Friday, December 14, 2012

“I Think I Can”

I think I can!

Do you remember that story from when you were a kid?  The story of the little engine and the big hill? 

Yes.  Well, I’m the little engine.  Free motion quilting is the hill. 

About those feathers . . . my first try.  (Mucho throat clearing).

As far my own story goes, we’re clearly in the early stages where the hill is b-i-i-i-g, and the progress up it is wee.  Still, I think I can.  So, I’m going to keep going. 

Here’s take number four:

You know, I think that is better.  Not good, mind you, but better.  I’m still practicing.  I’m hoping I’m determined.  Really determined this time.  And not merely hoping that books are like magic and if I just collect enough of them, I will somehow absorb their wisdom through osmosis.  Look at the collection of books on quilting I’ve collected. 

It’s not like I haven’t realized the need . . .

So, here’s the deal.  I recently bought the log cabin die from AccuQuilt – it was just released last month and I’m thinking this may be the best die ever!

I have two dresser drawers bulging with batiks.  I thought one way to double the pleasure, double the fun would be to use the log cabin die to use up some of those batiks while using the log cabin blocks to practice my free motion skills in quilt as you go mode.

So, I began by making up a few blocks.  At first I was only going to use the bottom half of the die, which would give me an eight inch block.

But that left me with an off balance block – with three logs to the side of the center square on two sides and four logs on the other two sides.  No, no, no.  My sense of balance and all things right in the universe can’t live with that.  So, now, after I cut the rectangle to lay on the die, I cut one extra strip to bump the log up to 9 inches square. I could use the GO! die for this but it is actually easier to just cut the extra strip with the rotary cutter. 

Balance!  Whew! 

My plan is to sew four log cabin blocks into a square and then freemotion them.  I’ll make up oodles, get lots of practice in, and finally sash them and get a new bed quilt out of it.  (Confession: one of the great virtues to all those batiks is that you can’t really see the stitching, so when I am less than wonderful in my execution, who will be able to tell?)   I did something like this for my son years ago, and it worked out quite well.  What worked once can work again.

Meanwhile, I am starting by doing just one block at a time.  I’ll make up six blocks, freemotion them one by one, and then sew them into a row, add borders on the long sides and then put these on a sofa table in my living room (it’s due for a change). 

I’ve done the leaf – January’s tutorial.

And the feather – February’s tutorial.  It’s a little hard to see but there is a feather in the middle (surrounded by echo quilting that leaves me thinking of oil slicks . .  . hmmm).

And some Ann Fahl inspired loops and stars, March’s tutorial.

For the record, here was my practice piece for the March free motion challenge.  I just practiced various bits.

And what have I learned from all this?  One: I am not a natural at feathers.  Two: you can free up a lot of bobbins by using the old leftover bits.  Three:  I need to keep reminding myself to move the needle faster.  Four:  at the stage I’m at, practice does not make perfect; it does, however, make for less imperfect.  I like to think I’m part way up that hill.

Tomorrow I am off to Joann’s to pick up some tulle and an embroidery hoop – and then it’s onto the April tutorial technique. 

I think I can.

We’ll see.


  1. Your practice pieces look good. I need to do the same thing because my FMQ is not that great. In March I'm taking a workshop from Jill Schumacher and hopefully will improve my skills then. Great idea of what to do with your batik scraps!

  2. Terrie, your FMQ looks really quite good! Congratulations!