Friday, January 29, 2010

Free motion quilting

Learning how to free motion quilt is like learning how to write cursive.

Back in the old pre-CAD days, my instructors advised students to use architectural printing exclusively. So for many years that's what I did. Only my signature in cursive. Printing was good. Later architectural printing wasn't so important anymore and I wanted to get back to the flow of cursive writing.

Granted, my handwriting has always been a scrawl. Even when I printed for personal use, I couldn't make out my own words if enough time passed. It's that bad. I eventually recaptured the motor skills to scrawl again. Now I am in a similar situation with free motion quilting.

Earlier this month I started making samples of free motion quilting patterns from 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Designs. I picked and chose among the beginner patterns for the easiest ones. Or so they seem. Stitching forward and backward was easy. Stitching side to side not so much. Lines wouldn't curve and points weren't made. Stitches had a mind of their own. Out of control. Spastic. My samples barely resembled hers.

Now three weeks and 21 samples later.More consistent stitch lengths. More obedient lines. Fewer spasms.

Thanks really go to Leah Day. Without her videos, patterns, and easy-difficult classifications I would not have gotten this far. Check out her blog.

When I can write half-inch high readable words, my free motion quilting will have arrived.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kick start

It's the last week in January and I hadn't made any progress on my quilt for upcoming local guild show. Stymied by the machine quilting. Do it like Straight Talk? That would be safe. Been there. Done that. Nah! I don't want to repeat myself. Try something new. But what? No clue. So I've done nothing. Hadn't even re-worked the top like I previously posted here.

I was so stuck on later that I couldn't begin. So last night I gave myself a kick in the behind. Just focus on one step at a time. Just start. I made a cut. A leap. It was easy after that. Switch, shift, add, turn. Progress.

Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, January 22, 2010

First motifs

I've been sketching motifs for my Sets and Variable workshops with Nancy Crow in May. I was itching to make some sketches a reality. My first is a simple one based on a traditional patchwork block.
Some variations on the design wall.

Variations could go on forever. Enough with rearranging. I impatiently sewed together my first set of twelve.
Then modified the motif and sewed set number two and three.

What looked good on a sketch didn't necessarily look as good sewn together. I find set two isn't as interesting due to the regular opposition of black and white. In set three the ones with non-matching seams at the point of the v which created an interesting jagged edge. There aren't enough of them.

To keep pace with the intensity of the workshop, my goal is to create a one-seam motif that can still hold interest. By considering how to cut and piece my motif to create reversals and non-matching points, I may be able to achieve that.

More studies to come.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Daily grind, perennial whine

The beginning of a new year and once again I am whining. I have gotten positively (negatively really) entrenched in a routine – the same-o-same-o for too long. I didn't want to go anywhere because I had so much to do at home. Things just won't get done in my absence.

Oh sure, I went to the usual places: work, the gym, grocery stores, quilt guild meetings and fabric stores. But unless there was a really compelling reason, I stayed home.

No more! Can't have the nose to the grindstone all the time. More play time! I am giving myself 6 hours of escape each weekend.

Six whole hours! Maybe not generous enough. But this does not include the hours drifting. The hours I piddle around unfocused, undecided, sleepwalking. Wasting my precious weekend with a to-do list a mile long. Anyone else with that problem?

Yesterday I inaugurated the plan. Out for breakfast. Then to the bookstore for calendars and wandered through shops on Fourth St. in Berkeley. Didn't use up six hours, but it was wonderfully mindful piddling. Later the two hours of garden cleanup didn't feel like drudgery.

Look with favour upon a bold beginning. - Virgil