I've now been quilting for three and a half years. This blog is my personal quilting diary, that charts my progress (and occasional regression) from the start. I use it so I can look back at my past projects...and hopefully see my skills improve!

Friday, 23 January 2015

2015 The Year I Improve my FMQ

This year, I am going to improve my FMQ. I took a course a couple of years ago, but didn't put in the practice I should have done.  In the three years since I started, I have machine quilted my projects, but have never been really happy with the results.

I have some lovely, old linen tablecloths that would make wonderful wallhangings using a wholecloth approach, but am not good enough at present, to do them justice.

Below is a photo of an antique handkerchief I made into a little keepsake for my granddaughter.  I winged it, fitting the quilting into the white spaces around the pretty embroidery.

OK, so here is my challenge to myself!

I will create at least one small piece of FMQ a week in 2015. On the days when I am not quilting, I will spend at least 15 minutes doodling designs, to try to improve my muscle memory.  I want the back of my quilting to look as good as the front...no thread nests allowed!

Thank you to Deborah Leeke for the blogging suggestion and thanks also to Linda England  for the doodling suggestion!

I am starting off the year using 'Fabulous Feathers and Fillers' by Sue Nichols.  This is a great book, with exercises and some stunning projects.  I will take some photos when I get a chance.

OK  I am starting off using 80/20 cotton poly batting with a tonal white cotton fabric.  These are scraps from past projects.  I am using a Superior 80/12 needle and my trusty old Bernina 1008 with a darning foot.  I have a Supreme Super Slider and am wearing the index fingers from a pair of rubber gloves.  I have lovely quilting gloves, but I have to take them off every time I go to cut thread or rethread my machine...so I think I prefer the rubber glove fingers.I am using Isacord 40 thread.  It is inexpensive, has a nice sheen and my Bernina loves it.  I don't even need to alter my machine tension when I go from standard sewing to FMQ and back. Bonus!

Week 1
I started the year with three simple feathers.  I used a dark thread, so all my errors will show.  This helps me to really see how bad I am.  I decided I would leave the errors in the piece and redo the exercise at the end of the year, to see if I have improved.  I am religiously bringing up my bottom thread every time, so the back looks pretty good.

Wow, there are some wobbles...but they do look like feathers.

Week 2
I think the stitching on the wreath is a little better than the feathers from last week.  Again, I've used a contrasting thread.  There is a pretty bad wobble at the bottom of the wreath, but I guess Rome wasn't built in a day.

Week 3

I think I have tried to run before I can walk with this piece.  It is larger - about 17.5 inches square and I have used matching thread for this one.  The pattern is from the book.  I really enjoy making the piece, but precision and accuracy is not there.  I had the opportunity in this piece to try echoing - not as easy as it looks. Next week I need to step back with maybe a simpler piece.  I will try to practice doodling lines, feathers and echoing lines over the next week.

The last photo is the back of the piece. No birds nests, so I'm happy about that!

Week 4

This practice piece design is a combination of two free templates from the www.forestquilting.com website.

This is the first time I have felt that my FMQ is starting to improve.  The curves on my feathers are smoother.  My stitch length is better, as I am moving the quilt a little faster.

My stippling is better, too.  I was holding the quilt block too tightly and my stitches were jerky.  I now hold the sandwich lightly with two fingers and this seems to have helped a lot.  The back of the work looks as good as the front, so I am starting to feel happier with my work, for the first time.

I need to do a lot more to improve, but seeing some improvement, has made me hopeful that with perseverence, I will get to a standard I can live with!

I decided to try to FMQ a picture.  Unfortunately, I discovered that my quilting inside the vase and the stippling outside was about the same scale, so the vase disappeared.  The only way I could think of that might rescue the situation was to colour it...so not the effect I was after, but at least it won't end up in the bin.  I am finding FMQ a steep learning curve, but enjoying it.

Week 5

Because it is February, it has to be a heart.  I used some Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in a rose pink with pink Sulky thread in the heart and a taupe shade of Isacord for the pebbles and swirly FMQ outside of the heart.  I was pleased with my little pebbles, but I winged it with the swirls and they are a little scruffy.  I guess Rome wasn't built in a day.  Next time, I'll practice on paper, before just jumping in and winging it.

The heart design was from: http://quiltshopgal.com/sneak-peak-2015-free-motion-quilting-challenge-feathered-heart-design-by-luann-kessi/ Many thanks!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


I have just finished piecing the Mariner's quilt top.  It will now have to wait until March to be quilted, as I will be preparing for Hugglets for the next month.

 It is a scrappy quilt, made from fabrics in my stash.  The border around the compass and the outer border are Dutch Heritage Gujarat.  The ships come from a purchased panel.  
 I used a number of different construction techniques.  The stars are EPP, the compasses are paper pieced, the shells and smaller compasses are needleturned onto backing fabric.
Although two of the borders are from the same piece of fabric, I'm not convinced the outer border works.  To me, it looks fine in the flesh', but not in the photos.  I will have to think about it!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Looking Back and Looking Forward


I had a setback in January after suffering from a serious head injury (my own fault)!  It took about 10 months for the severe headaches to go, and it has meant that I really have had to pace myself this year.  I still cannot concentrate for long periods of time and I find I get frustrated faster than before.  I don't know if this is permanent or whether I will continue to improve over time.  I am grateful, though, to still be around.

The most important event of the year has been the birth of my first grandchild, Willow.  She is 8 months old now, and a beautiful baby girl.  Her smiles can warm the coldest day!

My bear making has really suffered this year. The bears are all original and require concentration and strength to make.  I hade to cancel Hugglets in February, but was able to attend in September.

2014 Finishes

2015 WIPs

The Quiltmania Mystery quilt top is progressing.  Since this photo was taken, the backing and batting was added and quilting is under way.

I still have a LOT of hand quilting to do on this large, spools quilt.  I am using big stitch, but finding the quilting hard on my hands.

This quilt is my own design.  I want to add another two borders to this one.

I have signed up for Quiltmania's Mystery Quilt for 2015.  I believe it will include trapunto and some hand embellishment, so am hoping to learn as much from this one as I learned last year!