Free Motion Quilting: Doodle on the Wall?

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I was doodling on my shop's bathroom walls. Yep, totally giving it a bit of free motion design to liven it up.

The walls are the same boring brown as the rest of the shop. Or at least the same as the other walls were. Most of the walls in the building were painted a cheery, but soft color of yellow. It turned out fabulously, but the brown was dark enough that it took several coats to cover it up and there just wasn't time to paint the bathroom as well.

Of course, now that we're open 6 days a week and I want to have some sort of life away from the shop, there isn't time to paint it now.

You may remember some of my painted window escapades at our shop's original location. That doodling was an absolute blast and was just calling out for me to doodle on the wall. What's the worst that could happen? I have to actually paint over it?!

There's a big difference between doodling on glass with window markers and drawing on an actual wall that's not part of some graffiti encrusted urban area. I knew I didn't want to use the window paint as it was rather difficult to manipulate and get an even line of paint. Let's face it, writing "Go Team!" takes a different line than a curvy, graceful feather.

Paint pens are pretty easy to come by these days, and I figured I'd use them, but I was nervous about making mistakes and I'm fairly sensitive to paint fumes. So I put it on the back burner of my mind and let the idea percolate a bit.

We installed a large chalk board in the foyer of the shop and decided against using chalk markers to write on it after seeing that some of my chalkboard labels on bins in the shop were 'ghosting' when I wanted to remove the so-called chalk.

Bingo! The perfect use of those chalk markers was on my wall! It does wash off to some extent, and is available at most craft stores. I got mine at Michael's.

So I began drawing with a fairly fine pointed marker. Meh. The fine line blended in and didn't give me the bold graphic line I wanted. So I got a wide pointed chisel tip marker. I was leery of it at first as it had a similar tip to the window marker that had given me trouble. It worked like a champ.

What about making mistakes? Well, I realized that the earlier attempts with the fine tipped marker looked pretty sad next to the thicker lines and I was happy to report that I was able to wash it off. Now, the wall is painted with a fairly slick paint, maybe a semi-gloss, so I don't know that this will work on all paints, nor after a bunch of time passes. Try this at your own risk, but I am so happy with the results.

Bonus, I get my free motion quilting practice in as I doodle my favorite designs. I absolutely think frequent doodling is a great way to improve your quilting skills.

 What do you think? Am I crazy for drawing on my walls? I did think of getting some plexiglass on the wall first, but then decided to go for it. I'm glad I did!

You can see more pics of these walls as I go on my Instagram account. I'm a little more active on there these days, snapping a picture when I can. I take forever to write up a blog post. Follow me there.

Creativity: On a Wing and a Prayer

"You can't just wing it!"

Yeah? Watch me.

I should have feathers, I 'wing it' so often.

In fact I fly often by the seat of my pants!

No cage for this bird, I'm taking flight!

Sure, there are some things that you can't just wing. Taxes for instance. To bring it to quilting, it's highly likely that winging a complex pattern of angles and measurements is bound for unexpected results, if not downright disaster.

Disaster being relative of course, as this is just quilting, not brain surgery.

Speaking of the brain, it's common to refer to people like me as right-brained and people who are more analytical as left-brained. Turns out that research doesn't support the idea of using one side of the brain over the other.

Because I do tend to wing it, (and my memory is poor) I don't tend to use left or right brain terminology, instead I like to refer to people tending to be more like an artist, or more like an engineer. Yes....because I can't remember which side is supposed to be which.

I talk about this artist/engineer concept often in my free motion quilting classes as I find that there's usually a correlation that affects how easily someone picks up free motion quilting.

I'll talk about that in another post, but today I just wanted to sing the praises of being able to let the artist in our brains have some freedom. In part it's because you can't just 'wing it' when it comes to running a business (yes, I've tried), especially that of a retail business and in the quilting industry as well. I've been squashed creatively. Well, except for the pretty awesome row I created for my shop's participation in the Row by Row Experience this year. Any rail fan will recognize the 611 steam engine.

