I was finally able to get back to the sewing machine over the weekend, and just finished up Bonus Challenge #4 by Teri Lucas for SewCalGal's 2012 Free Motion Quilt Challenge. Teri's tutorial was all about creating great quilt designs in a kaleidoscope pattern from photos or clip art, using the software program Kaleidoscope Kreator 3. Teri also provided a great sample feather design in pdf format for those participants who did not have access to the software program, and that is what I used for this sampler.
I'll say right at the outset that I made a LOT of mistakes planning and carrying out this project, as you'll soon see. I printed the pdf design on Dritz Printed Treasures 200 thread count pima cotton. This was the first time I had used this brand of inkjet printable fabric, and I was quite pleased with the color/print quality obtained. Since the colors on the pdf were intense, the printer laid down a lot of ink and rendered the cloth almost canvas-like, even after rinsing and ironing. The kaleidoscope feather design was quite small, and the heavy canvas-like print made quilting tiny even stitches nearly impossible for me. Tried several sizes/types of needles but the sewing machine sounded like a machine gun going through the layers no matter which needle I used. The stiffness of the fabric also left the design quite flat. But we persevered and also quilted down all the blank areas around the feathers - more popping and banging of the machine. First Lesson learned - I'll use this printable fabric again for photos, quilt labels, etc. but definitely will keep the colors less saturated and will only stitch in the ditch around the edges and NOT attempt to FMQ over the face of this fabric again!
Second lesson: don't use a tightly woven sheeting for backing fabric just because you happen to have it, no matter how many times it has been washed! Result: large needle holes showing every stitch!
Third lesson: don't try to make decisions or do precision FM quilting a few days after surgery when you're still in pain and/or on pain meds! Definitely not optimal timing for any intricate or small scale quilting, witness the narrow borders, lol! The variegated thread in the light green border was another bad decision, too much space between color shifts and they don't blend naturally in this type of design.
All that said, this morning I decided to just wing it with freehand feathers around the outer border, and had an absolute blast! And here is what I ended up with. No binding yet since I haven't decided how this might be used.