Tuesday, 3 February 2015

My Personal FMQ Challenge

The best way over a fear in sewing is just to jump in, I've spent the months eyeballing a new technique in outright fear, panic, and awe. Considering it, looking at others work, deciding mine is never, ever going to match up regardless of practice, and shuffling away to leave it for a few more months before beginning the eyeballing over again. But each time once I've jumped I've loved it, I've made mistakes, I've cursed, and ripped seams, but I've felt invigorated and alive, and like I could conquer anything just because I tried.

Free motion quilting is probably my longest running sewing longing/fear. So I've challenged myself this year to do weekly practice, and to just free motion quilt some stuff. The weekly practice is going to add up to a QAYG quilt, another technique that's long had me baffled, and again the only to really understand it is to go through it. So I bought a layer cake of Botanics and of Silent Film by Kona, and each week I will quilt a 10" square with whatever design I fancy.

I first tried to start this challenge last September, but I only got one square in before it fell by the wayside overtaken by things I felt I should be doing, wasn't doing, and therefore became even more urgent to get done. I'm not sure this is the best way to improve. It's possible that taking one design and practicing it over and over would make me really great at that one design, but I'm hoping that this will teach me to loosen up and get into the sort of flow of the quilting.

FMQ seems to require a sweet spot between not thinking too much and not thinking too little, kind of like playing music. Also, the instant you think, 'hey, I'm doing great right now' is the instant you lose it and it all goes to shit. For some unaccountable reason my cheap, basic machine has taken to FMQ like a duck to water with minimal to no tension issues (I am touching wood as I type this).

The biggest problem is that I have no way to regulate my stitches apart from, you know, me! Some days I do great, some days I do terrible, I'm heavy footed and slow handed and there's billions of tiny stitches. I've also discovered there's no point in me marking the design because the foot will block at least half of it and I'll mess up while peering to see where I'm supposed to go next. My concentration is poor, which means the design often starts great but ends up getting woollier and woollier.

It is lovely though, I get sort of lost in it and then the reward is the lovely texture at the end that you get to stroke. I think I'll probably revisit some of these designs again. I really like the spiral squares in the yellow and the echoing leaves (though they kind of look like flames, and that's what I was chanting while I stitched it). I'm going to stop now, because I'm starting to sound quite mad.

I'll be linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!


  1. Hi...this is exactly what I did in 2012 except I then also participated in a quilt along that was running over at Leah day around that time. At that point I was sick and tired of always having to re-learn FMQ when I had finished a quilt. I Decided to FMQ for the year to really conquer the fear...pretty much as you describe it. My advice would be...don't worry about the consistency at the moment...just concentrate on getting the rhythm and design under your belt. The consistency will just come with some time and it actually does not take that long...I think it was about 3 months for me and then all of a sudden I had settled into FMQ. Your samples are looking good...I think you are well on your way. The key truly is continued practice. Have you seen the FMQ along over at QuiltShopgal...I am participating in that...a monthly challenge where you have to make a pillow with a different design each month. Maybe consider that...it will keep your motivation going.

  2. HI,I'm about at this stage too; your FMQing is really coming along -#3 looks really nice! Practice is surely the answer>so I'd better get back to it !
    Keep on keeping on!


  3. My sentiments exactly! And I just started some QAYG blocks like yours and thought that might be the best way for me to learn FMQ also. Looks like you have gotten the hang of it. My problem is when I stop to move my hands, and then when I start again, the needle moves over.


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