Thanks to the encouragement of my friend Joline, I’ve gotten back to playing with free motion quilting. One of my issues with FMQ, though, is that it requires a lot of practice. And I didn’t want to practice on muslin sandwiches that I would just throw away — especially since it appears that it will take months for me to get any good with FMQ. How could I practice without wasting material?
When I came across the QAYG book by Jera Brandvig, I knew I’d found a technique that would work for me. I wanted to make blocks about 7.5″, so I cut 9″ batting squares from scraps (sometimes I zigzag-pieced batting to make the squares). Then I started foundation-piecing in a log cabin style directly onto the batting, with no backing fabric.
So, lay a square of fabric in the centre of the block. FMQ on that little square as desired, running the start and end lines of the quilting off the edge of the fabric, onto the batting. Then, foundation piece the next bit of fabric (lay the next strip on top of the first piece, right sides together and edges matched up, stitch a 1/4″ seam along the edge, then flip the new piece and lightly press). FMQ on this new piece in the same manner. Keep adding fabric strips until the batting is completely covered. Trim the block down to the desired size.
This technique allowed me to practice FMQ in small areas, which was good. The variety of fabrics I used helped disguise some of the bad quilting, and the scrappy style meant that it was actually okay if I used lots of different — and imperfect — FMQ patterns. It made the blocks look a bit whimsical.
20 blocks was enough to create a border that could go around a centre panel — my centre “panel” is just a novelty print that I will cut to fit the space, and FMQ. I joined the blocks on the topside with quilt-as-you-go method of 1-inch “sashing”. So, I joined two sets of 6 blocks vertically, to create each side. Then I joined two sets of 4 blocks horizontally. I will add the horizontal rows tot he top and bottom of the centre panel, then join on the two sides.
Finally, I’ll add a backing fabric, and just stitch-in-the-ditch enough to hold the layers together.
I’m excited because this whole quilt will be made from fabrics in the stash, and lots of which were scraps or had no particular purpose. Even the centre panel fabric is “leftovers” from my friend Megan. The batting is all off-cut scraps from quilts that I had had professionally quilted in past. I got in lots of FMQ practice, but didn’t have any “waste”.