Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Project Snap And Quilt: Clover Petal

Yesterday my kids brought me breakfast in bed, and while I was contentedly munching away, reading a book I had an interesting idea. What if I took a photo every day and then turned it into a free motion quilting design?
I liked the idea because it would make the daily chore of walking the kids to school more fun, as I looked out for something to snap a picture of. I also liked that doing the #scrappypostagestampQAL on Monday morning made me feel like my week was off to a productive good start so I was looking for a way to turn that feeling into a daily thing, and after the #dailyFMQ experiment I thought that practicing my free motion quilting every day would be a handy habit to get into.

So here it is: my first ever #projectsnapandquilt post. I'll run this here and on Instagram (I'm @strange_stitches over there) and would love it if people joined in. 
Today I snapped a picture of a clover flower.

 Let's get something clear right from the beginning: I am not a photographer or even very good at drawing. I'm okay at free motion quilting though, and want to get better. So the end product is what I'm hoping will be good, not necessarily all the steps along the way.
A lot of my pictures and sketches will be silly. I've learned to live with that, now you'll have to as well. :D
Anyway, here's what I started to draw:

I didn't like that, it looked too saw-toothy so I went back and looked at my snap. I realised I was attracted to the half-opened petal at the centre and began drawing again.

I really liked this but was having trouble getting it to flow. Plus, they looked kind of spermy to me. :P
So I tried putting a spine for them to "grow" from, and my design came together.

And then it was time to stitch.
I drew a circle at the top of my practice sandwich, and a curvy spine down to the bottom.
I stitched the spine and the circle first, and then started filling in the inside of the circle with the clover petal design, starting where the spine met the circle and going around in a clockwise direction (not anti-clockwise as I drew on the piece in the picture below. Oops! :P). When I reached the place where I started, I stitched right down the spine again, before coming back up the spine with the petals, around the outside of the circle, and back down to the base of the spine.

My original plan to was just use whatever thread was in the machine, but I had gold Glitter thread from Superior in there, and after I began to stitch with it I realised it was a mistake as it was too difficult for me see it.
So I changed to a 40 weight yellow Highlights thread and kept going. I just started again, stitching right over the gold thread. This is a "warts and all" project, where hopefully anyone looking on can learn from my mistakes and be encouraged by watching me learn as I go, so I won't be unpicking anything. After I changed threads I forgot to change my tension and stitched a fair few petals (wondering why some stitches were skipping) before I realised it. We've already established I'm a doofus, right? :P
You can see where I began with the gold thread and then went over it with the yellow, I also marked an up arrow and "T" where I changed the tension, my stitches start to improve slightly there.
As I was coming up the spine with the petals, I began to notice that I seemed to be going painfully slow so I sped up my machine and it was instantly more "flowy" and comfortable.
The "X" is where I increased my speed.
After I went all the way up the spine and started around the outside of the circle I began to regret drawing my circle so close to the edge. I'd just started to get the flow of the design but that was ruined because around the top edges I actually had to pinch the fabric at the edges and pull it around to get it to move. I even broke my thread there because of all the manhandling I was having to do.
When I finally got back to a spacious part of my practice piece I tried speeding up again and from there to the end is my favourite stitches. I think I got the hang of it, in the end.  :D

Here's the whole thing with the pen-marks all ironed out (I used a Frixion pen here, but I don't use them on my actual quilt-tops anymore because they often leave a "ghost"behind).

And here's what it looks like on the back. I didn't put a backing fabric on because I'm running out of fabric!

That was fun! Let's do it again tomorrow. :D

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