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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Positively Educational: An FMQ Primer

…Part one of I don't know how many.

Testing, testing…….

Or that's then plan, anyway.  This here top, colloquially known as a "Plus Quilt" or "Cross Quilt" among modern quilters, is my guinea pig for Free Motion Quilting.  You know how I've been complaining that I don't want to f*ck up anyone else's quilts by practicing my FMQ on them?  Enter one quilt, not earmarked for anyone in particular, and in need of a great deal of stitchery.   When the student is ready, the teacher will appear!

This guy has actually been a number of months in the making, at least in the "thinking about it" stages - ever since March or so,
when I documented my first feeble attempts at FMQ in Emmy's Drunk Babies II quilt.  Many of these fabrics are scraps and assorted leftovers from the Canning Day  I finished back in my mid-winter frenzy last year, so there wasn't much expense involved, and since I cut my pieces in all squares instead of cutting the cross as one long piece and two smaller ones, I could use scraps of pretty small size.  I even added a nice chocolatey border to try to do a scrolling border feather on, like old-tymey quilts have (we'll see if that happens or not.)  And if it doesn't end up sucking too badly, I'll probably give it away too, because how many quilts does any one person really need?

It started out as a random assortment of plusses that I added to in a very irregular, catch-as-catch-can way… and then it started crawling up my design wall, until it was big enough I had to do something with it. My design wall is kind of skinny, and I use it for a lot of things, and this was taking up space.

This isn't sewn together yet; just laid out on my floor, waiting for me to run by and mess up all the pieces. Which I did, repeatedly.

A word about patterns - I'm not super anal about matching up my fabrics, though I'll pay some attention to it; but I find I have the best results when I'm not paying TOO close attention to it.  The far-right-most arm of my houndstooth plus, for instance, matched up with the central square considerably better than the top one did, which was the one I was actually TRYING to line up.  It's probably not a wise course to assume dumb luck will take care of this all the time, but it may be a wise course to stop using so many directional patterns and stick with scattered/ditsy/nonlinear things that blend into themselves a little better.  If I cared about that very much.  Which for this quilt in particular, I do not, but is good to note for the future.
Perfection can be accidental.
So what's the plan, Stan?  Well, that's a good question, Ollie. I'd say I hope to try a bunch of different things on here, both for the practice, and to work up to more inventive offerings on future gift quilts that will make them a little more uniquely products of Astrid Reflux (heh.)  Sketching may help.
...or maybe not. And yes, I created a Plus Quilt template in Excel in order to practice in pen first.

The backing on this quilt is one big sheet of rust - er, that is to say, one big rust-colored sheet, thrifted last year -  the better to see my hopefully worthy-of-being-seen results.  I tried one square based on one of my drawn designs so far and that's all I have:
This is the back of a first attempt.  Note the camera, and its operator, still need a little work.

But that wasn't even FMQ - I was still allowing my machine to move the quilt instead of doing that part myself, and moving in only straight lines.  I'd really like to figure out how to "draw" on the quilt with thread free-hand.

So, I bought me some thread to match my various plusses, and I'll be getting down to business here shortly….as soon as this heat spell is over and I can think in geometric shapes again.  Viva Autumn!

Stay tuned.



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