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Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge - Bonus Tutorial, by Susan Brubaker Knapp

I am happy to have Susan Brubaker Knapp as one of our FMQ Experts, for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge. And, delighted to share insights with you today about this very talented woman.

Susan Brubaker Knapp is a fiber artist, author and teacher. She is best known for her free-motion thread sketching (thread work done on the surface of a piece before quilting), her highly realistic fused appliqué, and her wholecloth painting techniques. She is the author of two books, most recently, “Point, Click, Quilt! Turn Your Photos into Fabulous Fabric Art” (C&T Publishing, 2011).

And, she is the author of  three DVDs with Interweave/Quilting Arts. 

Dynamic Quilt Design: Paint Meets Stitch

Mastering Machine Stitching: Thread Sketching Beyond the Basics

Master Machine Quilting:  Free-Motion Stitching and Thread Sketching

Her work has been included in several national magazines and calendars, and has been twice featured on the cover of Quilting Arts magazine. Susan has been a guest on Quilting Arts TV, TheQuiltShow.com with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, and on Mark Lipinski and Pat Sloan’s radio programs. She lives near Charlotte, NC, with her husband and two daughters. 

Susan has created an excellent tutorial for participants in the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge and it is being released as a "bonus" tutorial, but SewCalGal hopes everyone will take advantage of this tutorial, enjoy the tips and inspiration, and complete the tutorial to learn and improve their FMQ skills.  This tutorial contains text, images and a video.  To help non-english speaking participants, a text transcription of the video will be posted shortly and a link will be added to this post.

You can find Susan at:
Website: http://www.bluemoonriver.com/
Blog: http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanBrubakerKnapp 

Tutorial for Free-Motion Quilting, by Susan Brubaker Knapp:

"Free-motion Quilting Challenge: Finding fabulous motifs in your environment"

Unique quilting designs are as nearby as your environment. This past week, I challenged myself to find interesting motifs around my house. Armed with my digital camera, I snapped away at both man-made and natural things others might find boring, mundane, or downright unattractive. My air conditioner. The roof of my car port. Rusty old antique tools. I used these images to create the quilting designs … and surprise! I like some of them a lot. 

Here is the photo of a holly tree in my side yard. It’s not that interesting a photo; all those shades of green kind of blend together to create nothing very remarkable. But I love how the quilting design (above) turned out. 

This motif is based on bark from my dogwood tree.

This is the top of my air-conditioning unit. (And let me pause right here and say a prayer of gratitude for my beloved air conditioner. How I love you, especially in August in North Carolina!) Straight lines offer a challenge to free-motion quilters. Don’t worry if yours wobbles a bit; it just adds to the charm.

For this design, I repeated the motif formed by a cool old wire tool I have hanging on my back porch. It is part of my mother’s collection that I recently inherited.

I know you are now dying to see the other cool old wooden and rusty metal stuff I have on my back porch, so here’s a photo:

This is one of those plastic drainage pipes you install underground. Except ours has worked its way up to the surface.

I like this one a lot, but think I would like it better if it included the pointy tip of the fern. 

Ready to try it yourself?  Here’s my tutorial, my challenge to you:

What you’ll need:
A digital camera
Tracing paper
Black permanent pen
Mechanical chalk pencil
Fat quarter of solid or hand-dyed fabric you love for the front
Fat quarter of fabric for the backing
Batting (I like low-loft cotton batting, but use what you like best)
Your favorite quilting thread (I use Aurifil Cotton Mako)
Basting safety pins

1. Get your digital camera ready to roll. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or really expensive camera. Mine cost about $100. You might even be able to use the camera feature on your smart phone, if you have one.

2. Acquaint yourself with the macro feature on your camera. Almost all cameras have them nowadays. (It’s the little button that looks like a tulip, and allows you to shoot very close up – about five inches away from your subject.) After you push the tulip button to turn on this feature, the most important thing to do is make sure you don’t zoom in at all, or it will be out of focus.

