I am going to be teaching free motion quilting at a fairly local quilt shop soon as part of a retreat. I'm very excited about it, but a bit nervous too. I haven't really taught an official class before. I've demo'd, I've taught my little quilt group, and coached some of my quilting friends but this is a real class.
One thought kept nagging at me today as I was working on class prep. They're going to want to stipple and my stipple isn't all that great. I can feather all day long, in just about any size and shape, but the stipple is still pretty rough. I started to get a bit panicky; I am prone to negative thinking. And then....
To heck with the stipple!
Shocking, I know, but two thoughts lead me to this.
Contrary to popular opinion, stippling or it's larger cousin, meander really isn't the best design for beginners. First of all it's very random and as such it's a bit difficult to move the design around so it looks random and still have an easily repeatable motion for your hands, arms and mind. Also, there's no easy spot to stop and reposition the hands without the slightest bobble of the hands showing as you resume stitching. Especially if the scale of the design is large, which leads me to the second thought....
Stippling/meandering is really a long armer's design. Especially in the larger scaled, utilitarian meander. We just don't have the same range of motion when we work on our sewing machines.
What's a beginning quilter to do? Ditch the stipple! Embrace the freedom of free motion quilting! Choose designs that have a good stopping/repositioning spot. Find a design that is comfortable for your hands to repeat the basic shapes. Some folks will find they like a curvy design like loops, shells, or spirals. Others like a spiky design like flames or bananas.
|Loops and shells|
|Flames and bananas|
I'm still working on the stipple, because sometimes it does fit a particular spot or design quite well, but I'm not gonna stress out about it. In fact, a customer quilt I'm working on is getting some stipple in a few spots.
So, what do you think? Love it or leave it? (stippling that is) Leah Day did quite a good series on the stipple. It seems to be a staple of the quilting world, but there certainly are prettier designs out there. And so many more have good places to stop. It is difficult to hide those spots where you stop and start in a stipple, especially as a beginner. Maybe I'm just being cranky.