I saw a recent article, Turning Practice into Play by Betsey Langford**, in the November 2014 issue of the AQS magazine. The article was about practicing machine quilting. The article proposes a playful, and useful way to practice machine quilting. It made me think about my recent experiences with machine quilting.
I think that my recent experience with the Kelly Tote is validated by this article. One of the reasons I never really practiced machine quilting outside of classes was because it felt futile. I know the 12″ squares are a good manageable size to get the feel of machine quilting, but then what? What would I do with them? My thought process was ‘nothing’ so I would use ugly fabric and then I wouldn’t be at all motivated to practice. Practicing machine quilting on a half yard of fabric and then making the tote made the process seem less futile. It made it seem like I was practicing AND preparing something that I could use.
This article is in the same vein. Langford talks about using various surface design supplies, such as Tsukineko inks, paints, Inktense pencils, etc to make designs and then following those designs to practice FMQ. The surface design piece gives practice on using those tools while providing something interesting to machine quilt. I relied on the motifs on the fabric in the Kelly Tote. Creating your own motifs gives the quiltmaker more freedom of expression.
Betsey Langford also gives ideas for items to make with the product of your machine quilting exercises. The way I feel about the tote bag sums it all up until I want to use one of the author’s ideas. All in all, it gave me some ideas to expand my machine quilting / FMQ practice in a fun way.
**Nota bene: I found references to this article, but could not actually find a link to it. I will add one later if I find one.
We did get inspired by one quilt and may start a joint project based on that quilt. The quilt is called Civil War Elegance by Linda Bergmann of Elk Grove, California. As an aside, I noticed that a lot of nice quilts came out of Elk Grove. The color is not one of them, my taste, of course, but there are a lot of nice aspects of this quilt. I like the row aspect. I also like the style of fabric chosen for the border and in between the rows. I like that there is a definite, strong pattern. Again, the colors of that fabric are not to my taste. Of course, all the colors go together in the quilt very well. The scrappiness of the blocks is also very appealing. I often have a hard time getting past colors that aren’t my favorites, but the scrappy blocks drew me in a little bit and I think it is possible that this could be a very engaging quilt in different colors.
The blocks are interesting. A bit fussy in terms of number of pieces and size, but an interesting opportunity for fabric usage. I think it would lend itself to scraps.
We decided to do the project. We worked in EQ7 together and made the pattern, deciding on a 5″ block.
We will use a series of similar, cool greys for a scrappy background in the blocks. We discussed whether to use a consistent color in the crosses or what color scheme we will use for the pieces. We decided that we would each make 2 blocks (I will make one for each of us and TFQ will make one for each of us) a week for the next month and see how the blocks looked together. Then we will decide how to proceed.
We are on our own for the overall background. If we lay them out the same way Ms. Bergmann did, then we will be on our own for the border print between the rows. That is too far down the road to know yet.
**Copyright notice is for photos/image only; not for quilts