Saturday, November 05, 2011

Signing your quilts

A knitting friend who also sews was telling me that she wanted to upgrade her sewing machine so she could take advantage of the knee lifter, the auto-thread cutter, and the alphabets for monogramming.
Hmmm. I agree that a new machine is worth getting for the knee lifter and the thread cutter, but the built in alphabets are so miniscule and don't look as good as your own handwriting, that I never use mine. But she said she was not so confident about doing free motion anything on the machine.
O boy....I immediately went into teacher mode, and then stopped myself. But here goes anyway.
Remember back when you were learning cursive, maybe back in second grade? And you practiced writing your name in the margins of your homework papers? Not to mention later on writing your boyfriend's name, with yours in a heart. What school girl didn't do that? The fancy penmanship usually included little hearts above the i's, and curliques on the y's. Memories. But that is how we learned isn't it. By just doodling again and again. Same with free motion work. Here's the easy way to break into free motion stitching.  Make a quilt sandwich, at LEAST 12"x12", and put contrasting thread in the needle and any old thing in the bobbin. I like a machine quilting needle, size 12/80 to start. Then lower the feed dogs and apply your darning foot.

Begin by stitching in a circle, moving the fabric around and around. The needle usually is going pretty slow, if you are fearful about applying speed. But notice how jerky the stitches look in this picture. This is because the needle is going too slow for the movement of the fabric.

With a little more speed the stitches smooth out and look better, but are still a little to long for detailed lettering.  The trick is to speed the needle and slow down the movement of the fabric. Seems hard to imagine, but doing it isn't that hard with practice. Everything takes practice.
The faster the needle is going up and down the easier it is to make smooth stitching.

 Next write a short phrase or your name. Start with the needle down and stitch in place and end with needle down and stitch in place, locking the stitching. Clip threads and admire. To make a dot over the i, just move the fabric as the needle goes up and down. The crossed t is stitching to one direction and back again.

Find the right size for your needs by practicing different size writing. Simple Pimple.

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  1. Thank you, Melody, for this fantastic 'writing' free-motion lesson. I am going to make me some practice pieces and try this. I have not done much FMQ and I'm lousy at it...and yes, I know it takes practice, practice and practice. :D Thanks again for this 'coaching'. :)

  2. You are a naturally born teacher!!! And so generous with all your knowledge and experience. Your 'tute' is a real 'ah ha', 'I gotta try that' for me. Thanks a bunch.

  3. I FMQ all the time but never thought to sign my quilts in this way. Duh! Thanks for pointing out the obvious, Melody. :)

  4. I also love to FMQ. I recently "monogrammed" a baby quilt. With a little help, though. Going to my word program on the computer, I printed out a few fonts and sizes of the name to see which I liked, then put a coordinating piece of fabric over the name and traced with a pencil. I took the fabric to the machine with tear-away stabilizer and " went to town". Merely FMQ stitching over the pencil marks without stopping , connecting the separated letters with one or two stitches worked beautifully! After trimming and folding back raw edges, I took floss and stitched this perfect "name plate" on the back of the quilt. One good point for beginners, if I messed up, I just start over picking FMQ out..which is impossible! Thanks for all the wonderful posts!

  5. Sorry, but I CANNOT FMQ...let alone write :( I have tried and tried (for years) but just can't get my co-ordination down right. I envy anyone that can FMQ :)

  6. Just what I've been learning to do as I want to include some script in a wall hanging that I am making. I have cheated slightly by tracing the writing onto light weight vilene and working from the back tracing over the lines. I will have a go at free hand. Thank you for the tutorial.

  7. I've noticed your signature on quilts before and liked the idea. Those of us that mostly print, even my signature, are going to find this a challenge! Will have to play with it. I've been working on always putting a label on my quilts, especially when I put them in a show. Unfortunately that label could be easily be taken off if the quilt is taken. The signature might not be so easy to obliterate and adds such a personal touch.

  8. Very nice tutorial! I've found my first name is one of the easiest things to FMQ- because the movements are so familiar to me. I have a horrible time signing my full name though because my last name is so awkward, and I've only had it for 5 years. My signature doesn't really use the letters of my last name, just some scribbles, and it wouldn't translate well to a quilt (or be useful...)

    I've recently decided I want to use my embroidery module to make quilt tags (have to use that thing for something!) But I really still only sign my wall hangings. I feel weird signing a quilt I am giving away... I feel like it should be the owner's name on the quilt. It wouldn't be so odd if I had a To: and a Made By: but most of the quilts are given at baby showers, when names are still unknown. So they go off unsigned.

  9. Anonymous9:49 PM

    What a great idea! I had been struggling for a while to find a way to label my quilts but didn't like any method until I saw this post. I shall start practising in the morning :-) Thank you for sharing.

  10. Judy from Northport11:18 PM

    I just love it when I go to your blog and find something related to making quilts...

  11. You're right....much nicer than the monogramed machine stitches I've been using. I'll have to give that a go. Thanks

  12. I haven't tried signing my name on the front, but will now. My 'signature' in FMQ is actually more readable than my own signature! And I love using FMQ to add details to my landscape quilting. And I echo the others: your tutes are great! Thanks for sharing with us...

  13. Great tutorial! My only problem is that Patty ends up reading Ratty when I stitch my name. Solution? Lower case is what I end up having to do.

  14. Thanks so much for this information, I'm going to try it!

  15. Quite effective info, thank you for the post.

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