Friday, October 9, 2015

Free Motion Quilting Practice: Feathers Top to Bottom

Yesterday I shot a video demo for the folks at TopAnchor Quilting Tools. They make these incredible rotating specialty templates for quilting with a long arm. Since I started using and teaching about using rulers and templates to quilt with stationary machines, many of their products have also been sold to users of (mostly high shank) sewing machines and sit-down long arms.

I showed how to use their Baptist Fan template. It's a very tricky template to use on a stationary machine, but they tell me that there have been plenty of quilters curious about how to use it on a stationary machine, so a video is one of the best ways to show it.

I'll be uploading that video to YouTube shortly, but in the meantime, I used the sample to do a bit of free motion quilting practice. I got home from work dead-dog tired. I love working at the Janome dealership, and am full of enthusiasm when I'm there, but I am an introvert and I kinda crash after a full day there.

free motion quilting feather practice
Those arcs are made with the Baptist Fan template

Doing some completely free quilting, no need for a finished project, helps fill my batteries! I grabbed the sample and began to use the stitched arcs as feather spines.


Free motion quilting practice feathers
Feathers, made from bottom to the top.

It wasn't long before I reached the top of a feather and decided I really need to practice stitching feathers from the top down. I always, always stitch my feathers from the bottom to the top. It means planning ahead to how you will get from the top of a plume to the bottom to finish out the other side. But I know there are talented quilters who can do feathers 'backwards' so I decided to give it a try.

practicing stitching feathers from top to bottom
First run of 'backwards' feathers, going from top to bottom of the spine.
In the picture above, my seam ripper is pointing down the feather in the direction I stitched. (No cute pointer hand this time; my son took it with him to Grandma's house!) The first plume wasn't bad as there was no other plume to fit it against. Then I was committed. It was a bit wonky after that, but like everything, it got better (mostly) with practice.

practice free motion quilting designs feather plumes
Not too bad. Everything gets better with practice.
The last two rows of plumes were stitched backwards as well. Some were pretty wonky, but it wasn't too horrible. I tried to picture in my mind what the whole plume looked like as I stitched. It was hard to keep from over-doing the lower curve of each plume and to get the area where the plume met the spine from being to wide and straight. But it was good practice.

I like to think of such practice as good exercise for my brain. I wrote about how quilting is good for preserving the gray matter in my newsletter that came out this past Tuesday. You are signed up for my newsletter, aren't you? You can sign up over on the right sidebar.

I'm sure some of you will wonder if I will carry the Baptist Fan template in my shop at Amy's Quilting Adventures. While I aim to provide a great collection of rulers and templates for ruler work, right now I'm not carrying it. As I said, it is very tricky and probably best suited to long arm systems (sit down or regular) but you can certainly buy it through TopAnchor.

My question to you is: What ways are you challenging yourself in your quilting practice? Are you trying new shapes, threads, designs? Maybe you are wanting to try ruler work (You should check out my class at Craftsy- Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine!) or even try a new piecing technique.

Let me know in the comments what you are doing to stretch yourself when it comes to quilting or creativity.

19 comments:

  1. I like the look of the feathers in the fans.

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  2. what a fun manner to stich feathers. I must try that too!!

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  3. Ha! I love how it's only us quilters who would ever see any "mistakes" (even then I had to squint). Unless I'm having an off day, I try and challenge myself with each project - whether it be accurate cutting or piecing, or trying a new FMQ designs or that eventual ruler work.. or even just trying to perfect what I know. I tend to go too fast, so I might focus on better stitching, less thread tails, or making myself mark something instead of eyeballing it for a change.

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  4. What a great idea! This looks wonderful

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  5. I took your Craftsy Class and it actually got me going on using the rulers I bought last year! Now my brain won't stop working and if I only had all my quilt tops basted I would have them all quilted! Guess I'd better get basting so I can get more practice...

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  6. Great idea for some hard negative space. 😊

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  7. Great idea for some hard negative space. 😊

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  8. my backwards feathers never seem to take a good shape... I know it's practice but I just go down the spine again. I have just signed up for your craftsy course as I want to get to know rulers better. thanks always for your inspiration
    Hugz

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    1. That's my MO too, but I thought I'd work on it. You're quite welcome, its always more fun to share the techniques. Have fun with the class!

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  9. Inspirational. But I"m curious what thread you are using? Great photo (contrast).

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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    1. That's a light turquoise Glide thread; a 40 wt poly. Love it. It's actually the same thread that I'm using on my ruler work sampler quilt. Looks totally different on the dark fabric.

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  10. I thought I would make a statement about basting a quilt. I have been doing very basic machine quilting, I love the repositioning option with spray adhesive. The last several quilts have been done with it and No tuck issues at all. Also I have been using practice quilt blocks for my paperback book covers. A. Great use of practice pieces.

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  11. Maybe a little off topic. I was looking at your doodle quilting in a previous post. What program do you have for "Draw Something Sketchy." There are quite a few to choose from. Thanks. Judy

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    1. Sadly my kids have completely worn the battery down on that tablet and it has gone to my husband's dysfunctional electronics pile so I can't double check, but I'm pretty certain it was actually called "draw something sketchy"

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