October 27, 2014

FMQ weekly: Starbles and Craftsy giveaway!

A few of you mentioned my gloves following my last post. I can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet (well, I did, but only on Instagram...). I cut off the first two fingers and thumbs from my quilting gloves. I love it. Now I can thread my needle, fill my bobbin and even use my phone without taking off my gloves. It's also much cooler in the summer. Very happy I did this.

Ok so I made another no-narration FMQ video! Thanks for the supportive comments and suggestions, this is a fun way to share the free-motion love.

This is a pebbling design variation. I'm going to call it Starbles, as in Stars + Marbles = Starbles.

a. To start you make a circle. A big one, because you have to fit a star inside.

b. Then you extend a line into the circle. Not directly toward the center, but a little off to the side, in the direction you intend to go around the circle creating your star.

c. Then you go around the inside of the circle creating more points, until you return to the point you started.

d. Then travel around the outside of the circle and start your next one.

Here's the video:

You can do this for every pebble like above but I think it looks pretty sparkly to just do it in an occasional pebble. I show both in the video.

If you watch the video you'll see that my machine is occasionally skipping stitches. That's from a dull needle. After the video I replaced it and everything was better.

And finally, the day of announcing my Craftsy class grows near! I worked hard on it and I think it's the perfect class if you've had a little introduction to free-motion quilting and want to go a bit farther with it. Here's a little peek:

So with things getting close I am going to have a giveaway for one lucky quilter to take this class for free! I would love it if one of my blog followers won! Please enter at this link. The giveaway has ended and if you want to take the class now you can!

Ok that was a lot of info for one blog post. But I didn't want to wait to share any of that! Happy stitching everyone.

October 20, 2014

The FMQ weekly: Wibbly Wobbly free-motion design

Do you see what I just did there, breezily claiming that I'll be posting about FMQ once a week? I love establishing grandiose plans just to see what happens. What probably will happen will be something like this. But let's just try it out anyway.

Today I want to teach you this quilting design and show you a video of it in action. I named it Wibbly Wobbly to thrill the Dr. Who nerds.

Only first I want to tell you a secret. When I was a kid, I used to try to chew equally on both sides of my mouth. Like, 2 marshmallows on the left, 2 marshmallows on the right, 1 on the left, 1 on the right, and so on. That, unfortunately, is not normal. I manage to get through my days now without hard-and-fast attention to my chewing, but I still have this brain that wants to focus on patterns all the time. So that's why I think this stuff up and how lucky am I that I have a blog where I can post it and make it look like I am doing work, instead of just suffering from a strange obsession. I guess what I'm saying is: without you, I look crazy. So thanks for reading.

Ok enough chit chat. What is awesome about this pattern is it has a lot of pebble-POW without having to actually cover the space with pebbling. Quilting with pebbling has a tendency to chew up bobbins and time. This is pebble impact in half the time.

The entire pattern is based on this shape:

If you make that shape back and forth down a whole column it would look like this:

If you squeeze them closer together you get this:

And if you can handle that then you can make this pattern just by changing the size of your circles!

I just use three sizes of circles. I make a couple large ones, a couple medium ones, a couple or three small ones,  then a couple mediums and then do it again. You see how I change not only the size of the circle but how far out to the side it goes, which gives the column wavy sides.

After I make that first wavy-sided column (starting around the middle of my piece) then I come back alongside it with a new column. With this new column I still vary the small medium and large circles but I don't worry about keeping as strict of a pattern as I did with the first column, I just make sure that I fill in up to the edge of the previous column, and that I keep the other edge wavy. It's the wavy edges to the columns that keeps this looking really organic and forgiving of errors. So pay attention to keeping your free edge wavy instead of trying to keep a rigid pattern going.

So, would you like to see me stitching it? Awesome, because I filmed over six minutes of that. This video has no narration because the toddler was napping in the adjacent room and I love you, but not enough to wake up a sleeping kid by yammering about free motion quilting. Also, I had to put my iPad on some books to film it so when you see me raising my wrist really awkwardly it's because I haven't perfected that setup yet and the books were in my way.

Let me know if you like the no-narration video thing. I can definitely do more of those!

As with all free-motion designs please give yourself the gift of doodling them first before you get your sewing machine involved. You'll be glad you did! And of course I'd love to hear how it goes if you use this design on your quilt. Happy stitching!

October 02, 2014

A sadness

This beautiful woman, my grandmother, my favorite quilter and undoubtedly my biggest fan, has died. She introduced me to quilting, taught me to thread a needle and make bread. She loved and laughed and encouraged my wild adventures (and even took some with me). Her name was Mary Ann, and I will miss her so much.

There is no good way to write a post like this but I have talked about her so often on this blog, dedicated my book to her, and written an article about her (that's what she's holding in the picture), there is no way not to talk about it. She has been a force in my life and her loss takes the wind out of my sails. I really don't know anyone quite like her, she was special. 

Before returning home after her funeral I went through her sewing room to see what needed finishing. On her design wall she had a quilt block from an improv sewing day we had together last year. 

She had three unfinished quilts, intended for my youngest sisters. Her sister (also a quilter) and I made plans to finish them. And I labeled her quilts. There were 29 of them that I knew to be hers that had neither name nor date. I made my best guesses for the year, and I suppose I know better than anyone else now so it will have to do.  

I loved getting to see her work again. I was inspired all over, just as I had been over a decade ago when she showed me how vivid quilting could be. I enjoyed speaking with her quilting friends at her funeral, it was such a joyful and fulfilling part of her life, as it is for me.

My heart inclines toward her often and I have to remember that she is gone, will always be gone. I can only remember her, and carry forward the gifts that she gave to me. Even in my grief I know how lucky I am to have known her and received her love. 

Thanks to everyone who's left loving comments on this post. It is so nice to have your understanding and kindness. I have responded when I had an email address.