Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Practice! Practice! Practice! Anyone that does FMQ (free motion quilting) knows that you need to practice regularly. I have been doing FMQ on my domestic sewing machine for several years. Before I begin quilting a new project, I practice on a sample square. My quilting has progressed over the years, but still has room for improvement. Mostly because I need to do it more often.

I’ve mentioned before that I had surgery on my shoulder last year for a rotator cuff tear, related to a bone spur that was also removed. Not that everyone needs to know my medical history, but the shoulder issue was far more than just a tear. Since the problem had persisted far too long without proper treatment, I also developed problems with my humerus and tendons. In layman terms, the surgeon literally detached my tendons, cut off the ends that were dead, and reattached them to my humerus.

I say all this to suggest that I may not be able to FMQ like I used to. And, this is frustrating to me. I am finding that my motion is not fluid. While quilting recently, I have noticed sudden jerks or an inability to maintain control of my movements. I am hoping that this is temporary as I re-establish regular FMQ time. I mean, it has been over a year since I have been doing regular FMQ. I cannot expect to just go back to quilting like I did before surgery. Unfortunately, I have also developed bouts of tendonitis after sessions of quilting.

You be the judge… Here are some examples of FMQ on a wall-hanging I am finishing up for a challenge. I made Ocean Waves blocks and wanted to quilt pebbles and waves into the quilt. I viewed tutorials on the The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day. I browsed her library and chose a pebble ripples design to incorporate into the center of the quilt.

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Back

Pebble Ripple Back

I added curved line quilting in the dark HST (half square triangles), to look like waves. Then, I looked for something to add to the white HST. I settled on another Leah Day design, underwater rocks. I currently have it on my machine, quilting in short spurts, but keeping the quilt intact until I get to the end of a section.

Underwater Rocks design

Underwater Rocks design

For those who are interested, I am using 50 wt. Aurifil thread in a variegated blue #3770 Stonewashed Denim. The white  HST are being quilted in 50 wt. Aurifil #2021 Natural White.

Aurifil #3770

Aurifil #3770

It may be that I just need to practice. I appreciated the blog post by Christa Quilts! yesterday. She reviewed a Craftsy class on FMQ by Elizabeth Dackson. I especially liked Elizabeth’s philosophy:

The Golden Rules of Quilting

  1. Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Give yourself permission for things not to be perfect right away.
  3. Walk away and take a break if you feel that you’re getting frustrated.

I really needed to hear this today. Whether my FMQ ability returns to it’s former level or I have to adjust how often and how much I do, I will keep quilting. Maybe I’ll take that Craftsy class, too.

Happy Stitching!

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Comments on: "Free Motion Quilting Frustration" (4)

  1. One other suggestion that might help as you work to rebuild your strength and smooth motion with free motion quilting – try being nice to yourself! Accept your stitching where ever it is without judgement. Yes, I know this sounds much easier than it actually is, but it definitely will help you take the pressure off yourself and feel better about what you are doing.

    From what I could see – your stitching looks amazing, so whatever issues you’re seeing while you quilt is definitely not noticeable from a normal distance away. Enjoy this process and good luck!

    • Thanks! I have quilted a few more white areas on the quilt and see my results improving. But, I am finding I have to go in short time frames and take lots of breaks.

      Your tutorials have broadened my quilting designs. Thanks for all you do!

  2. kaystephenson said:

    I’ve had similar shoulder and tendon issues and have found that if I wear wrist and elbow supports (the kind a tennis player would wear) that gives me the support I need to FMQ without aggravating the tendon. Hope that helps.

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