Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Then and Now: Free Motion Quilting Growth

Then..and Now Linky Party | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I'm coming in under the wire on joining this link up, but I've been thinking of making a post showing my early quilting to my current quilting for a while now.  The Then and Now link up at Devoted Quilter finally got me motivated to get some pictures together!

Let's start with my very first free motion quilt (FMQ) and some of my most recent:

My Hippocamp and my first bed quilt.

That large stipple was done while I was 8-9 months pregnant with my first kiddo (awkward baby bump to quilt with!), was on my mom's small Janome from the '90s, and it was a queen sized quilt!  Seriously, it was my first at pretty much everything quilty.  You can see from the photo that my curves are not very smooth and my stitch length is far from consistant--and often as large as a 5, and sometimes as small as a 1!  After almost 7 years of heavy use (including 3 bug infestations, which require hot wash and drying to get rid of!) it definitely shows and there are holes in the binding, a lot of broken stitches, and the cheap fabrics are significantly faded.  PSA: always buy the best quality you can afford!  It was last far longer and age far nicer than the cheaper options.

(same quilt as above) Whoa big stitches.  I'd rip and redo that stitch size if that happened now.

About a year later I started getting into more detailed FMQ and made this red mandala quilt on my Janome 6300, and 4.5 years later my interest in mandalas and paisleys is still going strong:

Red quilt from 2011 and lavender quilt is the back of the Night Camping mini quilt from 2015.

The biggest improvements I see are the smooth curves in the swirls, consistant size of the scallop borders, and the density and diversity in the designs.

Here is another one, focusing on the feathers:

Pink feathers are from my Lone Star quilt and the dino feather is from my Dinosaur mini quilt.

That pink quilt marks a big turning point in my quilting journey!  It's when I decided to stop pining for a long arm and focus on what I could do with my domestic machine.  The whole quilt was an experiment to see what I could do, to see what would result if I pushed myself to focus more on the quality and details.  I was (am) so proud of the result!  It won 1st place at the NM state fair that year (wall hanging category, I think) and was juried in to MQX New England.

Of course now I look at it and also see the wobbly lines, the inconsistent feathers, the ugly stems and the poor travel stitching.  But I see that and am still proud and still recognize that that quilt was the gateway to the my current style and voice in the quilting world!  It hangs in my living room, though I am thinking of moving it to my daughter's room soon.

Reverse side of the Lone Star quilt.

To those that are at the beginning of their quilting journeys I say this: keep going, keep pushing yourself to try new things, focus on small improvements!  Don't stop practicing and experimenting!  

17 comments:

  1. I love that Lone Star quilt! Actually, your post about it was the very first post of yours that I read, shortly after I started my own blog, and I've been following along with you ever since :) Your quilting sure has come a long way!! Those were some pretty giant stitches in your first quilt! It was fun to see your progression. The quilting in the red mandala quilt was a huge improvement, but there were still wobbles in your lines and things weren't quite smooth, and then there's another huge jump to the Lone Star quilt, and then again to now. Great encouragement for those just starting out, for sure :) Thanks for linking with me for Then...and Now!

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  2. WOW this is so encouraging! I've only done straight line quilting so far on my quilts because I am terrified of ruining a quilt top with free motion. I keep telling myself that I need to practice and I'll get better over time, but seeing your back to back pictures really emphasizes that. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. This post is fantastic, Renee. The thing that I have always loved about your work is your fearless approach to quilting, and your encouragement of us all to take that next step and love all our work. There isn't a stitch I really regret except for the ones I was too afraid to try. :)

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  4. That Lone Star Quilt was one of the first I saw of yours. I remember being so impressed. You definitely inspired me to keep practicing and to FMQ on solids! And look where we are now - wholecloth quilts! :D

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  5. Impeccable timing for me, as I was beginning to feel a little discouraged! Thanks!

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  6. Wow! Seeing your progression is just amazing. Even though I completely missed the official posting deadline for this topic, I think I need to go back and look at how my own quilting has improved and remember that I'm doing my best work right now.

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  7. It is so much fun to see your progress. I always bring my first FMQ quilt to my classes and remind my students that we all have to start somewhere.

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  8. This is a great post, thanks for showing us. I suppose i always thing that talented quilters, like you, were born quilting incredible designs but everyone has a journey

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  9. We started quilting around the same time! It's fun to see your progression. Your skills have far surpassed mine. My piecing has gotten more complex and precise, but sadly, my quilting hasn't improved remarkably. hmmm....
    happy weekend ~ Tracy

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  10. Te envio mi blog de poesia por si quieres criticar.
    Gracias
    http://anna-historias.blogspot.com.es/2016/09/vacaciones.html?m=1

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  11. How great to see progress and the benefits of practice illustrated so clearly. Thank you for sharing, Renee.

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  12. This is so fabulous! Such a testament to the fact that practice really does pay off. I'm going to refer my students to this post when they get frustrated that their first FMQ isn't perfect. Well done, friend!!

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I'm just starting--been "practicing" forever. This was sooooo inspiring! I can do it, it just takes practice and time.

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  14. Inspirational post. Thanks for sharing insights on your free-motion quilting journey and encouraging others. #CreativeGoodness (create, share, inspire).

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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  15. Wow, those are amazing quilting and thank you for the encouragement. You were brave to do a queen size quilt for your first anything quilty. I am going to look to you as my inspiration since I gave up on the idea of ever owning a long arm.

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  16. Thank you! I, too, have longed go a long arm machine and have now decided it's time to quilt my own quilts on my domestic machine without benefit of a stitch regulator. I'm realizing that much practice is what it takes. Your post is inspiring!

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  17. Thank you! I, too, have longed go a long arm machine and have now decided it's time to quilt my own quilts on my domestic machine without benefit of a stitch regulator. I'm realizing that much practice is what it takes. Your post is inspiring!

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