Machine Quilting Blog Hop

#MachineQuiltingBlogHop: Week 8 :: U-Turns

Good Morning, everyone!!

Welcome back to the #MachineQuiltingBlogHop! I was so busy quilting this week that I forgot to keep a day-by-day journal of what I worked on and what I learned. However, I'm confident that I quilted at least 5 days this week, and I'm really excited to share what I've been up to. 

First of all, if you're new around here, I'm so delighted to have you! Let me catch you up to speed: for 8 weeks now, Kristin, Vicki, Jen, and I have been quilting and blogging out way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson. Both Angela and Christa are known for their encouraging spirits and for advising their students to keep practicing in order to see improvement in their quilting. My friends and I set out to put that advice to the test and see what would happen if we committed to quilting (especially free motion quilting) for ten weeks straight. Personally, I committed to quilting at least 5 days each week (even if only 10-20 minutes), and I've been pretty faithful to that commitment. Spoiler alert: Angela and Christa were right. I've seen AMAZING improvements in my work, and I've been so uplifted by all the folks on Instagram who have commented that they see my progress, too! 

This week, we are rounding the final curve as we head into the last third of our #MachineQuiltingBlogHop. The motifs we worked on this week and will work on next are review, then, for Week 10, we will jump back to the whole cloth quilt chapter and challenge ourselves to a sort of "cumulative review" by doing our own whole cloth quilt. I was giddy to see this week's lineup because I wanted to work toward finishing some of the quilts I've started as part of the hop and because I wanted to see if I could spot my progress. 

I started by finishing the Operation Smiley quilt I started at the end of last week. I used a spiral chain of sorts to improvise a transition from a walking foot spiral to double loops. Then, I quilted switchbacks in the borders. These were so much easier and smoother than last time I quilted this motif! 

Next up: Finishing the Florida quilting. I did funky waves in the background a few weeks ago, and I've been stuck on how to quilt the appliqué ever since. I started easy-- just doing some echoing lines inside the hexes while I stared at the "orange trees" that shape Florida. Then, I decided to keep the tops of the trees simple and get funky in the stems. It was another opportunity to warm up my ribbon candy (which still gives me some trouble). wishbones, etc.

Each time I trust my instincts and experiment, free motion quilting gets easier. I did this with the progression on the Operation Smiley quilt, and the result wasn't my favorite, but there was still something empowering about committing to an idea and being okay with, especially on a utilitarian quilt like that, it not turning out perfectly. On Florida, I trusted my instinct, and I'm wonderfully pleased with the result. I hope I have the binding finished by next week to share!

Finally: More Modern Birds in the Air. I had no idea when I started quilting this that I would still be quilting it. I think I finally understand the concept of quilting something to death. This week, I finished a color block, a border, and made more progress on the center birds. When I was working on the graffiti quilting Saturday, I hit a special kind of zen. I was relaxed, but I was also focused. I worked on the quilt more yesterday, and I had a lovely time doing it, but it wasn't the same. Saturday was the first real understanding of "the zone"-- where my stitches look better not worse because I was enjoying myself. I look forward to quilting becoming more and more like that. 

As I gave away at the beginning: all my practice is making progress! It's thrilling! Be sure to check out what Kristin, Vicki, and Jen worked on this week, and click the badge below to visit the Machine Quilting Blog Hop Directory to read interviews with Angela, Christa, and the blog hoppers, plus links to the previous weeks' posts! Then, tag your quilting practice with #machinequiltingbloghop so I can enjoy your work and cheer you on, too!

Stay up to date on my daily shenanigans by following me on Instagram @stringandstory, and join me for creative inspiration on Saturday Mornings while we enjoy our coffee by signing up for my Newsletter, too!

Happy Stitching, friends!

HollyAnne

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