Tag Archives: Free motion quilting

And “Solidarity” Is Finished

A little more than the original three-day estimate, to be sure. But with each closing, more time became available, and with it expansion of work to fill available time. I did end up quilting closer than originally planned; it was good to have the option.

I quilted everything except the sky then stopped. The original plan was problematic.

2 solidarity before sky

I’d planned straight lines with a scalloped bump for a cloud. First I stalled on where to put the bump. Then on how close to make the echo lines. Then on what to do with the little narrow spaces. If I hadn’t had three days to just look at it and think, I’d have quilted a big mistake. Finally I remembered advice from a quilting class: if you want something to recede, quilt it closely. I realized that all my previous ideas kept the sky at the same level as the buildings. So my old standby, meander. Or maybe it is stippling when smaller.

2 soliarity sky quilted

But I didn’t want to let the cloud idea go, so I did a wee bit of padded quilting. I’d meant to do two, but there wasn’t enough space on the left to get the padding stitched in and cut around.

Then I tried a new way of facing that I’d learned in Elizabeth Barton’s Mod Meets Improv class on the Academy of Quilting. (I was reminded of a tailoring class I’d taken years ago where at every class the instructor said of some technique, “If you don’t learn anything else, this technique is worth the class fee.” I feel that way about this facing; however, there was much else worth while too.) And the quilt is finished.

2 solidarity finished

And I can still go to the post office and get it in the mail. Time will tell if the three shows Stretching Art and Tradition is scheduled for will take place. Meanwhile I have enough books, fabric, and yarn to keep me occupied and enough food to eat for a week or so. I hope the rest of you are coping with this coronavirus thing.

ETA: As I expected, the first show has been postponed till June. I’d have had till May to complete it.  Glad it is completed.

ETA July 7: All three shows have been postponed till 2021.

History of this quilt

Stretching Art theme for 2020 and sketch

Embroidery and beginning improv

Improv finished

Template section finished

I will be linking with Needle and Thread Thursday , the Clever Chameleon, and various Friday linky parties. (Buttons in sidebar)

Linking with Free Motion Mavericks too. But, full disclosure.  The bottom half quilting was done with a walking foot. FMQ from the “river” on up.

Also linking with So Scrappy.  and Oh Scrap! The bottom section is made from true scraps; the upper from pre-emptive scraps–IE, cut from fabric purchased for another project.





Filed under design, quilting

Weather Watching–Finished

It is always a relief to sew the last stitch!

1 Weather finished

52 x 72 inches

I’ve read others writing about quilting with gold to blend a variety of colors, and I had some Aurifil caramel on hand, so tried it. Even though the lighter creams and grays didn’t glare on dark fabrics from a distance, they did  up close. The Caramel doesn’t. Nor is it excessively dark on the light. So I’ll be using it again.

I mostly did a large meander over the whole and a medium meander in the outer border.  I did a hatch between numbers and letters to puff out the figures more. And since the theme was weather, I added a sun, umbrella and snowflake–though the snowflake looks a bit more like a spider web.

It is destined for a camp for people living with AIDS, Strength for the Journey. I hope one of the campers has some interest in weather. If not, they might like the almost rainbow back. I used up the leftovers of the temperature colors, and what I had left determined the width of the stripes on all but the gold–I didn’t want as big of a gold strip as what I had left.

1 weather back

I didn’t start out to do a rainbow quilt, though that was a guild project this year. It just seems difficult to do weather without using hot and cold colors and that ends up the full spectrum.  However, it is possible to be more creative, as you’ll see if you check out the Facebook group, Weather or Not (It is a public group, so you should be able to browse.) You will also see the more traditional approach to making a quilt based on temperature.

I missed finishing by Friday for TGIFF (button in sidbar); if I remember I’ll link next week.

Quilt history:

Finished top

Repairing Error and Starting Numbers

Assembling blocks

Reawakening an old project

Individual blocks (here–way at bottom–and here)

I don’t see another weather quilt in my future, though it might have been fun to do a series and compare several years.  However, I really do not like monthly projects that start and stop each month. Took quite a few projects for me to figure that out. LOL.



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Half the Battle is Deciding

This top has been finished for quite a while. Once set aside, it seems a project gets further and further out of mind.

Loop 'd Loop top

It is the project from Latifah Saffir’s workshop, Designing with Bias, that I attended last summer.  (Previous posts here, here, here, and here.)

