Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free Motion Quilting the Hummingbirds & Hexagons Way

Anyone tired of seeing this quilt?  Sorry!  Still not finished but well on its way now...

As a quick refresher I have added a few shots from previous posts below.  If you'd like to read more about Hummingbirds & Hexagon Quilt feel free to go back and visit!
Hummingbirds & Hexagons
Finished Top
Hummingbirds & Hexagons Back
Finished Back
Hummingbirds & Hexagons Back
Hand drawn Flowers for Quilting Design
I decided to draw in the background quilting lines 2" apart. I worked them in a diagonal angle to break up the linear top pattern.


Then, for the first time ever, I used basting spray.  I could not believe how strong that stuff is.  I was not expecting it to act so quickly.  It was easy doing the first layer but the third layer was tricky...lining up the front to the back was frustrating but I think I did pretty well.  Then I did some parallel basting lines in black just in case.  I do not want the spray to all of a sudden change its mind in the midst of quilting!

I started quilting tonight and I was really happy.  Initially until my brain started going that is...  I love the sketchy hand drawn quality of the flowers and luckily, hahahahaa, I am so out of practice with free motion quilting (it has been 4 years) that my sewing emulated the sketchy quality.  And, to be fair, I was using a 35wt thread because I was aiming for thick and an embroidery looking finish.  But I paused at one point to admire my work when it dawned on me, hunh, shouldn't this be smoother?  Can you see from this photo how there are a few start and stop and some edginess instead of smooth curves?


In this closeup shot below you can see where the threading is a bit erratic and bumpy.  But I honestly dig it.  It wasn't until I gave it some thought and realized - ooh someone more experienced at free motion quilting probably would've gotten this completely smooth and rounded.  Therefore what I am doing is wrong?!?  Is it totally horrible that I like the messy organic quality?  It definitely reminds me of a sketch.  


So, I took a break and thought it over.  Examined some of my old quilts and looked up some free motion quilting online and yes, sure enough it *should be* much smoother.  I started to regret my progress while part of me argued: No!  You liked this artsy sketchy quilting before you became concerned with the so-called rules or standards!  To break my internal debate I decided I would try to make it smoother on one section of the quilt and compare.  I even changed my thread to a thinner weight (50wt) to make life easier...and I actually made some quick progress.


My curves got curvier and my lines are less edgy.  I got closer to the groove of free motion quilting so to speak.  It is definitely not perfect, I still have to practice more.  But I did lose that sketchiness that I enjoyed in the above looks much cleaner now.  


I've decided I will experiment with some smaller pieces (ooh, maybe a QAYG which I've been dying to try) in order to improve my FMQ for future pieces.  But for this piece I am not sure whether I want to keep working at smooth or rock the sketch.  

I am going to sleep on it and decide tomorrow.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Linking Up to W.I.P. Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Please visit the linky party!

- rebecca lynne


Kelli said...

Rock the sketch sister! Go with your gut. ;-)

Live a Colorful Life said...

I have a black and white quilt on my bed, and my ALL-TIME favorite black and white fabric is actually white with sketchy-looking roses done in black. I wish I have scraps of that fabric left over somewhere. Anyway, it is very similar to the first sketchy stitching. Stick with it. It will be great!

Archie the wonder dog said...

If you like it stick with it - I think they both look great but the first is definitely closer to your original image, so what if it wouldn't please the quilt police? Are the opinions of 'them' (the Margos of the world and people you don't know) important to you...thought not! You're an artist, be proud of your voice. Keep going, it's going to be great!! Thoughts on your future FMQ practise...maybe it doesn't matter with your machine but FMQ might be easier with a darning rather than walking foot...

Lucy said...

You know rules are made to be broken right?! I love it, that arty sketchy style is cool. It makes it look like you've drawn it, which you did!! :)

Melinda said...

Rules? What rules? I say, you make what you like! I like it!

Toni said...

I totally agree with everyone else. Don't give up on the sketchy look! I have no tips, as I am awful at FMQ, but it looks like you are doing great. Can't wait to see it finished! Keep it up, Sister!!

æble said...

The best artists (in my opinion) push the boundaries of what everyone else has done. I really like the sketchy quality to your first bit of quilting, and more importantly, it sounds like you did too!

Patti said...

Let me also jump in and say how much I love the sketchy look! When the whole quilt is done, you won't have the smooth part to compare it to and it will all be gorgeous!! I also noticed that you used a walking foot vs a fmq foot. Is this you breaking more rules? Explain yourself sista! ;-).

GIO said...

wish I could also launch myself in a project like that... and get the same beautiful results!

Kelli said...

Like the others, I say go with the sketchy look if that's what you like. Better that you are happy with it then the imaginary quilt police, right?

Jane said...

Somehow, I think you would be the first to say, go with the sketchiness! Personally, either way works. Might it not be difficult to get back to authentic sketchiness now that you've regained smooth?

Amorette said...

i really love the sketchy look, so if it doesn't make the going too rough, i would do that! it looks so cool, a nice departure from "perfect"

Sandy said...

WOW, so much thought and work going into this. This is looking very interesting. Lots of luck with your project

Leanne said...

I think that both effects are "allowed" in fmq and you should pick the one you like best, or use both! You may find that using the darning foot (the one people call a fmq foot) will allow you to do the sketchy type a bit easier, actually even the curvy bit easier, at least it does for me. I hope you have fun.