Josh is just learning the basics to quilting so if you're at the same point in learning this awesome craft, hopefully these new posts will help you get started and answer your questions along the way.
Take it away Josh!
Well, first I should say I was expecting the entire process to be a lot more difficult and frustrating than what it ultimately was. Keep in mind I had never touched a sewing machine before, except for hauling them from place to place. I didn't even know how to drop my foot.
The first practice piece and actual block were tricky, but I quickly got into the swing of it as I became more comfortable with the needle and regulating the pedal for steady speed. But my blocks were still far from perfect.
Here is one of my earliest blocks:
You can clearly see I'm a newbie. But I didn't have any baggage going in because I had absolutely zero experience sewing anything. So no bad habits to unlearn, no real fear of destroying a quilt with ugly stitches. I was a total blank slate and decidedly not being judgmental of my work.
I began with the U-shaped stippling that Leah had designed for our baby quilt project. I stitched them vertically and found this motion to the most natural flow for me. This is critical in FMQ--learn the angles and directions that are most comfortable for you to produce the most even stitching.
You can also see the block was marked first with a Fons & Porter Ceramic Pencil. And that leads us to my beginner tip today...
Starting out, I found it critical to mark every block. Leah attempted an experiment by marking half of the blocks and leaving the other half empty for freehand work.
Some designs, like the U-shapes, can easily be done without marking. But not the first time. You really, really need to mark your blocks starting a new design just to know where you're going and how to get through the block easily.
Now let's look at one of the last blocks I did and compare:
You can see the improvement in stitch consistency and overall workmanship, especially comparing the U-shaped fillers here to the above picture. Also note the spirals--this filler, for me, was the most natural and easiest design to do.
These blocks were also marked. I quickly learned when trying an unmarked block that stitching a spiral was practically impossible. Maybe I'll be able to quilt this freehand one day, but for right now there are just some designs that absolutely have to be marked before being quilted.
So that's my tip this week! Mark every single block until you're confident you've mastered the flow of stitching.
Just in case you don't have a marking pencil, you can find the Fons & Porter marking pencil I used right here in the quilt shop. To erase the marks, just erase them with the eraser on the pencil or wipe the surface of the quilt with a damp towel before throwing the quilt in the washer.
Until next time, let's go quilt,