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.)


12 thoughts on “Week 1 FMQ Quilt-a-long

    • Thanks. It’s nice to have something to hope that I can achieve some day. Looking at my practice quilting, it’s hard to imagine I could make anything that pretty. πŸ˜‰ Practice makes perfect!


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