Design Wall Monday, August 2, 2010

Wow, can you believe it's August already?  It's getting dangerously close to Christmas.

I didn't have as much time to sew this week, but I did spend a lot of time on the mystery quilt published in the September 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine.  These are my focus blocks:

And these are the first four blocks of the mystery quilt:

The magazine says that the design of their mystery quilt is in keeping with the theme of "Thinking Outside the Block."  It was quite a challenge to come up with 12 fabrics as they were described in the instructions.  So far, I'm pretty happy with the way things are turning out.  There are still three focus blocks to deal with, and the instructions will come in two more installments.  I'm told that the three remaining blocks will be set on point.  It's an interesting project so far.  I've learned a new way to make flying geese blocks, and I've never made chevron blocks like these before.  Now that I have the first part done, I'm excited to see the rest of it.  Patience, Grasshopper.

The next thing I worked on was the free motion quilting of my Downy Quilts for Kids quilt.  I've been neglecting this quilt terribly because I've become bored with the pattern after making three of these in as many months.  I need to take a break or do a different pattern.  But before I do that, I need to finish the quilting on this one.  So, I did some reading and just decided to go for it! 

I've never really done much free motion quilting before.  This time, I just decided to do something different in each block.  One tip I read was that the use of variegated thread makes the designs more forgiving.  I would have to say that I think it's true.  These are nothing to enter in a contest, but I'm not ashamed of them either.  I'm surprised at how well it's going, actually.  One of the blocks has a sort of leaf pattern.  I thought while I was doing it that it was going to be a mess.  Surprisingly, it turned out okay.  If I didn't know I was a beginner, I'd be envying someone else's talent.  Now that's not to say I think these are great examples of free motion quilting.  But they're aren't awful either.  Here are some of my favorites of the ones I did.  This one is from Leah Day's 365 days of Free Motion Quilting blog.  She calls it a "stockinette stitch:

The next one is based loosely on one of hers.  I wasn't able to do it just like she did, and so I ended up with my own design.  Looks kind of like bricks:

I think this one came from her blog too:

I was trying to do her Giant Dahlia with this one, but I got totally lost in the design and ended up with this.  I think it might be my favorite:

It's kind of hard to see these with the variegated thread I used, but that was the whole point!!  I didn't want you to be able to see it too clearly.

And here it is, all finished:

I like the little label they give you.  I'm pretty happy with the way the quilt turned out, and I've come to this realization.  I really hate practicing on scraps.  I don't know why, but I just hate putting effort into something that doesn't have any purpose.  Downy requests that you not use a conventional binding, but just turn over the edges of the quilt. Makes it easy for me.

I started doing these Downy quilts because I thought it would be a good way to practice free motion quilting.  This is the third quilt I've made, and it's the first time I've actually been brave enough to try it.  For those of you who are beginners, I really want to stress that I am not artistic, nor am I very imaginative.  I can't draw to save my soul.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Just be bold and give it a try.

I found that the Supreme Slider was a big help, and the cheapest place I found it was here for $18.  Everybody else is selling it for around $29.95, and my local quilt shop is selling it for a whopping $35!  I knew their prices were high.  Now, I know, I know.  You have a drawer full of notions that people said were great, and they don't work well at all.  I promise, this does help.  It's not as good as a long arm or an extended throat.  But if you're like me, and quilting isn't your favorite part of quilting (if you know what I mean), this is a great product for a modest expense.  Now if I could find some gloves that I like.  I have Fons &; Porters.  I don't like them because I feel like I have clodhoppers on my fingers, and the thread clings to them.  When I clip threads, I can't get them off the gloves without taking the gloves off.  I hate to fill up my drawer with pair upon pair of gloves that I won't like, looking for the ones that I do.  One article suggested just balling up your fists and grabbing the fabric that way.  I found I couldn't keep the fabric flat doing that.  If you have some quilting gloves that you like, your comments would be greatly appreciated in this regard.

And here's one more thing.  I was thinking of taking a break from the Downy quilts because I've felt stressed about how long it's taking me to get it back to them.  But here's the solution:  I can still make Downy quilts and use them to practice free motion quilting.  If I use my own fabric, then there's no problem with the time limit.  It'll do two things:  I can practice my quilting, and I can reduce my stash.  Despite my efforts, it continues to grow and grow and I know one day it will overwhelm me.  Might as well put it to good use.  That's all I have for today.  If I've inspired someone to be bold and try free motion quilting, then I've done my good deed for today.  I hope you'll tell me if you do.
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Judy D in WA said...

I love your fabric choices for the mystery and can't wait to see what's next. I like that you quilted different designs through out the Quilt For Kids. It adds a bit more to this fun quilt.

Diane said...

your quilting is fantastic-good for you. and for finding a way to keep making the quilt for kids and getting practice quilting. I feel guilty when I keep the kit too long as well.

Unknown said...

love your quilting patterns

Mary-Kay said...

Great free-motion quilting. You have some nice patterns in there and I like the varigated thread idea.

Barb in Mi said...

I am so totally with you! I received the Downy pack and sent it back in time (but no free motion). Then I did several from my own stash - and your post inspired me of trying free motion on one of them. Hate to waste time on scraps as well - and don't like to be late either. And using my stuff reduces my stash. Perfect!

Barbara said...

Thank you all so much for your kind comments!

Mary said...

Thanks for visiting my Blog. I've done the Downy QFK quilts too. I liked having the kit all cut and the pattern is an easy one to replicate to make more. Nice free-motion ideas you did also.

Gari in AL said...

I make charity quilts that our guild gives to law enforcement officers to give to children who have to be removed from their homes. I have also used them to practice new free motion quilting and try to have something new for each one. Some of my best quilting has been done on those quilts. I tend to quilt densely (sp?) and I know that when a child drags the quilt around the quilting will hold it all together. I love what you did on this quilt.