Sunday, 24 June 2012

I finally made the time to complete my June piece for the Free Motion Quilt Challenge with Sew Cal Gal.  Whilst not exactly the same, my finished piece does slightly resemble my initial drawing and I am pleased with the overall result.  I found that once I got starting l got into a rhythm and it was quite addictive.  Whenever I thought I was about done, I found myself filling in another space with another design then the same again.
I definitely need to keep practicing as there are quite a few whoopsi's but they blend in with the overall result pretty well.

What did I learn this month?

1. relax and enjoy the process
2. it doesn't have to be perfect
3. free form feathers are awesome
4. circles/pebbles are the enemy!

Here is a picture of my very busy but finished piece and a couple of close ups.

Thank you Cindy Needham.  I had to really stretch myself this month but your comprehensive notes and encouragement made this so much more attainable.
I feel as though I have turned a corner.  Whilst my fmq is not perfect, I have achieved far more than I thought I was capable of doing and that fills me with confidence moving forward.

Bring on the next challenge.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

As well as taking the free motion pledge at SewCalGal, I am following along with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project (click here for details).  I am absolutely loving this project.  Leah has taken us back to the basics of free motion quilting and every week we learn a new skill to practice.  I have been a bit behind in the project but thanks to Leah having the month of May off, I have managed to catch up.

Last week we were focusing on straight lines and sharp points with a design called circuit board.  I thought this would be relatively easy but I was very mistaken!  I found the straight lines quite hard and really had to concentrate to stop myself from rounding the corners.  My practice sample leaves a lot to be desired. I was concentrating so hard on trying to get square corners and watching my stitch length that I forgot about spacing and scale.

This week we worked on loopy lines which was much more in my comfort zone.  The loops just seem to flow better for me and I feel relaxed when stitching this one.  I think I prefer a smaller spaced design although it would also look great on a larger scale meandering over a quilt top.  I have a couple of flimsy's ready to be sandwiched up so I just might be brave enough to try this design on one of those.

Thanks so much for this wonderful project Leah.  Your relaxed style of teaching means I do not feel at all intimidated and my confidence to try new designs is growing each week.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The primary reason I struggle to call myself a quilter is because of the actual quilting of a quilt.  I am a piecer but not so much a quilter.  I am terrified of doing anything other than the most basic (usually straight line) quilting for fear of ruining a quilt.  I mean we spend so much time, effort and money putting a quilt together, who wants to ruin it with below average quilting?

In an effort to get over my fears I have taken a pledge to complete the 12 Month Free Motion Quilting Challenge over at SewCalGal (click here for details).  Each month a quilting expert guides us with new ideas and challenges and it is up to us to practice, practice, practice.  So far I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and have been reasonably pleased with my efforts. I can definitely see improvement with my quilting skills and with it my confidence is growing.

This month's  tutorial came from Cindy Needham who is an amazing quilter.  I was intimidated as I drooled over her incredible and very intricate quilting but thought to myself that she too was once a beginner and I am sure her quilting was far from perfect when she first began.  Cindy has challenged us to divide and conquer and our first task was to just doodle a zentangle.  It took me a while to get the courage to start doodling but once I got going I found I couldn't stop. It is quite addictive and also very therapeutic!  It was so much fun and as I doodled I found my fears fading.  Here is a picture of what I have doodled so far.

I am quite happy with it but now it is time to take the plunge and have a go with fabric and thread.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Yesterday I said that I do not consider myself a “quilter”.

I thought about this a bit and realised that maybe I am a quilter after all.  What lead me to this realisation? Well I have to explain something about me.  I have always been very fastidious when it comes to my house and in particular the housework.

Everything always had to be orderly, pristine and perfect.  I couldn’t even stand a coaster that was not lined up evenly with the corner of the coffee table!  I was so ‘anal’ that I had housework lists on the fridge.  Monday – sweep & mop floors, Tuesday – dust & polish, Wednesday – clean bathrooms & scrub kitchen cupboards.  You get the gist.  I know I am crazy but I actually enjoy doing housework.  I put on my favourite music and bounce around doing what has to be done and I love the feeling of satisfaction when it’s finished.

But something has changed….the quilting bug has firmly taken hold and suddenly the housework doesn’t seem important anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, my house is not a bomb site (well most of the time its not) but it certainly is not a patch on the showroom status it once enjoyed.  For me to ignore a dusty mantelpiece or not to sweep a floor that has a few specs on it or heaven forbid leave a bed unmade is a big deal.  But I am slowly coming to the realisation that it doesn’t matter.  I can clean like a maniac and it still needs doing a day later.  So instead of cleaning everyday, I am content with once a week or (gasp) even a bit longer if it means I have more time to sew.

