2013 New Years Resolution Review #5: Embracing Free Motion Quilting!

Free motion quilting (FMQ) has intimidated me for several years now so I was a little nervous whether I would gain the skills or confidence to embrace FMQ.  For the first few months, I gathered and borrowed several books on FMQing.  They each included photos and diagrams of different beautiful FMQing motifs, but they all contained the same message:  Lots of practice is required to become proficient at FMQing.   So much for my wishful thinking that I could master FMQ by simply reading a few books on the topic.  
Beginning FMQ Sandwich

When more than half the year had passed and I still had not sat down to do any FMQing, it was time for some motivation so I decided to enroll in a Beginning FMQ workshop in July at my favorite LQS.  Armed with fun fabric sandwiches, threads and my sewing machine, I was ready to finally put the pedal to the metal.  Above is my practice sandwich with the various exercises to help us warm up and experiment.  I had so much fun doodling away that I was eager to try at home on the Bernina with BSR...but ran into some technical issues which derailed me slightly.  

Practice Quilt Sandwiches Turned into Placemats

Once my Bernina returned home in working mode, I resumed my FMQ practice starting with Leah Day's FMQing a Sampler Quilt via Craftsy.  I was afraid to apply the new motifs to an actual quilt so I stuck with more sandwiches, which I liked so much I bound them to use as place mats.

I experienced such great success via Craftsy that I enrolled in several more classes focused on FMQ:
  • Machine Quilting with Angela Walters
  • Dot to Dot Quilting with Angela Walters-finished class project
  • Free Motion Quilting with Features with Angela Walters
  • Machine Quilting the Home Sweet Home Quilt with Frieda Anderson-finished class project
  • Design It, Quilt It with Cindy Needham
  • Machine Free Motion Quilting and More with Wendy Butler Berns
FMQed Border

As I worked through each class, my FMQing skills definitely improved as did my confidence.  I took a leap of faith and decided to apply my new skills to an actual quilt. I first tried some FMQ in the borders in Whimsical Whirligigs and ended up doing more detailed quilting than originally planned.  Then I tried FMQing several small Art Quilts working up to larger quilts.

With each new class and project, I challenged myself to expand my repertoire of FMQ motifs.  I started a small journal where I drafted out each of the motifs demonstrated in the classes to help me develop muscle memory, work out the flow and create a library of motifs to have as a reference with future quilt projects.  I also expanded my collection of quality threads to include more and more colors of Aurofil, Superior and other fun threads to add color and texture to my quilts.  

FMQ with Bobbin Work
While at PIQF, I took a full day workshop entitled Butterflies in Free Motion with Marjan Kluepfel where the 2nd half of the day was dedicated to FMQing including bobbin work, which allowed me to incorporate thicker and/or metallic threads into my projects.

I am really pleased at my progress these past few months.  No longer do I dread the quilting phase of my projects.  So not only did I embrace FMQing, I actually enjoy the challenge of incorporating fun FMQ motifs that accentuate the piecing of the quilt top.  Many of my fellow guild members have praised me on the projects I bring for Show and Tell which is a huge confidence booster.  And I absolutely love the look and feel of my finished quilts--they are just so much fun to touch and feel!  

And while you can't touch these photos, here are some of my fully FMQed projects from 2013:

And while these quilts are all fairly small, I did make the jump to a full sized quilts--actually two of them which are both 50% completely quilted using a combination of techniques learned in the many workshops/classes from the year.  This is the new year's resolution of which I am most proud in my progress.  And it is one that I hope to continue and expand upon into 2014 and beyond!