Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dogwood Quilting

There aren't very many things that I'm too chicken to try, but this quilting pattern on a real quilt... it was almost one of them.

Dogwood quilting

I started quilting Monday night.  My first row of flowers?  Not so great.  I might have stopped, but my husband came home, and I called him over, "Prepare to be impressed!"  I don't know if he was, but he watched me a bit and then commented, "That's going to take a long time." And somehow that actually helped.  I calculated that I had 480 flowers to quilt, so surely, surely by the end I would have vastly improved!

I think I quilted about 120 flowers that first night.  I had improved... only a little bit.  But it was too far in to go back now.  Sigh.

At first I was focusing very intently on the shapes of the petals. I found that I couldn't listen to an audio book, but really needed to focus ALL my energy on the arch of those petals.  I wanted thick, fat petals.  Smooth petals.  Up and around, down and around, up and around, down and around.  The motion, if I could get it right would become soothing, like knitting or crochet.  I could almost feel it!  I found myself trying to take deep breaths and relax and relax.

Course, there was also a lot of bobbin changing and some unpicking too.  Interruptions were the worst!  About halfway through a row I'd start feeling the motion, and then I'd get to the end of the row or have to change the bobbin - again! - or make a totally awful petal and have to stop to unpick.

quilting today!

By the way, I am so, SO glad that I use 505 basting spray!  I can't imagine having to stop to take out basting pins as I go.  I mean, free motion quilting has got to be a million times easier without navigating basting pin road blocks.  And, I also noticed that, unlike straight line quilting, free motion quilting is really forgiving of any basting errors.  There's absolutely no quilt drag!  Yay!!

Tuesday I did a few sessions of quilting interspersed with computer work.  Joy, oh, JOY - improvement!  My body finally learned the motion of the dogwood petals so that the shape started to come naturally.  Soon I could focus on connecting more perfectly to the center of the flower and matching my stitch speed more accurately to my hand speed so that I wasn't making such ridiculously tiny stitches (and eating up so, SO much thread!).

best and worst

In this picture the row on the far left is a row quilted today and the row to its right is my first row ever.  See the difference? Hurray!

I learned this quilting pattern on Elizabeth Hartman's blog via her Dogwood Quilting Tutorial.  If you try it, I suggest you mark a dot in the center of each block with your temporary marking tool.  That dot is great as a reference point for beginning and ending each and every petal so that they connect neatly.  I wouldn't go without it, as a newbie!

add a Center Dot

I have 2 rows left (that's 80 flowers!) until I'm done with this 60" x 72" quilt.  I think I've changed the bobbin about 8 times?  Thank goodness I just recently bought some big spools of Aurifil thread from Pink Chalk Fabrics (they have a nice basics set of Aurifil 50 wt) so I feel kind of thread-rich now and am not sweating the expense.  Those of you who free motion quilt regularly - you definitely spend more money in thread!

Today I'm really pleased with how my dogwood flowers are forming and I'm definitely enjoying the process.  It's soothing and satisfying, though physically exhausting at the same time.  I am using my Smarter Pfaff's quilting table and some Graberoo's grippy quilting gloves, which were gifted to me at some point.  Fortunately, my machine has been behaving for this part of the project, so it seems that all my stars are aligned!

loving it!

If you're chicken over free motion quilting, like I am (was?) I totally recommend making a simple 3" finished squares throw quilt and diving in to quilt dogwoods after a bit of practice on a mini quilt sandwich.  There's nothing like committing to a whole, big project to force yourself to learn. 

So excited I did!

79 comments:

  1. No matter the outcome, I'm so proud of you for tackling this big scary monster of yours. Honestly, the quilt is extremely enhanced by your choice of FMQ pattern. Great choice and it's looking wonderful!

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  2. Looks awesome on your quilt and in the end you will be so glad your persevered!

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  3. it's fantastic! I was thinking of using that pattern for my scrappy tripalong quilt, but we will have to see. I'm nervous!

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  4. I am a chicken. I can stitch meandering lines, loops or bubbles/pebbles but don't talk to me about swirls and flowers. I want to so badly they just don't look as good as in the books and I really don't want to ruin a quilt !

    But I agree with you, commiting to a bigger project help us learn !

