Friday, October 24, 2014

Dreaming Green with gumption

Do you ever get really, really frustrated when your sewing skills just don't measure up to the project at hand?  Grrr.  Yesterday was such a day.

quilting with Dream Green

But let's back up.  First off, one of my Angled Campers recommended a new kind of batting to me.  Although I'm perfectly happy with my go-to Warm & Natural batting, I opted to try Dream Green because it's made from recycled water bottles.   I'm using a throw sized package (60" x 60" piece) that saves 7 plastic bottles from the landfill.  That doesn't sound like a whole lot to me, but it's certainly better than nothing.  The batting was sent free, in exchange for my review, from Quilter's Dream company.

When I basted my Love in Starbright Stars quilt, I noticed that Dream Green feels just slightly thicker than Warm & Natural.  It's not flimsy and stretchy (like some low end battings), but felt pleasantly substantial under my hands.  Dream Green will probably be warmer than Warm & Natural since it's 100% polyester.  Generally I prefer cotton or other natural fibers for batting, because natural fibers are breathable and thus less sweaty.  But, again, I'm excited that this product recycles!  If you went all-in with a queen-size roll (94" x 30 yards), you'd save a whopping 200 bottles from the landfill.

Before I made my review, I wanted to do some free motion quilting on Dream Green batting.  Those starbright stars would look so pretty with echo star quilting, right?  Right.

This is where I get grouchy.

I've tried to free motion quilt straight lines before... and quickly abandoned ship in lieu of an easier plan.  When free motion quilting, you drop the feed dogs and guide the quilt under the needle by hand.  This allows for easy changes of direction without rotating a quilt, which is a must for a small-scale star echo pattern, like this one. 

 quilting with Dream Green

But gosh-golly-gee, I can't keep my lines straight!  I can't keep them straight, evenly spaced from the seam lines and I can't keep them straight even on their "own" true path.  Wobbles. Grumbles.  Grr.

After battling that first star, I decided to go back to all over straight lines with the feed dogs engaged.   I could just leave the lone quilted star, which would look cool "behind" the straight lines anyways.  And move on.

Only, it hit me that I'll never get better that way.  For me, it takes committing to a Real Quilt to improve my free motion quilting skills.  I'm just not going to spend hours on a practice piece.  I'm not!  This is a charity quilt, a beautiful charity quilt, with gorgeous fabrics and colors and interesting piecing.  So... if the quilting is a little wobbly, how many children would even notice?

quilting with Dream Green

Straight line free motion quilting is possible (or so I've heard).  I'll improve only if I try and try again.  Wish me luck!  And patience.  Here goes!

32 comments:

  1. Oh I had one of those nights last night doing some FMQ of some curvy lines. Getting that gentle curve over long pieces of fabric when you have short arms is a challenge. But like you I figured I'll never get better if I don't make myself do it. Kudos to you for hanging in there!

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    1. Sometimes really long arms or robot straight-moving arms would come in really handy ;)

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  2. oh, good for you for persevering. I'm sure it will look wonderful.

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  3. Straight line with free hand is hard, but go with it. Don't put your standards too high. That looks good.

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  4. I understand what you mean about practice pieces- I dont like doing those. I just free motioned real quilts and with time got better and better. Enjoy the process and breathe

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  5. Is it really much faster not having to rotate the quilt at the points using feed dogs vs free-motion? I just got a Juki and have been wanting to try but have been too nervous for FMQ.

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    1. Well, I asked myself that same question, after that first star! But, alas, yes, it is SO much faster and less of a struggle to do this FMQ. That's why I've got to tackle this skill!

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    2. I was watching Leah Day's video about her Juki yesterday (Pat sent me the link) and she keeps the feed dogs up when doing FMQ... she says it works better for her. Have you tried it that way? http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2014/10/new-machine-juki-tl-2010-q.html at about 4:44 she demonstrates if you are interested. :) And good luck with the practice. The fact that you aren't perfect gives me hope for myself!

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    3. Oh, good idea! I may as well try that here. Thanks, Allison.

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  6. I think that quilting looks pretty darned good!! I hope you enjoy the Dream Green. I really like it. I don't make huge quilts so I buy it by 60" wide bolts and am about half way through my second bolt now. And I don't buy bottled water unless absolutely necessary. :-)

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  7. When I do straight line free motion quilting I use a special acrylic straight edge made for domestic machines so it has Velcro attached to the bottom so it dose not slide on the fabric. It works wonderfully you get a perfect line every time. I purchased it from a quilt show and I use it every time I need straight lines. It works really well if you need your lines to be the same distance because it has grid lines on it. Hope this helps. Lisa Mortell

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    1. Oh, this is just what I needed to learn about! Now I'm trying to find out if I can get a ruler foot for my Juki. Thanks!

