This month’s free motion quilting (FMQ) challenge tutorial was from Cindy Needham. I really enjoyed it, and ended up spending HOURS doing some really fine/close stitching as a result. I’m getting better!
Her tutorial started with a basic geometric shape — a 1 inch square — and checkerboarded it with straight stitches (done free motion though, not with feed dogs). My first attempts were about 6 lines per square, but with practice I was able to stitch closer and closer lines until I ended up doing about 12 lines per square.
Next, she got us to practice going diagonally across the 1 inch squares. I found that starting with the centre diagonal and stitching back to the corner was easier to do as I had more control over the ‘straightness’ of the lines. If I stitched from the corner out to the diagonal, the largest diagonal line ended up wonky!
After that, I did some variations on the diagonal, like stitching from different sides to create the illusion of a diamond. Again, all these spaces are 1″ square.
Once I’d done the straight stitching, I moved on to the curves, S-shapes, paisleys, pebbles/bubbles, and feathers. All these pieces were done on an old piece of plain purple cotton, stitched with an Isocord butter yellow thread (40 wt polyester; colour 0640 ‘Parchment’), on my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. I’m loving the Isocord thread — it just flows really nicely in my Sweet Sixteen and doesn’t shred or break like some other threads.
The little pebbles on the left below are about 1/8 to 1/4″ wide — they are quite tiny.
After I’d finished the practice pieces, I was a bit over the purple fabric at this stage, so I switched to an even older piece of dark grey fabric (gabardine?). I marked some basic geometric shapes then free-motioned some feathers within those outlines (Isocord ‘Mountain Dew’, 40 wt, polyester, colour 6010). I then completely filled the backgrounds around the marked shapes with a really close cross-hatching (those stitches are less than 1/8″ apart) in a matching ‘Gun metal gray’ embroidery thread (Floriani, 40wt polyester, colour PF487). I really liked that effect — the feathers ‘popped’ nicely. And I particularly liked the effect of the lime green against the dark grey fabric.
I particularly liked my ‘bird feathers’ — I’ve done these before and just love the feel and sway of creating the S-shapes of the feathers coming off the spine. And I particularly liked the effect of Superior Threads’ King Tut variegated thread for these (color 931).
Next were some zentangles. I’ve drawn a few zentangles — mostly on long flights to/from the US! But I’ve never stitched any before. I tried various threads and colours to see how they went.
I wasn’t as pleased with the multi-coloured free-form zentangle — I think it would’ve worked better had I used a single thread colour — perhaps cream or white against the dark grey, or maybe black thread on cream fabric. Next time. The space was 6.5 inches square.
The last zentangle I tried was based on a zentangle I drew when I was flying back from the US in March. Again, this didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. The background colour fabric had a lot to do with it, but also this design just may not play as well when stitched, as versus drawn. Again, it’s inside a 6.5 in square.
Above is the drawing that inspired the stitching of the last one.
As I said earlier, I really enjoyed this tutorial and can see myself doing more of these sorts of designs. Maybe this weekend?? ;-) [I did some more — pictures etc. here: http://sandgroper14.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/2012-fmq-challenge-june-part-2/]