    BTW, I think you totally captured the essence of you inspiration quilt in this one. It's so lovely !

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  5. Too chicken send work out to a long-armer (I'm not the best piecer), I've always quilted my own quilts. My view is that anyone can do it once they find the rhythm. That's the key. Once you have that down pat, there's nothing you can't accomplish with your machine!

    "Become one with your machine!"

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  6. the quilt is beautiful and the stiching is turning out great. the beauty of fmq ias that people always get better with practice.

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  7. Wow.... I am so impressed,it takes me all my time to do wobbly lines.I have not attempted a pattern yet.
    It looks great.xx

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  8. this was the perfect quilting choice. Sooooooo worth all the time. I love love love it!

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  9. This is looking gorgeous! I'm so loving this color scheme and the prints you picked...the text accents are perfection!

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  10. The quilt is looking GORGEOUS Rachel.

    I am too chicken to try dogwood at this point. I have this quilt that's been basted and ready for dogwood quilting style. The quilt has been sitting in my 'to do' pile for MONTHS...MONTHS!

    Think your quilt is motivating enough for me to start...haha maybe after you finish yours ;)

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  11. I didn't think I could love that quilt any more, but it turns out I can! Your quilting is beautiful! I've been wanting to try the dogwood pattern for ages and you've motivated me to give it a go!

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  12. Looks great! The quilting really match the patchwork. Learning to free motion is on my list of things to learn, but it is so scary to commit to that for a bigger quilt!

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    1. Yes, it is scary. And I really liked this quilt so I got pretty nervous about ruining it. But, now I like it more!

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  13. what a beauty, Rachel. And the quilting looks fabulous, all your adventures give me courage to give it a try, too. I've been stuck on straight line quilting for way too long and need something new.

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  14. Ok, if you can tackle your fears, so can I! It looks lovely.

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  15. It looks wonderful! Thank you for this telling this in detail. I am right where you were before. Loving that pattern, knowing I will do it one day, but afraid I'll ruin my quilt when I do. So, I keep putting it off. You've given me much needed encouragement. Thank you.

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  16. It looks great. I am going to be taking a free motion quilting class on a long-arm in a few weeks. I am so excited.

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  17. your dogwood petals look lovely! i was thinking of trying this pattern on one of my scrappytripalong quilts, and you are inspiring me since i've never done fmq either!

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    1. I think that'd be a great quilt to experiment with, since all the bright colors will pretty well disguise the quilting. Go for it!

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    2. Camille Roskelly at http://camilleroskelley.typepad.com/simplify/2013/01/catching-up.html?cid=6a00e55272ca4d8834017d40107879970c#comment-6a00e55272ca4d8834017d40107879970c

      used Dogwood on her scrappy trip. She did it over 9 squares. I tried it on my scrappy trip, and I like the look of it.Might be a bit easier to practice with!

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  18. Nice! I definitely play it safe with free motion quilting and stick to stippling most of the time. Your quilting is really looking great and the mistakes will hardly be noticeable after a good wash!

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  19. Bravo....I love the way your quilt looks....I am encouraged...Thanks for sharing your journey....

    Susan

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  20. Way to go. I was too chicken to do it freely and used a paper circle as a guide . . . I was pleased with the results. I love the colors in your quilt . . . they're so happy.

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  21. Looks great! Im inspired to take the plunge. I am rather terrified of FMQ

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    1. It's like jumping off a cliff... but not as dangerous.

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  22. The quilt looks great Rachel. I think as the quilter you definitely notice more imperfections than a general admirer so don't sweat it.

    P.S. Maybe I missed a post but how did you go with machine dilemmas? I take it you didn't return it or exchange it for something else.

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    1. Looks like I'm going to be given a new machine from Pfaff. I'll let you all know when something actually happens.

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  23. I am so impressed! Love the quilt colors and pattern as well as your wonderful FMQ. You've inspired me to finally give it a go ( on a much smaller scale of course!) Thanks for sharing!

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  24. So pretty :-) What great quilting!

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  25. Yep. At some point you have to stop thinking about it and just start practicing. It's the only way to improve. Your FMQ looks fantastic!

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  26. I love this quilt - it feels so soothing and comfortable :) The petal shapes add a nice touch as well. It's going to be beautiful!

