Thursday, 27 December 2012

2012 Free Motion Quilting in Review

When I signed up for my first quilting class last October, I had no idea that there was such a thing as free motion quilting, or that my basic little Kenmore sewing machine was equipped to do more than sew in a straight line. One of the first (and best) resources I came across was Leah Day's incredibly helpful blog The Free Motion Quilting Project. With her help, I figured out what sewing machine feet I needed in order to get started, and how they worked. I ordered all three of my quilting feet from the Day Style Designs Shop since Kenmore didn't bother to make their accessories available for order in Canada. My free motion foot arrived pre-customized, which was awesome, and it has served me extremely well since then.

The first month was extremely frustrating. I spent more time re-threading the machine than actually sewing, but the key to learning anything is to stick with it and practice. Plus, my fellow quilters were full of tips and encouragement. I was able to follow along with the FMQ Project Quilt-Along for most of 2012, as well as the SewCalGal Free Motion Quilting Challenge. Both of these activities encourage you to practice consistently and learn at your own pace. I have to say that this model did much more for me than a physical FMQ course that I took this year. (One 8 hour FMQ course felt very wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am compared to learning online, and didn't really leave much time to address my questions.)

So how much have I learned this year? Well, here is my very first quilting sample from January:

An attempt at heart shape leaves - seen from the back

And here are some more recent projects for comparisson:

Over the course of the year, I also managed to turn my practice materials into twelve quilted flannel kitty rescue blankets. These blankets will be donated shortly to a local animal rescue organization, where I hope they can provide the comfort and reassurance necessary to help rescued cats find a place within new families. To find out how easily you can help, visit the Snuggles Project.

I've gained a lot of confidence in my sewing abilities over the past year, and learned a lot about troubleshooting and dealing with my machine's little idiosyncracies. I'm still finding it difficult to work on very large projects with the small amount of space I have available (the larger the project, the more often my thread snaps) but I'm sure practice will eventually make that easier as well.

For all of this, a big huge thank you to Leah Day! Thanks especially for taking the time to answer really basic questions which helped get past the small frustrations in order to make FMQ fun. I really enjoyed all of the designs, as well as the wholecloth and modern quilt projects. I plan to continue learning in 2013 with Leah's Craftsy course Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. I hope to quilt one of my improvised colour blocks every month, along with a matching sampler block. Can't wait to get started!


    I too follow Leah Day, and her blog are just wonderful, your FMQ looks great! I too never imagined that a domestic sewing machine was capable to FMQ, and since I started there's no looking back. Great job!!

  2. Agree with you re the quilt along. I also felt that I learned much more in this quilt along than I did when I attended a physical workshop. I attended a workshop a couple of years ago and while it was good, it did not push me to continue to practice...just seemed too hard to do on my own afterwards. The continued practice over this year really made the difference.

  3. Wow! The pictures say it all. You have grown so much through this project. I particularly enjoyed your independent designs throughout the year.