Day 5 of Jenny Lyon's blog hop and it's my turn to share my review of her fantastic new book, Free Motion Quilting from Ordinary to Extraordinary.
If you're new to my blog, welcome! Today's blog is a special treat because I'm sharing about well-known quilter, teacher and author Jenny K. Lyons. I was thrilled when she asked me to participate in her first blog hop to talk about the release of her new book from C&T Publishing. I first learned about Jenny and her quilting this past spring. We were both invited out to Colorado to tape shows for an upcoming season of The Quilt Show (TQS) with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. Jenny and I had corresponded in the weeks leading up to the show and then at the taping I had the pleasure of meeting her in person. As I've gotten to know Jenny, it's clear to me that her passion for quilting and teaching are deeply intertwined and that one of her main goals is to help students and quilters alike gain confidence and enjoy free-motion quilting. Look at just one of her beautiful quilts!
One of my favorite paragraphs in the book, Jenny mentions that is her hope is that each of her students experiences a "quilt skipping moment", she describes this as "a moment in time when you are in awe of what you are creating and it excites you to the core of your soul!" These words truly resonate with me. I am certain that many other quilters can either relate or want to relate to what she is means. In her book Jenny targets the free-motion quilter who is at a crossroad. She describes this quilter as someone who has taken classes, made it through a few projects, perhaps even quilted a quilt but who is afraid to take the leap and free-motion quilt that special quilt. It can be a show stopper. You've spent countless hours constructing the quilt and now you're afraid to quilt it because you might mess it up. I've been there. In fact, I still have one of my original art quilts where I was afraid to quilt certain portions of it and chose to leave those areas unquilted. I pushed myself through free-motion quilting by practicing regularly and eventually I conquered my fear of it. But that's not that easy for every quilter and I'm not going to go out tomorrow and free motion quilt one of those amazing whole cloth quilts we've all seen at major quilt shows. This is why I am dedicating this blog to Jenny's book. She understands her audience of quilters, the confident beginners, this is who she wrote this book for. As you read through the pages, you'll learn about her inspiration process, proper machine set up and the importance of the physical set up of your quilting area. The book also tells readers about the many choices they will need to consider that can affect the quilt such as choosing fabric, batting, needles and threads. She discusses marking, basting, stitch length, tension, proper hand position and controlling the bulk of large quilts on a home sewing machine.
But the real focus of her book outlines a 3 step action plan encouraging quilters to make dedicated time to play and practice free-motion quilting. This is not free-motion quilting on that prized quilt but instead dedicated and consistent time spent quilting on practice pieces.
The 3 step plan is designed to help get quilters over the hump of being afraid and to become joyful and successful at free-motion quilting! If you decide to purchase Jenny's book you won't be let down, it's worth adding to your bookcase of useful and admired quilting books. You can learn more about Jenny K. Lyon's and her quilting at her website https://quiltskipper.com
I thought I give Jenny's Week 1: Built a Motif Inventory a try. For almost 26 years (well pretty much ever since I started sewing and quilting), at holiday time I would make ornaments for family and friends. This year I decided to use honey bees as my inspiration. I started sketching some ornament designs and later settled on one.
Of course, I wanted to use my digital cutter to perfectly cut the tiny, intricate letters and little applique elements.
Next, I wanted to incorporate some free-motion quilting. I used Jenny's book as a guide and started doodling all sorts of honey bees and their happy trails, holly leaves, bee hives, trees, stars etc. First, I doodled with pen on paper and then I doodled on my iPad.
I had two goals in mind: 1) to practice not picking up my pen or stylus which would simulate stitching it at my sewing machine 2) to practice doodling my design repeatedly until it became second nature to me. For both of these reasons, I wanted my mind to feel completely comfortable drawing those motions so that when I actually sat at my sewing machine and stitched the design it would feel like I had been quilting it my whole life. Easier said than done! I practiced on many quilt sandwiches, a few shown here and struggled to get quilting right.
When I felt more at ease with my quilting, I was ready to free-motion stitch the design on my actual ornament. My hexagon shaped ornament is layered similar to a regular quilt sandwich. Here is what my first go at it looked like.
After looking at my first ornament, I decided that these ornaments needed some color and I also reworked the design a bit more. Here are my final ornaments.
I agree with Jenny's book, practice is crucial to achieve an outcome that I as a quilter would be happy with. I found that even working with the simple quilt motif I had created, I think that I still needed some more time practicing the quilting but I was happy to go through Jenny's exercise and to end up with some really cute looking handmade ornaments to give out this year!
If you would like to win a copy of Jenny's book, please leave a comment answering:
What is your favorite thread to free-motion quilt with?