Here is a better photo of my tote bag from Eleanor Levie's new book, www.eleanorlevie.com I marked the center design that is one of the digitized ones included on the new Bernina 830, and added freehand motifs areound it to fill the space. It is fun to start with something marked, and then add freehand images to that, takes some of the fear out of sitting down to blank space if you've never done that before.
You can also sketch in some guidelines, the centers or outer edges of the feathers, e.g., to help you quilt and stay in control and be less fearful of what you are doing, where you are going. If you break this down into do-able parts, one thing at a time, it is not hard at all, and the finished "bouquet" of designs is very pretty, graceful, and YOU. Add motifs you love, throw in something unexpected.
A stencil design in the center works great for starters, and more can be added. Tuck some freehand leaves in here and there or feathers, spirals, circles, whatever you like. Even a frond with large-to-small traced circles around a center vein looks great.
The idea is to play at your machine, always using the best materials--threads, fabrics, batts, new needle, fresh machine with oil here and there and no lint. Your work will improve if you use the best tools. Your machine should hum, not chatter. Thread every guide. Check your tension. Get it right.
If you want to make one long rectangle and quilt it, you can add a lining, sew it around most of the perimeter, and turn it inside out and make a small clutch bag. These are all good ways to use a play-at-the-machine sandwich and turn it into something wonderful. They make great gifts too.
Enjoy, and keep quilting; your work really should be getting better every day!
Mary Elizabeth Jones Orgain's 1818 Sunflower Quilt
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