Thursday, July 15, 2010

Two Free Motion Quilting Book Reviews

When trying to learn a new skill, a totally sane person would at least buy a book or a CD on the subject, but not me. I have to muddle awhile on my own first. I need to get my hands into it, know what it feels like so that when I finally do buy that book or CD, the information will make more sense to me.

Having recently jumped into Free Motion Quilting while working on Matt's Quilt, I did indeed get familiar with a range of emotions and spastic moves associated with skill.
  • Ack!  Don't let your mind wander
  • Where the heck am I?
  • This is really cool!
  • I'm on a terrifying rollercoaster
  • Why did my hands do that?!
  • This is going to look like crap.
  • How fun!
  • What the heck am I doing?
In other words, my experience gravitated between horror and loving the possibilities.  So now, I finally decided to order some books on the subject of Free Motion Quilting.

The first book is Free Motion Quilting Made Easy by Eva Larkin.  I got a kick out of the "Made Easy" part of the title.  I had to see.

I'll admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of the information she provided did indeed make the process seem less daunting.  One of my problems when looking at a quilt is trying to decide how to even get started.  The quilt looks so big, the possibilities for design are wide open (if only my skills were good enough), and I just have no idea how to attack the problem.  This book addresses that issue.  While of course practice is still a must--there is no way around that--what this book does is provide a well-thought out strategy for making wonderful free motion quilting designs with little marking.  She advises breaking your quilting area down into sections no more than 4 1/2" square.  For a 12" block, this results in 9 sections within the block.  Within the 4 1/2" square sections, she shows how to use some very basic shapes--like ovals, triangles, diamonds--to make some very attractive and intricate looking designs.  When I was done perusing this book, I felt much calmer and as though I will be able to do free motion quilting successfully.

The second book is Hooked on Feathers by Sally Terry.  There were two reasons I got this book.  First, I love the look of feathers in quilting, so if there was a chance in the universe I could learn to do feathers, then I wanted to take it.  The second reason is that several quilters have recommended this book as an incredibly easy way to achieve beautiful looking feathered designs.  I'll admit that again I was skeptical.  Feathers that beautiful just couldn't be that easy.  And yet, the technique this talented quilter has developed does provide a way to make beautiful feathered motifs with little marking and much less work than traditional feathers.  When I read about her technique, I was confident I could master it.

Armed with the information, techniques, and tips from these two books, I'm going to start free motion quilting the Pansy Sampler Quilt.  It's not only going to be a sampler by block design, but also in quilting.  The 16 blocks in this quilt ought to provide me with ample opportunity to try out these various quilting techniques.  Unlike Matt's Quilt, this quilt is for me, and so any imperfections will be mine and mine alone.  I am poised with anticipation!

While today's blog doesn't show off any creative achievement, I am going to link up over at Amy's blog for Sew and Tell Friday.  I hope that these book reviews will be inspiring to other free motion quilting newbies like myself.  And since I will be sharing my free motion quilting adventures with my fellow bloggers on Sew and Tell Friday in the future, I wanted everyone to know where the adventure began. 

I'd better to get to pin basting the Pansy Sampler Quilt!


  1. I've got the FMQ Made Easy book, and found it very helpful more in concept than in actual practice - I haven't tried any of her designs, but I have utilized many of the techniques - just finding out that I didn't have to turn the whole quilt around to FMQ a spiral was an epiphany! (OK, I know, I'm a little slow on the uptake.....) But I agree with you, you really need to try it first to understand what they are talking about when you finally read the book!

  2. Michelle, a huge hug from me! I'm a very newbie when it comes to FMQ too, always dreaded it and have been sure I wouldn't master it! I've been thinking of buying some books, but so far none. It's much more easier when somebody recommends books, so I'll purchase these two books right away! Thanks to you! :)
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

  3. Thanks for the reviews! These sound like good ones to have in the library. Looking forward to seeing your FMQ on the pansy quilt!

  4. I'm a jump right in and then read about it gal too. I'll take your advice and try to get my hands on these books as well. One of the things that stops me from buying books is that they might be useless. Your recommendations were really helpful.

  5. just read about the Feathers book on another blog, so thanks for another review! I will look to see if our library has it!

  6. Thanks for the informative information. That Hooked on Feathers books looks like a possible purchase in my future.

    xo -Elizabeth

  7. I'm also interested in the feathers book...I have to mark my feathers :(

    Can't wait to see what you do-I love the idea of a quilting sampler on the Pansy Sampler!

  8. That's how I do things as well. Only with unix instead of quilts.

    The very *day* I met you, I knew we'd get along famously.

  9. Thanks for the tips and book suggestions! I've only created one quilt so far and used straight lines. Maybe one day I'll jump into free-motion. Thanks for sharing. Happy Sewing :o)

  10. fun to read reviews. Great ideas to share. thanks.

  11. Thanks for the review.And thanks for visiting my blog. Like Larri, I've only used straight lines quilting.Still not 'brave' enough to do free motion!Hugs, Penny

  12. Just be warned that free-motion quilting can be addictive, hahaha.

    Happy Quilting, Michelle.

    p.s. Thanks for your kind words on the smocked bishop.


Your comments brighten my day. :-)