Leftover Lessons

Last week, I finished my leftovers quilt.


This quilt is my first attempt at free motion quilting.  It started out rather roughly, but turned out ok in the end.   I did learn some things in the process of making this quilt, so even if it is not perfect, it has served me well.

Lesson #1:  Speed is everything.  I found that when I tried to go slowly, my curves were more zigzaggy and my stitch length varied wildly.  This is one instance where having a lead foot is sort of an advantage…unless…you can’t move your quilt (see #2).

Lesson #2:  Stopping abruptly is better than a slowdown to a stop.  I had an especially hard time with this one.  I would reach a point where I could move the quilt no further and had to stop to adjust, but if I didn’t let off the gas suddenly, the machine would sew a lot of stitches in one place (because I couldn’t move it).  This created some little knots in places and actually made it harder to create a fluid line as well.


Lesson #3: A smooth back is better.  I thought it would look cool to use up all my leftover pieces to sew up a more modern looking back.  And, yes, it does look cool.  I might even like the back better than the front, but those seams on the back caused a bit of trouble for me.  I could avoid a lot of the larger seams on the top because I could see them, but occasionally, the seams on the back would get stuck and I would have to tug at it to move the quilt.  This caused some jerky stitches that I was not terribly happy about.

Lesson #4:  Irregular is better.  I am a beginner.  It is very difficult to follow a precise pattern, unless you draw it on, but I did not feel like doing that.  It’s better to pick an irregular stitch pattern until you’ve practiced enough to have total control over your stitches, otherwise the mistakes will stick out.

Lesson #5:  Just keep going.  Only a lot of practice will help get your stitches more even and fluid.  If I stopped and tried to fix every mistake, I would never have finished this.   Except for that part where I stitched two parts of the quilt together, I didn’t take any stitches out, even though I started out with a different design intent that I originally planned. Yes, it looks a little funny, but it’s not worth ripping out in this case.

Lesson #6: Look at the big picture.   Now that it is done, I kind of like it, but only if I look at it from across the room.  If I look at it any closer, I see all the imperfections and that would bug me if it were on my lap for a long time.  Isn’t that the case for a lot of things in life?  Don’t look too closely, you may see something you may not want to see.

Well, that’s it with me and fmq for now.  I can say that I was impressed with how fast I got this quilt quilted.  Once I got over that figure eight thing and went random, it truly was “freeing” to just move the quilt around and not have to follow any set lines.  I may come back to this technique in the not so distant future, but for now, I will put it to bed.  I have other things I want to do.


Posted on May 9, 2012, in Finished, Quilting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Well, I think that thing is just STUNNING! And I think free-motion quilting is just what it says it is….free. It’s supposed to have a loose, fresh, unstudied look that is different from it’s formal counterparts. I’d call this a rousing success and if I were closer, personally put a feather in your cap! And, darn it, now I’m inspired to make a quilt.

  2. I like this quilt and I think the quilting looks great! And practice truly is the key to free motion quilting. I love it when you get into a rhythm and it just flows. Of course, that ‘s when you thread breaks! 🙂 It’s interesting that you say a pieced back caused some quilting issues. I’ve never used a pieced back because I was afraid that would happen.

  3. Oooo I really like the quilt. Great colours

  4. looks great to me! i still don’t have the guts to try FMQ so i’m totally impressed.

  5. Congratulations on the finish – I think you did a great job for your first FMQ and tackled it with gusto.

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