Monday, February 18, 2019

2019 Free Motion QAL: Show and Tell - Some Progress Pics

Happy President's Day All!

On our "off" week I thought it would be
fun to share a few
Work In Progress pictures
received via Email, Facebook and Instagram

I get all excited when I receive progress pictures.

Honestly !

It makes my day...

I love that each person makes the project their own.

using any machine they have available...
with or without a stitch regulator

Some folks are just getting started...
and some folks had a baby shower deadline so they are DONE !!
(I'll show you more of this one later ;) 
Some folks are working on a longarm...
 Others are on home machines.
But what is really awesome is that you're all stitching along.

I sit and stare at every image with a BIG SMILE on my face.
*
It's a great learning experience for everyone.
And sharing what you've done so far not only helps YOU
It helps others too...
*
Many thanks to those that have sent me images or tagged me or Wendy on Instagram or Facebook.
💓💓💓
including...
Bert, Lori, Kathleen, Deb, Mary, Mary Jean

If I missed an image someone sent -- please forgive me.

***
Before you get back to stitching be sure to jump over to Wendy's post here.

For those of you that are new to the Quilt Along here are the details...


To date Wendy and I have shared the following Quilt Along (QAL) posts...

Jan 7:  Announcement Post  ✅
   Jan 21:  Setup, Planning, Basting  
Feb 4:  Inside Center Panel  
Feb 11:  Check-in and Tips  


Also -- I've created a YouTube Playlist referencing all the videos I've shared.

If you're just tuning in, there's ample time to catch up.

We'll share our next lesson on the 25th of February.

Grab your fabric, book, and thread and get ready to have some fun!!
Here's the remaining schedule:

Feb 25:  Top and Bottom Rectangles
March 4:  Top and Bottom Squares
March 11:  Left and Right Panels
March 18: Narrow Sashing
March 25:  Outside Border
April 1:  Binding, Labeling, Hanging if applicable

.... I love to hear from you!

 -- AND -- 
see where you are in the process.

If you're on social media --  add this hashtag to any images you share
#2019fmqal   or  #2019fmqalong 

I'll be searching them.
You can always email me too
redbirdquiltco@gmail.com

or 

leave comment or send me a message on Facebook

or

tag me on Instagram
that is @redbirdquiltco too !!

You can also leave a comment on the blog (below) or on any YouTube video.

I look forward to our upcoming adventures.

happy stitching!
Karen


Monday, February 11, 2019

2019 Free Motion QAL: Check In & Tips

Hey Hey Fellow Quilters...

Have you joined our
2019 Free Motion Quilt Along
featuring Lewe the Ewe fabric panel by
World of Susybee?

It's a Mystery!

To date Wendy and I have shared the following Quilt Along (QAL) posts...


Jan 7:  Announcement Post  ✅
   Jan 21:  Setup, Planning, Basting  
Feb 4:  Inside Center Panel  

Also -- I've also created a YouTube Playlist referencing all the videos I've shared.
Click the image below to get started:

If you're just tuning in, there's ample time to catch up.

We're taking Monday the 18th off in honor of President's Day and will share our next lesson on the 25th of February.

Grab your fabric, book, and thread and get ready to have some fun!!
Here's the remaining schedule:

Feb 25:  Top and Bottom Rectangles
March 4:  Top and Bottom Squares
March 11:  Left and Right Panels
March 18: Narrow Sashing
March 25:  Outside Border
April 1:  Binding, Labeling, Hanging if applicable


Today...

How is YOUR stitching is coming along?
Is all going well?

Learning to free motion quilt can be intimidating.

Here are a few things to consider:

Relax 

In order to get the best results it's important to relax!

Maybe a glass of wine will help?
(not a bottle !!  LOL)
Fresh air ?
Playing your favorite music...

Whatever it is that relaxes you -- give it a go.
It's important to drop those shoulders and roll that neck too.
Relax, sing, focus on the happy!

Troubleshoot

Every new endeavor warrants having the right tools.
This week I worked with a few folks that were battling

 skipped stitches

To troubleshoot those skipped stitches consider:

Inserting a NEW NEEDLE!
Not just any needle...

A Superior Titanium Coated Top Stitch Needle is YOUR FRIEND.
If you're seeing skipped stitches and you're not using one do consider adding this tool to your kit.

