Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Machine Quilting Practice

My favorite quilters are Judy Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts and Angela Walters of Quilting is My Therapy.  There is something amazing about the work they do.  I've spent the last two months pouring over Judy's book (Quilting Wide Open Spaces) and Angela's classes on Craftsy (all of them).  There is just something special about their modern style of quilt-work that just sets their quilts apart.  I often thought Judy's were just sprinkled with her "green fairy dust" and somehow Angela had the same magical powers.

While I admit I have learned a lot in the past 5 years of machine quilting, I still have a lot to learn.

1) Understand the difference between "negative" and "positive" space. I had to look these up in a drawing-techniques book.  In short, "positive" space refers to the part of the quilt your eye is drawn to--the colorful quilt block.  The "negative" space is the back-ground of the blocks, or the sashing where they connect.  (In the blocks below it is blue).

2) For starters, I had to get over my fear of ruler work.  Both Judy and Angela separate dense sections of free motion quilting using straight-line rulers and bump-back feathers.

Here is my attempt at practicing continuous curve quilting.  If you look at the bottom LHS corner, you can see I also did continuous curve quilting, but it is lost in the tight micro-swirls; yet in this center square it stands out.  Why?

3) In Angela Walter's Craftsy classes she talks about using "echoing" a lot.  At first, I did not understand the concept.  However, it finally clicked in the back-ground space in the center of the above block.  After I continuous curve quilted the triangle portions of the blocks, only for it to get lost in the tight micro-swirls, I got it!  She meant to leave an un-quilted area that echoes--or frames what you are trying to do.  Here, I can see the continuous curve quilting because it is framed.  Both Judy and Angela separate quilting spaces into--what I think of now-- as picture frames.

 4) I have a mid-arm, not a long-arm machine.  I frequently thought, well, I just can't do what others do because my quilt-throat reach isn't long enough.  Well, after watching Angela quilt her motifs on a home sewing machine, I realized that I don't have an excuse.  In her class, she says she uses echoes (or as I understand it picture frames) to separate micro-quilting work spaces.  They also use feathers to separate areas (with echoes around them).  I have yet to try that.

5) Straight lines and organic/curved lines create contrast.  No doubt about it.  Look at the back of this quilt!  I wouldn't be able to tell from the back that this simply is a scrappy quilt using two techniques (Angela Walter's dot-to-dot--just one of them; and a back-ground filler).

This is the back of my Scrap-A-Dealy-O Laye Cake Quilt.  You can see the contrast created between straight and curved lines.

6) Back-tracking is important.  I admit that in the past, if back-tracking was required, I just chose not to quilt that style on the quilt.  I was really missing out.  Look how great this back-ground filler looks as it appears to disappear on top/over and under itself.  This trick is all due to back-tracking.

Front of my Scrap-A-Dealy-O Layer Cake Quilt.  Look how the swirls appear to tuck under and over one another.  I couldn't have done that without getting over my fear of back-tracking.
Well, that's my analysis.  I hope my next quilts go from an intermediate level to "amazing".  Wish me luck!

Sooner or later, I'll get this pattern written up.

Until then, enjoy the quilting.  This turned out better than I expected, thanks to reading Judy's book and Angela's Craftsy classes.

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