Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners and those who think they can't

I'd like to  introduce you to my friend Molly. She is one of the first online quilting friends that I made and over the years she has provided me with heaps of great quilting advice.
Photo Courtesy of Martingale, Brent Kane photographer
Molly has always been there to answer my questions and she has had an unwavering faith in my ability. When I decided to buy a darning foot, it was Molly who I turned to for advice and when I took my first wavering steps in fmq, she cheered me on all the way.

I am ashamed to admit that somewhere along the way, my piecing ability took off and I lost the confidence to attempt free motion quilt (fmq). As I documented last month, I stopped daring to try new things and I became scared to ruin my work.

Then recently, Molly contacted me and asked if I would like to be part of the blog-hop celebrating the launch of her new book. Having experienced Molly's enthusiasm and encouragement first hand, I couldn't think of a better person to write a beginners fmq book.

I was thrilled for her and honoured to be asked to take part! How could I say no to the invitation?!

At the same time, I was slightly nervous- what if I let her down and my FMQ was still a badly tensioned mess? That wouldn't be a very good advertisement for her book would it!?

I decided that it was time to get over myself, and start being adventurous with fmq again.

Sitting down to read her book, I was immediately relieved to see that Molly doesn't advocate doing hundreds of practise squares. I'll be honest, I'm a bit impatient and I always tend to skip over that kind of monotony. I was also amazed to see that Molly doesn't advocate starting with stippling. She suggest quilting words and letters. It sounded a bit difficult, but I was willing to give it a try. I did a few doodles with pen and paper as she suggested and this taught me that going round in circles was not a good ideas for me, so I settled on writing lines of text across the fabric.

Before starting to sew, I paid particular attention to the chapter where Molly describes how to fix tension problems. My previous FMQ experience has been beset by these kind of problems, so I was determined to learn how to fix any problems. Again, Molly had great advice- don't panic- but work logically through the problem to find the issue. It was this advice that spurred me on to write my mental checklist.

My First Practise Square after reading Molly's Book
Previous experience had taught me a few things. I made sure that I had a new and decent needle on my machine. I gave my machine a good clean and oil then threaded it carefully. Knowing that my machine is a thread snob and will punish me if I try to use cheap thread, I threaded it up with some of my precious aurifil thread.

I took a deep breathe and started to quilt a practise sandwich. Even though I trusted Molly as a teacher, and I had faith in her, I freely admit that I expected the worst of myself. Apart from the fact that I kept on forgetting how to join an 'o' in cursive writing, I was amazed by what I achieved! I didn't need to fiddle with the machine settings at all. The tension was perfect, the loops of my letters were smooth and the stitches were as even as I could dare to expect of myself.

I showed my husband and a look of amazement crossed his face. He cautiously asked "am I allowed to say that I'm amazed?!" Of course he was allowed, because I was blown away myself!

Molly's book is filled with small fun projects that you can use to help you perfect your skills.Tempted as I was to try them all, I decided that I had better use my time efficiently and finish a project that had been on my WIP pile for a wee while. As is often the case, I had a pieced block that was waiting to be quilted. It needed to be turned into a cushion for a friend.

The block in question was my ballet shoes pattern, so I decided that I would quilt the word "dance" on the back of the cushion. I had a quick practise and discovered that the word "hello" had been a lot easier than "dance", but after a couple of attempts it got easier.

Can you spot where it says "dancing"? I spaced out while I was quilting so a bit of quick problem solving was required!

After those initial lines of dance, I decided to add a few extra words- ballet, jazz, modern etc... In hindsight it was possibly not the best decision, but I'm still learning this quilting lark and can forgive myself a few mistakes along the way.


For the front of the cushion, I did a mixture of designs. Firstly I stitched the ditch around the ballet shoes (I used my walking foot for this). Then I stippled around the feet and added a couple of words in as I went. Finally I wrote "dance, dancer, dancing" around the border. I'm really pleased how well it turned out!


Over the years I have gained quite a bit of fmq know-how which I haven't always managed to implement. What this book did for me was to bring it all together in a logical way. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint any one thing that made the difference, but I have a huge "Thank you" to say to Molly. I finally dare to do fmq and I'm not planning on stopping any time soon.


As a relative novice to FMQ, who is still getting to grips with the technique, my final pieces of advice are these:

Believe in yourself- If I can do it on my middle of the road Toyota sewing machine, you can too.

Be realistic, don't immediately blame your machine or rush to change all the settings on your machine when something goes wrong, it could be as simple as needing a new needle or giving the machine some oil.

