Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Machine Quilting for the first time

For Christmas I got one of these slippery mats - I forget the name of it exactly but it's supposed to help the quilt slide around as you quilt... I put it on this week thinking I'd finally take the plunge into free motion quilting with my machine. I also got a few other notions which I should post about sometime soon...

OK, I used a 5" square over at the end to practice and warm up... I at least know that you are to bring up the bottom thread like you do for applique. I have a clear free-motion foot on the machine - not sure if I like it or not. Is there a better one to use???

Ugh, YUCK! I have not a clue as to how fast to push the foot pedal or how fast to move the fabric. At least my thread will match the blue in the quilt closely... here goes!

OK so stippling STINKS and I hate the result - I think I will just try to do wavy lines back and forth for the next few blocks. Sorta like waves in water? Maybe even just get to the bottom corner and sew into the next blue block without stopping and starting?

Just breathe - Breathe - I kept telling myself but still I don't think it helped one bit. The results look....well like a beginner! Which is not what I was going for even though I'm a beginner. :(

Daddy and Clara called saying they will be here Thursday night so this will have to wait until after their visit.

Here's a look at the back - it really will be quilted up once I get all the blues done and then start on the yellow... or do you think I even need to do the yellow if I'm putting so much into the blue areas?

I don't even want to strain my brain thinking about yellow thread on top and blue bobbin and if or not it will look right... urgh. How come I'm so dumb on this? I've been reading blog land for at least 3 or 4 years now!!! Why didn't I take notes? :P

In other news - Daddy and Clara called saying they will be here Thursday night so this will have to wait until after their visit.

This is their first time to come to our home since I had my reduction last year. In years past they've visited our home more often each year than we have theirs... at least 3 or 4 visits a year to Texas... but last year in April my Dad learned he had cancer. In July he had his tumor removed along with 3 feet of his colon and he had his last chemo treatment the week of Thanksgiving last fall.

We are so grateful that he is feeling well enough to travel to come see us. ;) So I guess that means I better tidy up the sewing/guest bedroom for their arrival tomorrow night! ;)

Love from Texas!


  1. Check out





  2. I am not an expert, nor try to be. I did manage to teach myself. Now little one, do I need to drive over to your house and work with you on this? Oh, I am not kidding. Elaine in Canton

  3. Bonnie---your post takes me back. I began quilting (aka: piecing tops and tieing quilts) back in 2000. In the past 10 years, my learning curve has grown exponentially when it comes to what I thought quilting was.
    One simple word of advice that was shared with me a few years ago when I attempted (yes, attempted), my first free-motion quilting....
    The best analogy I've heard:
    It's like learning to write--look at a Kindergartner's handwriting, and then a 6th grader, and then a high schooler; it takes practice to get those letters (aka: swirls and stipples and quilting designs) to look good and become 2nd nature.

    Sandy Quilts shared some great websites. Sit back, watch and enjoy. Start with small projects (just like you have today!!)

    So---final comments about the quilt pictured: One idea is to stitch-in-ditch around all blocks or even "X" through the ducky block with yellow (if you want to 'rest' from free motion quilting).

    Sorry for the book-length comment...

  4. ...and I forgot to say....
    I really LIKE the wavy back-n-forth quilting you did! Good job!

  5. Love the wavy quilting you have done - it really suits the fabric as it looks like the ducks are swimming:)

    Have a great visit with your Dad!

  6. You go girl! I started machine quilting about 14 years ago and love it. It is such a great release. In my sewing room is FIVE sketch books filled with doodling. There is a relationship between doodling on paper and on fabric. I started out with stitching in the ditch, then moved to meandering, then added leaves, flowers, butterflies, hearts, feathers. However, I still stitch in the ditch to stablize a large quilt with diagonal lines before I start doodling.

    My quilts won't ever win any awards for perfection...but then have you ever seen perfect flowers in nature? That is what I am, a naturalist quilter...hey, I like that.

    Lastly, agreeing with Amy...Practice, Practice, Practice (regardless of whether on paper or fabic, it all helps)

  7. Practice, practice, practice - you will 'get' it and it will become brain memory, just like learning a musical instrument. I used to practice during TV commercials, on a kids MagnaDoodle - a drawing toy. Worked for me! I suggest starting with big loopy-loops - all over, like a pantagraph. Yes, you are allowed to cross over! When you get loopy-loops mastered, add a leaf/heart between the loops - the shapes are similar. When you get that mastered, you can do the same loopy-loops/hearts small for a border, etc. I don't go fast, just mid speed. Music is nice to help with rhythm. Are you using quilting gloves? - a must! I LOVE Machingers. I spray my table with furniture polish, or use a canned dry ??? slippery stuff - cannot think of the name - sold in quilt shops. My machine is flat on table - that helps me. My friends tell me that after practicing for a year, my work is very good -- that means means 5-6 quilts.

    Use a thread that blends so mistakes disappear, (but it's hard to see blendy thread when you're quilting!) Take breaks, exercise your shoulders every 1/2 hr. on machine.

    Every time I quilt a motif (a leaf, a heart) I stop, then refocus on the next motif. Don't stop in the middle of a swoop/curve, but do one at a time, stop, reposition, and do the next ONE thing.

    Good suggestions above - I learned the MOST from PatsyThompsonDesigns.com, and The Pamaja Quilter DVDs. HAVE fun - when you wash those practice quilts, all your mistakes disappear! 8-)))

    You're gonna LOVE what you can achieve! 8-)))

  8. Bonnie,I have been hand quilting for years and finally took the machine quilting plunge.My machine didn't have a stitch regulator so I bought a small one that attaches to my machine and I love it. The problem now is I get shoulder pain. You will do better with practice.


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