Skipped stitches can also occur if your foot height is too high.

If you're using an adjustable height foot try setting it down to ride just above your quilt sandwich. 
Setting it too high can result in skipped stitches.

You can read more about setup basics here:
    Setup, Planning, Basting 


long stitches

If you're not using a stitch regulator you'll need to regulate your own stitch length.
This is done by coordinating the speed of your hand movement with the speed of the needle.

For beginners, I may recommend lowering the speed of the machine .
If you're not sure how to set your machine/needle speed lower let me know -- I'll try to help you with this.

Setting the speed down allows you to floor the foot peddle and coordinate your hand speed to the constant speed that results.

practice, practice, practice

The best way to improve is...
continue to stitch.
FMQ is an acquired skill -- kinda like learning to play a musical instrument.
It doesn't happen overnight -- or with a one day lesson.

Get excited, be determined, make time, and keep on stitching !

Give yourself time (and permission) to learn

Any new endeavor requires gaining knowledge and allowing time to practice.

Every day that we stitch brings change
and improvement.

Know that you'll learn and grow throughout the process and accept and be thankful for where you are today -- tomorrow it will be different.

It's true for me, for Wendy and for you...!

Wendy has great insight for you today too...
Jump on over and check it out!

.... I love to hear from you!

 -- AND -- 
see where you are in the process.

If you're on social media --  add this hashtag to any images you share
#2019fmqal   or  #2019fmqalong 

I'll be searching them.
You can always email me too
redbirdquiltco@gmail.com

or 

leave comment or send me a message on Facebook

or

tag me on Instagram
that is @redbirdquiltco too !!

You can also leave a comment on the blog (below) or on any YouTube video.

I look forward to our upcoming adventures.

happy stitching!
Karen





Monday, February 4, 2019

2019 Free Motion QAL: Part 3 - Loops - Reflection - Stars - Pebbles

Greetings!
Welcome to Part 3 of the 2019 Free Motion Quilt Along featuring Lewe the Ewe fabric panel by World of Susybee!

 Wendy Sheppard of Ivory Spring and I are thrilled that you've joined us!

This week we're finally ready to free motion quilt.

If you're just tuning in to the QAL it's not too late to get caught up -- we have 2 weeks set aside to stitch the center of the panel!  Grab your fabric, book, and some thread and get ready to have some fun!!

2019 FMQAL Schedule:    

Jan 7:  Announcement Post  ✅
   Jan 21:  Setup, Planning, Basting  
==> Feb 4 & Feb 11:  Inside Center Panel <==
Feb 25:  Top and Bottom Rectangles
March 4:  Top and Bottom Squares
March 11:  Left and Right Panels
March 18: Narrow Sashing
March 25:  Outside Border
April 1:  Binding, Labeling, Hanging if applicable


These posts outline Fabric & Notion Supplies necessary for the QAL.

As mentioned in the announcement we'll be referencing Wendy's awesome book, Stitching Pathways, to help create our motifs and get accustomed to the process of Free Motion Quilting.
Additionally, I'll be using my thread collection, The Subtle Sampler, for most of my stitching.

Looking for more details about the supplies necessary to quilt along, click here. 

Need to purchase supplies ? 
Check with your favorite local shop or 
visit our Participating Shops link == > here.

Did someone mention Giveaway?
Click "here" to learn about our sponsors & available prizes.  
Be sure to visit regularly to see updates to the Prize Packages.  

****************

Here's how things looked at the end of last weeks stabilization stitching.
How did you do with that ?

I love my Daylight Slimline Lamp - these old eyes of mine need more and more light each year!
One thing I failed to cover last week...
I highly recommend practicing or "test driving" new techniques or motifs on a sample swatch or quilt sandwich.  It allows you an opportunity to work out the details before you're working on the actual quilt top.   In the case of the 12wt top stitching you can get accustomed to the starting, stopping and tension setting changes.
I normally have to decrease my top tension when stitching with Aurifil 12wt .

Did you all love working with that thread ?
It's one of my favorites for top stitching, wool applique and even free motion quilting.

Here's a little sampling of using 12wt for free motion quilting...
You've gotta love how the 12wt thread takes center stage.
Oh so Yummy!

