Thursday, June 15, 2017

Machine quilting the early days

Thirty some years ago and back in the beginning of my quilting obsession I was turning out quilts faster than I could hand quilt so the next step was to learn to machine quilt on my Elna.  At first I was stitching in the ditch but what's the point of showing pictures of that?!?  Gradually I tried free motion quilting on my domestic machine.  Puzzle piece stippling was all the rage,  just put your hands on the quilt and move it under the needle but don't ever cross a line.  Talk about a stress creator and it does very little to enhance the piecing.  But the quilts were finished and on the beds and kids were thrilled because Mommy loved them with all her stitches.

If I were to sit down with someone and teach them how to fmq I would start with loops.  I remember saying to myself as I worked on this "here we go loop de loop, here we go loop de li all on a.........." I don't know the rest of the words,  it took so much stress out of the process.  Go ahead and cross the line! Cross it this way, cross it that way.  Make big loops, make little loops, make double loops,  just make lots and lots of loops.  The loops progressed to daisy chains and flowers but I cannot find a photo of the many loopy flower borders I have done.
 Then I did loops and stars because everyone learns how to draw a star in first grade maybe kindergarten but they didn't have kindergarten in country school so I learned in 1st grade.  Make big stars, make little stars, make stars with long points, make stars with short points, make stars with long and short points, make them all different.

Sometime along the way I learned the meandering feather and concentric teardrops.  Practice drawing this on paper, a very large sheet of paper like the newspaper and a big marker, something that flows easily across the paper and use your arm to draw the teardrops and see where they go.  Machine quilting uses your big arm muscles to move the quilt under the needle. So use your big arm muscles to draw not your little hand and finger muscles like writing.  Its still my go to design for scrappy quilts.

 Another natural step in fmq is to swing arcs from point to point especially if you want to enhance the piecing.

 More arcs from point to point and loops just for fun and to fill in the space.  Practice, practice, practice and patience.  --Ann--

1 comment:

Ramona said...

How fun to see your quilting history! And you are right... it does take practice, practice, practice!