A Second FMQ Quilt-a-long

In addition to the Free Motion Project quilt-a-long that I’ve been doing, there’s another FMQ quilt-a-long happening in the blog world that I’m very excited to be joining in on. It’s over at SewCalGal and it’s a monthly quilt-a-long that’s going to go on all year. More information can be found here.

The pattern was a simple but very pretty leaf motive. While the design was fairly simple, I found that my newly aquired free motion quilting skills were definitely challenged by it. It required a steady size for the leaves and an eye on where my lines were leading. (I only ran off the quilt sandwich once. πŸ™‚ )

Once I felt I’d gotten a good feel of the basic pattern, I decided to expand on the idea and see what other pretty leaves I could come up with. I tried adding swirls and echoing the shape as well as some other generic leaf shapes. While doodling with ideas, I noticed also, that if you flip the leaf upside down, it becomes a heart shape.

When I first saw this quilt-a-long, I almost didn’t join because I felt my skills were way to new to be able to keep up. However after working on this pattern, I’m very glad I tried it out. It’s been fun and challenged my sewing skills as well as my creative side. I’m so excited for the rest of the challenges as well as continuing to refine this months pattern.

(Click any picture to view it larger.)

FMQ Quilt-a-long Week 3

A couple of days ago, I managed to squeeze a much to short amount of time in to do some FMQ work. This is for week 3 of the Free Motion Project’s quilt-a-long. If you’re counting, yes, I did skip a week. I’m back in school for the Spring I term, taking Calculus and Analytic Geometry I and Programming Fundamentals. I know, sounds like such a blast. Anyway, calculus won the battle for my time last week. This week, however, I fought triumphantly (aka: ignored some of the studying I should have done πŸ˜‰ ) and found some time to sew.

It was only a small practice piece and I tried to do small medium and large scale squiggles. However, the medium sized was kind of a fail; it’s pretty much the same size as the small. Leah’s moving on from squiggles this week, but I may find some time (in between calculus and programming and working… ?) to try another practice square. I’m also getting bored with the plain practice squares. It sure makes it easy to see where and how I’m stitching, but I’m kind of ready to work on something pretty, functional, or both. Maybe make that pillow that I liked? Who knows?

An attempt at scale

An attempt at scale

 

Card Night with Family

Saturday night my mom and our cousin decided to get together and do some scrapbooking/crafting/card making. It was too. much. fun. We talked and laughed and we even managed to get some crafting done. πŸ™‚

Rhonda made a couple cards, Mom covered lampshade for Grandma’s room and I worked on my wedding scrapbook. (Yes, I’m still working on it. Hush.)

This one was “planned” on sort of short notice, but next time, I want to invite more people and have more fun and make more crafts! Yaaaaaay!

 

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Fun Fabric Flower

I’ve now made a couple of the cutest little flowers. They are quick and easy and cute. What more could you want? I found the tutorial on how to make it, here. I showed one last week that I made and another I made this week. Am I done making them? Oh, no. πŸ™‚ I have so many ideas!

Two fun flowers

Two fun flowers

I’m not going to do a full tutorial, because the original blog did a great job of it all ready. However, I wanted to show what I did that was different. She gathered her petals by hand stitches and was able to get them really tightly gather in. I decided to chain stitch them on my machine with a basting stitch (yes, out of pure laziness) and I didn’t gather the petals as tightly. This means that I didn’t own a button big enough to cover up the hole. So, I had to come up with a different way to fill in the center. If you jumped over there and read her tutorial, I followed everything up until she attaches the button. From there, I do my own thing. After following her steps, I have a two layer ring of petals with stitching and raw edges showing.

Petal ring

Petal ring

The center I decided to make forΒ  my flower is the same fabric as one of the petal colors. You could simply cut a circle, turn under the edge on the circle and sew it down, but I wanted some firmness to the fabric. So, modifying a cheater applique technique I learned the Crafty Gemini, I made a interfaced lined circle. I used heavy weight interfacing. Medium weight might work; I didn’t have any on hand to try. Light weight will not work; it doesn’t pull the edges under as well.

