This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free-Motion in May

The May challenge came at a good time for me--I had all of the materials at hand, and I needed to change the threads on the machine anyway.  
      Leah Day is a young, ambitious quilter working to make it as an artist/artisan/businesswoman in what has become a multi-million dollar arena.  For over a year she worked to develop 365 fresh free-motion designs, posting her progress on a blog.  Her tutorial on SewCalGal's site represented her point of view well.  The challenge design involved two stippling designs--one curvy, one with sharp corners.  
   Here are my samples: 

  Leah Day's instructions called for an initial base line stitched on the quilt sandwich; I chose to mark the initial line with my ceramic-lead SewLine pen, because I dislike quilting that crosses lines.  Since I am new to stippling, these did not come naturally to me, but it did represent an interesting way to fill space.  There could be a time and place where I would want to use this.
     A closer look:

The curvy shapes definitely came easier to me; I had to concentrate to allow the needle a second stitch at each corner, or it got rounded off.  The second design was less pleasing to me (and more difficult to do.)
     Leah Day suggests using a teflon washer in the bobbin--I had them on hand but wasn't using one.  When my bobbin thread ran out, I cleaned and oiled the bobbin area, added a washer, and rewound the bobbin with Bottom Line 60-wt polyester thread.  The cotton Mettler was too linty and, being thicker, ran out more quickly.  (This directly contradicts Leah Day's instructions to use the same threads for top and bottom; with the tension adjusted and similar colors on the spool and bobbin, I find it works well enough.)  I disagreed, also, with her directions to turn the (small) sample during stitching.  When one is working on a large quilt, there is no way to manipulate the quilt, so it's best to learn to work without turning the quilt piece, even if it's small.  It's a skill that one must develop.  
     Here are the backs of the two samples:
Not really much difference, is there?  The straight-line stipple piece has the thinner Bottom Line thread.
     Now back to the quilt I'm working on....


  1. Your quilting is great! I, too, have more difficulty with straight lines and sharp corners and tend to avoid them when I'm quilting. I haven't tried the bobbin washer idea yet. How does that help in the quilting? And I agree with you about using different weight threads in the bobbin--you just have to adjust the tensions to make it work. And I also agree with not turning the practice piece--When I'm working on a queen sized quilt, there's no way to turn it around! I'm glad you're liking FMQ--I love doing it.

  2. I think both patterns are really neat, but I agree that the one with the rounded lines has an edge, for whatever reason. I can't wait to see how the next challenge turns out. *hugs*


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