3. Set a timer for five or ten minutes.

4. Go outside, or inside your house and shoot everything you see with a strong, obvious texture or pattern. Try to disengage your brain; don’t think about what would be pretty or interesting. Don’t overthink. Just shoot, shoot, shoot. The timer will help you move along.

5. On your computer, pull up your digital images, and print them out at whatever size you want on plain paper. (My images were about 4" x 7".) Or have 4x6" prints done at the place you usually go to have photographic prints made. 

6. Place a piece of tracing paper on top of your photos. Use a black permanent marker to draw the primary lines in the image. Don’t be overly fussy or trace every line. Focus on the main lines or outlines.


7. Choose a piece of fabric that is solid or primarily solid. I used a beautiful hand-dye in shades of fuchsia and raspberry. 

8. Place your traced image on a light box or brightly lit window and tape it down. Place your fabric over the image and tape it down. I marked out a series of rectangles in a grid on my fabric first, then aligned the designs before tracing.

9. Use a chalk pencil to trace the lines in your image. (I like Sewline and Bohin mechanical chalk pencils best because they leave dark, fine lines.)

10. Layer backing, batting and the top fabric and pin. 

11. Quilt! I used a finer thread than I usually quilt with, because I knew that at the scale I was working, I’d have some very small details. I used white 50-weight Aurifil Cotton Mako.

12. Do the outlines of all the rectangles first, then work on the designs. Try to follow your lines as best you can, but don’t get hysterical if you miss the lines. Don’t worry about backtracking (stitching over a previous line of stitch). Just aim to make it as smooth and graceful as you can, and focus on having fun.

13. If you want, use a small filler motif, such as a micro stipple or tiny pebbles, to fill in the backgrounds. I did this on the holly, fern, and drainage tube motifs, and found that it set off the details in the designs beautifully. 

You’ll find that these images provide you with lots of practice in doing many varieties of lines: long and straight, angular, curved, sharp, etc. And it will really open up your eyes to motifs that are all around you right now. Unique designs that are all yours. Carry your camera around wherever you go, and build up your own design library.

A whole bunch of these designs in a long vertical piece would make a cool piece of wall art. Set three by three, they’d make a great pillow.

note from SewCalGal:  Time to turn on your speaker volume, put up your feet, relax and enjoy Susan excellent video tutorial.  I do want to share that this video was truly a family production, with the entire Knapp family helping to create it.   Julia, Susan's 12 year old daughter held the camera, truly a videographer extradordinaire!   Daughter Lea entertains us with beautiful music and I could only imagine how delightful it would be to quilt with such music playing!    And, husband Rob made an spectacular production assistant.   Great job Knapp Family!

{for non-English speaking participants, click here  to get a text transcription of this video that you can translate and use to follow along in this video.  Thanks to Maryellen McAuliffe for taking the time to provide this text transcription}.

  Thank you Susan 
and the entire Knapp Family  
for providing us with such a 
wonderful and inspirational tutorial!


While this challenge is focused on learning and/or improving our free-motion quilting skills, you also have the opportunity to win prizes. To be eligible to win a monthly prize, simply complete this "bonus" tutorial  anytime in 2012 and it can count as 1 of 12 FMQ tutorials that you need to complete to enter to win a Grand Prize.   But do remember this challenge is more about learning and improving your FMQ skills, so don't rush thru the exercise just to enter. Take time to practice and embed this design to your muscle memory, before you enter. To clarify, DO NOT just add a link to your blog, but to your post that shows that you have completed this tutorial. You get one link, so keep practicing until you feel you are finished with this tutorial.

Susan is also generously giving away a copy of her DVD, "Mastering: Free-motion Stitching and Thread Sketching".   And, she is willing to ship a copy of this DVD internationally, so all participants are eligible to win a copy, when they complete this tutorial anytime in 2012!

