Here's what I've been playing with lately: Placemats.
Why? First, they're quick and can be finished quickly My UFO list is piling up to obscene heights. Second, it lets me practice some small-scale machine quilting, something I badly need to do. (see evidence below)
It all started when I saw this pillow on the clearance rack at Target.
It caught my eye, and when it was still there on my third trip during a two-week period, I took it as a sign and snapped a quick photo. Small segue: Somehow I made it to Target three times in two weeks WITHOUT any kids. That's almost unheard of. And heavenly.
Using the design as inspiration, I pulled all kinds of large florals from my stash, went solid fabric shopping again, and found a shape I liked in my clip art book.
I mocked up a small and large design versions in Illustrator.
Then I moved to fabric. Here's what I made first:
So I added a little free motion quilting, just following the "grid" of the shapes.
Notice that I'm showing you the full shot first, where it's hard to see detail. Go ahead and ooh and ahh now, because the close-ups below won't spare you the gory details.
But first, a few things about free motion machine quilting:
1. I picked the absolute worst fabric and pattern to start practicing on--wide open space with no boundaries to help me contain the quilting, and a solid color that hides nothing(!) in terms of mistakes.
2. When I was in high school, I used to umpire middle school girls' softball games. Let's just say that split-second decision making is not a skill of mine. When I called balls and strikes, about 50% of the time I regretted the call I had just made. Machine quilting is not so different. I'd made a decision (turn here!) and then two stitches after turning, decide I should have gone the other way.
3. For me, machine quilting is grind your teeth, tense your shoulders stressful. I think I need to work on changing this mindset almost as much as I do the quilting stitches.
4. All that aside, I fell in love with this book:
Ignore my fluctuating stitch length, my herky-jerky curves, and other messiness, and take a peek at these close-ups. Because while I know I have a lot to learn, I really enjoyed
Swirls and a meander
Upper left: Circles (I had the most trouble with this one); back and forth (top center), paisley attempts (lower left) and just a wavy grid (lower right)
Modern clamshell (one of my favorites!) and a random grid
Here's my question--how should I quilt these placemats? One of the designs you see here? Straight or wavy-straight lines before I add the appliques? I'd love to hear what you think because I can't decide!
p.s. Linking up to "Can I get a whoop whoop?" over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!