Monday, November 28, 2011

Free Motion Quilting

You've got to be kidding me.

Have you seen what people can do with free motion quilting?
Back up, .... Free motion quilting is a method of machine quilting where the artist (a word which I would not apply to myself, but whole heartedly attribute to these people) releases the feed dogs and moves the quilt "sandwich" freely through their sewing machine.  They over ride the machines pull on the fabric, and it's means of creating a measured stitch, and manually direct the progression as layers are sewn together to make a quilt. Often the stitching creates delightful patterns.

It takes an enormous amount of patience and practice to get everything moving in sync.

These are just tiny samples that I snitched from Flickr.   They are practice blocks quilted by Katie of  Unconventional Katie as part of Free Motion Fridays at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.  They are now in week 8 of the project.

In January 2012 a new project is starting.   The Quilt as You Go Free Motion Quilting Quilt Along sponsored by my friend Laura at Quokka Quilts in Australia.  She has convinced me to join in her efforts to encourage FMQers.  Read  more about it on her blog, Quokka Quilts

Years ago, when I first purchased my long arm, I aspired to doing work like this.  On a long arm it is a little bit different.  You move the machine instead of the quilt sandwich.  Think of it this way.  When you write, you move the pen to create letters and words.  A FMQer moves the paper.  A long armer moves the pen.  In both scenarios a person is directing the progression of the stitches.

Waldorf, a.k.a. my Gammell Optimum long arm sewing machine, is equipped with a computer driver.  The machine sits on a trolley system that is connected at front and behind to a series of wheels and cables that are pulled by electric impulses.  (At this point I should show you a picture of them...but it is all hidden under the table where it is dark and dusty.)

See the shiny silver box in the center of this picture?  That is the motor that pulls the cables.
Just below it is a white box that looks like a computer CPU.  That is the driver.....Waldorf's brains!  It is totally possible to disconnect the brains from the machine.  All I have to do is loosen a couple of bolts and the cables fall away from the trolley.  Waldorf becomes inert.  At that point I could join the FMQ club. Until then I will pass the credit on to those who really are the artists.

Here is a small sample of Waldorf's work....
"Quill b2b" by Anne Bright

"Fandangle b2b" by Anne Bright
"Luna Wreath" by Anne Bright
He is very good at getting his points pointy and his curves round.

And here is a sample of mine...

I've got a ways to go.


Janine said...

I have such admiration for fmq-ers and long-armers. Your's looks great to me :)

Laura said...

Wow - sounds like Waldorf has a mind of his own but you are the artist that operates him. You are not giving yourself enough credit! I really like your metaphor of pen and paper - explains it really well. :) Thanks heaps for the post!

Lynne said...

Ah yes! I have signed up for a free motion class in January and am hoping to get a quilt top finished tomorrow so that we may try "really quilting" on our frame!