August 16, 2016

My FMQ Then...and Now!

I've been noticing for a while that we quilters (and makers in general) are our own worst critics. We know (and often share) everything that is wrong with our quilts, but we don't often celebrate the things we've learned to do well. I think it's time we shift our focus, so I'm hosting the Then...and Now linky party for the remainder of August. Look back at your earlier quilts and write up a blog post about any (or all!) of the many things you can now do better, then link it up with the party.
Then...and Now Linky Party |

I don't own any of my earliest quilts, so though I know for certain my first one was pretty bad, I can't really compare them with my current quilts. I certainly can compare my machine quilting though!

I started quilting in 1997 and for years (as in 12 or so years) I was convinced that hand quilting was the only proper way to finish a quilt. As in, machine quilting was cheating. Yep, I was that terribly judgemental hand quilter :(

Then this quilt took me 6 years to finish, mostly because I kept putting it away for months at a time because the hand quilting was taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
Noah's Ark Quilt |
Pattern from A Quilter's Ark by Margaret Rolfe
Around this time, I started realizing two things. First, I wouldn't finish very many quilts if I insisted on hand quilting everything. And second, I could never even consider attempting any of the incredibly detailed quilting I loved in magazines if I insisted on hand quilting everything, unless I was willing to do all of my incredibly detailed quilting on quilts no larger than coasters. While I love mini mini quilts, I want to make big quilts at least some of the time!

For Christmas one year I decided to make a bunch of small wallhangings as gifts and I machine quilted them all. It was a breakthrough moment! I could make 6 gifts and actually finish them in time for Christmas and I really liked the way the (very minimal) machine quilting looked.

That was the year my husband gave me a new sewing machine for Christmas and shortly after Christmas I ordered a walking foot and a darning foot for the new machine and set about trying to learn machine quilting. Enter Craftsy, with their many machine quilting classes. The first one I took was Machine Quilting, with Wendy Butler Burns and I've since taken Craftsy classes with Cindy Needham, Angela Walters and Christina Cameli. Those links are affiliate links.

This was one of my earliest attempts at free motion quilting. I had no idea what I was doing...I was just trying to imitate the quilting done on the quilt in the magazine. I confess I can't remember which magazine or who designed it. Sorry!
Spring quilt |
 You can see my lines are anything but smooth.
Early fmq |

More early fmq |
Those spirals, and everything else actually, are crazy awkward and cramped! I love this quilt, though. It hangs on the wall in our upstairs hallway and I love looking at every one of those awkward lines :) It's a great reminder of how far I've come.

My Scrappy Log Cabin quilt took me over a year to quilt (again because I kept leaving it for other things!) and I saw a lot of improvement in that time. The spirals on the left are one of the first blocks I did and the spirals on the right are one of the last blocks. What a difference, right?
fmq progress |

Back when I was working on it, I shared pictures of both my early spirals and later spirals to show my progression, and I remember that someone commented and said something along the lines of, "Your quilting doesn't make me feel woebegone." I loved that! First of all, woebegone is an awesome word that we just don't use often enough and second, I was sharing progress pictures to show that it is possible to get better at this fmq thing. It seems crazy hard when you start and it seems like everyone else is better at it than you are, but it is possible to improve. I loved that my quilting gave her hope!

So those are the earlier quilts...and now it's time for the newer quilt for comparison :)

My Denim Hexies mini quilt is my most recent heavily quilted piece and I'm amazed by the difference in my quilting!
Denim Hexies mini quilt |

It's still not perfect. There are elements that aren't shaped as nicely as I would like and places where the travel stitching isn't right on the lines like it should be. Overall, though, I absolutely love it!

I couldn't resist creating a collage of those early spirals and the denim hexies flow quilting.
Then and Now fmq |
Seriously, that has me grinning like crazy! I can't believe how much I've improved!

So that's my Then...and Now. What's yours? Write up a post about it and link it up so I can celebrate with you!

* This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay. *


  1. Wow! Such an improvement! I love your post today.

  2. Your quilting has definitely improved, and I really love how much you appreciate and acknowledge the earlier quilting. I am excited by the premise of your link up and will try to see if I can sneak in time to write up my own post. :)

  3. Your early attempts at fmq don't look too shabby to me Leanne, but your recent quilting has definitely moved up a gear or two and thoroughly deserves to be celebrated :)

  4. Your early attempts at fmq don't look too shabby to me Leanne, but your recent quilting has definitely moved up a gear or two and thoroughly deserves to be celebrated :)

  5. It is amazing to see how far we've come isn't it!! Your freemotion is gorgeous today;-)

  6. Your quilting has shown great improvement as you so graciously acknowledge. I love your Denim Hexies mini quilt.

  7. Wow I can't believe that was done on a domestic machine - great job

  8. They all look great. FMQ is not as easy as it looks, and hand quilting isn't either. Wonderful work you do.

  9. Hmm, what an encouraging viewpoint!! Thanks!


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