Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Free Motion Quilting With Rulers: Video

I've got a great tips video for you on Ruler Work. Specifically, some tips for setting up a ruler foot and choosing the appropriate thickness of rulers for your machine. When I first started teaching ruler work more than 3 years ago, there was really only one thickness of ruler; the 1/4 inch thick long arm rulers. This is starting to change, but it makes choosing rulers a little more confusing.

Key take-aways besides thicknesses of rulers? How to adjust the height of the ruler foot, and why you don't want to drop your needle down when the ruler foot is in the up position.

I hope you find this useful! Feel free to share this video and if you aren't subscribing to my YouTube channel, I'd love it if you sign up. I am less than 100 away from having 5,000 subscribers! That blows my mind. I am so encouraged by all you all.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tips for Beginners: 4 Things to Fix for Better Free Motion Quilting

Here are 4 things that keep you from better free motion quilting and some tips for fixing them.

Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures 4 Fixes

Not drawing designs: Seriously, don't say you're not a good drawer or that you just want to get to stitching. Drawing really helps! I hadn't stitched out any free motion quilting designs when I was first learning to machine quilt, despite reading that all the teachers recommended it. Then hubby got cancer and I started doodling the designs in a notebook I carried to all of his appointments and the improvement in my stitching ability was amazing. So doodle, trace, draw, whatever on whatever. Use paper, a dry erase board, even a drawing app, but draw those designs. Not only does it help with the shapes and designs, but how to move around from one place to another.

One of my earliest free motion quilting projects.
Not practicing: They say it takes 10,000 hours for mastery of any skill. Do you have enough quilt tops to provide you with 10,000 hours of quilting? Don't look at your WIP or UFO pile when you answer that question! Do you want to learn on your beautiful tops? Probably not. Make practice pieces! Make place mats, dog beds, pot holders, create a cool sampler collection of your favorite designs, whatever. Or make nothing from them, just change colors often and stitch over and over on a practice piece until you can't stand to quilt on it again. Once you're confident enough to tackle real quilts, check out my post on 8 Free Motion Tips for Confident Beginners.

Look how much my girl has grown in that short time! 
You are too tense: Relax! Are your shoulders trying to whisper in your ears? Head retreating between the shoulders like a turtle? Give your arms a shake, drop those shoulders and loosen up. Take a look at your set-up and see if it's ergonomic enough for you. Is your chair at a good height? If you are using an extension table on top of the table holding your machine, you will probably need a taller chair so your arms aren't sticking out like chicken wings. Eliminate drag where the quilt rests too and make sure you aren't pressing down too hard with your hands or trying to stretch the quilt out too much with your fingers. If you need a little music or an adult beverage to loosen up, go for it. But quilt responsibly.
My quilting skills grew too.

Take a look at your hand position: Are they on either side of the needle, not too far away and not too close? Or do your hands tend to get out in front or behind the needle because you don't like to stop and reposition your hands? Are your fingers spread wide like you're trying to stretch the top? we don't want puckers, so keep the area between your hands flat, but don't stretch it. If you are quilting tiny, dense designs try using dropping your elbows on the table and try using your finger tips only in a bent position to move the quilt. Don't try to move your hands while the machine is running! Stop to reposition your hands and do it frequently.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. Sorry I don't have any recent quilting to show you, but I'm working on a secret project and it's kicking my rear. Yes, the blogger's dreaded secret project that usually means fewer blog posts for you, followed by a big announcement and shameless self-promotion. LOL! I promise not to let my sharing here slide. You guys are awesome and encouraging and I hate not having things to show you. (Yes, I'm a tease.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Living the Quilting Life Vicariously

People have been doing a lot of quilt show related travel lately and I get to watch it all through the wonders of the internet.....sigh.....

Last week was Quilt Market, the trade show for the quilt industry. The movers and shakers, the teachers and designers, the sellers and the buyers were all over Minneapolis and my news feed and Instagram.

Christa shared all the fun she was having on IG, lucky (hard working) girl!

Before that was Quilt Week in Paducah. My AQ magazine arrived so now I can drool over all of the prize winning quilts.

Next year, I solemnly swear, I will go to Paducah. I really ought to swear I shall enter a quilt into the show, but maybe I don't quite want to commit to that publicly.

I learned Friday that I can't enter our local quilt show as I'm not a member of the right Quilt Guild. I had thought they had a joint show with the guild I joined, but apparently not.

I am really thankful that I was able to attend the Lancaster Quilt Show (AQS Quilt Week) and it was the biggest show I've attended so far. But I sure have a hankering to get out and see some of these other shows. I'd love to go to the big machine quilting shows too.

I think I just might be suffering from a case of cabin fever. I had a sick kid this week and I wasn't feeling to hot either. I haven't left the house since Saturday!

Do you long to travel to these shows? Or do you make a point to go to them? Quilt market is really just for those 'in the biz' and I'm not really there yet. I could go as a representative of the shop I work at or as a quilt blogger, but I don't really have a true need to go.

I guess I should actually finish a show quality quilt if I want to make a priority of going to these shows, right? Finish, Amy!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Free Motion Quilting Video: Graffiti Quilting

I managed to get my video of my Graffiti quilting styled wall word all edited up and loaded for YouTube. The raw footage of the entire project was insanely long. I edited it down and sped it up for you. It shows a bunch of different designs, all mixed fairly randomly to make the  final piece.

The beginning and end of the video is shot at twice normal speed and the middle is at 4 times the normal speed. It's not too dizzying, and you can see how I stitch the designs out. Since I sped it up, I took most of the narration out.

I hope you enjoy! If you do, give it a 'like' will you? I get some occasional 'dislikes' on my videos and I know that's just the nature of Youtube and the internet trolls and while the ratio of likes vastly outnumbers the dislikes, it's hard to ignore them. If you dislike the video, hit me up with a comment or email and let me know if there's something I should change! I do know that these speed-quilting videos aren't everybody's cup of tea, but I know many like them too.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Free Motion Quilting Fun: Graffiti Quilting

I finished up this little encouraging free motion quilting practice piece yesterday. It feels so good to have another project finished!

Free motion quilting design graffiti style

I tried to incorporate some elements of Karlee Porter's Graffiti Quilting as I quilted. It was fun and I like the extra impact of using another color.

Graffiti free motion quilting design

This was quilted on my Janome 3160, my smaller machine. It has a low shank and I'm going to be giving it a try with more ruler work as low shank machines have clearance issues behind the foot with thicker rulers. I want to see how much this impacts my ability to use my bigger rulers on this machine. Behind the foot isn't a commonly used spot for me unless I'm using an enclosed or inside shape.

quilt stretched over canvas

I love doing these little pieces and finishing them by stretching them over an artist's canvas. A line of serging around the edge and a bunch of staples and I'm done.

I shot a video of the quilting on this piece and I'm speeding it up for another speed quilting vid before releasing it on Youtube. That will post soon.