Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's my party, and I'll FMQ if I want to!

OK, first of all, a word to those of you who are accomplished FMQ artisans --- you know who you are. Your craftsmanship is what makes all of us newbies go gaga over FMQ and have delusions of grandeur, thinking that we can duplicate your brilliant creations!

Here is an assignment for you. Are you ready? (Heads nodding.)

First step: Place your lips together.

Second step: Press tightly.

Third step: Keep them like that until the end of this post.

OK, OK, I'm just kidding!!  But I will tell you that there are many of you out there that truly inspire me. I love seeing all of your free motion quilting, and I want to be just like you when I grow up!!
So, without any further digressions (well, I can't promise that, you know me and Padsworth) I'll get into this post . . . 
Since this past weekend included a celebration of the prehistoric event of my natal arrival (Padsworth thinks I should translate that for you . . . it was my birthday, OK? LOL) I was treated to some uninterrupted sewing time by my lovely family.  Sigh.  It was heavenly.
Remember this?

I quilted each of the focus-fabric blocks with straight lines . . . I think I showed you this before:

I wanted to do something radically different in the areas of the darker green blender fabric.  Did I dare?  I'd seen so many posts of talented bloggers, building up their skills with practice "sandwiches" and I'd been awed by how great their practices looked. (Drumming fingers) Maybe I should practice like that. Yeah, I know I should. (Patting table topper) But I could use matching thread, and then my boo boos wouldn't show up too badly. 
Besides, I really wanted to try. I was itching to see what it was like. So I gave myself a pep talk, and focused on the part where I told myself, "Self, this is for practice. You will not obsess over the varying length of stitches, or the fact that once in a while you might cross over a previous line of stitching."  After some coaxing, Self agreed that this would be OK.....I think Self was getting caught up in the "this could be fun" feelings, too!

The first step was to get out the correct foot for the machine, and attach that bad boy correctly. Padsworth insisted on doing this --- he said it was his birthday present for me. He got right to work . . . 

I went off and patted some fat quarters, and came back to check on him . . .

Since he wasn't finished, I gave him a few more minutes. This is what I found when I returned . . . 

I'm not sure, but I think it was easier than he said it was. I have a sneaking suspicion that he was trying to make it look like he really worked hard to get it done.
A 3x5 card with a hole in it was over the feed dogs, and it was time to start.

After a few minutes of figuring out the foot (I was under the mistaken impression that it should press down on the fabric like the regular foot....somewhere I'd skipped over the fact that it is also called a "hopping" foot, and that it was behaving exactly as it should) I started out. I played with the speed of the stitches, and I played with the loops I was making. I was going for what I've seen called "stippling" or "meandering." 

I know that some of my loops have points, and some of the stitches vary from excruciatingly tiny to about 3/8 inch long!!  Gasp! I should go back and rip that out. Not. This is for fun, Self.

You know what? In spite of the fact that I'm an amateur at this, I found myself smiling as I went. Actually smiling. And when I pulled it out to look it over, I laughed!
And isn't that really one reason that we pursue this crazy hobby? This craft where we take perfectly good, amazingly lovely, large pieces of fabric, and cut them into little pieces --- only to sew them back together again, in different designs? It's for the joy of creating.

Yes, quilting is a lot about the precision. The points matching. The mitered corners.  But isn't it also about the FUN??  I see so many quilters posting that they have lost their mojo. The fun has walked out, leaving them behind.
I think I just found the cure --- do something purely for the FUN of it! Smile, grin, giggle and laugh -- at yourself, if possible. As Sharon posted recently, whistle while you are sewing. 
Yes, I had bobbles and booboos. But my choice of green thread on the top and white on the bottom proved to be inspired --- Self had less to obsess over, and I had SO MUCH FUN!!  It was pure joy, and a lovely party!
So you see, that is why I asked those of you who are such awesome FMQ-ers to bear with me, and not say too much until I got to the end . . . but now I am going to be brazen enough to invite you to comment! Let me know what you think; I'm braced for the criticism, and I can take it!
Of course, I am now going to start watching the videos, and learning all of the cool stitches -- and I'll be scouting around for tips on thread, and on tension, and all those good things. I want to get just as good at this as you are!
But for "my" day, it was just so much fun to let loose and try something new. I now know that this is so much fun, that I want to try it again and again!