If you don’t know the world of improv piecing quilt blocks, it is a gloriously freeing experience that gets me all zen-like and makes me feel like a painter with fabric. In a nutshell, I have a general idea of what I want the final image to be (in this instance a poinsettia) and I determine the number of blocks that I’ll need to create it (in this case 4). The “painting” involves a lot of slicing and sewing and manipulating until it’s just right. Here’s one block so you can get a glimpse of the process.
Here’s the whole image I created with four blocks.
When I finished I was all like yaaaaaaaay!
But then the next dilemma presented itself: How on earth should I quilt this and do it justice?
This post will chronicle this part of my journey.
Materials and Supplies:
Thread (in a few colors)
I generally just intuitively know or a pattern presents itself in the project. And it did here too. I just didn’t want to listen because it was telling me free motion quilting and that scares me because I get all intimidated by it and am afraid that I’ll jack up my quilt. I never have, but there’s still that little voice in my head that tells me that my previous successes in FMQ were flukes. So I presented two options to my good buddy Tara: (1) a tight grid-on-point or (2) FMQ it to look like leaves. Without hesitation, she told me FMQ all the way because she (miss poinsettia) deserved something organic. So, for Tara, I had to go for it.
And I allowed nature to once again be my muse, deciding on small circles for the inside yellows and then, starting in the center, smaller leaves growing into larger leaves as I got further out. I also decided that I didn’t want the quilting to match the edges of the piecing. The primary reason for this decision was that I knew trying to match perfectly would make me hesitate while quilting and second guessing mid flow is the death of free motion quilting.
So with Felicia turned on and my Free Motion Open Toe Quilting Foot attached, I went to town: circles first with the first color thread and then small leaves growing with the second color thread.
And like, seriously, this was just as kumbayah as my improv piecing and when I was done, I was like whaaaaaat because it was beautimous and it wasn’t a fluke at all. And like when I flipped it over, looooook.
And since this was going in my permanent rotation for the holidays, I made an envelope pillow that I could either hang on the wall as a mini or stuff with an insert and snuggle on it.
At the end of this experience, I learned a couple things about free motion quilting that I wanted to share.
- My success with FMQ was never a fluke. I always planned, just like with improv piecing. And once I had a good plan in place, I was able to relax and go along for the ride. So preparation is muy importante.
- Finding the right speed is key to good flow. Before I began each part on Miss Poinsettia, I practiced on some cast offs to get the speed right. For instance, the circles I did almost all the way to the left (real slow) and the leaves I did a little bit more than the middle. So practice to find your flow.
- When in doubt, listen to Tara. But like don’t all contact Tara. She’s mine. Find your own Tara if you’re ever second guessing yourself and ask him or her.
And like, I’m still new to FMQ and have sooooo much to learn. So like if y’all have learned anything along the way or have any pearls, please please please share them in the comments so I can steal them…er…learn from them.
And…Happy Holidays Y’all!