Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.
Do you remember the top?
Here it is finished!
This is how I marked the top for quilting: I wanted to quilt feathers but the most exciting part was the frame I drew around and inside the blocks.
I free motion quilted everything on my industrial machine, so no walking foot for the straight lines and no ruler quilting.
So I started with one block, I quilted the frames first and then I filled in with feathers. I love quilting feathers more than anything else, but sewing those frames was my first experience of this kind.
After 17 years of quilting, I thought that a new way of quilting should not be too scary. But I was wrong, I was scared! After I quilted that first block, I was also so disappointed! I ADORED this block, but here is what happened next.
I started to think:
this is hard…
it takes too much time and I have to gift it in a few days…
your straight lines are not perfect as the ones stitched by longarm quilters with the help of a ruler (correct!)
you should go back to something quicker!
Then I thought about the options: ripping out stitches for hours and try something else or continuing this way. After two minutes of thinking, I decided to continue, because I can do anything but ripping stitches! I knew that it will worth the effort, but I wasn’t happy to continue it!
I decided to quilt the frames for all the blocks first and only after that I started to quilt the feathers.
Then something miraculously happened! I quilted it quicker and easier than I thought and this definitely was one of my best quilting experiences. But those few minutes of doubts were very unpleasant! I could have give up and lose a wonderful experience!
At that moment, I did not think too much about it, but a few days later I remembered what I learned from Marisa Peer (an UK therapist, this is a must-watch video).
Whenever we do something new, our brain wants to keep us safe and comfortable, so it talks to us this way:
do what you already know very well to do…
it’s hard, it takes too much time…
it will not turn out the way you want…
It will give you countless reasons why you will fail!
Why? Because our brain likes what’s familiar and doesn’t like what’s unfamiliar.
So if you want to make it work, when you want to change or do something, you have to make what is familiar unfamiliar and what is unfamiliar familiar.
I love so much those frames around the blocks that I am going to repeat the experience whenever I will have a block in a beautiful shape, surrounded by sashing. Now I don’t feel it’s hard anymore. I am not afraid of it. After 54 blocks, this type of quilting already feels familiar!
Now, how about that frog?
The frog is that first block you quilt in the center of the quilt. This is the most difficult block, because you have to manage the bulk of the half quilt under the arm of your machine. Once you quilt a block, the quilting will stabilize that area and the next block will be easier to quilt as you will move the quilt easier. Quilt just a few more blocks and you will feel how the quilting becomes easier and easier…
After that first block, EVERYTHING you have to quilt is easier!
So don’t settle for EASY and QUICK and GOOD ENOUGH! Try new things and don’t give up! Quilt that first block the way you want. Make it fabulous! After that, you may not have any other option than to continue! And that’s good!
And now, here are a few tips that makes the quilting easier:
- I stitched first all the frames, for all the blocks. You see 2 frames, but there are actually 4 (two of them are stitched in the ditch). This comes with an unexpected benefit: I could remove all the pins I used for basting.
This quilting took me one day (not sure how many hours, more than 8, I think).
Then I quilted the feathers, it took me 2 days.
- Don’t count the blocks you still need to quilt (it could be depressing!), count the blocks you already quilted and be proud!
- Focus on the things that work great; for example: the thread doesn’t break! To me, this is the most important thing when free motion quilting. It’s what makes quilting either fulfilling or frustrating.
I used an Aurifil 50wt thread for quilting, in the needle and in the bobbin. Using the same type of thread in the needle and in the bobbin (of course, when the thread is not too heavy) always makes better stitching.
I stitched on this quilt for at least 25 hours and the thread broke 3 times, in the first 3 hours! And look at all the directions I had to stitch.
I did not think to take a picture, but I was amazed how little lint was in the bobbin area, after more than 8 hours of sewing!
I paired the Aurifil thread with a Schmetz Jeans needle #16/100 – great team. Best team!
Remember: step out of your comfort zone. It’s not easy. Until you make it familiar!
In the next days I will show you a few videos I filmed while quilting this quilt. There is one little thing that makes my quilting easier; it makes a HUGE difference in my quilting. I always said this is my secret for easy free motion quilting, now you will see it in action! Stay tuned!
If you are struggling with free motion quilting, I hope this little story helps!
Anxious to make a quilt like this? Pattern available here.