Sunday, May 6, 2007


After my free-motion fiasco, I decided it was time to slow down, get my bearings, and explore the terrain in more detail. I read as much as I could find online about free-motion quilting, and bought a small book, Marti Mitchell's Learn to Machine Quilt in Just One Weekend. It wasn't terribly helpful for free-motion quilting, but it had some great advice about other aspects of quilting.

I put together some scrap sandwiches of white fabric, batting, and backing. I practiced fast stitching and slow moving. It was amazing how much I improved with just a little practice. I still didn't believe I would ever be capable of the beautiful free-motion designs I was seeing on quilts, but at least I was making progress.

I took one of these scrap practice pieces and decided to paint it. After I painted it, it was too pretty to toss, so I thought I would practice some art quilt techniques on it. I:

  • Cut green, painted fabric into very thin, wavy lines, then straight-stitched them on.
  • Found an old lino stamp I had carved of a fish and stamped paint onto fabric. Attached it to StS2, cut it out, and appliqued it on.
  • Bought some water-soluble stabilizer, sandwiched yarn & other fibers between two pieces, and stitched a grid over it. I dissolved the stabilizer, cut out the "ocean floor" pieces, and stitched those on.
  • Couched some green silky fibers on.
  • Added white beads of various sizes to look like coral.
  • Sewed beads to the fish.
  • Appliqued a jellyfish on over some tiny copper threads and off-white yarn fibers (those became the tentacles).
  • Made some fan coral out of painted cheesecloth.
This piece was so much fun to make. I didn't make any rules for myself, and just kept embellishing it until it felt done. I was also happy to know that I could recycle all those scrap sandwiches I've been practicing free-motion meandering and stippling on.

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