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  27. I gasped when the pictures loaded, it's SO lovely! The design, the colors and the quilting are a perfect match for each other. Can't wait to see it finished!!

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  28. Since you machine has a table like mine, where do you put the roll of fabric? Is it along the left side of the machine or along the back? Do you quilt fabric quite a distance from the roll so there is no drag? I find that the higher sewing machine table causes a drag on the rest of the fabric that is slightly lower on my regular table that holds the machine. Any suggestions?

    Beautiful Quilt!

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    1. Hmm... I'm not sure I understand. I roll up both sides of the quilt and hold the rolls with my hands as I quilt in the flat space between the rolls. The quilt rolls sit on my left shoulder as they are waiting to be fed into the machine. After they go through the machine, the quilt rests on the table top. I'm fortunate to have a large table to support it! I do notice drag only when the quilt extends off the table and is hanging slightly. Then I fold the quilt (still rolled up) back over itself so that its entire weight is resting on the table.

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    2. It sounds like you actually move the quilt by holding the rolls rather than with you hands on each side of the fabric space to be quilted. Is this correct? Will have to try this...I have been using my hands to move the fabric while most of the quilt is loose on either side. Thanks so much for your reply.

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    3. Yes, exactly! I hold the rolls. Works for me!

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  29. It looks beautiful! Perfect quilting choice for those fabrics. :D

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  30. This looks great and the quilting is really perfect for this quilt. It is good to know that others struggle with free motion quilting!

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  31. That looks fantastic! I have been considering using that tutorial too!

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  32. You've inspired me. I really must MUST try the free-motion thing sooner rather than later. Thanks for the inspiration!! And your quilt looks FANTASTIC!

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  33. This is beautiful and it is on my "TO LEARN" list.

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  34. These colors are amazing together. I think I said so in an earlier post, but I am still struck by them. Thanks for the pointers on the orange peels. It is a pattern I want to try.

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  35. No one will look as closely as you will for little descrepancies. Think of snow flakes...each one beautiful, on close inspection all are just a little different, I think that is the true beauty and charm of free motion quilting...it really is what makes a handcrafted quilt so very special. Beautiful!

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  36. Boy! Did this post hit home! Always up to try something new, I attempted this pattern using Elizabeth Hartman's great tute. I say attempted because, unlike the usual me, I gave up! I have resolved to try again. When I do, I will definately take your advice.

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  37. Really nice. It will be wonderful when you are done.

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  38. Rachel, you did an excellent job on this! I just finished my first ever hand quilting a big quilt for my niece. It was really terrifying, but I'm glad I did it. The dogwood might be next on my list. So pretty!

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  39. Wow! This looks great. I'm right where you were. I have a quilt that needs quilting and it doesn't lend itself to stippling or meandering. I can do swirls and flowers and feathers on small sample pieces, but I'm terrified to start on a real quilt! Guess I need to just jump in!

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  40. Kudos for perseverance! I am impressed with your progress and your drive. Thanks for the dot tip too!

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  41. From what I can see of your quilt ~ it looks fabulous! Good for you tackling something scary. Thanks for the tip of the blue dot too.
    I've been really chicken to do free motion quilting too and really need to get over it as I've got a few quilts to quilt and it's so darned expensive to take them out to a professional.

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  42. Wow Rachel, this is absolutely beautiful! You should be so proud of yourself. The quilting is turning out really nice, wish I had such talent. I love the pattern and the fabrics/colors you used. yummmmm

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  43. I admire that you went outside your comfort zone and did this. I have been to chicken to try so far. Happy that your sewing machine cooperated!

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  44. Lovely quilt, and a very inspiring post! Thanks for sharing!

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  45. I love the look of the quilt (the bundle seems to be sold out). And the quilting pattern seems to be a wonderful choice. Somehow I thought this pattern would be easy. I'm a beginner to free motion quilting and obviously naive and have much to learn. So I'm thankful for posts and pictures like this that remind me that it's still a long way of learning.

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  46. i loved reading this rachel! it is gorgeous and your quilting is perfect! makes me want to make a quilt sandwich right now to try it out... but my must makes pile must come first!

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  47. It turned out so good! I am looking to use the dogwood pattern on one of my next quilts, so it was nice to hear about your experience with it.