Enough of last week now -- let's get started on that Center Panel.

Lewe the Ewe - Center Panel


Before you get stated you may want to review these previous shares:

Also -- be sure you are using a clean and well serviced machine.

Use a darning foot for free motion quilting -- and drop or cover those feed dogs.


Don't forget your Gloves -- Machingers are my favorite!

As I mention above, consider "warming-up" on a practice sandwich with similar weight fabrics, threads and batting.   

This allows you to practice a new motif as well as fool with your tension settings.   I'll change weights of thread several times on this center panel.

Between each thread change I test my tension top and bottom for satisfactory settings.   

If the motif is new to you -- consider drawing it on paper a few times to begin to build muscle memory before stitching it out.

 The motif I used this week are nearly all straight from Wendy's Book, Stitching Pathways.

Here's our focus area:
I chose to stitch from the bottom of the center panel toward the top.

If you watch theYouTube video below you'll get a feel for my thought process when trying to decide what motif to quilt and what color and weight thread I might select.

Many of these things come with time as you begin to find YOUR style.

Remember, there is no right or wrong.



I love to let the fabric speak to me -- to help me decide what to quilt. 

In the case of the bottom of the center panel it was reading yellow and I felt the entire scene was calming. 

I choose to quit out Wendy's "Reflections" design (Page 32 in Stitching Pathways)
using Aurifil 28wt thread color # 2310 Butter on top and Aurifil 50Wt color #2312 in the bobbin.

Again I adore using heavier weight threads -- they make a statement.
The thread and the motif combined are just beautiful.


I would choose a Superior Titanium Coated Top Stitch Needle size 90/14 when stitching with 28wt thread.  That elongated eye and groove in the shaft give your thread a boost when stitching.
In the video above I talk in detail about where I start, how to outline the ewe and the flowers and how to find your way around the bottom of the panel.    


What I don't share is exactly how to stitch out Reflections.  You'll find this on page 32 in Wendy's book.


Before you begin to stitch Reflections let's talk starts and stops.

Unlike Wendy I choose to start and stop my stitching by doing "Lock" stitches.

Basically, after pulling my bobbin to the top of the sandwich I take 4-5 teeny tiny stitches to lock or knot the beginning  -- after stitching away I'll go back and trim those threads flush.

At the end of your stitching you'll to the same to "Lock" the stitches.  Take 4-5 teeny tiny stitches to end and trim the top and bobbin threads. 

Wendy shows you an alternative way to start and stop in her book on Page 18.

Next Section.... 

When I was examining the panel I noticed that there were at least 3 different sections of the meadow.  The section above where I stitched Reflections had dots printed in the fabric.

Those dots read "Pebbles" to me -- so pebbles was my choice.

You'll find "Pebble Power" in Wendy's book on Page 50.

But first -- not only did the fabric design change but the color of the fabric changes too.

So I chose to go with Aurifil 28Wt thread color #2880 in this section.  

The 28wt takes a bit of center stage yet the pale green color blends nicely into the fabric.  

I continue to use Aurifil 50Wt color #2312 in the bobbin.

I started stitching Pebbles just above the Reflections area -- and when I hit up against a Ewe or a Flower I made a point to echo quilt them while I was in the vicinity.   

Echo quilting around a subject (ewe or flower) allows it to POP off the fabric.
***  
I intentionally avoid stitching on the line of the ewe or flower because it's difficult to follow a line.  
Stitch just to the inside or the outside of those subjects and you'll have much better luck with the echo.

As Wendy points out in the book be sure to make some pebbles large and some small...  It adds interest to the design. 
  
Another thing:  Wendy shows you a figure 8 type pebble in the book on page 50 -- but when I first learning pebbles I choose to stitch each pebble in the same direction.  For example, if I started out stitching clockwise I would continue clockwise (rather than changing direction which is what happens when you follow a figure 8 design).  

If you're having trouble getting rounded pebbles give this method a try.  It may just "click" for you.

In the attached video you'll notice I stitch a few pebbles counter clockwise and a few clockwise.   
There is no right or wrong -- find what works best for you.



Note:  When stitching on a LongArm Quilting Machine the Figure 8 pebbles seem to be easier to create than the method I've shown you above.   The machine head is difficult to stop after each pebble -- the figure 8 allows you to keep the LongArm moving.

