Thursday, November 14, 2013

Working On My FMQ

Last weekend, when I was meant to be cleaning up the craft room (oh, how I love to get sidetracked), I finally decided to do something with the adorable teeny weeny mini charm pack of Sweetwater's Noteworthy that's been sitting on the shelf for about a year.

Yup, a year on the shelf, unopened, and suddenly I had to play. That's so me. But as I am working very very hard to break my UFO habit, I started and finished my new project all in one day. The end result was this sweet cushion:

Excuse the crappy photos - no rain in six months and this week we've had afternoon thunderstorms every day. No outdoor photography for me this week!

Really, this was an excuse to test out the new generic sewing machine feet I bought off eBay (here). Ever since I first saw a 1/4 inch foot that was the same width on the left and right, I have coveted one (some girls like shoes... what can I say?). And I have also wanted a nice, sturdy darning foot for free motion quilting. I looked for Brother ones that fitted the bill with no luck, so I decided to try generic. Naturally I had to piece something that allowed me to use both sides of my 1/4 inch foot, and then stretch my FMQ skills.

To be honest, I have been unhappy with my (not cheap) Brother's FMQ performance lately. Maybe it is my skill level and confidence, but it was getting me down. Since a new machine is out of the question right now I decided to try a few different things to see if I could improve results. Enter the sturdier darning foot and new thread - I used a Rasant, though I recently bought some Aurifil and Isacord to try too. I have been using Connecting Threads thread which is fine for piecing, but I don't think my machine likes it for quilting since much shredding, breaking and swearing seemed to accompany every quilting session. After a few troubleshooting tips from Gemma last week (really, who knew thread was meant to come off in a certain direction?) I was ready to go.

I am excited to say that this was my best free motion effort to date. It's not perfect, but in terms of running smoothly, using only one strand of thread until I ran out of bobbin, and a distinct lack of swearing, I am super happy with the results. The only thing I regret a little is my thread choice - it blends in so well with the fabric range that the quilting is hard to see. Sometimes this is good, but in this case I wanted it to pop a little more.

I quilted each plus with a different quilting pattern, pretty much just making it up as I went along. Old standbys - stippling and pebble quilting - featured, and I added a few more new designs, turning to Pinterest for inspiration, of course. I did organic lines for the border.

Pebble quilting is my favourite.

But organic diagonals has a place too.

Lines, lines and more lines the other way.
Stippling I can do, but I so want to move beyond it.
Loving the loop the looping.
I love the texture the organic stripe border creates.

Gemma is talking about confidence over at her I Quilt linky this week, and this is something I'm really working towards boosting in my FMQ. I know it takes practice, but I really believe the other factor is tools. Regardless of your machine, it is important to consider needles, thread and machine feet - these little things are making a big difference to my quilting. I love m new darning foot and I am enjoying playing around with threads to see what works and doesn't work in my machine.

 And on that note, I'm linking up to I Quilt for the very first time this week!


  1. Your cushion is beautiful. Getting distracted and stealing sewing time from tidying is the best. Your FMQ looks great. Love it

  2. Such a sweet little cushion Jane! Yay for the awesome FMQ - it's looking fabulous!

  3. Gorgeous. I love Noteworthy and your cushion is lovely. You make the most of procrastinating!

  4. Gorgeous cushion! YOu've just given me an idea for the little mini charms I have too!

  5. Lovely cushion and great post Jane! I totally agree that practice and tools make a difference :) thanks for linking up xx