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  48. Rachel your quilting is totally awesome. Please G-d by me hopefully sooner rather than later as I ain't gettiing any younger.

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  49. Your FMQ'ing is fab Rachel - you should be very proud! I can't believe you are just a beginner - your quilting is way better than my sorry attempts. I will take a lesson from your determination and keep trying!

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  50. Your quilting looks fantastic! Thanks for your tips and sharing your fears... I can totally relate and you are farther along on the FMQ curve than me.

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    1. Welcome, Deb! Just jump in somewhere. You'll get it!

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  51. In. Love. Seriously the quilt is beautiful and the dogwood quilting is the perfect stitch to finish it off. Well done!

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  52. When I was doing physical therapy, the therapist told me that it sometimes takes sleeping to really cement new physical tasks. I find this soooo true with me... if I'm having a hard time with a new skill, then sleep on it, I'm much better after I've slept and let my brain "download" the new info. Maybe this is why your quilting was so much smoother the second day!

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    1. That could definitely be it! All of us at all ages do a lot of key processing at night. Maybe while I was sleeping my mind finally got the message through to those fingers!

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  53. The quilting is really beautiful. I love that dogwood pattern! Kudos for tackling it!

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  54. 480 flowers to stitch? Phew. Brave you - that takes some determination. I admire your idea that it can only get better the more you do as you will get faster at it. I will have to play that idea over (and over) in my head whenever I am doing a long project. Well written Post as well, I enjoyed reading it. Cheers KN

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  55. It looks amazing, Rachel! Wow. And you're right. The feeling that you're really getting the hang of something like this is so gratifying, and it is a gradual thing. Woohoo for you!!

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  56. What a perfect soft choice for this quilt! I love it! I have a quilt I was trying a new fmq pattern on last month and loved how I could feel improvement as I went along. I became more confident the more I did and was able to relax and anticipate what I was needing to do next. I love that about challenging yourself to try stuff out of your comfort zone!

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  57. Rachel this is very tempting to try! I'm taking my first FMQ class at Sew Modern this weekend and I definitely have to try this! I agree that it fits your quilt perfectly. How do you continue when you have to pick? Do you just back stitch and keep going? Thanks!

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    1. I pull up the bobbin thread, quilt a tiny bit in one place, move forward to quilt partially over the ending line and then carry on.

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  58. Yes! Yes! Love! Thanks for showing how much practice this takes! It can sometimes look so easy and then frustration reigns when I struggle!I think it is a lovely pattern and I loved it on my modern medallion quilt (handstitched of course!).

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  59. Beautiful quilt,great quilting. Good for you!

    Denise

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  60. Oh, Rachel, this is just beautiful! I'm madly trying to save up for a new machine at the moment so I can try things like this. I do love my hand-quilting, but I feel oh-so ready to branch out! It's so cosy!

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  61. These look great! This is a stupid question, but if you're FMQ how do you move the fabric around in the middle of the quilt? I have a machine with a tiny harp space (http://modernbiasblog.com/2013/02/09/quilt-wrangling/) and I can barely get my quilt through the machine in order to do straight line quilting with a walking foot - I can't imagine trying to wrangle it through and moving it more than front to back!

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    1. Yes, it would be near impossible with a tiny harp space. I bought a machine with a large harp space just for that reason. It is expensive to go big, but cheaper than sending quilts to a longarmer.

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  62. Very nice quilt…I like your color selection and beautiful design in quilt making..Thank you’re your post. Next time I will get some ideas in making my quilt.
    Joint Replacement India

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  63. I took a workshop on redwork. That is the ONLY free motion anything I have done. The instructor told me that I did a great job and I think I did too.
    But, that was one small piece and I used someone else's machine that offers a lot more than my machine does.
    I did buy a darning foot when I bought my machine for the purpose of being able to do it.
    I went to her tutorial. So you don't start from the middle and go out, but just go row by row?
    I will ATTEMPT to practice it.
    Another thing is that I have done NO machine quilting other than one baby quilt so that was small.
    I also bought a walking foot with my machine as I would told that would stop the gathering.
    I may end up hand tieing this just like all my other quilts if I can't get it to look right.
    I would try hand quilting it but that would take forever and right now I am busy with Christmas projects too.

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