Next UP -- Those Bees!!

As you approach the top of the "pebble" section of the meadow you'll notice a few bees buzzing around.   

In this area I decided to lessen the number of pebbles I stitch and add in a "loop" type motif to mimic the path that the bees are flying.  

You can see this in more detail in the video at the end of this lesson.

I used a water soluble purple pen to draw a proposed stitching path on the fabric. 
***
Be sure you're comfortable with your making tools before using them on fabric.
I've been safely using the purple air soluble marking pen for years.   Never any trouble.


You can see the stitching path for Wendy's Loops motif on Page 31 in her book.

You can see below that I stitched the bee flight path twice to make it stand out more.

The image below is adding in a new motif  -- Grass
(or as I refer to it below -- crabgrass -- LOL)

I made-up this motif based on the design printed in the fabric.

I added meandering crabgrass to the left of the black sheep (below).

You cans see more of this design in the full length "Completed" video below.


Here's another view of the crabgrass.

Basically you're stitching 3 or 4 pieces of grass standing upright
and then meandering away to stitch another 3 of 4 pieces of grass.

There is a lot of backtracking in the process.

Try it on paper a few times so you can get the hang of it before stitching it out on your panel.



OK -- In the last section of meadow I decided to try a lighter weight thread, 40wt Aurifil Color # 5017 for a combination of pebbles, crabgrass and loops.

I continue to use Aurifil 50Wt color #2312 in the bobbin.

I love reusing designs I've already stitched on a quilt top -- it brings a bit of cohesiveness.



Again I used my purple pen to jot down some stitching path ideas.

Meandering Loops (P31) for the bee flight path.





A few strands of crabgrass here and there

And every now and then a small cluster of Pebbles (P50).





I just love the way it all comes together!

And here we are -- on the last section of the Center Panel...

What to do, what to do...


After taking a good look at the fabric I decided to utilize the stars printed on the fabric to stitch out a meandering 5 point star pattern, echoing the cloud formations as you come to them AND adding a few extra "ghost" stars in the mix.

I pulled out my handy purple pen and marked some ideas on the fabric.

When you mark on the quilt top DO NOT feel the need to follow the marks exactly.
Allow them to Guide you -- Not RULE you.

I  changed my thread once again to use a lighter Wt thread..

From The Subtle Sampler you could use 50Wt Color #2000 -- Although it has a bit of a beige tint to it it would still work beautifully.   

I had another white'ish based 50wt in my stash so I went with that.

If you want to try to FMQ with the 12wt thread, color 6722 that you used for top stitching would work beautifully.   Be sure to change your needle to a size 100/16 for that 12wt thread.  You'll need to decrease your top tension 

Check out the detail of the sky area in this YouTube video.



And there we have it -- We've completed the center panel of Lewe the Ewe with a variety of motif and thread color and weights.
Congratulations!

Be sure to watch the stitching recap in this YouTube Video:



Here's a still image.... 


And here's our Part 3 closeout image:


Well -- that's a wrap for me this week -- I can't wait to see what Wendy has in store for you.  
Isn't it fun to get 2 sets of input (and motifs?) for the price of 1 ?  
I love it! 

You can jump over to Wendy's Blog <== here.

If you have any questions, please leave them below -- I'll be sure to respond as soon as I can.

Happy Stitching!
Karen

*************

Learn more about how to use various thread weights in these Facebook Live Sessions
hosted by Aurifil at International Quilt Market: 

***
Follow me on social media:
Redbird Quilt Co. on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitterYouTube
Facebook my FMQ Frenzy Community Group
See my other Moda Bake Shop Recipes
Click here to see my upcoming events.
*
***  Guilds, Groups and Shops ***

I'm booking Lectures, Trunk Shows and Workshops
for 2020 and beyond!

If your Shop, Group or Guild is looking for programs or workshops I would love to hear from you.


Free Motion Quilting on Home Machines
Basics ~ A Quilters Doodles ~ McTavishing
A Full Day of Feathers
*
Aurifilosophy
*
Wool & Needle turn Applique
Technique or Project Oriented Workshops available.

