpensive gardening gloves with rubber grippies on the fingers and that really helps move the quilt more smoothly. And last and most important a good machine is key! That's what works for me.

Gina said...

A glass (or two) of wine and music with a good beat to help get in a rhythm. That always helps me.
Well done on overcoming the first hurdle. the first FMQ'd quilt is aloways the most nerve racking.

Love and hugs gina xx

erica e said...

this looks great! great job. the thing i love about stipling/meandering is that a little imperfection here and there isn't really going to show- especially with all the wrinkly goodness.
i love the pink and grey on this quilt!

Darcie said...

Hurray!!! See...not so terrible, is it?! It looks FABULOUS!

And already with your whole ONE FREEMOTION QUILT under your belt...you've got terrific pointers. Truly. Glad you jotted them down.

One that I will add to that is music. Your style. Your volume. Whatever works for you. I listen to the same CD over and over for a bajillion hours...and then finally change. I don't like it loud because I want to hear my machine more than my music Music does sooth a freemotion soul. ;-)

"Carry on!"

Jackie said...

A girl after my own heart - I love that wrinkled, gathered bit of quilty goodness too. And I'll be back to this post because I've not been daring enough to try machine quilting yet. But with your post I might just give it a whirl.

amandajean said...

I'm so proud of you! you did great! and lots of wonderful tips...they are right on.
your quilt is gorgeous!

I so know that feeling of "there is no way I'm waiting until tomorrow to post this..." :)

Wendy said...

Great job...I started my own free motion quilting a few years ago...your tips are great...in the end, it is practice, practice, practice!! Great job...Wendy www.therunningquilter.blogspot.com

KateKwiltz said...

Congratulations! It looks great!

When I free motion quilt (and I don't do it often, I'm more of a straight-lines gal), I find myself yelling things like "Too fast...Too Fast...TOO FAST!!!!" Panic sets in very easily (as does shoulder fatigue), but the frequent stops to see where you are and readjust help a lot. Remembering to breathe is key, too.

Looks like you found your groove!

Nicole said...

That is just beautiful. You have discovered a new talent!

Michelle said...

It looks great. I finally got the guts up to try it on part of a quilt I'm working on. And it's true....it is tiring, so I found myself stopping quite a bit, as well. I haven't finished, and I'm not brave enough yet to try it on something I just love, but I won't give up!!

Allison said...

What a beautiful job!

Shannon said...

I can't help but gush! (I really am NOT a blog stalker....I just really love your style and your writing. I look forward to reading your blog with each new entry.)

The quilt is beautiful!

Don't laugh, I've done my best free-motion quilting when I'm sleep deprived. I made a quilted vest and it turned out pretty well. I've not tried anything since.

Victoria said...

Great job Jacquie! The quilt looks beautiful!

I agree with everything you said. I also think it helps, when you are first learning and practicing, to make small quilt "sandwiches" out of scraps, and just free- motion doodle all over them. Writing your name over and over really helps with getting good control over your speed, and helps with learning to do smooth curves.

em's scrapbag said...

You did a great job. Way to go for it. I find I have to take a break every hour or so or my shoulders end up in my ears. I find I improve with every quilt. Keep up the great work.

Kate said...

You should be pleased - it looks wonderful!

cdnj said...

Congratulations. Your quilt (and quilting!) is beautiful.

lej619 said...

congrats!! nice job!!
love your quilts

Thriftin and Craftin said...

Hey Miss J!

I'm so behind on my blog reading, but I'm trying to read all the ones I love so much. Thanks for reading my letter I wrote on my blog. Yes-I agree our lawmakers could learn much from your 19yo, and anyone else willing to take responsibility for their actions. I still can't believe it's all happening, and that they're getting away with this bailout.

Onto a happier subject, I LOVE your quilt, looks so cozy and scrunchy and perfect. FM quilting wasn't easy for me, but the one quilt I made my mom (the Audrey one) came out pretty well. I'll try it again sometime down the road. I've been making purses lately. I haven't made them in so long, so I pulled the stuff out, and have been enjoying doing those again! Take care! Talk to ya soon!

nicolette said...

Congratulations Jacquie, you did it indeed! It looks gorgeous!
I’m still too scared to try. The idea of quilting something small sounds good. In the end, all skills are obtained by practice.

QuiltedSimple said...

Did I miss this post??? I LOVE IT. You did a fantastic job on the quilting - and you are right - it cannot be explained, you just have to jump in and DO IT. I too find frequent breaks helps with the tension - and I also try and rotate the quilt always going to the right. Glad you enjoyed it!
Kris

Rebekah said...

what a lovely quilt. your color palette and free motion quilting make it look like an antique! it's gorgeous!

Cheryl A said...

Great job!
I think you hit it right on. You'll be hooked now. Once you have stippling down you'll see all the free motion possibilities.

Wendy said...

When I first started free motion quilting I had to remember to blink. And breathe.

Simply This and That said...

It's bee-ooo-tiful! ooxx`jod

driftwood said...

it's gorgeous Jacquie, well done! there are some great tips here too! love the idea of using gardening gloves!

LEE-ANNE GILBERT said...

Hey Jacquie!! Thanks for your comments re my split nine patch. I can't believe this is your first free motion attempt... Get outta here!! You go girl!! Lx

sarahmurray said...

Yay Jacquie! It's absolutely gorgeous. Your quilting looks amazing. x

jovaliquilts said...

Congratulations! It looks great in the photos. I haven't had the nerve to try this, but it's a great plan to "practice for real," as you put it. A baby quilt is just the right size, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

becca said...

how funny to have just found this post- i have spent the last 2 days on my first attempt at free motion quilting- my shoulders ache- i have never talked to myself so much- "speed up- slow down- stop looking at the needle" and despite all of that I am hooked!! my biggest challenge was the quilt hanging off the end and in my lap- it kept catching and dragging. I finally threw it up on and over my right shoulder and -aha- i was a happy camper. a little unorthodox but it worked. I too started at one corner and also found it easier to go to the right.
thanks for sharing - your quilt is gorgeous!!

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