Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The hardest thing I've ever tried to do.

I am making another quilt.  But I am trying a new-to-me technique, free motion quilting.  I recently took a class on fmq, and this is the first time I'm trying to use what I learned.  It is so hard.  So much harder than I expected.  It's basically like using your sewing machine to draw on the quilt.  You can create any shape or pattern with the stitches.  You completely control the movement with your hands.  When I looked at my quilt I could envision where I wanted the stitches to go.  But when I actually got the quilt under the needle, I had a lot less control than I would have hoped.  Lines that are meant to be curved are pointy.  Lines that are meant to be smooth are jagged.  By the looks of these stitches, you would think a small child was sitting at my sewing machine.  No kidding.  Part of me can't believe I am giving this quilt away.  It's a baby gift for a friend.  I should have practiced on something that wouldn't be seen by anyone else.  I did practice, actually, quite a lot, on scraps.  But it certainly wasn't enough.  Oh well.  At the very least this quilt will have a uniform look, messiness across the board.  Plus, it will still keep a baby warm, and the fabrics are super cute.  So I will try not to be too embarrassed when I give it away.  I am getting better, I think, very slowly.  And it's exciting to think about a point in the future when I might actually be good at this.  For now it remains extremely challenging.

Two ladies are helping me, via their blogs, to get through my first experiment in free motion quilting.  The first happens to be a lady who has seen me give birth.  Christina was a young, compassionate doula when we had S in Chicago.  She was our advocate and encourager during that horrible hospital birth.  Now she is a midwife and mother in Portland, and a very accomplished quilter.  She hosted a quilt-a-long on her blog last year, exploring all the different options of free motion techniques.  Those posts didn't mean much to me at the time, but now I am pouring over them and soaking up her knowledge, pointers, and humor.  She was even so kind as to share some pictures of her first free-motion work, and guess what!  It looks A LOT like mine does now!  So I have hope that I will get better at this, just like she did.

The second lady is Leah Day, who is posting hundreds of free motion designs, along with videos of how to stitch them, on her blog.  It's super helpful to watch the videos instead of just trying to figure out how to stitch something just by looking at it.  Also she organizes her designs by difficulty level, so I am spending a lot of time studying the Beginner page.
Struggling with my tension on the back.  The thread is basically laying on the fabric.  I've tightened it up a bit and it seems better.  Still not great.

This is supposed to look like a design from Leah Day called River Path.  Hers is beautiful and smooth and mine is, well, I guess it looks okay if you don't look too closely.

Here I am trying to do pebbling.  Um...... yeah.  Looks so simple and easy.  Is not.
Here you can see Leah's design River Path.  It's one of the most attractive fmq designs I've seen, so I sure hope I can improve upon my initial attempt.
And here is Christina's pebbling.  Look how neat and tidy those circles are!  How does she do that?!

I'll be back later to share this quilt when it is finished, and hopefully with some more quilts over the summer.  That's all for now.  I'll leave you with some cute pictures of me and my boys on Mother's Day.


TaylorStreet said...

The fact that you are even attempting this is very impressive ---- this looks insanely hard! Way to be talented, L-Train.

Looking forward to seeing you guys soon.

kristin said...

now that really IS colin commenting on your sewing skills. that guy :)

Leah said...

wow. i think they look great~! i can't image how amazing they will be after you've been at it a while and can tweak things more to your perfection. i am so envious of your creativity and dedication! i'm thinking i might have to enlist your talents for something special for blasty.....i'll send you a note. :-)

Sarah Hedman said...

I actually think it looks really really good!! and those fabrics!! sigh. so cute! I have never done fmq but love love the look of it. I can't wait to see more from you!

kelly ann said...

Straight up, I thing it looks AWESOME. Honestly! xoxo

Nicki Babysits said...

I love your quilts! I've always wished I could sew. My mom and Nona did and all the women in our family before them... but all I can do is stab myself with the needle! (I kinda like canvas stitching because the needle is so dull, it can't draw blood!)