Stay logical, believe in yourself (yup I'll say that twice because its important).

Find yourself a quilting friend or two who believe in you- it makes all the difference!

And finally get yourself a copy of Molly's book- its a really excellent resource full of help and encouragement.

See- I've moved onto pebbling and all sorts of other fancy quilting designs since finishing the ballet shoes cushion.

If you are struggling with your FMQ, then I have good news for you. I have a copy of Molly's Ebook to giveaway to one lucky winner. To be in the draw leave a comment below. It can be anything, but I'd love to hear about your fmq experiences.

I will leave the draw open until 8:00pm on Sunday 23rd November NZT

Please make sure that you leave some sort of way that I can contact you. I will do everything I can to contact the winner, but if I have not heard from them within 5 days, I will draw a new winner.

If you would like to find out more about Molly's book (or have more opportunities to win), then drop by the other stops on the Blog Hop:

Martingale http://blog.shopmartingale.com/ November 11th
Amanda Jean http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com November 13th
Amy Friend http://duringquiettime.com November 14th
Angela Walters http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com  November 15th 
Juliet van der Heijden The Tartankiwi  November 17th
Lori Kennedy http://theinboxjaunt.com  November 19th
Cindy Weins http://www.liveacolorfullife.net November 20th
Thermoweb http://thermoweb.com/blog/ November 21st

Molly's book also inspired the quilting on this cushion- there is no stopping me now!

73 comments :

  1. Your pillow is lovely - great job! I'm still a novice at FMQ - I keep practicing on mug rugs and baby quilts but I think I have a way to go yet! Thanks for the inspiration and the chance to win a copy of Molly's book.
    Debby E
    samtaylorcjsmimi@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love your ballet shoes pillow and the words you put on it. I have don some FMQ on some baby quilts and have had okay results. My stitches are not consistent and my patterns are not even but after washing the quilt, it looked okay. Thanks for a chance to win the book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. HI, LOVE YOUR FMQING! One day I'll be that good too, I hope. Just a beginner+need more practicing! Thanks for sharing!

    msstitcher1214@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I haven't mastered FMQ and need lots of help there. I would love to win the book. I am really impressed with your writing... Maybe I need to try that

    ReplyDelete
  5. FMQing scare me too! I'm mostly doing stitch in the ditch or cross hatching. Would love to be able to FMQ as well as you have.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am beginner and tried stippling. I have to practice more and want to try other quilting patterns. Unfortunately in Germany quilting is not popular. There are only few books in german about FMQ. The only way to learn it, is to read english books. This book from Molly seems to be very very helpful, I would like to win!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have only practice on an old quilt. Tension issues are very troublesome. You have to set so many things just so. You goof one and have a mess, have to start all over to try to figure out what went wrong. I'm planning on quilting a queen size quilt soon. In process of basting. This book sounds like it will be a huge help. Your pillow turned out great! 24Tangent@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. My experiences? Just some testing blocks because they are really awful, so I lost interest, but everytime I look at some quilts online I would love to try it again.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  9. I, too, developed a fear of FMQ as my piecing skills grew, fearing I'd 'ruin' my quilt. Instead, I just never finished anything and my pile of tops grew. Then I discovered Leah Day and Angela Walters ...and their encouragement to have fun and just practice spurred me on. Now, ?I approach every project as 'practice', telling myself that done is better than perfect and, no matter what, I'll learn something

    ReplyDelete
  10. I haven't tried FMQ yet. I have a couple of simple quilts (that actually my husband made) that need redoing as they were just tied and the stuffing bunched up eventually. I might try my hand at FMQ with those as they're just for our use and we only care about the warmth :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm impressed that is your beginner's attempt!!! I with you, I cant be faffed doing all those practice squares! I started off just doing stippling, but after getting a couple of Craftsy classes, I started to do a few more things like pebbles and swirly things!

    ReplyDelete
  12. My fmq skills have been improving but, like you, I'm always afraid I'll ruin the beautiful piecing. I guess I'll take a deep breath and jump it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have minimal FMQ experience at all. This book really does look like a really good one. Just knowing how to fix tension problems would be worth the cost.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Your FMQ results are great! I read all the way thru this post, and found it very encouraging! I too struggle with FMQ, my attempts so far have been erratic to say the least, but maybe I shouldn't give up just yet! Linda

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love your narrative on your experience and would love to learn FMQ!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have done some FMQing but still find myself in a quandary as to what design to use in a block. Right now I am finishing a quilt for my 19 year old granddaughter. It is for her 19th birthday in just a few days. I have 20 4" square that have a flower in the center and am undecided what to do with that flower. But I am so afraid I am going to mess it up GOOD or maybe that should be BAD!! I have completed the SITD with my walking foot (or acu-feed foot) and taking a break while I decide what to do with these unquilted flowers.....

