Wednesday, May 29, 2013

attempting FMQ and a wip

This is just a little doll quilt that looks like it could even be one single block. But it's my first official attempt at FMQ. And it's the only thing I have to report after a few weeks off of sewing. We hit the beach at the beginning of the month and despite the fact that I took a whole box of little items to work on in the car or condo, I didn't touch any of it. Back home now and getting myself back into my self-imposed sewing load.
Because it's WIP Wednesday, I'm linking in with Lee and gang at freshly pieced.

For ages (like, two years) I have been wanting to learn to free motion quilt (FMQ). I took a class in May 2011 and that was pretty helpful. But that's when I was newly pregnant and lost interest in sewing. Anyway, fastforward past the pregnancy, baby, life getting back to normal, etc, until now and I am giving it a go again. Mostly I was motivated to do this because I desperately wanted to stipple quilt "taite". I signed up for a Craftsy class (FMQ a sampler by Leah Day) and bought a few books (because I always get books). Between the two, I finally made the plunge this Memorial Day.

 To say that I had a rough start is an understatement! Oh. My. Goodness!!! Kids climbing on me, doorbell ringing, phone calls, a baby into everything in sight who finally had to be caged (portacrib, really), my laptop shutting down (thanks to a button pushing baby) and then trouble getting Craftsy going again.

And that's not even saying what happened at the machine. I couldn't get the bobbin thread to come up to the top for the life of me. I had to remove everything and dig into the bowels of the machine to see what was going on in the bobbin. And it was filthy with lint down there, which required a good 15 minute clean out. Once I got the bobbin fixed, it was back to the top. Working around that darn open-toe foot was miserable. I think I really am going to cut mine apart like Leah recommends doing in her class. Finally, though, FINALLY, everything got into place and I started sewing.

I was using the Supreme Slider, as recommended by several people, but something felt more restrained this time than I remember from my previous experience. Anyway, I got to work and it wasn't going too badly.
 I got this far (about two rows) before running out of bobbin thread. Seriously! So I pulled everything off and refilled the bobbin.

This time around I had more luck getting the thread to the top. I think I figured out it didn't work unless I rotated the needle all the way up rather than just raising it enough to get it out of the fabric. I got Craftsy running smoothly so I could watch Leah while I worked. I also consulted a book and sketched some stippling, too. At this point I decided I better check out how my stitches were looking since I was already stopped.

 I was pleasantly surprised with how well I was doing for my first time. So my stitches weren't completely evenly sized, but I can live with that for now. I was far more concerned about the shapes I was making, which I found acceptable. I did make one tiny loop on accident, but that's not too bad.

 However, just as I was feeling pretty good about myself, I remembered to check the back. ugh. Not so good. The tension was off and there was even a birdsnest there. Fortunately, the birdsnest was at the end of the stitching and easy to pick out. I left the tension problems as they were because I really wanted to get moving. I tightened the tension and did a little more stitching, then checked the back again. A bit more tightening and we were good to go.

Here's what I've learned so far:
  • Going over the seams makes for tension problems on the back.
  • I prefer to move back and forth with the previous stitches at the top so I can see where they are. If they are under where I'm working, I don't do as well with spacing.
  • I like working at the top speed when my machine is set at medium speed (there are 3 speed settings on my machine)
  • working in rows is great
  • slow starts make for big starting stitches on my machine (opposite of what Leah said)
  • and . . .
after just that one small doll quilt, look at my needle and foot!

 When I sat down to work on this stippling several weeks ago, I found my machine had a stipple stitch and decided to try it. Uh, who invented that?! Totally not helpful. I guess it was made as a decorative stitch. If you were making a border or something it's okay but it definitely wasn't made for quilting anything. Yuck! I'm just going to have to do it myself, FMQ style.

my wip for the week:

completed: none

in progress:
doll quilt: stipple quilted!
romance in the garden: nothing
twirl: nothing
taite: nothing

trips to the store: none

internet activity:
picked up a few new Craftsy classes that were on sale
purchased some amy butler and anna maria horner from

started using a new green pitcher for containing my thread scraps

 I pick up new pottery serving pitchers, platters, cakestands, and bowls from Marshall's periodically. This last week I happened apon these pretty green pitchers and got a pair for super cheap. Whilst sewing at the dining table, I needed a place to put my cut threads and just threw them in the pot that happened to be sitting in front of me. I like it!

my doll quilt still needs binding. up next, i'm going to stipple my other doll quilt for more practice and then tackle a real quilt. I think i'm going to stipple "romance in the garden" before I do "taite" because it's not quite as important to me. I really want to get "taite" right. wish me luck!


  1. The free motion quilting looks great.I don't know if this tip will help you or not but I often use the needle up/down button to get my thread to come to the top. I just hold on to the top thread press the needle up/down button and then pull my bobbin thread up that way. If I try with the wheel I can't get the thread to come up nicely.

    1. What a great tip! I bet it works like a charm. And I can't believe you read all that to even know what my problem was. Lol. I mostly expect people to skim the photos. The words are more for me.

  2. Your FMQ looks really goodfor afirst try! I wish you lots of fun playing with this techique!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com

  3. The colors you chose for your quilt look beautiful together and I think your FMQ looks great. I use a bowl for my threads and slivers, too, but I don't save them....

  4. What a pretty doll quilt! Your stippling looks great! They say to use blending threads for your first FMQ, (to hide your beginnerness I guess )so I did, and I found it difficult to see where I had already sewn. Keep using contrasting threads for awhile (show off your stitches loud & proud!)til it all feels smooth going. I have not had the tension problem when going over seams- I have had problems with skipped stitches if I do not stop and clean enough & I do change needles size/type a lot - for different threads etc.., I am curious what needle you are using?


a kind word is always appreciated. thank you for your visit.