Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning Free Motion Machine Quilting, Hedgerow Sampler, Setting Goals

Love that glorious sun!   

When looking at other blogs, I admit I do enjoy the briefer blogs, unless of course there is lots of instruction on how to do something.  I have come here many times with the intentions of being brief but I have come to learn it is a physical impossibility for me to be brief.  So, for the over 7,200 of you who have stopped by my blog, or the 12 of you who have stopped by 500 times each, my apologies!  

On to free motion quilting.  In my last post, hmmm  two posts ago?   I said I would go from trying free motion "Shadow Waves" to "Etch n'Sketch" from Leah Days wonderful site: Day Style Designs.  

When I saw the video for Etch n'Sketch, I thought to myself, "I am so nuts for thinking I can do this!!"  I can barely free motion quilt slight curves, how can I do the Etch n'Sketch design?   I went back to square one.  I thought, why am I trying to make wavy and designer lines when I don't even know if I can do a straight line!   So, out came my 8 1/2 X 11 inch piece of broadcloth with stabilizer backing, with 4 squares.  I think I even stitched the 4 squares with a free motion stitch a I didn't want to take the time to change feet on my machine and lose the urge to stitch.  So, here is my straight line, effort #1.

You can clearly see I started at the top and worked my way down and improved a bit.  Biggest lesson learned, and if you watch Leah in her video doing the "Etch n'Sketch" quilting, you will notice her doing it too.  Biggest lesson?  When you need to move your hands on the fabric, STOP STITCHING!  Every time you see a big zigzag in the stitches above, I trying moving one of my hands on the fabric as the other hand continued to feed the fabric under the needle.  I did not stop my machine.  Result, lots of zigzags.

The other thing I found was, my fabric kept catching on the feed dog plate and the little attachment drawer of my sewing machine.  So, I need to invest in one of those sliders for my sewing machine.  

When I completed this first block on my sheet, I have to be honest.  I really hated free motion quilting and was wondering if it was going to be "my thing" or if I should just forget it.

I decided at the very least, I would finish off the 4 blocks I prepared on my sheet.   This is my second attempt, block 2.

 This was a bit challenging because I had to stitch the length of the block instead of the width, so again, hand movement became an issue, and I really hated to stop stitching, just to move my hands on the fabric.  But, when I didn't stop, its clear to see the zigzag in the lines.  Another thing I was trying to do in this block, was sew a little it faster.   I was stitching very slowly and feeding the fabric through the machine slowly and the stitches were very small and close together. Not sure if the photo below is clear enough.

Since my machine does not have a stitch regulator, my stitches were very very irregular in length.  Some stitches were very small and some stitches were very long.  So I tried to move my 3rd and 4th squares through the machine at a slow steady pace to get strait lines with fairly even stitch length. 

To get a more even stitch length, I had to move the fabric steadily under the needle.   And as you can see, I am not used to needing to stop the machine to move my hands, and so really wavy stitches!!   But I have to admit, by this time, I was actually enjoying the machine quilting.  I decided I wanted to have some fun and so made another fabric square and tried some half weird stippling which morfed into just stitching for the fun of it!  (I know, you are looking at the photo below and asking which is which?!)

Well, after all this, I decided to go back to "Shadow Waves", the stitch design I was trying to learn two posts ago and see what I could do with it.   Result?

Not great but much, much better.   Which goes to show you, if you want to learn something, all you have to do is practice, practice, practice!

I am trying to finish up some old WIP's, of which I have many.  One of them is Jane Greenoff's Hedgerow Sampler.  

I have the fabric attached to my stitching frame with two sided tape so did not want to remove the sampler from the frame as the tape would need to be replaced and I don't have any!  I am about 2/3's of the way through the sampler.  I found the sampler in Jane's book "Cross Stitch Antique Style Samplers".   The book is really excellent and there are a few samplers at the back of the book I want to try as well.  

I was trying to find Jane's book in my "stash" and well, you will understand why I can't find it from these.   I am a book and magazine addict!

And this does not include the pile of books and magazines that are beside my chair in the living room or near my husbands chair!

And this leads me to Sharon Baggon's blog and her comments about setting goals and then reaching them.   I agree with her totally.  In one sense, I am feeling a bit lost or overwhelmed.  I want to try EVERYTHING!   But I am increasingly aware that it might just not be possible to try EVERYTHING.  For whatever reason, I am a little bit of a late bloomer when it comes to pursuing my interest in all things stitching, sewing, quilting, art.  One thing I am finding for sure is, it can cost a small fortune to want to "try" everything.  It is difficult to try crazy quilting with magical stitching if you don't have a good supply of fabrics and threads, needles and embellishments.  It is difficult to try art quilting without a good supply of "hand dyed" appropriate-for-art-quilting fabrics.  And I really really want to try what Monika at "My Sweet Prairie" is doing with sewing machine thread and hand stitching.  But it takes alot of sewing machine thread to do what she does. 

If you have the money to buy it all, to try it all, great!   But I don't.  I do know though that I want to try as much as I can, and I will use what I have right now.
I worked for almost 40 years, and between a regimented work and home life, for many years, I am not prepared to become too regimented right now in attaining goals.  But, if goals aren't set, then I think I might find myself, at the ripe age of 92, still "trying new things" and doing no one thing well.

All that to say I am glad that Sharon wrote her little note.  I really needed it.  I do need to spend some time making a list of things I want to try, and devoting a certain amount of time to learning to what I want to learn. 

So, perhaps I am not the only one that needs to take stock and do some goal setting.

I have always had a very strong desire to do "something" but was just not sure what that "something" was.  I admit I always wondered if because I was never able to "produce a child", if you know what I mean, I then developed a need to "produce" something else, but I don't have the time or interest in seeing a Psychologist over that one! I stitched because I LOVED stitching but always felt there should be more.  When I saw my first issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, with the most exciting stitching and quilting I have ever seen, I was never so awe struck in my whole life.  I knew that somewhere in the folds of that magazine, was what I was MEANT to do.  

When I saw Sharon Boggon's Pintangle site for the first time, I got the same heart pounding  excitement.  Somewhere between Quilting Arts and Sharon Boggon, and now My Sweet Prairie, I am finding my place. So, set goals, I need a list of what I want to learn, and I need to do it, and I need to continue to enjoy myself!

I will leave you with the most amazing photograph.   My husband and I went for a drive to Cavendish National Park.  And yes, we love this park and visit it often.  This is what flew by, right in front of our car.
I had a mere half a second to get my camera up to photograph it, so unfortunately, it isn't the best focused shot.  And yes, it is a bald eagle.


There is a voice in the Universe urging us to remember our purpose for being on this great Earth. This is the voice of inspiration, which is within each and every one of us.

Wishing you much inspiration....   

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