Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

Up and Away

First, I must apologize for posting this so late. I did intend to get it out last week, but my week got completely out of hand. I didn’t even get to take the glamour shots of the quilt until I was en route to the recipient! I’ll go into more of that next week as a way of excusing my bad behaviour … but today, the eagle quilt!

When last I left you, I had completed the oh-so-fun directional sashing on the quilt. I’m pretty sure I had the next step completed before I even posted the sashing blog – and that would be basting the quilt. As previously mentioned, I decided to use the fabric I had originally purchased for the husband quilt. Because this from a standard size bolt of fabric (44″ wide) instead of wide-backing fabric (100″ wide), I decided to see if I could get away with just one WOF (width of fabric) cut from the stash.

5 inches too short!!!

As you can see, I was a mere 5″ short of being able to use one continuous piece of fabric. I could have cut more, but I had a better idea. When I was making the small eagle borders, I had lots of yardage left over of just trees and lake. I pulled them out, figured out what would go together as seamlessly as possible, and whipped up two rows of trees-and-water inserts. I put the fabric 1/3 of the way in from the fold and sewed in the two inserts. I slapped it back on the table and basted the thing in about 20 minutes.

Stepping back to take pictures at this stage is often when I start to plan how I’m going to do the quilting. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the eagle. Past practice of some quilting techniques had already given me an idea for the sky and water. I asked husband for his input on a couple of things, and left the rest of it for after I finished the main panel of the quilt.

For the large eagle, I didn’t want to overwhelm the bird with quilting, but allow it to stand out on its own. To that end, I simply traced around the eagle and accented the feathers on the wing and tail tips. For the first time, I changed my thread colour (the tail being much lighter than the body). Getting adventurous up in here!

I’m going to stop here and outline my free-motion quilting settings on my sewing machine (Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930). These obviously apply to just me, but I had to do some tweaking to get the tension as close to perfect as I could and it’s good to go over the settings again.

On this quilt, I made use of the spring-action free-motion quilting foot (also known as a hopping foot). The nice thing about this foot is that it touches down on the quilt between each stitch and I find that makes for smoother stitching. The thing I don’t like about it is how it works with my auto needle up-down feature. When I slightly depress the pedal, the foot and needle “prep” to stitch. It causes the machine to hesitate for a couple of seconds. On normal stitching, that’s fine because I can just keep moving the needle and the quilt slowly. With the hopping foot, the foot is pressed against the quilt and the foot freezes every time the prep stitch happens. It gets a little aggravating when I’m starting FMQ for the first time in a bit and am trying to go slow.

When it comes to my machine settings, there are a couple of places I need to go. First, into the Tools section. This is where I select my FMQ foot preferences. When I use the ruler foot, I select the FreeM Floating option. Turning on FMQ automatically sets the tension, but I find I need to adjust it depending on how heavy the quilt is and what kind of fabric and batting I’m using. These were the settings for the eagle quilt. The husband quilt was set to 5.2 I think??? I should start writing this down for my reference. 😀

On to the sewing options. In the electronic window, I have to change my sewing speed and my stitch regulator setting. The stitch regulator should be set as close to 0 as possible. I can change this using the little > and < arrows on the side. The second step is to slow this puppy down! Lowering the speed means that the flat-out speed (pedal to the floor) is a lot slower than on the high setting. I find I have to start out on setting 2 when I start quilting and step it up to 3 after the first three-five hours. Oh, yeah … quilting takes hours. I don’t find it’s hard work, but it is definitely a time sink. I can change the speed using the sewing buttons available right above the needle. This is also when I select the needle-down default (right). That means that every time I stop sewing, the needle is in the fabric. It’s so helpful!! My stitch doesn’t move while I re-adjust and it *mostly* keeps my work from having big stitch gaps. The final thing to notice is the foot up-down button (bottom). When working with ruler or walking feet, this button gets used all the time. It half-lifts the foot so I can re-position my work a little bit (or just see where I’m going next).

I completely forgot to take a picture of the next bit, so I’ll have to talk through what I did for the water and the sky. Continuous wavy lines have always looked like water to me, so I did that for the water. I was trying to find something more complex for the sky, but I sort of ran out of time looking, so I went with swirls and a couple of clouds. I am not good at swirls. I need practice. But, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I decided to outline the large tree and then make Christmas tree shapes over the forest sections afterwards. The Christmas tree motif was a good effort, but it just looks like a bunch of triangles stacked on each other, so I probably won’t do that again. The tree … well, the tree was my fun bit.

When I started the first stitch, something just felt a little “off”. I checked my stitching a couple of times, but everything looked fine, so I just kept going. I did almost the whole tree until my thread broke, which was weird because it hadn’t broken once this quilt. Then I flipped the quilt over …

Oh good lord. This is what happens when your tension is way off. It’s known in the sewing community as making eyelashes. I almost cried – there was so much of it! What I think happened is when I changed thread colour to make the tree, I must not have threaded the machine properly, so the upper thread didn’t make it into the tension disks and the bobbin thread just pulled it all to the back. This took me a good 15-20 minutes to cut and pull out all the thread. The good news is that this did not happen again after I carefully re-threaded the machine.

This brought me to the borders and sashing of the quilt. I was starting to run out of time at this point, so I pulled out the Taj ruler (by Angela Walters) and put a little leaf-motif around the pinecones and a larger leaf motif on the eagle borders by using the inside and outside of the ruler. You’ll be able to see in the binding pictures. I used wishbones on the internal birch bark sashing and just free-handed some straight lines around the birch bark edge as part of it would be covered by the binding and I didn’t want it to look cut off.

At this point, I truly ran out of time. The quilt was not ready for Dad’s birthday, but he was coming to visit us the very next weekend, so I did the binding the day after his birthday. But first, I had to square up the quilt. Because the quilt was so small, I was able to square one edge without folding the quilt in half, as long as I had two rulers … oh, look, something came in the mail!!

Yup, I caved and got another Frosted ruler. I had to get a new 6″x24″ ruler anyways because the one I had didn’t have markings for half or quarter inches on it because it was designed for cutting angles … the things you don’t know when you’re just starting out. I squared everything up and measured to cut up the pretty pine binding! I absolutely love how this fabric finished off the quilt – it suits it perfectly.

And finally, the finished masterpiece!

As I said at the top, I literally took these pictures on my way out the door to give the quilt to Dad, so I apologize that for re-using the back yard for the photos. I do intend to take my future quilts to different photo-shoot areas. You can see how much snow we have here … and all of it covered by a nice thick layer of ice. yaaay.

Stay safe. Stay warm.


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