Saturday, September 29, 2012

FMQ Challenge for September

Septembers FMQ Challenge over at SewCalGals was from Paula Reid and I just have to say I loved it! It's funny but stencils weren't even on my radar and now the possibilities are endless.

I love the thought of using stencils while I improve my free motion and of course muscle memory will click in here too, I think. 

So, do any of you use stencils? How do you mark them? I read about them but I'd like to know your favorite way. Is a pounce better than a chalk pencil? How hard is it to get the marking out if you use a pencil? I read about fabric erasers but that sounds a little harsh for the fabric, do they wash out easily? Can you use regular chalk or will that just brush off before you can sew? I have this vision of using a giant powder puff and shaved chalk but I just know that won't work. How hard do you have to press with a pencil, does it just glide? again I'm concerned about the fabric and movement when you're drawing on it. Do the chalk pencils break easily? I did read that if you freeze them they won't break as much, but what a pain using a frozen pencil and remembering to freeze them. Does your muscle memory improve when you use stencils? 
Enough questions? I probably have more, but lets just start with those :)

Thanks so much to Paula Reid for opening this door for me and of course big thanks to SewCalGal for all that she does.

Later gator,


  1. I have no experience using stencils, a gal at a quilt shop told me to always pounce with the chalk, let me know what you figure out! ;)
    your quilting is amazing though!!! you always inspire me to try!!!

  2. Boy are you full of questions after doing this one! Very little pressure with a mechanical pencil, just enough to see. If your stitching is right on, the mark can barely be seen. It will fade with washing. I have used a white fabric eraser to remove marks sometimes. A tailors chalk--not pencil--- works on most fabrics and will brush off and can be washed out usually. Think you need to experiment and let us know what works best!

  3. All great questions Dana. I had actually hoped to have found the time to write a tutorial post on using stencils this month, but never found the time. Maybe next month.

    Fabric marking tools is really a personal preference, but I'm gone back to using fabric marking pens that wash out easily (quilt biz mfg vs office mfg). Tailors chalk works, but it depends on how fast you'll stitch it vs move it, as the marking comes off.

    I don't necessarily think that the stencil designs are something that embeds in my muscle memory, as much as helps me improve my traveling skills (backtracking). And, there are times when a stencil just offers ease of use. But some simple stencil designs (e.g. sailboat or flower) have stuck in my muscle memory, so I no longer use the stencil.


    ps - I'll ask Cindy Needham to see if she'd like to write a post on her stencil collection, marking tips, and logic of doing true FMQ vs using a stencil (when, why).

  4. Looks good, Dana.
    I do use stencils, and I tell you, I took full advantage of that 20% discount at The Stencil Company that we got with the September challenge. I think I like the precision of stencils on blocks, rather than an overall design. But I also use overall designs when I'm not concerned about a more traditional look to a quilt. Maybe it is because I have hand quilted for decades that I like many of my quilts to maintain that look.
    I use a chalk pounce or a washout marker--whichever shows up best on the fabric. The pounce is sure less time consuming.

  5. that quilting looks good to me see if this works