It’s simple really - I would rather spend time in my little sewing room than doing anything else.  I don’t even need to be sewing – just being surrounded by my (albeit small) fabric stash and quilts in progress sooths my soul.  In fact quite often I can be found in there just enjoying a glass of wine and staring out the window.  It is my space, my haven – no boys allowed!    I fuss about, flick through books and move things from one place to another just so that I have an excuse to touch and play with the fabrics.  My new found love affair with scrappy quilts (thank you Bonnie Hunter) has also been a revelation.  For someone who liked everything so perfect, matchy and symmetrical, the fact that I love the sometimes disorder, chaos and mismatchiness of scrappy quilts is enlightening.  They just look so warm and welcoming which is just how my house is beginning to look now that it is not as clinical as it once was. I owe it all to quilting and you people out there in blog land. 

Yesterday I posted my very first picture on Facebook asking for some advice on borders for a quilt I am doing. I couldn't believe that so many wonderful people took the time out of their day to share their thoughts.  I received so many positive and flattering comments and I am humbled to the core. I love this new found online quilting community I have stumbled across.  

What a defining moment this is for me.  My secret is out – I feel like I am in therapy or at a meeting admitting my addiction.

 “Hi, my name is Sue and maybe, just maybe I am a quilter.”

Saturday, 2 June 2012

I call myself an accidental quilter.
Let me explain….I am the middle of three girls and come from a distinctly non crafty family.  I have no memory of my mother or grandmothers doing anything crafty whatsoever and both of my sisters have showed no interest in craft.  Yet curiously I have always been crafty minded.  From a young age I dressed my dolls using handkerchiefs or whatever I could lay my hands on.  In school I took home economic classes and started to make some clothing.  My beautiful (now departed) mother did not sew but she bought me a sewing machine so that I could continue to sew.  As well as sewing I enjoyed knitting, cross-stitch and cooking.  I continued to dabble making clothes throughout my late teens and early twenties and when I was pregnant with my first child I decided to make a blanket for his cot.
I sewed some squares of different fabrics together and thought that in order to keep my new baby warm the blanket needed to be thicker.  I found some fluffy stuff at my local craft store (I later came to learn that this fluffy stuff is called wadding/batting) and then backed my new creation with more fabric.  To hold all the layers together I sewed along the joins of the fabric.  Unbeknown to me I just made my first quilt!

I had no idea what I was doing; I was just ‘winging’ it.  Of course the quilt wasn’t great - the squares were cut with scissors and were not perfectly straight or square, the joins didn’t always meet and I finished the edge by folding the two fabrics in on themselves and hand stitched together.  But I loved it and it kept my son warm.

A couple of years later my husband (a serviceman in the Australian Army) was posted to the tiny Pacific Island of Tonga.  We packed up and went with toddler and baby in toe and it is there my quilting journey really began.  I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful woman (also from Australia) who just happened to be a quilt teacher back home and she showed me the ropes.  I learned so much from her and although quality fabric was scarce in Tonga, with the guidance and patience of my new teacher I muddled through and started to make a small sampler quilt.  I must admit I cringe a bit when I look at that flimsy now (yes it is still a flimsy – must get around to finishing it one day) but it was a great learning tool.

I will always treasure that time in Tonga but when we returned to Australia I had a full life that didn’t allow time to indulge this new found love. I took a few classes and made a couple more samplers but that was about it. Fast forward several years my boys are teenagers and suddenly I have more time for me.   To date I have made about 10 large and numerous small quilts.  I still do not to call myself a quilter though.  I am not sure what it is…I still have so much to learn and I am a bit of a perfectionist (although I am slowly coming to the realisation that it doesn’t have to be perfect). 

Last year I discovered the big wide quilting community on the Internet (that too was an accident as I stumbled across a blog when I was searching for an answer to a quilting question I had).  I know l am a bit late to the online party but I plan to make the most of it herein.  I find it both inspirational and intimidating looking at all of the beautiful work and reading all the wonderful stories online.  I am totally in love with the generosity, kinship and the beautiful spirit of quilters from all over the world.   I aspire to being half as talented and giving as these women (and men).

After a year of following quilter’s blogs worldwide I decided it was time I started one so that I too can share my experiences.  

Let the adventures begin!