When I would get it out, I’d ponder quilting and then put it away again.  Gradually I got the ideas for the wishbone on the sashing and the various motifs between the strips of bias. But what to do with the loop section remained elusive.  The shapes of the background did not invite various motifs as did the strips.  And besides it seemed that variety might distract from the loops themselves.

I considered echoing, but that too seemed daunting and not necessarily effective. Of course once I got the winning idea, I wondered why it had taken so long. It seemed so obvious. And doable.

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At first I balked at crossing all those bias lines, then realized I could do the tight-stitch knotting up to the bias, advance past the bias, then make a couple more tight stitches to anchor the thread and continue the lines, trimming later. Two blocks finished, two to go.

Linking with Connie’s Free Motion by the River. Click and see what others have been doing.


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Thread Color on Welcome “Blanket”

Six blocks are quilted using an Angela Walters approach (so it is taking longer than an all-over design would.) I’d considered all-over paisley, then thought this was a great time to try custom quilting a slightly different design on each block.

As I usually do, I started in the center.

40 center q

Most quilting designs here are Angela Walters inspired. The center is from her first Shape by Shape book. (I don’t remember how she named the nesting squares.) Yep, I know the center isn’t square–I stitched the square then did the design.  I’d decided that the nesting square would be in each block as a unifying feature. The pear print prompted paisley after outlining them. This block was done with thread that matched the brown background.

The edge blocks are quilted with light beige thread, Aurofil 50 weight. Another of Angela’s ideas is that a single color of 50-weight thread will sink in and not show contrast much.  It speeds things up by eliminating thread changes. So I tried it.

My first thought, while quilting, was that it doesn’t hide well enough.

40 red close q

The center here begins to show how bold the thread looks up close (though in real life it is much more of a contrast). I began to think Angela had misled me, or maybe I had more contrast than she had intended. Then I saw it from a distance.

40 quilted stars

And the thread was much less visible. I think when the quilt is washed the thread will be even less visible.

For unity, I decided not to use too many different motifs. So I limited myself to spiral, pebble, and paisley at first. Those didn’t quite fit the background of the star to the right, so I did a  modified feather with pebbles at the one edge.  And I added ribbon candy to some of the wider log cabin like strips that don’t show here.

I tried to do as few stops and starts as possible so combined outlining he points with moving into the background, something I couldn’t have done had I been changing colors of thread.

Here’s a look at the two blocks with similar brown fabric.

40 two browns close q

The lighter thread does a pretty good job of disappearing.

Three blocks and binding yet to do and a welcome letter to write. Luckily the due date has been extended to November 7.

First post about this quilt with information about the Welcome Blanket project here.

You can view the project’s progress at the Twitter site and (if you live near Chicago) find days to go and knit or sew at the Smart Museum installation of welcome blankets. https://twitter.com/WelcomeBlanket


Filed under design, quilting

Orange Layered Curves Finished and Named

The quilt’s title is Thirty-Six Fragmenting; that name seems fitting, considering the quilt started out as a 36-patch baby quilt. I was about to type “Untitled” on the local guild show entry when the title occurred to me. Nothing like last minute.

So here is the finish photo. It is too late in the day for good lighting. I may change the photo tomorrow.Or the day after. Or . . . ETA Actually I’ll just put photos in a new post (here).

Finished top

50 x 70

When I pulled it out to quilt, I found the border was waiting to be applied–darn! I was thinking it was ready to go. I hadn’t thought the design needed a border, but I did need the quilt to be larger. Now that it is bordered, yes, it did need it! I really like it better this way. I think part of what makes the border work is that it matches colors in the blocks and “bleeds” into them.

Long lines are quilted with the walking foot and filler is free motion quilted. I pondered long and hard over how to quilt it. I wanted the quilting to further the design, not conflict with it. Plan A had been to echo all the curves, letting lines butt into each other. But that got way too busy. (I didn’t sketch; I auditioned them in my head–the actual stitching and the overlay drawn lines are just too different for sketching quilting to work well for my planning.) I finally got out the walking foot and just started with one big curve. After it was finished, I realized I needed to decide which curves were worth the emphasis of added lines of quilting and then ignore the rest.

The quilting shows a bit better in this half shot.

