I have my big stack of quilts - hard to believe this isn't even half of the ones I have made. But, I am taking my quilts to the Panquitch Quilt Walk which is going on now and I will be the guest speaker doing a trunk show tomorrow at 12:15 at the Panquitch High School. Not a big deal, right? Whatever!!! - there is supposed to be quite a few people there - I would have a hard time talking in front of 5 people and to tell you the truth, I haven't spent much time preparing what I am going to say and I have no idea what to wear. I am planning on winging it - I hope I don't look like a dork. I am sure I will butcher my words when I first start off and I will be red in the face for the first 10 minutes, but I am hoping after that I can be comfortable enough to continue.
I have a feeling this is going to be a long post, so bare with me. I am so grateful for incredible friends throughout blogland. Since my last post I have had so many encouraging emails and comments by all you incredible people out there. I am so thankful to all of you. I wish I could give you all a big hug for lifting my spirits and making me laugh! You will never know the difference you have made for me and I appreciate every single one of you! So, THANK YOU!
Okay - on with the post!
I thought it would be fun for all you beginner quilters out there to see my beginnings. I would be totally embarrassed to show you these pictures if I never got any better, but these pictures are proof that it takes time, and a whole lot of effort practicing to be good at long arm quilting. Keep in mind - I started to quilt in 2004, but it was a really slow start. My mom bought an A-1 long arm and I taught myself how to use it. My mom didn't go through a dealer when she bought her machine - BIG MISTAKE - and she still tells me today how she wished they would have sent someone to help out at first - anyway, we both had to learn. So, we had no clue how to use a laser, no clue how to do pantographs and really had no clue on how to load a quilt. We (Mom and I) loaded the quilts wrong for the first 4 years without even knowing it.
So, because we taught ourselves - we never touched a pantograph - everything was free motion quilting, everything and to this day - I have never done a pantograph on a quilt. The picture above is my first attempt at a flower. Hard to make out, but a flower with only four petals and an uneven circle would just kill me now. But, there you have it - my first flower.
The other side of the quilt - you can see the flower a little better. But, it still doesn't help the fact that this is obviously a beginner quilter.
This is my Liliana's Heart Quilt pattern - really the pattern that started this whole thing. I was so proud of the quilting on this quilt and now I look at it and want to throw in so much more quilting. Detail Judi! It needs detail!
Check out all that empty space - it just cracks me up now. I would never leave that much space in a quilt and look how uneven everything is. I really hope this encourages you beginners out there!
I was so proud of this quilting job too - but look how I didn't even quilt around the flower - not one speck of quilting - I would totally echo quilt this flower and add so much more. But, I have to say - to this day this quilt (Checkered Flowers) is definitely my personal favorite.
What do you do with all that missing detail? Seriously - if I knew what I would be doing as far as quilting is concerned years later, I would have laughed back then.
Stitch in the ditch anyone? Well, that's all I did on my "Rick the Rack" quilt - also one of my very first designs back in 2005 I think.
This is also a first - Life of a Snowman - there is a lack of "stitch in the ditch" and the tension is uneven. Something I did back then that I refuse to do now is to match the bobbin thread to the back of the quilt, sorry - I just won't do that anymore. I use the same color of thread on top and on bottom - no matter the quilt top or back.
This is a little better - this was my "Turtle Walk" quilt and I liked how I quilted it, but I would still quilt it differently now. So, when I bought my A-1 long arm in October 2008, and I went through my dealer, Jen - I learned how to load a quilt. I learned how to use a pantograph and the laser, but I had Jen take off the laser because I knew that I would never use it. I love custom quilting, I love that I free motion quilt everything, and that each little mistake that I can find proves that the quilting is human. Not that computerized quilting is not as amazing, but I just prefer to add my touch to each quilt that I do. I learned from my sweet friend Em that I should never unpick my stitches - to ere is human - and once you pull your quilt off the frames and see the whole picture, you just don't notice the mistakes.
To this day, the only tools I use for my quilting is my nine inch ruler, and my disappearing purple marker. I make all of my own templates and I free motion quilt them. The trick is, you just have to practice on your machine. You can draw all the designs you want on paper, but you won't get to know your machine unless you use it. It seriously takes time, a lot of time. I still have to take breaks from quilts sometimes because I have committed myself to so much quilting detail that it does get old. That's why a lot of the time it takes me a while to quilt a quilt, I get burned out. But, I never want the quality of my quilting to be affected, so I take a step away until I can face the machine and the quilt again.
For my last picture - Dear Jane - I can't believe how popular this post has been, I keep getting emailed about this quilt. So, years later I can quilt pretty good - I am proud of what I can do, but I really owe all of my talents and blessings to God. He has truly blessed my life.
So, moral of the story and probably the longest post of mine ever, don't give up - keep going and practice like crazy and you will become the quilter you want to be! I hope that helps all of you out there that are struggling with the fact that you bought an extremely expensive machine and you don't even know how to use it!
Hey, maybe I'll use this post as my presentation tomorrow! :)