Click here to see my upcoming events.
*
Send email inquiries to karen at redbirdquiltco dot com
or redbirdquiltco at gmail dot com


Note:  The FTC requires that I tell you.... I occasionally use affiliate links on my blog and website.  I may be compensated for purchases made using the links.  Rest assured I will only share sales and promotions for products I know and love myself.  Many thanks for your support of my very small business.

Monday, January 28, 2019

2019 Free Motion QAL: Part 2 Stabilization & Catch Up

Greetings!
Welcome to Part 2 of the 2019 Free Motion Quilt Along featuring Lewe the Ewe fabric panel by World of Susybee!
I'm so excited to share this quilting time with YOU and my dear friend and mentor Wendy Sheppard of Ivory Spring

Thank you for joining us. 

If you're just tuning in to the QAL it's not too late to join in the fun.  We're very early in the process and there's plenty of time to jump on board.

2019 FMQAL Schedule:    

Jan 7:  Announcement Post  
   Jan 21:  Setup, Planning, Basting  
🠞 Jan 28:  Stabilization Quilting or Catch Up 🠜
Feb 4 & Feb 11:  Inside Center Panel
Feb 25:  Top and Bottom Rectangles
March 4:  Top and Bottom Squares
March 11:  Left and Right Panels
March 18: Narrow Sashing
March 25:  Outside Border
April 1:  Binding, Labeling, Hanging if applicable


These posts outline Fabric & Notion Supplies necessary for the QAL.

As mentioned in the announcement we'll be referencing Wendy's awesome book, Stitching Pathways, to help create our motifs and get accustomed to the process of Free Motion Quilting.
Additionally, I'll be using my thread collection, The Subtle Sampler, for most of my stitching.

Looking for more details about the supplies necessary to quilt along, click here. 

Need to purchase supplies ? 
Check with your favorite local shop or 
visit our Participating Shops link == > here.

Did someone mention Giveaway?
Click "here" to learn about our sponsors & available prizes.  
Be sure to visit regularly to see updates to the Prize Packages.  


Stabilization or Catch Up

What is stabilization? 

Stabilization is part of the quilting process that focuses on stabilizing or keeping square the 3 (or more) layers of the quilt prior to beginning to free motion quilt them.

This step is done after basting and is considered part of the quilting process.

It generally involves quilting straight stitches in or around a block - but it could also be done by free motion stitching in or near an applique ditch.  

If quilting a block-based quilt I would consider stitching in the ditch of each block (or, in my case just outside of the ditch) as part of the stabilization process.

For a quilt with many borders -- stitching near or in the ditch of the quilt borders would be considered stabilizing the quilt. 

Here are a few examples where I've stabilized or top-stitched on other Susybee panels.

~ Lief the Caterpillar ~

On this Lief baby quilt I top stitched along the bottom border in white.
It looked so nice I decided to stitch 2 rows of white.

Also -- I top stitched inside of the black sashing with a black 12wt thread.
Stabilization helps keep the quilt or subsections of the quilt "square" -- it keeps them from getting wonky during the quilting process.

~ Zoe ~
One of my favorite Susybee Characters...
I stabilized this growth chart quilt with top stitching.
I stitched around the first 2 small borders.
Love the look!!
 Here's another view...

One Thing To Note: 

Before you begin your stabilize stitching be sure to baste it well -- otherwise -- you may have trouble with fabric gathers as you near the inside edge of your stabilization quilting.

See my basting recommendations in Part 1 -- Click here!

Also note... stabilization is not always necessary and not all quilters do it.  

For me though I really enjoy the stabilization step. 

Some of this LoVe comes from wanting to use my awesome stash of luscious Aurifil threads!!

Another reason I enjoy this process is because I've released myself from having to stitch "in the ditch". 

 Instead, I use that beautiful 12Wt thread and stitch next to the ditch.
 It's so much easier and the thread looks awesome !!

Here's a sample on the Lal the Lamb Growth Chart for World of Susybee.

Let's talk details...

When I want the stitches to show I choose
Aurifil 12Wt Cotton Thread!

I love working with it.

It's heavy and has amazing luster and shows-off a beautiful top stitch.

For this quilt I decided to use color #6722 from The Subtle Sampler

To successfully top-stitch with Aurifil 12Wt  you'll want to have a Superior Titanium Coated Top Stitch Needle size 90/14 or 100/16.