    ReplyDelete
  17. I guess I had better try this again but using cursive writing. It looks like that could be the trick. I remember how hard it was to learn cursive, but it got easier with time, as will this. I understand that cursive is not being taught, perhaps those who don't will have to print on their sewing machine. Thanks so much for the lesson and sharing your knowledge. Love your block and pillow.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh wow, the dance cushion is amazing! You have done a great job, I was very impressed when I saw the photo. I am still very much a straight line sewer!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your dance pillow is amazing! My experience with FMQ consists of a 2 hour class where I couldn't even attach my darning foot (that's what my instructional book called it) on my machine. So I got know where and haven't tried it since. I do need this book as I want to learn this technique. kthurn@bektel.com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oooooh my!! You did AWESOME job!! I neeeed this book! lol & it is already on my Wish List! :)

    I haven't done much with FMQ stuff..stitch in ditch pretty much my only experience on sewing machine quilting.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I've done some FMQ, but not enough to feel confident yet for most of it. I am darned good at pebbles though!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am not very experienced with FMQ But I would like to learn, this book looks great

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh my! This looks awesome! I'm always afraid I'll ruin my very careful piecing. It looks like this is a great book to try.

    ReplyDelete
  24. About the only quilting I have done is some stippling. I would love to get this book.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Your looking like a pro already. I bought the special foot for my machine but am scared to try. This book looks great! Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I too get in my own head and over analyze. I know I always do better when I breathe.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I tried a bit last fall then got caught up in sewing kid's clothes. I am hoping to give it another try soon.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh please I am desperate for help on how to FMQ with my 42-year old Elna!!! Please please please please pleeeeeeeeeeease

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love the use of quilted words. Nice!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I reach for the walking foot every time, and the thought of 'wasting' fabric on practice squares doesn't appeal to me so I think this technique could be just the push I need, thanks for sharing your thoughts
    Misspbar at hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. I can never sacrifice a quilt to my FMQing skills. I just cant relax, I want to be awesome at it instantly. This book looks good :-)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Sigh, your paper piecing patterns are so awesome, now you can quilt too! Wait for me to catch up ...

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow, this is cute and awesome. Well done on conquering your fear!

    I haven't tried fmq yet so the book would be a perfect Christmas present/maternity leave reading material for me.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I haven't tried FMQ yet because I'm scared πŸ˜” . I want to be adventurous and let my wings get bigger but only until recently quilting scares me !! And free motion quilting well that would be wicked :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. I still struggle with self confidence when I'm free motion quilting. I can do a fair meander & occasionally try something new, but it's still not my favorite thing to do. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  36. wow your quilting looks amazing -I love the words and the ballet shoes pattern is awesome ! I've tried a little FMQ and on ine of my samples wrote my name which was really easy ! now I should try some other words - thanks for the giveaway

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love fmf on a small scale but anything bigger than 45x60 goes to the quilter! I would love to feel confident enough to do larger quilts. Looks like a great book. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Your dance cushion turned out beautifully. My biggest issue is always with tension. I like the idea of starting with words instead of stipples.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wow, you have really figured out this fmq thing. I am still trying to get it figured out. I would love to be able to fmq some feathers. I will try to do some writing on a quilt sandwich and see how it goes. I have a stack of quilt sandwiches and have been trying to practice a little bit every time I sit down to do a little sewing. Hopefully I can get a little confidence built up. The book looks like a great start. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Baby quilts are perfect to practise on. Done is better than perfect! They look great after a wash.

    ReplyDelete
  41. What fun it would be to win a copy of this book and do the kind of playing that you show here. I have a growing stack of tops (most of them large) that need to be quilted.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your dance cushion is gorgeous! I love how you quilted it!
    Susie

    ReplyDelete
  43. Wow Juliet -wow. Gosh you look like a old hand at it now! That books sounds like a lifesaver... Love that it inspired and helped you and got you doing things you weren't sure of! Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I love your word stitching, very cool! I am very much a novice when it comes to fmq but have taken the plunge and figure I can only get better by doing it, so have fmq'd a few different projects over the past 18 months.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am reading your words and I have a Scottish accent going in my head! Wow - you really have this FMQ thing happening! I have been getting into FMQ for a year or so - but I find that I'm a but stuck on stippling. I need a boost to get me into the next stage. Thanks for your recommendation of Molly's book. Fingers crossed! Cheers from across the ditch in OZ!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Yay for you, yet another accomplishment in your sewing journey xxxx