Here are instructions for how to enter:

Follow Susan's tutorial taking pictures, print & trace them to create a design that you'll stitch out on your practice sandwich.  If this may not be possible, SewCalGal will accept an entry for those that sketch out Susan's fern on your practice sandwich and stitch it out.   Susan has also provided a PDF you can download, to use her beautiful fern design.

For bloggers:

Please post your entry on your blog. To clarify, you can include as many photos of this tutorial exercise in your post, but you can only add one link to the linky tool below. You may also want to include insights in your post about your past FMQ experience and thoughts about this tutorial. Totally, optional, but you may also want to let everyone know that you have taken the Pledge and you did this exercise to enter the the challenge this month, where randomly selected winners will win a prize. You may inspire others to want to join this challenge too!

For non-Bloggers:

1) You will need to have a Flickr account (www.flickr.com). 
2) Upload your photos for this month's challenge to Flickr, batch organize, send your photos to groups, select "2012 FMQ Challenge". While Flickr, limits the amount of text you can share in your description, feel free to share your perspective on this exercise and/or your past FMQ experience, if you wish.
3) After your photos have successfully been loaded to the "2012 FMQ Challenge" group, click on your best photo in that group, ideally one that shows the stencil and how you quilted using that stencil. Copy the URL link to your particular photo entry. Add that link to the linky tool below, to officially enter.

note: While there was a unique group for each monthlychallenge, based on feedback the generic 2012 FMQ Challenge  group was been created that will hold all your photos for the remaining monthly challenges, so you will not need to rejoin a group on Flickr every month.

SewCalGal will randomly select a winner for the DVD prize, after the 2012 FMQ Challenge is completed.  The winner, along with all Grand Prize winners will be announced early January 2013.

Winner announced:  January 27th
winner:  Carol Mcdowell (Landscape Lady)  **declined/already has the DVD    :)   **

Winner announced:  February 18th
winner:  Priscilla B

Don't forget to visit Susan's site (Blue Moon River) and her delightful blog, where she shares many fun insights.  You may also want to check out her page where she shares insights on her schedule for presentations and workshops. And, if you don't find something in your area, you may want to talk with your local Quilt Guild Program Chair, or Quilt Store, to see about scheduling a workshop and/or presentation by Susan in your area.  This talented woman travels all over the world teaching and actually just recently returned from a fun trip to Africa!  Rumor has it, there were some quilters from the US that went on this trip and took classes with Susan - sounds delightful to me!

Copyright Reminder:  This site is copyright protected.  You are certainly authorized to print and use this tutorial for your own use. Please DO NOT print and share any part of this tutorial post, nor share electronically, without written permission from Susan Brubaker Knapp and SewCalGal.

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Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Now this is very interesting...love it!! Maybe with this I might learn how to follow a line....thank you

Anonymous said...

I have loved Susan's work for a very long time, and am thrilled to have this bonus tutorial that she's shared with us. The tutorial is great, and I'm definitely going to work on this challenge assignment! Thank you Susan...and SewCalGal!

Susan Brubaker Knapp said...

Hope you have fun with it, Marjorie! And it is great to hear from you again, Cornwoman... have fun.

Raewyn said...

Beautiful results - I look forward to having FUN with this!!

Melissa ;-) said...

Susan is an amazing artist and a very nice person too. This exercise looks like it could be doable even for me.

Olga said...

Спасибо! Это очень интересно!

Leslierosek said...

This is very very cool. I will try this. Thanks so much for a fantastic tutorial.

Linda and Michelle said...

THIS IS FABULOUS!!!! Yes, I'm shouting!!

CBH said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I just posted my linky for this assignment. I really LOVED this tutorial and assignment, and had a lot of fun doing it. Thank you Susan for such a great tutorial! I will DEFINITELY use it again!

Can't Stop Stitchin said...

Thanks Susan ~ Look forward to giving this a try! Great ideas! Godspeed,

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great tutorial! I can't wait to try it!

Kera said...

I like this tutorial very much! There are many beautiful things around us!