Sunday, 30 October 2016

Free Motion Quilting - What I have learnt

As you know I love patchwork. I have made clothes and bags, but patchwork is my passion!
It all started back in 1996 when I spotted a patchwork quilt in a magazine and immediately bought a small cheep sewing machine. That fist king size quilt has pride of place in my bedroom and is still used to build dens!

Faded and worn, but a den building staple!
For  person who avoided sewing lessons at school because they were for girls that is quite an achievement!
When I started patchwork I was  determined hand quilter. I couldn't seem to get the machine to quilt in the way I wanted it to, so I stopped trying - I didn't realise I needed special feet and strong enough thread.
In 2011 that all changed when my youngest son requested a quilt for his birthday which was 3 weeks away. I undertook a self taught crash course in machine quilting. The joy of the internet is that you can find out pretty much anything and I was able to find out why my previous attempts had never worked. The quilt was finished at 2am on his birthday and he still pulls it out to snuggle under whenever he can.

The birthday quilt designed by mini.

My first attempt at free motion quilting!
So my free motion journey has been a relatively short one - especially placed in the context of the 20 years I have been making quilts. And it is a journey I have loved. In fact I often love the free motion quilting more than the patchwork.
As a sewing teacher I have taught free motion quilting to all my patchwork classes. Some students love the challenge and throw themselves in whole heartedly, whilst others give it a go and then run away screaming!
It is a hard skills to master - especially on a small domestic machine - but is one that is worth working on. My free motion is not perfect and nor do I ever expect it to be. I have the privilege of knowing that if I select a thread that matches the fabric I am working on then all of my faults will fade into the background of the quilt. They will add texture and interest. Even if the thread doesn't blend in the not so perfect pebble will look perfectly fine in a sea of not so perfect pebbles. They will all look amazing together!

'Mistakes' make up part of the whole design.

For beginner to free motion quilting this idea of just doing it, ignoring the little 'mistakes' and trusting the journey can be tough. It can cause a project to be rejected. But you must keep going, keep quilting, keep moving forward. Each time to quilt with our machine you are getting better. Each pebble will blend in with the other pebbles.  You will never reach perfection but you will create a unique quilt that will wrapped around you family and friends for many years - 20 years and counting in my household.
When in doubt - just keep quilting!

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