Thursday, September 10, 2009

Weekly Tip: Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

My website has a tip each week which I cross-reference here.  This week's tip is about expanding your FMQ motifs, and jump starting your own creative brain.

Are you tired of doing the same patterns over and over on your fiber art?  In a class, I once heard a teacher comment that no one should ever do stippling anymore, now that sewing machines could be programmed to make the stitch.

There is an easy technique to train your brain, eyes, and hands to create new quilting motifs. It has several things going for it:  easy, portable, no fancy equipment needed.  In fact, you may already be using this technique subconsciously.

What is this magical technique?  Doodling.  That's right....doodling.  By doodling, you are commingling those right and left brain skills, training your brain, hand and eyes to make the motions and designs you use during FMQ.  Get a sketch pad, white board, or one of those Magic Erase boards--I may be dating myself here--the ones that have the sheet you lift to erase the page.  I don't use Etch-A-Sketch (TM) for this purpose simply because the motions are not the same.  The photos above are from my sketchbook.  Start with lines, loops, geometrics, then try flowers, leaves, butterflies, hearts, and so on.  Make your designs multidirectional.  Draw them facing left, right, upside down, diagonally; after all, that's how you'll be quilting them.  When using paper, I prefer a felt tip pen, but if all I have is a pen or pencil, I go with it.

In the past week, my friend Dorothy Hayes recommended  an awesome FMQ blog, Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs.  When you get there, bookmark it, then try doodling some of the designs.  After doodling them for a while, try quilting them, and I'll bet it will be easier!

Last tip:  keep a sketch pad or another pad of blank paper (the larger the better) and a felt tip pen with you at all times, and try to doodle something everyday.

Adventures Galore!

Back to back quilting adventures!  On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Rayna Gillman in her studio.  We chatted and laughed about how much we have in common (we are both ENFPs...another story).  Afterwards, I got a chance to "save" a piece of fabric.  I wondered where this fabric came no way, at no time, was it my "type".  I happily went at it with some thickened dyes.  First I used a stamp I created by heating and impressing some architectural thingy into it.  Following that, I used a wonderful "Klimty" stamp purchased at a scrapbooking store in MD.   Rayna showed me how simple it is to cure my fabric using steam.  I'm definitely going to try that again.  I left her with a I can't tell--hopefully you'll see how she used it in one of her future blog entries.   It's not finished yet; I see some paintstiks and metal on it before I'm finished.  I'll keep posting it as I gild the ugly duckling.

Here are  photos of the layered design cloth (LDC), one before I added anything, and one after I stamped (thickened dyes) dried, steamed, rinsed, and ironed it.  It's now ready for another layer.


My second adventure, yesterday, was a trip to NYC to see Mom.  I passed by an African shop, African Masidi & Co on Broadway and 231/232 Streets a couple of weeks earlier, and vowed to come back and shoot some photos.  When I went in today, the owner, Cheik,  was not in, but a lovely woman, Belco (shown in photo), called him and asked if it was ok for me to photograph the astounding mask collection.  When he said yes, I was thrilled. What you see is a small portion of Cheik's mask collection, as Belco told me some of the masks had been damaged in a flood.  The masks are from all over the African continent, adding variety.  I see a series, and something to use in the upcoming QCNNY challenge!  The photos of the masks are in my Picasa album, which you can see by clicking here.