Saturday, July 26, 2014

Helpful Free Motion Quilting (fmq) Resources!

Let me start by saying that I was born without a single artistic bone in my body. I never realized that I could be creative until I started quilting this past year (made my first quilt in 2013). So here is a little disclaimer: If I can quilt, you can too!

I started sewing when I was ten. I was in 4-H and made a bunch of garments for projects. So when I took my first quilting class this past spring, the cutting and piecing portion of quilting seemed pretty intuitive to me. I fell in love with the process and how therapeutic it was. It offered me a peace and joy that garment making never did. Not that I don't enjoy garment making. If I had more time I would love to be able to sew all of my own clothes. Quilt making just feels more natural to me. It doesn't matter how my day has gone, if I come home and turn on music, sip on some rejuvenating coffee and start working on my current WIP I can get lost in a completely different world. Garment making is a means to a great end for me (look at my outfit!). But quilting is a realm where my hands just take over and all of the day's previous thoughts just melt away.

Enough on that little tangent...As I immersed myself on the world wide web I found the limitless possibilities for me in the creation of modern quilts. Along with modern quilts, comes free motion quilting. I was intrigued, but really scared. It was unlike anything I've ever done! I thought, I can't even draw a stick figure-how am I suppose to make designs on a sewing machine? My first attempts were absolutely pathetic! But I knew this was something that I wanted to learn. Although, I'm not even close to being a "pro" I'd like to share some of the resources/tips that I have found useful in this past year. 

First off, practice, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! Although books, video tutorials, a new sewing machine, and other tools have helped, it has taken me almost a year of practice on scrap quilt sandwiches that I made before I was comfortable with fmq on an actual project. Along with practicing, remember to persevere and not to be too critical of yourself. It is very awkward at first, like you may already know. Not only are you trying to draw designs using a fast moving needle but you are probably trying to figure out your machine's tensions, and how to wrestle such a big quilt on a small machine. Another great way to practice is by doodling designs you want to learn. I got this great advice from Angela Walters. Doodling will help you get down a certain design and help to you to figure out how to consistently fill in all of the space on your quilt.  Maybe I'm watching tv, so I'll just pull out a sketchbook, colored pencils and bring up Pinterest on my Ipad and search for a quilting design I want to practice and get at it! Angela Walter's new book, Free Motion Quilting Workbook shows you how to go about that process.

My favorite sources of inspiration are Angela Walters and Leah Day. They are amazing quilters who have dedicated a lot of time to teaching people about this artform. One day I hope to be half as good as them! (Click on logos for links to their webpages)

They are great teachers and both teach a number of classes on Craftsy. The classes do cost money, but they are definitely worth the money. All of the classes I've taken have been very in depth and informational. They have given me the confidence to do things I don't think I really could have on my own.
If you are new to fmq and still haven't felt that "oneness" with your machine for fmq (I'm laughing in my head at the way I worded this because there are many times I wanted to throw my machine across the room) I would take Leah Day's class Free Motion Quilting A Sampler. It walks through foundational tips you need to know before diving in and presents 15 different designs. Make sure you use the link from her website because it gives you 50% off! (Click on picture for a link).

Once you feel a little less awkward with fmq I would progress to Angela Walter's classes that focus on different designs and how to incorporate them into your quilts. I'm currently enrolled in Dot-to-Dot Quilting and Machine Quilting: Small Changes, Big Variety (links in pictures).

These have been the most helpful teaching resources for me thus far. Stay tuned for my next post on some of the helpful products I use in fmq and as I talk about what to look for in a sewing machine for quilting :)
Happy quilting!

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