Taking the heavy weight interfacing, trace the finished circle size onto it. I’m sure there’s a scientific way to measure this out and figure the exact dimension of the finished circle, but I just laid the interface on the flower and traced with a removable marker.

Trace circle onto interfacing

Trace circle onto interfacing

Next, I placed the fabric for the center and the interfacing right sides together and sewed around the marked line.

Sew interfacing to fabric, right sides together

Sew interfacing to fabric, right sides together

After sewing cut the seam allowance to about 1/8″.

Cut out circle, approx. 1/8" from the sewing line

Cut out circle, approx. 1/8" from the sewing line

Then, cut a cross through the interfacing layer only. Only only only, through the interfacing layer.

Cut through the interfacing only

Cut through the interfacing only

Through that hole, turn the circle inside out.

Turn circle inside out through hole in interfacing

Turn circle inside out through hole in interfacing

Repeat this same process for the circle for the back of the flower. And voila! two fabric circles. The interfacing I used was fusible, so I iron the circles at this point. Ironing really helped thin the circle down and eliminate bulk from the seam.

Finished circles

Finished circles

From there, I first sewed the front circle onto the flower.

Sew the circle to the front center of the flower

Sew the circle to the front center of the flower

Next, I sewed a pin onto the back circle, then sewed it to the back.

Optional pin on the back

Optional pin on the back

There you have it, flower completed!

Fabric flower

Fabric flower

What I Worked On

This week I didn’t feel like I got much done, but when I started compiling things for this post, I actually did. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t complete some of the big items on my list that means I didn’t do anything. It’s good to have a reminder that that isn’t true.

So, for this week, I did:

  • A practice square of free motion quilting for the Free Motion Project’s FMQ quilt-a-long. I went into more detail on this post.
  • A practice square for the SewCalGal quilt-a-long, which I haven’t posted details on yet. I’ll be linking up to that one next week.
  • Finished a second fabric flower, and will be posting a tutorial on that.
  • Began cutting out squares for a cathedral window wall hanging that I’ve been thinking about for a while. Last week’s cathedral window panel I showed pictures of was the practice run for this one. Now that I’m feeling good about how this works, I’m ready to start in on the real one.

All in all, a pretty decent crafty week, I’d say! πŸ™‚

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Week 1 FMQ Quilt-a-long

As I mentioned in last week’s update, I have decided to do some weekly free motion quilting through the Free Motion Project blog. This week’s “assignment” was to practice stippling, which is one of the basic free motion designs. I made a quilt sandwich out of an 18″ square piece of leftover muslin and did my practicing on that. The host of the quilt-a-long, Leah, had given instructions on how to practice from the most basic pattern up to the full stippling design. I really meant to do lots of practice on the basic patterns, but, as usual, impatience kicked in and I only did two rows of the practice patterns before jumping in to the stippling.

Now that I’ve got the whole 18″ square filled, I feel like I should start over with a second one and do it all again! The one I did was so rough and had weird thread tensions and all that kind of thing. While I know perfection the first time I do this isn’t the goal, practice makes perfect. I’ve got some other projects to sew on this week, but if I do get a chance to do another square of squiggles, I definitely will.

18 square inches of learning to stipple

18 square inches of learning to stipple

Bobbin threading problems masquerading as tension issues

Bobbin threading problems masquerading as tension issues

So here’s some pictures of my attempt at stippling. I ran into several issues while sewing this, and I’ve got to say I’m kind of proud of myself for being able to stick it out and figure out what the problem was and not just give up and throw things. For example, not too long after I started, I got some really weird thread bunching issues. Had I been sewing on a normal seam, I would have thought tension issues. I messed around with the tension control, but nothing made a difference. Finally it got so bad I couldn’t even really sew with it. My default when things get weird is to re-thread the machine and try again. Sure enough, as soon as I took the quilt off the machine, I could see that the bobbin thread wasn’t threaded correctly. Once I fixed that, the stitches went back to normal, no problem.