So I've stepped away from the computer, accounting, and huge piles of paper in order to maintain my sanity and to let my creative spirit come out to play. Just a little bit, at least. Every day I now make time to wing it in my studio.

Two of my projects are totally wing friendly. First, I've started doodling on the boring brown wall in my shop's bathroom with a white chalk marker. (Chalk marker, because in theory, I can wash it off. At least enough to paint over it.) Yes, the bathroom is getting a custom mural of quilt doodling!

Just doodling when I can.

The second project I'm pretty proud of so far. I'm making a linen slip cover for a wingbacked chair in my shop. It's the non-shopper/handwork chair. Not the husband chair, just the waiting chair. It's had a large cream and green toile slip cover over it for ages. Every time someone sits in it, the thing shifts and looks bad.

So I made the slip cover fit better and then began using it as a very rough pattern to create a new cover out of linen. By rough I mean slap the cushion onto the fabric and trace around it with a blue marking pen. Sloppily, messily.

Guess what? It worked! More importantly, it's been getting done instead of just sitting there, waiting for me to be able to 'do it right' as that might happen never.

Just a ruffle and some finish work and this chair will look so much better.

And folks? Getting something DONE is what got me into quilting in the first place. It feels so good to have something done, even if it isn't perfect, in a time of a never ending to-do list. My season of chasing around little ones and a house that comes undone constantly may be nearly over, (The kids are still quite the mess makers!) but the never ending undone stuff has just changed to different stuff.

Think about it.... are you letting the need to make something "right" keep you from getting things done? Sometimes close enough is perfect. As my husband sometimes says, "gooder enough." Yes, he knows that drives my inner grammar nazi crazy, one part of me that is decidedly left brain. (Let's leave my overuse of exclamation points and .... out of things, shall we?)

There's a reason why improve piecing, scrap piecing, and folksy wool applique is on the rise. These things allow for less precision and more winging of various aspects of it. Life can get horribly rigid, regimented, and judge-y. Fight it by allowing yourself to enjoy the less than perfect process.

Free motion quilting looking not as good as you want? Give yourself permission to just wing it and play with it. I guarantee you'll get better and some projects will get done!

More Template Options for Low Shank Machines: Blue Dahlia

When it comes to quilting with rulers on sewing machines, Low shank machines are at a disadvantage as the lack of clearance behind the foot limits your choice of rulers. There's only one maker of 3mm quilting rulers......

Or at least there was only one! TopAnchor, my favorite maker of fancy, specialty rotating templates has begun having her popular designs cut in a 3mm thick version. I've used her 1/4 inch thick templates all along on my high shank Janomes and I love how easy it is to position the anchor post from the top side of the quilt and without pin tips sticking up. (Because if a pin sticks up, I'm going to be the one to put my hand on it.)

I set up one of our smaller low shank Janome machines (7050) with the Janome ruler foot combination and shot a video using the "Blue Dahlia". It's a bit long (22 minutes) and also gives a little peek around my new studio/classroom in our shop, newly relocated to 2414 Wards Rd. in Lynchburg VA.

I love that this option exists now! In the video I used the 6 inch version of the template. All of Janome's low shank machines are small machines with a regular sized harp space, so using the 9 inch template is a little harder to use. Not impossible, but harder. Certainly harder with a camera between me and the machine! But there are quite a few larger throat machines in other brands that have low shanks.

I show in the video how to make the double dahlia, but I have also done a triple dahlia years ago in bright colored fabric on linen (with the high shank version) that was absolutely stunning! I'll have to see if I can find it. The markings are on the template for both the single and double version. These templates are now available at Amy's Quilting Adventures.

Whew...nope, no dice on finding that design. I had to dive deep into the archives looking for it, so I'll just post this adorable pic of my now 10 year old at 4 years old in the dress and bloomers I made her back when I had a "mommy blog." Isn't she adorable? So twirly!