Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Foray Into FMQ Feathers

Two nights ago with the help of my mom (Thanks Mom!), I pin-basted the Pansy Sampler Quilt. The pin-basting wasn't quite as tedious as usual, because as I pinned, I kept studying the various blocks imagining how I would apply my new found FMQ knowledge obtained from the books, Free Motion Quilting Made Easy, and Hooked on Feathers, which I blogged about here

So last night, I shoved the Pansy Sampler into the Juki and mentally psyched myself up.  Yep, I felt totally dangerous!

I guess the psyching up worked, because I jumped in deep.  It wasn't my intention to start out with feathers, although I was most anxious to try them.  However, there is only one block with a black background in the sampler, and the Juki was already loaded up with black thread, and I had planned feathers for that block.....  I took it as a sign.

Here is where I started.  The feathers don't look quite as pretty as those in the book, but for my very first attempt, I'm not dissatisfied.

(Sorry the pictures look washed out, but I have a feeling the quilting might be hard to see without the flash.)

Then I moved to a larger section in the background.  My original intent had been to fill the space with ever larger feathers as I moved from the center outward, but after I got to a certain size, making the feathers seemed a bit more difficult.  I decided larger feathers would be a different skill for a different day, and so I brought the motif back in at the top.  So far, so good.

The only problem is that I wanted the background totally filled, so I made some feather "sprouts" off to each side

It took me about 45 minutes to do these two little sections, but I could tell it was getting easier the more I did it, so I suspect it will go faster as I get more practice.  The other consideration time-wise, is that I didn't have to do any marking at all to create these intricate looking feathers.  That is definitely time saved.  Frankly, even with hand-quilting, I've never done any quilting this intricate because I didn't want to take the time to mark the quilt.  (I think I could use the same principles for making feathers in hand-quilting too.) 

I've always loved making tops, but got bogged down at the quilting phase, because I wasn't able to create extravagant designs on the machine, and hand-quilting takes a very long time.  I have a feeling that is all about to change.  I am ecstatic.


  1. Wow, I am sooo impressed. I don't think I am ever going to get over the machine quilting procrastination and worry stage . What a great start and I think you might have been right about the sign. Can't wait to see your progress.

  2. It's kind of fun, isn't it? I haven't tried feathers, but I just spent the better part of two days "meandering" across a 60X60 quilt. I feel like I've been wandering around for a while! Next I may try something a little more structured, like your feathers! Great work, and can't wait to see more!!

  3. I think you have the feather down! I want to get better at machine quilting - it is very expensive to take things to a prof. quilter. Tops are easy, quilting is hard.

  4. Congrats on FMQ! Wow, and you jumped straight into the feathers! That's brave! I've stitched in the ditch on all the quilts I've done, so I guess it's time to step out of that ditch - lol - and do some progress. I did order the books you recommended, but won't get them before august, have to wait for one book that won't be published before beginning august.
    Wishing you all the best on FMQ!

  5. "Sorry the pictures look washed out..."

    Would've sent them to your email addy, which I seem not to have! Attempting to obfuscate it from the bots, mine can be found here: under "Contact"

  6. I think you did great Michelle ! It looks beautiful. How much vodka did you drink before you started FMQ-ing, because I have a feeling thats what its going to take for me ...

  7. What a great start, Michelle! Your very first feathers look wonderful. :) You may recall that I adore feathers, so I'm glad to see that you're another feather fan. ;)

  8. Wow, they look great right out of the gate! Very impressive, even how you did feather "sprouts" off the main feather. Awesome!

  9. You are off to a great start on the free-motion quilting. I find that it takes a couple of tries to get "warmed up" to moving the fabric steadily to accommodate the design I am trying to achieve. It will get easier.

    Thanks for your comment on my notebook. I am excited to try some more!

  10. Well done! I've still a beginner at machine quilting, but, like you, keen to try. I'm glad to hear that the feathers aren't quite as tricky as they look - I'll be brave soon ;)

  11. So far, so good. That looks really nice! Yay for you! That is so awesome that you're learning something new.

    I've always paid to have my quilts machine quilted and have been in awe of the work I get back. I'm working on stippling right now and find that it gets easier as you go along. Maybe one day I'll be brave and try something more difficult!

    xo -E

  12. Good for you, that's the way to do it just jump right in! Larger feathers are harder to keep smooth so PPP is the key[practice,practice,practice]

  13. Michelle,

    I am so proud of you for "jumping in deep"! I am glad you are enjoying FMQ. Hugs from a fellow FMQ addict! :)

  14. Oh, thanks also for all your kind words on my quilts... :)


Your comments brighten my day. :-)