The Top Stitch Needle has an elongated eye and a shaft down the front of it!
Trust me...  this needle makes a
-- HUGE --
difference for top stitch and free motion quilting.

If you're experiencing any trouble at all with your stitching this needle is a MUST HAVE!
In the bobbin I generally use Aurifil 50Wt thread because it's more economical than heavier weight threads.

That's right, for the same price you get more yards of Aurifil 50wt on a large spool (1422 yards) than any other weight..

  Also -- that fine weight thread makes your bobbin last longer!

I stitched most of this project with Aurifil 50Wt color #2312 in my bobbin. 
You'll find this weight and color in The Subtle Sampler.

This color goes nicely across several different top thread colors.
It's my favorite bobbin thread weight and color.

NOTE:  You might find the 50wt too fine for your style of top stitching with 12Wt.

A good indication is thread breaking at the needle or under the throat plate.
 In this case try a heavier weight thread in the bobbin -- I would go one weight thicker with Aurifil 40wt.

Next -- Use a walking foot for your top stitch. 

Some manufacturers call them even feed or dual feed feet. 

They're made to walk multiple layers of fabric through the machine without bunching or pushing.   

Top Stitch with your feed dogs UP.

Set your machine to a Straight Stitch with a length of 3.50 or more -- this way you can admire the beautiful stitches coming your way.

On this panel I decided to stabilize around every panel square or rectangle -- but not along the outside edge. 

I stitched on or near the dotted line on the white edge of the panel squares.


To get started with your straight stitch quilting be sure to bring the bobbin thread to the top.

Set your stitch length down very low (I set mine to 1.0) and take 5 or 6 stitches at this length.


Now set the stitch length back to 3.5 or higher and continue stitching around the design. 

*  Stitch Slowly *

The Aurifil 12 wt thread is a hand embroidery weight thread -- it's not made to take high tension or high speeds.  

Take your time and admire how beautiful those stitches are.

When you  make it around the entire square or rectangle and are nearing the beginning small stitches,  stitch over them with a few of the 3.5 length stitches.

End your stitching by setting your stitch length back down to 1 and taking another 4 or 5 stitches to lock them in place.

Move on to the next square or rectangle and repeat the process:
Bring bobbin thread to top
Set stitch length to 1
Take 5-6 stitches 
Set stitch length to 3.5 
Stitch around the area...
Finish off with 1.0 stitches to lock.


Isn't it beautiful?

Don't worry about the spacing as it relates to the black dots on the panel. 

The Panel prints are rarely ever perfect -- just do the best you can.  
NO-One will notice.

I use my Machingers gloves during this process and take care to ensure my fabric does not have a drag.

The Walking Foot and Long Stitch Length will work wonders if free of drag.


Here it is - the entire panel with the Stabilization Top Stitching done!

Sew Much Fun!

Well -- that's a wrap for this weeks session.
Be sure to jump over to Wendy's Blog and see what she's up to this week.

If you have any questions, please leave them below -- I'll be sure to respond as soon as I can.

Happy Stitching!
Karen

*************

Learn more about how to use various thread weights in these Facebook Live Sessions
hosted by Aurifil at International Quilt Market: 

***
Follow me on social media:
Redbird Quilt Co. on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitterYouTube
Facebook my FMQ Frenzy Community Group
See my other Moda Bake Shop Recipes
Click here to see my upcoming events.
*
***  Guilds, Groups and Shops ***

I'm booking Lectures, Trunk Shows and Workshops
for 2020 and beyond!

If your Shop, Group or Guild is looking for programs or workshops I would love to hear from you.


Free Motion Quilting on Home Machines
Basics ~ A Quilters Doodles ~ McTavishing
A Full Day of Feathers
*
Aurifilosophy
*
Wool & Needle turn Applique
Technique or Project Oriented Workshops available.

Click here to see my upcoming events.
*
Send email inquiries to karen at redbirdquiltco dot com
or redbirdquiltco at gmail dot com


Note:  The FTC requires that I tell you.... I occasionally use affiliate links on my blog and website.  I may be compensated for purchases made using the links.  Rest assured I will only share sales and promotions for products I know and love myself.  Many thanks for your support of my very small business.