Sunday, November 18, 2012

January and July FMQ

Yep, I am back to working on completing the FMQ challenge.  My plan is to complete one month's tutorial a week, which should get me close to finishing on time.  I am almost out of the placemats that I have been using as practice swatches, so I decided for the first time ever to do a "quilt a you go" with a block of the month I am doing now, so that I will have more actual blocks to practice on.

January's tutorial by Frances Moore was on basic leaves.  This is a good beginner design (probably why it was put in January) but since I waited until November to do it, it was very easy. So I just stitched it as the border around my placemat.

I messed with the values on this to try to make the stitching stand out more.

I did notice it was sometimes tricky to stitch the leaves pointing in a new direction. I have also seen some designs (Patsy Thompson does this a lot) where two threads are used in the same design, and I think the leave could be could for that.  The second thread could be for the veins and add some flare along the vine.  I didn't try that here but I do want to try it at some point, and this FMQ challenge is a good opportunity.

Onto July! July's tutorial, by Angela Walters, was for a pretty cute modern blocky design.  You could fill it with whatever you wanted.  Angela filled her sample with spirals and I love stitching spirals so I did that for mine too.

Here are a million photos:

 I noticed a few things stitching this:

  • I am pretty bad at stitching straight lines, even if they are marked. My cubes were a little wobbly.  
  • I have a really hard time switching between making the spirals clockwise and counter-clockwise.
  • I always stitch really close together, I have a very hard time leaving empty or white space.  This is bad because I want my quilts to be fluffy and soft, which means I need to quilt further apart, which is really hard for me to do!

finished placemat

This was a fun design that I could see myself using, in the right situation.  I still have a very hard time figuring out what designs should be stitched on a quilt, and whether you should just an all-over filler like this one, or something that caters more towards the quilt pattern (I lean more towards the second, but it's a lot harder.) Along those lines, I can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but I bought a while back "Free Motion Quilting Made Easy" by Eva Larkin.  She gives a few very basic and easy FMQ shapes and then shows you how to combine them to make them look really complex and to use them to enhance your quilt pattern design.

I do notice when I go to quilt shows that when the quilting is part of the design, it makes a huge difference.  When I went to my guild's show, Quilting by the Bay, I brought along some family members who were not quilters.  Some quilts they would brush right over because the colors weren't interesting, but I would point out the quilting and make them take a second look.  It was fun to see how quilters and non-quilters viewed quilts.  I am always looking at quilting designs now and trying to get ideas an inspiration.

Here is the perfect example:
 My family members brushed right by this sampler quilt, but I stopped to take a closer look and was incredibly impressed with the quilting choices.  Each block had a different design in it, chosen to specifically enhance that block.

 Here are some close ups...really impressive.

One day I want to be able choose designs like this that enhance the overall quilt perfectly.

Alright, today I am hoping to get the August tutorial done, although those Jester hats look very tricky!


  1. I always look at sampler quilts for the same reason! It's so hard to come up with great ideas for many different pieced blocks. Your quilting looks great. I should try the January leaves again. I thought they were difficult but maybe I'd see an improvement if I tried them again.

  2. I think that if you are a quilter and know the challenge of getting all those stitches just exactly where you want them to be, then you look at that aspect of a quilt versus everyone else who takes in the entire quilt to make a judgement. Maybe it's the quilt pattern that draws them in and the quilting that makes them stay a little longer? Congrats on you keeping up with the FMQ Challenge - I dropped out long ago :(

  3. Great quilting Heather. I love your placemat, it is beautiful. The heart-shaped leaves, tiles with spiral filler are very well done. Good for you to complete the challenge on your own schedule.

  4. Your quilting compliments the flowers of your design beautifully. I like the fact that you have used a different design for the borders. This is almost too pretty to hide with a dinner plate!