Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs

Around the World in 6 Days

Well, not really … it’s an Around the World quilt made with six colors.

I know I haven’t been off to a good start, but Christmas is getting closer and I have to finish some knitted things before I give them to someone. 🙂

Today, though, it’s back to my quilting! I did some planning and measurements on the Mile High quilt (more another day) then back to the seeing machine to add a few missed lines on the quilt and finish off the current round.

I promised to mention more about FMQ, in case you were unfamiliar. Basically, instead of sending the finished quilt top to your local longarmer to quilt for you, you do all fiddly quilting right on your domestic sewing machine. You can do true free motion (where you just move the quilt under the needle to create patterns) or you use a ruler foot and a quilting ruler to make more perfect designs. I love quilting with rulers. I can’t free draw a straight line to save my life with my hand – it makes no sense that I’d be able to do that on a sewing machine. Although, with all this practice, I’m getting much better at that!

Straight-ish lines …

There are lots of FMQ tutorials online or on Craftsy. One of my favourites is Angela Walters (Quilting is My Therapy). She hosts the Midnight Quilt Show. It was through watching her videos that I got inspired to start quilting at all, never mind the free motion bit. I was looking for some bag making tutorials and stumbled across the quilted bag she makes on the Midnight Quilt Show. Her video was so fun to watch that I jumped into a couple more … and suddenly had the urge to start making “blankets” instead of bags. 😉 Oh, how little I knew at that point.

I started sewing in January 2018 (on my birthday, no less!) by taking a sewing class at the local yarn store. We learned to make a pillow case. I was using my mum’s old Husqvarna Vanessa 5610 (“Red” will make her appearance in later posts). I was hooked!! I immediately signed up for a drawstring bag class the following week and after that, I started churning out bags and purses.  My husband, long-suffering man that he is with my many bandwagons, asked if I could make him a blanket. His mum offered me stacks of cloth and reels of thread from her stash, so I said “Sure, why not? Should be simple.” It would have been simple if I stuck with a patchwork quilt, but where’s the fun in starting out slowly?

Looking for patterns on Google Image search can be both overwhelming and extremely helpful. In my case, it was helpful – I saw a picture of a half-square triangle quilt (I later learned that the pattern I chose is called Around the World) and thought, “I can make that!” I printed a grid off the internet in the size of a twin quilt, drew lines, and started filling it in. This is the colour pattern I came up with for a 6-fabric half-square quilt. You need to be able to split the 6 fabrics into two categories. I had some sparkle Kauffman fabric, so it became the green(ish) fabrics vs the sparkle fabrics. In case it doesn’t become more obvious, I’m terrible at figuring out what goes well together, but I think I lucked out with this quilt.

I started cutting the fabric squares in March, piecing the blocks (using the two-at-a-time method) over the summer, and finally got all the rows put together in September. There is one mistake block and half a mistake row. I leave my mistakes in  my work (unless the mistakes are so glaring it’s an eyesore). I believe it’s how one learns. And honestly – no one can ever tell. I will post a full picture when it’s completed (BEFORE CHRISTMAS …) – points if you can see the mistakes!

Back to ruler FMQ:

Husqvarna is *supposedly* coming out with a ruler foot in the coming year (2019). I couldn’t wait for it, so I bought a Westalee ruler foot through my dealer. I picked up a ruler at the national quilt show hosted in Ottawa this past year. Here’s a little piece of free advice – just pick up the basic ruler first. I picked up the Chevy thinking that it would be a good angle ruler down the road (I’m sure it will) and act as a good straight-line ruler at the same time. After two quilting sessions, I ordered Slim from one of my quilt suppliers in Niagara (RoyalQuilts.com). Chevy is just a little too unruly for using for short runs all over the quilt. And one other thing … the Creative Grids rulers are amazing! They have a little grippy texture around the edges and in the center, which keeps the ruler from getting pushed around by the foot without exerting a super grip on the quilt.

One of the other things I ordered from  Royal Quilts were some Machinger’s Gloves. If you are going to do FMQ, please do yourself a favour and pick up some version of quilting gloves. You only need to use the gloves for one line of stitching and your bare hands for a second line to see how much extra work the bare hands are. Our hands slip a bit on the soft fabric (be honest – the texture of the fabric is part of the reason you bought the fabric in the first place!). The gloves do. not. move. It is worth every penny (and even here, in Canada, the gloves were only about 11$. I spent more than that on the thread).

Ruler sewing with gloves and ruler

To be fair, I have been running into issues with my thread shredding. It was very discouraging at the start. This is where buying a machine from a reputable dealer can make all the difference in your sewing experience. After spending 2-3 days fighting this problem every 6 inches of stitching (and I tried so many things that I found online to fix the problem), I finally called my dealer (The Sewing Machine) in tears of frustration. She told me to stop sewing for the night, have a glass of wine, and just unwind (best sewing machine dealer ever!!). The next morning, I dropped my machine off with a little note of everything I tried, some sewing samples, and my quilt. On my way home that night, I stopped in to get the diagnosis. Good news: It’s not the machine. I already knew it was most likely a learning curve on my side causing the problem, but it was good peace of mind to know that my sewing machine was working perfectly. She showed me a few things to try, pointed out a couple of the issues with the materials I’m using, and got me to sew a few lines so she could critique my technique a bit. I still have a little shredding now and then, but I’m mostly shred free!

Shredded thread … *shudder*

Finally: the quilt.

I love the texture that is coming out of this quilt with the patterns I’m using. I’m following a free FMQ Along offered online by Angela Walters. Her most recent quilt-along is dot-to-dot quilting (mostly straight lines), which was exactly what I wanted to do on this quilt, so I joined! She also offers other free FMQ designs and tutorials on her website and YouTube channel. I am also following Lori Kennedy’s blog post  (http://theinboxjaunt.com/), so look out for some of her lovely FMQ designs to show up on future quilts!

I decided to use a lighter thread on the back of this quilt for two reasons. 
1. I am a beginner. I am learning, mostly from my own mistakes. By using a light thread on the dark background, I can look at my work in reverse and see what I’m doing right or wrong. Next quilt, the thread will match the background more closely. I’m also learning how to match backing to thread. I thought I did a good job at picking something sort of subtle but still easy to see – boy was I wrong in the “subtle” catagory!
2. This is my husband’s quilt. Husband does not care about the backside (or even the front side, in all honesty). Husband loves to role his blanket up into a ball and sleep on it. I don’t know why he actually needs a blanket, but I love him, so I’m happily making him a quilt. The side benefit is that his quilt can be the learning guinea pig. 😉

~ M

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