October 15, 2010

Free Motion Quilt Along: Spirals and Radiant Designs

It seems conspicuous that we have two subjects this week, no? Well, radiant designs didn't seem to need its own week so I just tucked it in with spirals. They seem like natural pals. We are going to cover a lot of real estate this week. That's because starbursts and spirals tend to go quickly! We will work on two areas in the large strips and one of the medium strips. As usual, you pick whichever designs you'd like to try.

I'm not sure why, but I felt a little apprehension before I sat down to stitch this week. Instead of fretting I got myself going with a few minutes practice stitching and my courage returned. You may have used up your first practice pad. If so, go ahead and make another one. It's the perfect remedy for FMQ paralysis. Don't let the spirals get you down.

I started by taping off the center areas on two of the big strips. I made them about 10 or 11 inches wide. I then used my fabric pencil to divide one square into four smaller squares, to give me four separate spaces to fill.

I chose two spirals and two radiant designs for these smaller squares. When I stitched the square spiral I used the edge of the darning foot as a guide to keep the lines a consistent distance from one another. I get a little buggy eyed when I look at it so I think it worked! Radiant designs can be hard to keep symmetrical. You could give yourself some simple hash marks with your marking tool to help you space the arms of your design evenly. If you are stitching without any marking, I recommend stopping when you get 3/4 of the way around the circle. I ask myself at that point, how many more petals (rays, etc) are there room for? This usually helps me avoid that situation where I end up having to choose between an abnormally fat or a little squished petal to finish the circle.

In the other section I gave spiral meandering a try. Oh my, oh my! I like this a lot. I want to quilt everything with it now. It's a little easier than other meandering I've tried. That's because when you exit a spiral you can either start a new spiral right where you are, or track back along the outside of the spiral to wherever else you'd like to go. (If that sounds confusing, try drawing it and you will see). Stitching a billion spirals is a great way to get a feel for leaving yourself enough space to get out of your spiral. It can be easy to put your spiral revolutions too close together as you spiral inward, which makes for a cramped situation when you go to spiral back out.  This pattern can also give you practice with filling in space at random. This will be useful next week (spoiler alert!) when we cover meandering.

Along the border I did more spirals. I have trouble keeping my spirals consistently spaced so I laid down a piece of masking tape underneath the length of the border. I put little marks on the tape every two inches. Then I had some way to gauge where to put the next spiral. First I did a basic spiral. Oh dear, I am looking forward to my next project that definitely will not be with glaring white thread - a bit more wonky than I wished! My "fixed" Bernina's pedal was making some crazy hissing and cracking noises every time I lifted my foot off. I was hoping it wouldn't catch fire, or at least, not before I was done with the border. To try and keep my spirals consistent I used the edge of the darning foot to gauge my distance as I spiraled inward. I eventually learned to keep count to try to turn around at a consistent point - 1 spiral, 2 spiral and turn at the upswing of the third.

Then I tried some alternating spirals. I'm enamored with this design as well. You can probably see how it's done. When you exit the large spiral you start a small half-size spiral. When you exit that spiral you trace it around the outside up to the top and start another half-size spiral there. When you exit that spiral you lead right out to the side to start a new large spiral from the middle. Easy but elegant. Thank you, spirals!

I finished off the border with a few squared off spirals.

I hope you try at least a few spirals and starbursts this week, even if you don't have the time to cover all the territory I did. Have fun! When you feel your shoulders raising, let them soften and fall back down where they should be. Keep breathing, (seriously! don't hold your breath while you stitch!). If you're on track with the quilt along, after this week your top should be about halfway quilted - how about that? Way to go, you quilter you!


Anonymous said...

Your spirals are so pretty looking. I have sort of been reading all the posts for this series but I haven't tried anything yet. I am hoping to start your quilt along soon.

Gene Black said...

I am not actually following along with the quilting, but I am learning a lot an applying it when I do quilt. I am working on a (probably overly quilted) table runner and using some of the techniques.

Dolly said...

Christina, these posts are delightful.......and that's not a word I use !

It sounds like you're learning almost as much as us.

I'm using my new techniques on another gift quilt, this time doing long 'straight line' quilting, which I've told you I never thought of doing without a walking foot.
And I'm LOVING IT. Once again, I'm singing your praises ! Thank you so much !

Megan said...

You rock. Seriously.

Fat Chick Design said...

I dreamt I finished a quilt last night with spirals like in your picture (it was a dream - they were that good! lol)
I really like the flowers you have done.

Karmen said...

Freakin' awesome post. I have major FMQ paralysis, but your practice gives me hope. Thanks for the chronology of your practice. Karmen

Kay Lynne said...

I'm looking forward to quilting this week. Thank you so much for taking your time to post so much information.

Dana Gaffney said...

I liked doing the spirals, doing them in different sizes helped fill in the spaces, plus I liked the way you can follow the edge to get somewhere else. I did get a little bored after awhile, but maybe that's a more confident good thing.

~Niki~ said...

love the swirls.
i cannot free motion worth a darn. always tried, and failed.
i just stitch in the ditch now lol

Cal said...

Very nice, I like that idea of having the four quadrants to fill in with radiant designs. Will give them a try!

Unknown said...

I really like what you did with the quilting. Love the spirals and the flowers. I guess I better get with it and just do it, free motion quilting other than the simple curves. Thanks taking us along on your quilting adventure and showing us how easy it can be.

JariJari said...

i love looking at your spirals...they come in different sizes and fits the spaces nicely

Sand and Sunshine said...

I was a bit skeptical about spirals when I first read this but when I started working on them yesterday they are quite fun. I found that if you make the spirals you changed together with a couple less loops and pull your turn around to a tight pinch instead of avoiding overlapping it looks like waves, which I love.

Katy said...

I love these! I want to go quilt NOW!

Unknown said...

She is an AWESOME quilter. You should check out her craftsy classes on Craftsy,com. GREAT, GREAT instructions. You will find soooo many wonderful and easy to understand info. You really get inspired and fell like WOW I can do this. GO check it out. I go through the classes time and again. Betty

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