The other thing I ran into was the pulling of the stitches on the back. Again, looked like a tension issue, however, I had read Leah’s post on question answering day about how that is actually an issue with moving the fabric faster than the needle. The thread then gets to tight on the back. So, actually, it is a tension issue, but not with the machine, it’s tension issues from the speed of my hands. I practiced slowing the fabric down and the issue there went away. At least, it went away until the next time I started moving to fast. Practice makes perfect, right? πŸ™‚

I know there’s nothing too horribly exciting about a square of practice stippling. However, I’m so excited for the potential for awesomeness. For example, here’s a pic of a fantastic throw pillow that is quilted with, guess what?, stippling! This pillow is now on my “To Make” list. πŸ™‚ The front is even better. To see more, here’s the link to the blog with the pattern.

The back of the stipple quilted pillow

(Click on a picture to view it larger.)

Fun, Relaxing and Creative Week

I was hoping this week, being as it’s the first of the year and I’m inspired for so many projects and blog improvements as well as I had Monday off work, I was hoping to blast through lots of work. However, turns out, my hubby and I spent the week relaxing quite a bit and enjoying more than one evening celebrating his birthday. One of those evening was even planned. πŸ™‚ Our planned evening was to go dinner and ice cream on the plaza. Cold Stone, of course. The unplanned evening was only a full evening because I underestimated how long it would take me to make (and clean up from making) a chocolate pecan pie. Yes, I, the Uncook, baked a pie. It was deeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious, too! πŸ™‚

As for projecting, I did get a little bit done and I worked on the last lingering Christmas present that needs to be done. Now that I’ve missed the Christmas deadline, I’m struggling for motivation. The friend who’s getting this gift knows I’m making her something and knows it’s not done. Hopefully she’ll receive it in the Christmas spirit and forgive my tardiness.

I did some sewing on a fabric flower, which I completed, and a cathedral window panel, which is about 95% done. Both of these items will result in a tutorial in the future; the flower will hopefully be next week.

There’s one more thing I worked on this week and I’m. So. Pumped. One of the sites/person I’ve learned alot from is Leah Day and her quilting videos. She’s got a blog out there called Free Motion Quilting Project and I’ve been looking at it and trying to get my brain around attacking all the wonderful information she has there. Well, lucky me, she’s doing a Free Motion Quilt-a-long and I’m going to try my hardest to quilt along. It’s starting at the basics of free motion quilting (FMQ) and teaching the basic building blocks. Since I’ve already learned quite a bit from her about quilting in general, I’m sure I can learn so much more from her on FMQ. Anyway, I’ve got the basic block set up to start learning on. It’s a weekly thing, so I’ve got to get mine sewed up by Wednesday so I can be ready for the next week. Fun!!

(Click to view the pictures larger.)

Happy Birthday, Blog!

As hard as it is for me to believe, it was exactly one year ago today that I started this blog. When I started it, I wasn’t sure whether I would have the focus to keep this blog going, but here I am, one year later, and this will be my 48th post!

Not only have I learned to document and follow up on the projects I’ve worked on, but I’m gaining crafting skills as well. I’ve learned, most importantly, to set up my crafting space in such a way that I can sew for 20 minutes, if that’s all I have. Little bits of crafting every few days finishes projects faster than I ever would have thought, as well as brings a little bit of happy creativity into my days.

One of the things that I did that helped me keep this blog going was to set one, small, trackable goal. That goal was to update the blog weekly with what I was working on. I didn’t succeed every week, but it gave me something to come back to when I did get distracted.

In the spirit of that success, I’m going to set new goals for the blog for next year. I’m going to continue with the weekly update of something that I’ve worked on. In addition, I’d like to to start posting tutorials for at least one aspect of the project I worked on. I won’t re-invent the wheel; if I followed a good tutorial to learn how to do it, I’ll link to that. However, I’d like to add some element of my own into the project, so I can detail out how I did that piece of it at the least. Again, I’ll be shooting to do this on a weekly schedule.

I hope that you have a great New Year and happy crafting!