Practice, schmactice.

Dear friends,

runnersnapseed

I spent Sunday working on more ideas for Magpie Quilts, which I’m sure comes as no surprise. My guess is you’re thinking to yourself “Does Joan have any idea how OCD she is?”

Truth is, I do. (I’m trying to make it work for me, man!)

I’ve known for a while that to take the next step in quilting, I needed to learn how to free-motion quilt (FMQ in the biz). Without this skill, I’m either stuck in straight-stiching land or doomed to pay someone else to quilt all my tops. Neither option suits me, so I spent the weekend reading up, watching videos and diving in.

Like anything worth doing, free-motion quilting requires practice. And the online quilting forums are chock full of people who practice drawing their designs freehand first, then sew on paper (yes, paper, because it’s cheap), then scraps.  Practice, practice, practice, they say. I practiced Saturday afternoon, where practice equals trying it for the first time and getting bored with practice in about 20 minutes and moving on to making key-rings.

It occurred to me that the only reason I got good at cooking is because I am allowed to eat all the “practice” dishes. Quilting, suffers, I think, from a  lack of instant gratification, especially when most of the quilters you meet talk about how much they practice and how they spend months piecing a quilt top.

To heck with that! I’m about getting it done, for better or for worse. Which is also why I’m pretty good at devising shortcuts.

To wit: Saturday night as I read in bed, I noticed this lovely tablecloth on the cover of a favorite catalog.

catalog

And I thought how pretty that tablecloth would be as a quilted table runner. But appliqueing that many berries? No way, Jose.

Instead, I used thermal adhesive (the kind you iron-on to fabric). First I free-hand cut tree branches and berries (yay for freehand cutting “practice”) then I ironed them onto a fabric panel that would become the top of my table runner. After making a “quilt sandwich,” which consists of a top, a piece of batting, and a back, I free-motion quilted the whole thing, which killed two birds with one stone. (I both “appliqued” the cut-out elements AND quilted the runner all in one fell swoop). All that was left to do was bind it and sew on a Magpie Quilts label.

I saved so much time, I even managed to help Mr. Mom put away the groceries, prepare our Sunday Supper, and set a proper table — using the new runner, of course.

In case you’re curious, here’s a close-up view:

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It’s not without imperfections — but then neither are tree bark and branches, so Mother Nature and me are sympatico, don’t you think?

With gratitude {for having never been a perfectionist but almost always finishing},

Joan, who can’t decide whether to keep this one, because it’s clearly practice quality, or give it away, because  — you know — practice schmactice

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Comments

  1. I think you keep this one – for history’s sake. In a year or so when you get it back out for your seasonal decor, think how fun it will be to look back and see how far you’ve come. And as a recovering perfectionist I applaud your willingness to let things be. (though I gotta say it looks pretty good on my computer screen). Finding that happy stopping point is durned near impossible for me some days and it gets daunting enough to keep some projects forever in the planning stage.

  2. Love it! I think imperfections add to art. I would rather a hand made anything with the energy and spirit of the creator surrounding each and every stitch than a machine made piece every day. And thanks for showing us your “inspiration”. I think the whole creative process is fascinating!

  3. Your productivity and proficiency amaze me. And what a great way to sidestep the labor of applique but get a similar effect. Blue ribbon to the Magpie!

  4. The Sassy Quilter says:

    Girl, that is soooo cute! Practice schmactice for sure, you don’t need it. Love this!

  5. You’re a natural! I’m envious of your creativity.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I call “free form applique” ever since a Crate and Barrel catalog inspired me to make this table runner.  I’m too impatient for the kind of appliqued images where the edges are perfectly cut and […]

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