Living This Creative Life

I have two favorite quotes. The first one is by Emile Zola, "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I would tell you that I came to live out loud". I don't know who the second one is by, but it goes like this, "If you're not living on the edge then you might as well jump". Both of these sentiments sum up my personal philosophy of this experience we call life on earth. Enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Learn to Machine Quilt - Challenge

One of the most common questions that I am asked is; How can a quilter become a better, more accomplished, more artistic machine quilter? When I teach beginning machine quilting, I always suggest that my students practice quilting for at least 20 minutes a day for 21 days in a row. This time format is what it takes for humans to form a habit. Machine quilting is a body language and like learning to dance or play the violin, it takes lots of practice to get proficient and enjoyment to become a master. Anyone can grow their skills regardless of machine type or experience. You just have to be willing to put in the time.

So, here is the challenge I'm putting forth to you all; 20 minutes of machine quilting a day for at least 21 days in a row (no skipping days!). I will add a new design each day or two designs every other day, as time allows. You can practice the new design, add it to other designs that you all ready know or from previous days and build yourself a machine quilting sample book. I used 10" squares because they are easy to handle. You can make your samples any size you want. I plan to zig-zag the edges and place grommets along one side and hold the pages together with ribbon. I began with 11" squares that I trim down after quilting. Choose solids or near solids for the fabric so that you can really see the quilting. Also use thread that is in the same color family, only lighter or darker.

Above are two 10" squares each quilted with a stipple. The block on the top has an angled stipple and the block on the bottom has a curved stipple. The word stipple can be used to describe any continuous stitch design whose lines do not cross over each other to form shapes. The curvy stipple is one of the most commonly used stitch outs (quilting designs) in today's quilting. Because no shapes are formed, it quietly pushes back negative space. Switching up the stipple to the angled design adds a little more interest and energy. Both are great for negative space and can be stitched in just about any scale from a tiny 1/4" to a big 1 1/2".

Before you begin either of these designs, try doodling them first with pencil and paper. Use exaggerated hand/arm movements as you doodle so that you get used to how the stipple feels with your body. Once it feels comfortable on paper try it on fabric. The curvy stipple requires a constant, smooth, curvy movement whereas the angled stipple requires your hands to stop momentarily (while the machine keeps on going) each time you change directions so that you get an angle rather than a curve.

Till tomorrow,

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