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  8. Just curious, but why wouldn't you just use a walking foot? Looks good though and I am sure any child will be most appreciative. :)

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    1. Rosemary b here:
      That is what I use. A walking foot.
      Why? Because I am a perfectionist and that is a bit of a problem with FMQ. I have to step over that big bump one day.... meh, maybe next week. :-P
      Love the quilt Rachel. Your FMQ looks perfect.

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    2. Hi Bobbi! The walking foot requires one to keep turning the quilt under the machine to go straight in different directions. That's exhausting with a big quilt like this one, so I'm trying to save time and effort by free motion quilting it. It's hard though!

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  9. It's a beautiful quilt and to be able to perfect your skills while sewing for a needy child is a win-win in my book!

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  10. Hang in there, you will get it. I love Dream Green batting - it has been my go to for years now. I hope it holds up well for you.

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  11. I am sure any little girl will just love it....

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  12. I've been thinking the exact same thing about practice pieces. I can practice all I want on a little square of fabric and wadding but what I quilt on that is going to be much different than what I quilt on an actual quilt -- I think getting the hang of manoeuvring the size and weight quilt is part of the skill and isn't something you can learn by a small block-sized piece!

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  13. Like your spunk. Each quilt has its own personality. No matter what, we get it done.

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  14. Good for you to keep trying! I agree, I barely have time to fulfill all my domestic goddess duties during waking hours, I certainly don't have 20 minutes to practice fmq a day. You just gotta do it! I think it looks good, too!

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  15. I was reading the comments above -- and I'd love to know if you find a ruler foot for Juki machines -- I tried straight line FMQing on my Juki once and quickly abandoned it -- it is SO hard!

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    1. I am trying to find out if there is a ruler foot modification available. If I get one, I'll surely be sharing about it here!

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  16. This exact thing happened to me on Thursday. I am making a Dwell quilt out of Witch Hazel. The sashing is black and I want to do cobwebs on it but straight lines around the houses. I thought it would be tricky, holy cow was I wrong. So hard! I plugged away at it because "practice makes perfect". I can not tell you how happy I was to read your post, although the back of your quilt looks a WHOLE lot better than the back of mine. Haha!

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  17. I totally agree that is the way to learn new techniques. When I decided to learn pebbling I pebbled an entire large baby quilt. It took hours and tons of thread, but I learned how to do them.

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    1. Pebbling is something I plan to tackle someday too!

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  18. Good reminder for me to stick with something I'm not sure about it...practice makes better!

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  19. I think this is a great exercise in lowering one's expectations for a while. When you're in your comfort zone, you'll be able to create "perfect" stuff or at least something that looks exactly how you want it to be.

    Something challenging like FMQ, however, is just that - a challenge. It isn't supposed to be easy :) And someone, who might enjoy it but won't put in the hours to hone the skills, will throw in the towel rather than step outside of the comfort zone for a while, no matter how uncomfortable it will be and how gloriously one will tackle one's impatience, perfectionism, or whatever else it is that causes frustration.

    I think this is the beauty of quilting. There's always something to learn aka bring me back to earth level, heh. When I'm too comfortable, things are too easy and I don't develop. Maybe it's like this for you, too?

    A final thing I want to say is that it's good to look not only forwards, but backwards as well. We tend to remind ourselves of what we have yet to learn, what we aren't good at yet, and so on, but once we get the perspective of what our starting point was, how much we've already accomplished and what we've learned, I think miracles begin to happen in the patience department. At least I get the feeling that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be then and there's consolation in a way in that thought. Life is one long learning experience after all and we'll never reach a specific destination, but it's about going from one challenge to the next. You're doing great on your journey, Rachel, and this is one of my favourite quilting blogs; such a warm and friendly place.

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    1. Nina, Thank you so much for this beautiful comment. So much wonderful food for thought here, especially the reminder to look back, not just forwards.

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  20. Wishing you luck and patience. I feel the same way about practice pieces. With my shortage of expendable time, if I spent a lot of time on practice pieces, that's all I'd ever get quilted. Here's to jumping in the deep end.

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