Friday, 27 May 2011

My Memories of Australia are Even Sweeter Now

Our Guild had it's biennual quilt show earlier this month. Normally I'm there a couple of times during the weekend to volunteer and drool over the quilts, but I could only go on the Friday this year. The quilts were so beautiful and inspiring! I like to volunteer to do 'white glove' because I get to answer questions from attendees, study and touch the quilts, and catch up with fellow members.

I was particularly excited about this quilt show because I feel like I've had a breakthrough on free motion quilting, thanks in a large part to Leah Day and her Free Motion Quilting Project. I had submitted three pieces to the show, all of which I'd sat on for a few years because I couldn't free motion quilt (FMQ) well. I'm still not great, but at least most of the fear is gone.

One of the pieces was a Magic Tiles quilt done with Australian fabrics. I went to Sydney, Australia in 2001 for a business trip and fell in love with the country and the people. The weather, the beaches (worst sunburn of my life, but I don't hold it against Bondi Beach), the wine, the countryside, the animals, the history, the culture, Sydney. What more can I say? AWESOME!

In 2006, Michelle Dunn of Kallisti Quilts spoke at the Common Threads Quilt Guild, of which I was a member. I loved what she did with oriental, Australian and African fabrics. Because of my wonderful trip to Australia, I couldn’t resist one of her fat quarter packs of Australian fabrics and used it in a Magic Tiles formation to showcase the fabrics. I made it precisely to FMQ it. It was going to be our family room television-watching quilt so I was determined that I wouldn't care how well it was quilted, I would just do it. I quilted in the ditch along all of the sashing and bound it. Then I started the free motion quilting. I did five of the tiles and they were awful. It felt like I was fighting the quilt and the machine. My arms, shoulders and hands hurt. I was totally discouraged. So I left it with the in-the-ditch quilting and we used the quilt as it was.

About two months ago, I was determined to give free motion quilting another try. I had a new machine - no more excuses! I wanted to finish the Australian Magic Tiles the way I'd always imagined it and two other quilts for our guild show. I started FMQ one of the pieces, which I call Breakthrough. The FMQ went much better this time around, but I found that I was struggling to think of different designs.

It's weird how things can come together at the right time. It was just around that time that I found some of Leah's videos on You Tube and then our guild newsletter had some of her designs in it. Clearly, those were some signs. When I went to her site, it felt like a whole new world opened up for me. I think I read every post and watched every video.

I used her site to help my son choose FMQ designs that I should do on his quilt. It worked beautifully! I also went to her site for designs for the Australian Magic Tiles. I wanted to do a different design on each tile. Thanks to Leah and all of her fabulous designs, I was able to do it. She even gave me the confidence to try making up a few of my own.

Back to the show, while I was on 'white glove' duty, a few visitors asked me about the FMQ on the Memories of Australia quilt (my Australian Magic Tiles quilt)! I was thrilled and answered their questions about the FMQ and gave them Leah's site name. And they weren't the only ones! I think I spent the rest of Friday walking on air.

Memories of Australia (Magic Tiles pattern by Kathleen Bissett) 

Mitosis FMQ design by Leah Day
Tribolite FMQ design by Leah Day
If I thought Friday was great, well Sunday was even better. When I went to pick up my quilts after the show, I was floored to see that there was a ribbon on one of my quilts. I've never received a ribbon. I didn't even think I'd get one for many, many more years. Memories of Australia won 2nd in Viewer's Choice for it's category. I'm still blown away. The guild posted the list of winners this week and I still can't believe my name is there along with all of those fabulous and talented quilters.

Thank you, Leah! Your work is amazing and your site is awesome. Thank you for giving me the confidence to just go for it and have fun with FMQ. I just saw that you have put up a Grab a Button, which I have figured out how to add to my sidebar. Again, what great timing!

Free Motion Quilting Project

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