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!



  1. Well, I'm not a super FMQer - but you took the most important step - you went for it and with a happy heart. And because you had fun, you were breathing. That sounds silly, but that is one of the most common problems - holding your breath, which tenses you up, which makes things go horribly wrong, which spoils the fun. And those practic sandwiches - all good, but turn them into bags, needle cases, table mat, or mug rug - sitting on the shelf or in a box isn't going to show how you are improving - we all need to see our beginnings to get to the end of the road.

  2. Yay! You go girl!! You will be quilting those feathers in no time! Hey about that your an April girl too... it's "my" day today!! Hugs xxx

  3. Padworth, I hope you got proper recognition for the hard work you did in getting the machine ready. I am sure that you were there holding the seam ripper for the small mistakes. I have never taken the chance on FMQ so well done and keep at it, I am sure you will have it perfected by the end of the week.

  4. Happy belated birthday :) I think your fmq looks great! I am not a super fmq myself but practicing and going for it are great mottos for fmq! Don't be too hard on yourself and enjoy!

  5. Happy Belated Birthday!!!!! Oh you sneak!!! You just snuck that right in there didn't you =P I loved this post! I'm so happy you had lots of fun. I think your fmq looks great!! Keep going =D

  6. I'm so glad you posted this!! I've been having fun practicing my fmq and you know what? I've figured out that I don't have to make PERFECT stitches for it to look good, and it really is a lot of fun. But, I don't think I can do it with a large quilt. I've only been able to do it on mug rugs and such. And that's ok with me, I'm still having fun! And like Sharon said, at least I'm breathing when I do it, along with my smile!!!

  7. Hey! I followed Leah Day's suggestion and made it so my foot doesn't hop. It makes it much easier to FMQ. Not that I am good at it, but I am much better, that's for sure.


    I was able to modify my own foot and not buy the one she has.

  8. Happy Event, somehow I doubt is was "prehistoric", LOL! I was at a quilt show one time, watching a demo (unfortunately I can't remember-the prehistoric brain at work- who/what was demoing) and the gal said, "You have to breathe, if you find yourself starting to tense up, start old school counting. You know, where you count like this, one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand." I KNEW it wouldn't help me so promptly went home and tried it. Of course, it helped immensely! I am NO expert, but I think your FMQ looks great!

  9. P.S. She went on to explain that the counting (see above) caused you to breath and have a rhythm at the same time...LOL...

  10. First off...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! It sounds like a wonderful day - getting to sew (definitely on my birthday wish list!). Your FMQ looks fabulous! I am still learning myself (I've only done it 4 times now) and my one and only tip is that when reading and watching videos and other blogs it is helpful to know if they are sewing on the same type of machine because each brand has its own eccentricities. I know mine does. Congratulations and happy birthday! Hugs!

  11. Happy Birthday. And what a better gift than a day in the sewing room creating. Your practice sandwiches are looking great. Keep practicing. That's all it takes. Work on it every day if you can.

  12. Happy (belated) Birthday! And what fun to do something on your birthday simply for 'fun'! Padsworth is hilarious! Thank you for visiting Shady Grove Journal recently and leaving such a nice comment.

  13. Happy Birthday. it is very empowering to FMQ, I think. The more you do it, the more possible it becomes. And fun is always the point in my book.

  14. Happy Birthday Jacque! What a lovely dream day to have! Padsworth makes me chuckle every time! He's a wonderful creation! I FMQ'd until I couldn't stand it any more. I found I did not at all enjoy it. So much so that it kept me from even making large quilted pieces because I thought they had to be FMQ'd. How silly, huh?! But you love it, as so many do, and you will soon be fabulous at it.

  15. I would love to be perfect at FMQ so I will keep trying, and trying and trying..... I had a nice chuckle with padsworth's poses. Happy Birthday

  16. What a fun post....loved it....and Happy Birthday!

  17. Happy Birthday!

    You're well on your way with FMQ because you have the most important facet of it under your belt - the sense of FUN. I find it makes all the difference if I approach my FMQ with a smile and a sense of "let's see where this takes me" and I let go of my perfectionistic tendencies... that's when the magic happens.

    Enjoy the adventures and keep that sense of FUN in your stitching. ;o)

  18. Loved the photos of Padsworth at the sewing machine!!! Definitely put a smile on my face.
    You took that first important step and tried FMQ. Good for you!!! I'm far from perfect but have found that the more I practice, the happier I am with the end results. Just continue what you are doing and ENJOY!

  19. Heehee! Love Padsworth! Atta Boy!!

    I've found that I can cover a multitude of sins by shortening my stitch length, and I figure, the rest just will come. You are right to ENJOY THE PROCESS!! And so much is "fixed" by the first wash/dry of the quilt, too....

    Anyway, I'm glad you are having fun with it!! :) Whoo hoo!!

    I'm glad we had happy birthdays! I still hold that you are the best present I could ever have received on my third birthday!

    Thing I

  20. Happy belated birthday!!!! I must say that your first attempt certainly looks a lot better than mine did.

  21. Great first try! It does get easier and more precise as you continue to practice. I remember smiling and laughing when I first started and I still do it whenever I try something new and it works. I love that!! Have fun!

  22. I thought I would die laughing at Padsworth, I have never seen him/her before I love that he was there to help you. Your stippling is better then mines. No better how many classes I take and books I buy, I cannot seem to get the hang of FMQ. I might always be a stich in the ditch girl. Good work.

  23. Happy Birthday! Glad you had fun!
    Love to see Padsworth upside down!
    Enjoy your day!

  24. Congratulations on your FMQ success. Since December I have FMQd 23 flimsies out of more than 50, all on my DSM. I've found that all this experience has made me more confident and a lot faster. Practice sandwiches are all well and good but they are small. Entire quilts behave differently--you need to scrunch them to get them under the needle. You need to adjust to the "drag" fore and aft.

    Keep at it -- you'll be glad you did!

  25. Ha ha- I could use some help in my sewing room- please send Padsworth right over!

  26. I need to learn how to FMQ. How did Padsworth do?

  27. I really want to learn FMQ--maybe I will try it...maybe. 3x5 card over the feed dog? Is that to make it slide easier? I really had to laugh at your comment about taking large pieces of fabric, cutting them up, and then sewing them back together--we are crazy, aren't we. LOL! PS. Happy Birthday just a little late.

  28. Treat yourself to a 'Supreme Slider' for your birthday and throw away the piece of card over the feed dogs, you will have much more joy and happiness and pleasure from FMQ


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