    ReplyDelete
  47. I am a beginner FMQer and am having a blast learning!! This book looks great. I can use all the help I can get. Your projects are awesome, your review of this book just grand. Thanks a million.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Great work on your words! That's a struggle for me too. Sometimes I think my mind travels too fast for my hands...then I get behind and forget where I am going : (
    I'm still trying. Getting better everyday!!
    Thanks for the chance at a giveaway. The book would be awesome to own

    ReplyDelete
  49. Why do I agonize over the FMQ part? Maybe this book is what's needed to get rid of my hesitation over every quilt.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Woowhoo! totally awesome! See you can do it! The words look fabulous. Happy quilting days to you. (p.s please don't put me in the draw for the book)

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm new to FMQ. Will try some script writing! I'd love this book, plus you giveaway ends on my 41st birthday.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Your blog looks great and I'm looking forward to following you. Love the elephant pillow, and your dance pillow FMQ. I've been having fun doing some FMQ words - I'm still a bit iffy in the deciphering so far :-)

    ReplyDelete
  53. The short answer would be nil .... But then I did have a couple of hours with Trudi at the FQ Retreat!

    ReplyDelete
  54. So far my FMQ experience has been limited to smaller items. I'd rather start small and then work my way up to larger items as my skill and confidence improve. -- soparkaveataoldotcom

    ReplyDelete
  55. Because of FMQ I've bought two machines in the last 8 years looking for the one with the best tension. Perhaps its me and not the machine that is the problem!!!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thanks so much for the hint to try writing words! I've done a little stippling, but can't wait to try words!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I have never heard of starting with words. Like a lot of people I started with stippling. My daughters dance a lot and I love the dance pillow.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I love free motion quilting. When I started quilting I knew I wanted to do FMQ, and bought a machine that excels at it. I started with stippling but quickly did more complex designs. i took one class, but had already been practicing so it wasn't that helpful. Now I just need more time in my day!

    ReplyDelete
  59. No experience, really, but I'd love to learn! sarah@forrussia.org

    ReplyDelete
  60. I enjoy FMQ and learned to FMQ on my domestic machine. After learning to quilt my queen size quilts on my domestic machine, my husband bought a Gammill for me and I had to start over because it is a lot different FMQ on it.

    ReplyDelete
  61. I really love to FMQ. My biggest problem is retracing the line. I was never very good at outlining in 1st grade coloring and I don't think I've improved. I tend to wander off line. But I do love to swirl. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I would love to try printing FMQ. You know some schools are not teaching cursive anymore. So mt grand kids can't read cursive. I'd love the book.

    ReplyDelete
  63. I haven't done any FMQ, tried to do stippling and what a mess. So sad, I had to rip it out. To scared to try again, but maybe I can learn from this book. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  64. I took a FMQ tiny class.....and realized I need a ton of help! OMG. This book sounds perfect! Thanks for the chance

    ReplyDelete
  65. I have never tried FMQ-would like to learn though.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I would love to have this book!

    primitivestitchings@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  67. I am such a wanna-be-FMQ-er!! I have tried, but have limited success. My stitches appear jerky and angular, rather than smooth and flowing. None of my nearby friends sew, so that leaves me alone with books and blogs to help!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Comment entered on behalf of Kathy W.:

    I have tried, but haven't been able to master FMQ. Would love to win Molly's book and be able to work my way through all the projects.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I just did my very first FMQ on a test square to see how it went! Now I just need to figure out what quilt too I want to use it for!

    ReplyDelete
  70. I know a lovely group of ladies who would benefit so much from this book. I have been failing in my attempts to get them to see past stippling and to enjoy FMQ. Love the cushion.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Yes, I know this comment is way too late to enter your draw, but I still had to leave a comment, just to let you know that, inspired by your success with FMQ, I bit the bullet and finally had a go with it last night (carefully following your advice above), and had a total success! (well, as long as you don't look too closely at the details... but I'm counting it as total success for a first attempt :-)) http://www.deardiary.net/futurecat/2014/11/27/i-did-it/

    ReplyDelete

I love your comments and do my best to answer them.

Sorry, I have decided to disallow anonymous comments again, the spam was getting a bit too annoying. If you want to contact me, feel free to email, there is a link in the sidebar.

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...