Sunday, May 8, 2016

St Pete, FL

Here are the last four FMQ motifs I used on Charming Cupcakes.

In this pink that reads as fairly solid, I used a fan shape that radiates out from one corner. Three lobes plus two half lobes along the adjacent sides. As I was stitching these, I felt like the lobes were really uneven. Where they all come together or cross near the corner seemed especially variable. But when the block was finished, that all kind of disappeared in the overall shape. So this one is a keeper. It was fast and forgiving. Starts in one corner, ends in an adjacent corner, no travel stitching.

After having quilted the turquoise and orange versions of this busy medallion fabric, I knew it would almost completely hide whatever motif I chose.  And sure enough, here is a photo that shows almost nothing of the FMQ! You're welcome. 

The pattern was actually concentric squares radiating out from one corner. Because the lines are supposed to be parallel to the sides, it isn't very forgiving. It worked fine with the busy fabric, but wasn't terribly interesting, in my opinion. This surprised me, because I'm usually drawn to geometric shapes.

On this darker green batik, I used a motif from the diamond shapes part of the book. Squares are, after all, just diamonds with all 90 degree corners. I like these fluid curves; they are fast and simple and don't need to be completely symmetric to still look okay. Starts in one corner, travels half way along one edge and ends in the middle of that same edge.

And finally, the green zig zags. I knew this fabric would be a challenge to quilt. There's so much movement in the design that no matter what quilting motif I chose, there would be a certain amount of conflict. So I chose a pattern that I have used before: a diamond with a curved iris shape inside it, then an inner fill of loops. Since I had several other designs that were open in the center and more densely quilted around the edges, I wanted this one to be the opposite of that.

All the remaining blocks on this quilt are the cupcake fabrics. I decided to leave those completely unquilted to make them stand out from the others. We'll see how it all plays out after it is washed and dried.

Now that I've tried a dozen or so motifs from Shape by Shape, I feel like I've made some progress in my FMQ journey. 

Lessons learned:

1. The fabric really makes or breaks the quilting. Busy fabrics and matching thread almost completely hide the stitching. While that's good for practicing, it's kind of a waste of time to put a lot of effort into fancy quilting there. Solids or near solids usually show the quilting more, but not always. The navy blue blender in this quilt looks completely unquilted. Maybe that's because it is dark?

2. Sometimes a motif is much easier for me if I stitch it in a different direction. Clockwise vs. counterclockwise; up and down vs. left and right; outside in vs. inside out. Try all the variations before giving up.

3. How the block is oriented can also make a difference. Turning the quilt so the block is square vs. on its point makes some motifs easier to visualize and stitch.

4. I don't like travel stitching, so I'd rather avoid motifs that require more than an inch or two of it. I do like patterns that let me move efficiently from block to block without traveling.

5. I don't like marking, but sometimes a single line or a few dots of marking can make a huge difference. I'm certainly not going to pre-draw an entire motif, though.

6. Simple motifs with only 4 to 12 lines of stitching per block can be just as pretty as fancy, dense quilting. On this size block (charm squares finishing 4.5") I like the more open quilting anyway. 

7. Most importantly, I really can't tell in advance how I feel about a motif. Some of these I picked out of the book because I thought they were really attractive, but my hand-eye-brain combo butchered them. Others looked "meh" in the book, but I really enjoyed stitching them and felt pleased with the finished block. 

Next time you see Charming Cupcakes, the binding will be on and it will be finished!

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