36 upper

Once the curves were stitched, I switched to the free-motion foot and thought about fillers. Plan A was circuit board, so I did one section. My thought was to contrast straight line and corners in the filler with the curved dividing pattern. But to use the same design  for the whole quilt seemed boring. (Oddly all over patterns don’t seem boring to me, but because of the divisions, this quilt seemed to need variety.) Since nothing from my limited filler repertoire seemed appropriate, I browsed Leah Day’s 400+ ; obviously with that many to choose from, I needed some criteria:  It couldn’t have lines close together because I wanted contrast with the narrow lines echoing the curves. I wanted about the same density as circuit board. It needed angles. I finally found Angles and Circles and Playground Blocks. ( I should note that Leah Day has one called Circuit Board that is different from what I used. I don’t remember where I originally got the one I used. ) I added a few circles to Playground Blocks to make it a transition between the other two; now that it is finished, I wish I’d added a few more.

The border was another design decision–independent or a continuation from the center. I decided to experiment with the latter, and I am glad I did. It makes the border seem less like a traditional quilt border. To maintain that effect, I faced the quilt instead of binding it. (I didn’t have enough of the lighter blue to do a two colored binding, which would have extended the border colors.)

There are a couple small tucks, front and back.  It could be the super puffy batting or it could be operator error: Maybe not smooth enough pinning (usually I quilt from center out, so the quilt can keep moving if necessary), maybe inaccurate long seam stitches , maybe not holding the layers tightly enough while stitching. Maybe I just need more practice.

The backing fabric was a lucky find: half off of $6.99! No fancy piecing on the back, but I did match the print at the seam as shown in Elizabeth Hartman’s free intro to Craftsy classes, Pieced Backs. Up close you can see the seam, but not from the magic four feet.

36 back

Among other things, I need more practice with travel stitching.

History of the quit:

Beginning failure. This disaster has been in time-out since October 2013! Rescued by Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, Layered Curves (Score #7).

Testing an Idea (Jan 2016)

Six Blocks (Jan 2016)

Nine blocks (Feb 2016)

Top sans border (March  2016)

I’ll be linking with Moving it Forward Monday, Free Motion By the River, Free Motion Mavericks, AIHQ, and if I don’t finish anything else this week, TGIFF–links in side bar, but link up at Celtic Thistle Stitches 4/29/16. Finish it up Friday (link added 4/29/16 because I forgot last week).

4/22/16 ETA yet another new title. At guild show and tell Chris suggested “Without Orange There Would Be No Blue” (quoting van Gogh) for a title. I like it.

7/5/16 Adding link to guild Show ‘n Tell, April meeting, for a hanging view.

8/1/16 Adding link to the Sisters Outdoor Show for the best photo yet.


Filed under design, quilting

Butterfly Outtakes Finished

It has been a while. At first I was waiting for more experience in FMQ; then I stalled when I realized I’d have to piece the back. That was ten months ago! But I finally got to the quilting and binding.

Buterfly Outtakes,finished

43 x 43 inches

Paisley in the fabric suggested paisley overall quilting. I briefly pondered doing something fancy in the setting triangle area and dark border, but got on a roll with the overall design and decided to stay with it. (For the history of its making, including source of the name, the back links are in the post in the above link. )

Here is a closer look at the quilting:

Butterfly quilting detail

As usual, I quilted this on my Featherweight. It is my favorite size to quilt–too bad it isn’t the most frequent size I make. This size could be either a baby quilt or a wheelchair lap quilt, depending on the fabric. I could see this fabric going either way, so I’ll link with Let’s Make Baby Quilts.

I had two blocks that were a bit smaller than the others, so I put them on the back (which needed to be made a couple inches wider).

Butterfly back

I’m thinking they would look better had they been placed closer to each other. I’ll try to remember that the next time.

I may do some more linking: Free Motion Mavericks (at Needle and Foot this week), Free Motion By the River, TGIFF (at Faith and Fabric this week) and Finish it up Friday; at any rate check the buttons in the sidebar to go see what others have linked.

ETA links.


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Finished Red Tahoe Quilt and Jan. Weather Block

Back in August there was a retreat, and in the next week or so I finished two tops from blocks sent to the retreat. Finally, I got to quilting one of them.

Very red quilt

~40 x60

Inspired by a recent guild workshop with Christina Camelli, followed by her second Craftsy class, I pulled out the top and tried the vine quilting design that she had demonstrated.

