I've been gearing up for this week with several posts such as Understanding Free Motion Quilting and Memorizing Quilting Designs. Make sure to check out both of those articles if you find yourself needing tips on relaxing at your machine or figuring out what or where to stitch next while working on your next quilt.
After reading those articles you'll find a theme that runs through both: the importance of practice.
I can't stress it enough, I can't say it enough, I can't do it enough -
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!
Watching videos will only get you so far, drawing on a notebook will only get you so far, you're going to have to actually get on your machine and shut up and quilt sometime during this week and play with this design if you truly want to master it.
Now with my lecture out of the way, let's watch this week's video:
Please keep in mind that I'm still learning how to shoot larger scale fillers. I couldn't really tell if I was getting a good angle or not, but I'm pretty pleased with this so far. I just keep having to remind myself to slow down!
Now let's go into a bit more depth about what you saw in the video:
First off, Stippling is governed by two very simple rules:
1. Stitch a wiggly line. 2. Don't allow this line to cross itself.
This is a pretty simple set of rules, yet Stippling can be challenging when you try to immediately stitch something like this:
This is the more complex form of Stippling which forms a dense, wiggly mass over your quilt. But it took a few weeks of practice to get here. I certainly didn't start stippling this complex version right off the bat, and I don't advise you to try it that way.
To learn Stippling, I broke the design down into a simpler version and got the hang of that first, then slowly added more bends and curves until it became the complex design it is today.
So if we break down those rules into the simplest format, you will get a Super Simplified Version of Stippling that looks something like this:
Let's call this U Shape Stippling.
Spend some time drawing and quilting this wiggly line. Wiggle and Wiggle and Wiggle until you start to go a bit wiggly, and then wiggle some more!
When you're so bored out of your mind with wiggles you'd like to kill me, move on to a slightly more complex wiggle:
Let's call this Peace Sign Stippling, and make sure to try the reverse version as well:
Again, draw and quilt this new wiggly line. Feel free to print this page and trace it if you have to. Whatever you have to do in order to get the practice you need!
Only when you're bored to tears again, play with bending the curve to create a bit more complexity:
Let's call this one Lobster Claw Stippling and again, make sure to stitch the reverse version as well:
Do you see where I'm going with this? Each row of shapes is slightly more complex, but at the same time they're very simple because it's just the same wiggles repeated over and over again.
When you're ready, you can start mixing and matching these simple shapes to create a more complex version.
Really you can practice this however you like, but here's what I did this week:
I made a 1/2 yard quilt sandwich with black fabric and stitched across the narrow side several times with each version of Stippling.
You might have noticed marked lines on my quilt sandwich. I marked lines about 3 inches apart so I could work my rows of simple stippling straight across the quilt:
If you finish your practice piece and still feel excited and enthusiastic about your progress, make another sandwich and keep quilting!
If you finish your practice piece and feel so frustrated and angry you're ready to throw your machine out the window, please stop quilting and go have fun doing something else! This is not a torture session here!
See Stippling in a Real Quilt
Now you might be thinking that only the most complex version of Stippling is acceptable to stitch over a real quilt.
And you'd be wrong.
You can stitch even the most simplistic version of stippling - yes! even those basic rows of U shapes can go on a REAL QUILT!
This Pink quilt was my very first free motion quilted quilt:
I only had a vague idea of what stippling looked like. All I knew for sure was that you didn't cross your lines so I just stitched rows and rows of U shapes:
I think this looks really nice! I spaced this stippling so there was around 1/2 inch between each line of quilting. While you might think the quilt would end up stiff, it's actually one of the softest quilts I've ever made.
Here's another tip if you want to practice on a real quilt - if you use a cotton batting that has a slight shrink to it, and if you've not pre-washed your fabric (this is the ONLY time I'll EVER say this is okay), then when you wash the quilt the first time, it will shrink slightly and you will get that nice soft ripply texture you see on my quilt above.
Now let's see some larger, more complex stippling:
This is a much larger and more complex version stitched over a cheater cloth quilt. The 1 inch scale here requires a lot of hand moving and repositioning the quilt so you can see what you're doing.
Whenever you stop and start, try taking a few stitches with your machine at a slow speed, then slowly bring the machine up to full speed again as you return to stitching the design smoothly.
Now if stitching on a small scale is your goal, you can follow all the same steps as above, only instead of stitching big, shrink it down and stitch each row really small. All the same rules apply for big quilting or small quilting and the lessons work either way.
Okay, I think we've pretty much nailed down the basics of Stippling! If I've missed anything or am confusing in any way, please share your question in the comments below. Don't be surprised if I answer your question tomorrow on the project!
Spend a week working on this design, then be ready to share your progress and any questions next Wednesday.
Let's go quilt!