Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why I Quilt the Way I Do

I'm not very good at machine quilting. I mostly do straight lines: stitch in the ditch and straight diagonals. Sometimes I give in and attempt free motion quilting.

I find free motion quilting quite hard to do, and have never mastered the traditional patterns. I don't like meandering much. I have had to develop my own style. One problem I have is that my machine skips stitches when I free-motion. It'll be going along fine, and then suddenly I get three or four half-inch (or even bigger) size stitches. Not good! (I thought I had fixed this by using Quilting Needles, but no such luck. I'm pretty sure one big cause is pilot error.)

The quilting that I show here sort of compensates for skipped stitches. I did wonky concentric circles as you see in the pictures below.

When skipped stitches happened, I backed up and re-stitched that area, or went back around, adding to the circle, and filled in the space with semi-normal size stitches. (Since it's me in the driver's seat, they're not ever really normal.) Later I cut out the large, skipped stitches if possible, or just left them there if they camouflaged by my added stitches.

Here are some examples, from two different quilts. The first examples are on the back of the quilt that is pictured above.

This is a quilt I made a few years ago; these pictures show the front of the quilt.. similar wonky circles..

and my other speciality is wonky star-shapes, like this:

I wonder what people think when I donate quilts that I have finished in this style. Are they surprised it's done in that wonky, break-the-rules style? Do they even realize it's not traditional? Do they care? Do they like it/dislike it? I've had to settle for it in my own mind.. I even sort of like it.. but I do wish I could do some traditional swirlies or feathers and such with a certain level of ease. So far I have not come close. Perhaps my domestic machine will never allow me to quilt anything too fancy. I know I don't want to get heavily involved in long-arm quilting, so for me this is what has to happen. When I want it to look professional and nice, I "quilt by check."

How do you handle this dilemma of how to get your quilts finished?


Nann said...

Because quilts in magazines and books are usually done on long-arm machines, the quilting looks really, really good. It is helpful to see other people's "regular" FMQ. The past year and a half I've made an effort to finish flimsies. (Two dozen +/- in 2012 and fifteen so far this year.) I hate marking. My go-to quilting designs are loopy flowers (in blocks as small as 4" and as large as 12" though the smaller ones look better), loopss-and-bubbles in sashes and inner borders, and two varieties of leaf-and-vine for outer borders. I have become fairly proficient as a result, though I'd like to develop a coupld of other designs for quilting pieced blocks.

Nann said...

Sorry for the typos in my post!

Unknown said...

Well, I quilt as you do to make me happy with what I do. I sometimes look at those "perfect" quilts and know that mine will look totally original.
I don't do many quilts that are from magazine designs, but interpretations of my own when I see them.
As to free motion, #1 for me is gloves...#2, is to not move too quickly as that is how skipping happens for me. #3...who sees it except you!
I think anyone who gets a quilt is always so happy, happy that someone took the time and effort to make something out of scraps.
Last summer I gave a quilt as the best dish prize at our pot luck supper...the woman cried! That said it all for me.
Keep doing what you do.

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

I don't think the recipients have any idea what goes into the quilting and they figure it is how it should look. Try topstitching needles size 80. They have a long eye and it may solve the skipped stitches problem.

sophie said...

Yesterday, when I was quilting some wonky flowers over and over again, FMQ on my old Singer 301, I started thinking about quilters 50 or more years ago, using a machine like mine ... there weren't all those computerized longarm machines creating perfect stitches and perfectly identical designs. Those quilters probably weren't so hard on themselves.

I also realized that if I had access to a computerized longarm machine and was quilting a quilt like mine--with 200 squares filled with a similar flower-fill design, I'd still want to design something that was wonky and imperfect.

I have a stack of quilt tops that have been waiting for me to be skilled and confident enough to quilt them the way I want them ... I am getting better and see every project as FMQ practice for the next. I enjoy the FREEdom in free motion quilting. I'm working on the third quilt on the Singer 301 (after quilting on a little Bernina) and I can see my progress up the learning curve ... even though my quilting is still FAR from perfect.

Jeanne said...

I make a LOT of quilts, but they are not show quilts, and they are not long-arm perfect! I make utility quilts that are meant to be washed and loved :) The quilting I do on my home machine is what it is: it holds the layers together!

em's scrapbag said...

I think the people that receive your quilts feel loved and appreciated. Beside when it comes to rules in quilting they are more like guidelines. At least that's how I play.

Anne Simonot said...

I stick with outline quilting & in the ditch, & only on baby quilts or smaller. I've gotten quite good with outline quilting (1/4" from the seam line) and have been pretty happy with my last few projects. I'd like to spend some time attempting FMQ again. Mostly though, I've found a very reasonably priced long arm quilter & am happy to quilt by cheque!