Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March FMQ Challenge

March: Ann Fahl!  By the way, over the weekend I watched her show on The Quilt Show.  Her cat quilts are fantastic and totally adorable!

I really liked the background information she provided.  I'm still completely flummoxed by thread and needle combinations, and what type of thread to use where.  I usually just grab whatever color I need and don't look at the style or thickness or any of that.  So this was good help.

As for the notebook, I read a lot that sketching out designs is helpful, but I had never done it until now.  I generally do a practice "sketch" with my machine on scrap fabric and figure it out that way.  For some of these designs that I am already comfortable with I didn't find the sketches particularly helpful, but for designs that I am having trouble with (FEATHERS!) the sketches helped my brain think about how to form the shapes and transition between them.  Anyways, here are the first sketches I completed in my notebook:
stippling!  I hate stippling so this was good practice because I can never figure out where to go next.  I'm not even sure if this is good stippling shapes or what good stippling should look like.  I tend to avoid it.

Loops.  I am also watching the FMQ classes by Patsy Thompson on the quilt show, and she suggested loops of varying sizes, which I don't normally do, so this was interesting to try out.  I'm very comfortable with loops as filler; I just used them on the baby quilt I finished.

Hearts.  I actually had a really hard time drawing them pointing in any direction other than vertical.  However, I didn't have this problem stitching them.

Feathers!  I'm still trying to figure out their shape.  It seems some heirloom quilters draw or stencil on their feathers before they stitch them, so I might try that in the future instead of trying to figure out the shape as I go.  On the right I was trying to figure out how to form the teardrop shape properly.

More feathers.  My brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around their shape.

And then to the stitching!  I tried out a bunch of designs on one single block.
Also over multiple days, hence the variety of threads.

On the upper left, I was testing out some potential border designs for a different project.

In the rainbow thread in the middle I did hearts and little flowers with loops in between.

In the upper right I tried bigger flowers with some leaves.  They were going okay until I tried to echo around them, which was just a bad idea.

Then I tried two styles of stars, neither of which I really loved.  It's hard to start into a shape and figure out how to incorporate that line you're already coming from.  For example, on some of the flowers I tried to make my existing line into one of the petals, but often it didn't work out and the line would just go to the center of the flower instead.

Then I tried some spirals.  These generally went well, there are some spikes where I transitioned but I think that's okay.

Then I tried another feather.  I really want to make these work!  I have to say, even though my feather generally sucks, Diane's method of echoing around it really makes it look better and sort of smoothes over the trouble areas, or makes the eye not really notice them.

And I finished up with some stippling, which I loathe.  All in all it was fun to try out these different designs!

This week I am sitting down and actually READING some machine quilting books I have, including Diane Gaudynski's.  Usually I'm too impatient to read the content and just flip through to look at the designs, but since I'm in between projects this is the perfect time to really do some book learning.  I think it will complement the practical things I am learning in this FMQ!  Last night I started "Heirloom Machine Quilting" by Harriet Hargrave.  She also does a lot of feathers so hopefully I will get more tips.


  1. Good drawings. I must get into the habit of sketchbooking.