Category Archives: free motion quilting

Rooflines #10

     Before I left home, I finished Rooflines # 10.  This piece was inspired by the houses in the distance tucked into the Green Mountains that you can see at dusk.

©Colleen Kole , 2013, “Rooflines # 10, 70 x 82 

I did use free motion quilting on this piece changing colors with the each little section.
And dense quilting.

Detail shot of © Rooflines #10
In process and ready for binding

I am pleased with this piece and love the way the lines are enhanced with the quilting. I am so happy it’s done. And even more happy:

This piece has been accepted into Artprize 2013 at the Cathedral Square venue. More on that to come.

10 Things I Learned About Machine Quilting

         It feels so good to be finished with this piece. I really struggled with it but only because I had never used free motion quilting to finish a piece this large. So, as I was documenting and taking pictures, I wrote a long list of what I learned:

1. Always test your thread tension before you start stitching on your finished top. It took me awhile to remember this but after picking out endless yucky stitches, I did it consistently.

2. Keep your machine clean of lint lint and well oiled.

3. Use a new needle often!

4. Do not start stitching unless the needle is down and your hands are on the quilt. Those gloves are helpful too.

5. If the machine sounds funny, chances are the back of your quilt looks awful. Ignorance is not bliss in free motion quilting. So stop and figure out the noise.

6. Make sure you are set up correctly and use as much support for the quilt on all sides so you aren’t losing it off the table. Lessen anything you are fighting with and change it so you are comfortable.

7. Be fearless. I started out with all kinds of books and patterns to look at. Heck, the ones I like the most are the ones I just felt free enough to improvise with and make my own.

8. Doodling before I started on my day’s stitching really helped and my stitching was much freer.

9. The stitch should be intentional to the piece. The stitch on this piece is more of a sampler smorgasbord.  I knew that when I started out. But for the next piece, I want the stitch to compliment the work.

10. After the first few pieces, I never looked at the back and let all the mistakes stay there-large stitches, bad tension and little knots when I didn’t keep going. I’ll check more often next. Or maybe not. It will get better!

FINISHED is a very good place to be.

©Colleen Kole, 2013, “Set Free”, 68×71

©Colleen Kole, 2013, close up of “Set Free”

Thanks for your kind comments and encouragement. Review of Lisa Call’s class tomorrow.

The Slow Road

     I just keep thinking-oh silly me. Normal people start small and then when they feel comfortable in a skill, they move on to a larger project. Nope. Not me. I just plunge right in and hope for the best.  I am way too impatient to wait until my skills improve. ( Can you see where this is going?) So, it is sink or swim.

     I think I have used free motion quilting to finish a piece to or three times.  Prior to this, I have practiced for a big total of maybe 20 hours and that is a generous estimate. So I am not sure how I came up with the grand idea of ” Let’s go ahead and do a large piece to REALLY get some hours in.

      As I was basting this beast, I was starting to worry about my decision. Did I stop to reconsider? Nope.  Sat down without a clue of how to decide on a design and decided that each section would be a different marking. (Yes, getting crazier by the minute). With the help of  a book by Leah Day , I just took random patterns and started sketching away changing as my abilities allowed. The first few sections were painstakenly slow and my shoulders were killing me after a few hours. I was not liking my choice at all. It was big and hard to move under the machine with any accuracy. I was making a  nasty mess of my beautiful quilt- skipped stitches, lousy tension and areas I needed to rip out. I just wanted to quit.

     The next day, I decided that the basement needed purging. Now, it has been on the long to-do list for about 6 months. I purged the basement and made two trips to Goodwill. I woke up and realized I was finding basement cleaning more exciting than free motion machine quilting. I gave myself a “F” for perseverance and an “F” for attitude.

    I started again. I tucked away my perfectionistic tendencies and moved forward.  Many hours later, I can finally say that I am making slow and steady progress.

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know when I make it to the 50% done mark. 

Evolution of a Piece

    It was a slow moving process with this piece. It began as a small little idea and  a small portion of this design was pinned on my wall for many months.  I kept taking it down and putting it back up again and it was assuming this grandiose design idea in my head. It was taking up too much space on my wall and in my head. SO, I gave myself two weeks in January to get it done as I was very sick of this great visionary piece. Haha.

     This was not your typical strip piecing. I cut each piece separately after I sewed each seam which became very time-consuming. But I really wanted to work on my line work.

Rooflines # 8 under construction

Slow progress…
Machine quilting finally

©Colleen Kole 2013, Rooflines # 8, 45x 35

What a good word: finished. This piece didn’t turn out like I envisioned ( maybe over thought it too much )  but there is always the next piece. And no longer than two weeks per piece seems like a really good idea!

A Winter’s Walk

     We made it here before the big storm last week. We only received about 14 inches here in Vermont but the wind kept us inside Friday and Saturday. On Sunday I was rewarded by bright sunshine. And it didn’t take me long to strap on my snowshoes and take a two hour hike in the woods.

When I made it up the meadow and into the woods, I was amazed that no one had walked  or skied on the paths yet. I walk along the cross country ski trails and in the nine years I have been walking on the paths, that has never happened before.

It was a breath-taking day in the woods. And then back to the house to play with some free motion quilting on this piece. I didn’t choose wisely with thread color but  the quilting was a little easier and even felt relaxing. So many things to learn.

Trying out a Mercedes

     I have journeyed back to Michigan (yup, a mixed up summer)  late Sunday night and hit the ground running with all things art in my world.  More tomorrow for you on that.

      But today I had a long awaited playmate with my very talented friend Terri Watson. She is a long arm quilter with a successful quilting business called Threadtales and a great teacher. I have wanted to try long arm quilting to see if it may be on my long term goal list. So today was the day. 
     Terri had loaded a piece of muslim on her machine and after some quick instructions, I did a test run. I was initially afraid of this big machine but she drove so smoothly I felt like I was driving a supreme driving machine. I LOVED it. It was sooo much fun. And I need to tell you that it is very addicting. Then, she loaded one of my unfinished tops on the machine and away I went.
     I didn’t expect perfection. I just had fun and considering that I have done very, very little free motion quilting on my machine, my expectations were low. I felt as if I had been set free. The whole time I was quilting I thought-this is it. I want one. A jar full of pennies has been started-haha!  I really can’t tell you how much fun I had. 
     In two hours, I had the machine quilting done. Yup, two hours. Terri’s Gamill was truly a Mercedes.  
    Thanks Terri- It was great catching up with you and I so appreciate this! You are the best!