December 31, 2014

FMQ Weekly: About that resolution...

Hello beloved quilters, and happy new year!

Through the wonders of my phone being connected to the internet, it comes to my attention that a few of you are making some new years resolutions about learning FMQ. Hooray!

If I was a smart business woman I would say you should get right on ordering my books and my class.

Alas...I am not a smart business woman. I mean, I'd love it if you ordered those things, and if you want to go right ahead! But I'd like to mention that you don't need to. What you need is a darning or free-motion foot and some gloves (I know there's like 0.5% of you that don't use gloves but based on what I see from my students I'd say if you're a human you should start with the gloves).

And after you have those two things... you need to jump in.

I have a kindergartener right now. And she's learning to write (in two completely different languages!). And sometimes, it's messy. Her 2s and 5s and 7s are often backwards. Same thing sometimes with her Ns. Gs are throwing her sometimes. But because she is 5 and possessed of that kind of determination and certainty that she will get it, she just shrugs it off and keeps going. And I have no doubt that her painstaking attention to each and every wobbly letter will one day give way to smooth, flowing script. Her bizarrely sized characters will normalize and her numbers will all face the right way. I know that will happen because she keeps showing up. Five days a week I drop her off at school and she does it. And you did it once upon a time and now you can write too.

So, the question for you, with your resolution, is not whether you can free-motion quilt. Of course you can. The question is whether you will show up.

Now, you don't need to practice free-motion quilting 5 times a week, that's not what I'm getting at at all. Maybe you only have 30 minutes a week. That's all I had for several years. Take it! It's golden! Those 30 minutes a week will add up to 25 hours by the end of the year.

Have you heard of this book "The 20 Hour Rule"? Probably not, unless you listen to the same podcasts I do. Anyway, the subtitle of the book is "How to learn anything: FAST". Did you hear that? This author thinks putting 20 hours into a new skill is learning it fast! So if you have a FMQ resolution for 2015 I think the first thing you should do, before shopping for books or classes or whatnot is figure out where you can get this minimum of 20 hours to put into your goal.

That's what I want you imagining right now. Where will your FMQ practice fit in? Weekly? Monthly?  Only you know what will work for your life. Pick your time. Plan for it, however you keep track of time, whether that's in your calendar or on little mental post it notes. And then, imagine yourself doing it: putting on your gloves, moving the quilt under the machine, running your hands over that lovely quilted texture.

You'll get there. That's what resolutions are about. Getting there. Show up, my friends, and you'll do just fine.

December 29, 2014

Ah, Improv! Improvising Tradition review

A lovely book is out in the world! And it's my pleasure to tell you about it. Improvising Tradition, by Alexandra Ledgerwood of Teaginny Designs, is a gentle, refined, thoughtful introduction to the delights of improvisational quilting. 

Readers of this blog know that improvisation is my native quilting language. While my interests have lately led me to explore more precision piecing, it was like a drink of cool water to have Alex's book in my hands and see her take on sharing improv quilting.

Alex's style is very refined. Lots of color coordinated scraps and solids. It gives the book a distinctly modern feel, which I find pleasant even though I use more prints in my work than Alex does. Flipping through her book made me eager to return to my sewing room and start playing! I made this little placemat, and I'm pretty sure I was under the influence of the beautiful quilt above that's on the book cover when I picked my colors.

I also played around with curved improv piecing. I wish I'd gotten my strips nice and narrow like Alex's but I'm still thrilled with how the piece turned out. Here are Alex's gorgeous placemats.

And here's the table runner they inspired...

The way Alex structured the book is right on. She shows a technique, like making improv log cabins, and fully illustrates that technique. Then she shows you some projects to try the technique. This is the perfect format because it gives cautious improvisers projects to hold onto to get their feet wet, while allowing the dauntless improvisers to absorb the concept quickly and move on to trying it out in their own way. This is a very thoughtful way to arrange content. This format as well as the careful clarity with which Alex shares her information make it the perfect book for quilters of across a range of experience and confidence with improv quilting.

If you have been interested in learning or revisiting improv quilting, definitely get your hands on a copy of Improvising Tradition, you'll be pleased that you did!

December 23, 2014

FMQ Weekly: Topography Quilting Design

There are two videos in this post, one at the top and one at the bottom!!

You have to try this. It is so fun!

I know it looks complicated. It isn't. It's basically an adaptation of all over spirals (below). If you have ever quilted all over spirals you should do just fine with this design. And if you've haven't done all over spirals, this is even easier! Because all over spirals have to be round but this design is more blob-by. 

So here's your recipe:

a. Start with a wiggly spiral
b. Come back out of the wiggly spiral
c. Echo around the outside of the spiral, come back and start your next wiggly spiral wherever you like. 

What is nice about this design is the way it's so easy to deal with tight spaces between spirals.  See how you can just sneak in and out of a tight space? 

How about several minutes of me stitching this design? Here's a video!

And here's the texture side. 

See you next week! We're off to enjoy some gingerbread house making. Hoping there is peace and joy in your homes right now...

December 18, 2014

Gradient Pillow Tutorial

These simple pillows were perfect for me to showcase some of my new quilting designs, and today the pillow tutorial is up at Sew Mama Sew! Check it out if you need a splash of color somewhere in your life!

December 09, 2014

FMQ Weekly: Wildfire Quilting design

This is a simple design that has a lot of elegance.

I found myself stitching it on the quilt that I posted about last week and I thought, I should do a tutorial on that one! It catches the light so nicely. 

So you start with a drop shape and echo it once. 

Then you make a leaf shape around that drop. 

Echo that leaf shape one or two more times (depending on where you want to end up) and then start the next motif. 

When you get biggish spaces between the motifs fill them in with little echoed drops. 

Want to see me stitching it? Great, here's a video!

This is an emerging type of design (one of the design styles I cover in my Craftsy class) so if you're comfortable with other emerging designs (like the paisley pattern) you should be able to adjust to this pattern pretty well. 

Speaking of the Craftsy class, WOW! So many of you have taken it, and left the kindest reviews! It would take me years to teach this many people in person, I'm just thrilled that we can connect online like that. Thanks for all the support and enthusiasm. I love helping people feel confident and adventurous in their FMQ and hearing that I'm doing that gives me such a good feeling. Happy stitching everyone!

December 02, 2014

FMQ weekly: try it!

I don't have a tutorial today, because this Thanksgiving weekend I was completely possessed by quilting. I mean in a way I haven't felt in over a year. I've been putting a lot of time into teaching quilting or writing patterns lately, but this was for no one else but me and it felt delicious.

The quilt I recently finished cracked open a new part of my brain I guess because

a) this quilt is going to have about 80 different designs in it when it's finished.
b) I was hoping to make the deadline for submitting it to the show at QuiltCon.

That's new for me. I can't even explain what happened, just a flash of inspiration to make a quilt with a quilt block by my grandma in the center and the realization that the Quilt Con deadline was in reach. Everything went so quickly and smoothly, utter "Flow" state. It's the time when being an artist feels more like being a conduit than anything else. I felt gratitude for my grandma over and over as I worked on it. I missed the QuiltCon deadline but it didn't really matter. This quilt has changed me.

It needed lots of variety in the quilting and also freedom in the designs. So I tried lots of new things. I'm so happy I did, they are looking great! I guess that's the point in today's post. Try the new things. Even if you're not sure how they will turn out. If you see quilting out in the world that intrigues you and you want to try it, you should. You might amaze yourself!

I'll be back next week with a tutorial. Happy stitching everyone!