Quilting detail

Quilting detail

I thought it went well with the border and backing fabric.

Backing fabric

Love those animal musicians

It was easy in that vines could go any direction and leaves be any size. It was difficult in that some directions of stitching blocked the view of the stem I was trying to travel stitch on. Also, the prints that hide quilting mistakes also hide quilting, so occasionally I’d quilted over another motif. Luckily the quilting was not invisible on most of the fabrics. When a box is full, this quilt will be sent to Quilts Beyond Borders.

As often happens, the quilt lay flat until I stitched the binding–in this case the back brought around to the front as a shortcut.

Another project of the day was to make my January weather block.

January weather block

January high temps in Portland, OR

The basic project is to assign a color to a group of temperatures, then make a square, a rectangle, or knit a certain amount in the color that represents the high of the day. Here is a public Facebook page if you want to see other approaches to weather based design. As you can see, most people are designing by row.  I decided to try calendar format.  My squares are 2 1/2 inches, so that will give me 14-inch blocks if I fill in the top and bottom as above.   Here is my palette:

Weather fabrics

I may never get to use purple and red; we’ll see. Purple is for lower than 30F and red for higher than 100F. I could have gotten more variety if, like some, I’d divided into groups of five. But since I plan to make numbers in the relevant color for the legend on the back, I didn’t want to double the number blocks. Lazy, aren’t I?

It will be fun to see how it turns out. Not random in that every color does not have an equal opportunity to be selected each time, but also not exactly planned by design principles.

I’ll link with Free Motion Mavericks  , TGIFF (click on the frog to get to the thumbnails), and Finish it up Friday ; click and enjoy.


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Bridge Print Bunk Quilt Finished

And just in the nick of time, the last bunk quilt is finished. I left off with the top and went off to design and quilt others, but am back.  Previous post is here if you want the history and fabric information.

finished quilt

50 x 70

The binding is another print from the Waterfront Park line, but I don’t remember its name. I’m trying something new here–print binding. Usually I go for solids and either the darkest color in the quilt or a color darker. Can’t get much darker than navy though, and I didn’t feel the need for more navy. I rather like that there is a bit of navy in the binding print though.

For the quilting I started with wood grain to suggest air and water currents. It shows best in the center.


It got modified a bit on the navy when I tried to go around the bridges.

Quilting on navy

And a bit more when I quilted the 6-inch aqua and navy checkerboard strip.

Binding and aqua quilting

The quilting design works better when one is not changing thread colors.  It looks much nicer when the curves are echoed more than you can when you come to the edge of a color. Filing that fact away for future reference.

The backing is a Dear Stella print; when I bought it, I was envisioning more aqua on the front. I’m not ready to try different colors on top and bobbin, so there is navy stitching on the back.

Showing the back

With this quilt my quilting blitz is over for a while. Time for some scrap control and designing. Stay tuned.

Tuesday I’ll link with Free Motion by the River; Thursday with Free Motion Mavericks and Needle and Thread Thursday, and Friday  with LAFF, TGIFF, and Finish it up Friday. You may want to see what others are doing: Buttons in sidebar and links here where necessary. Come the 14th I’ll link with Le Challenge where the theme for the month is wood. I think wood grain quilting counts, even if it is meant to look like currents.


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Abrupt Shift of Quilting Projects

I’ve been leisurely quilting a bunk quilt , pausing to make a top and some blocks, stopping to read a book or two. And just generally enjoying myself. And then with April appearing, I realized that “plenty of time” no longer existed for the local guild quilt show entry.

I’d been waiting till the bunk quilt was all quilted to post, but with my shift of energies, it returns to the queue. Never one to wait, I’ll show progress.

quilting on blue

You may notice both Pin Moors and safety pins.  I bought some Pin Moors after Leah Day recommended them.  I find them about the same to insert as safety pins, but easier to remove while quilting.  Rarely, the tips fall off when I have to handle a quilt a lot–I don’t know if that is user error in my attaching them or a feature of the device. I’m not giving up the safety pins I already own, but gradually will replace them. Or buy enough that I can have several quilts pinned and ready.

postcard sashing quilting

Originally I’d planned not to quilt on the postcards; however, I pieced battings, and one needed closer quilting than the other, so what I do for one, I’ll do for all the postcard pieces. The print wasn’t made for easy continuous quilting, so quilting on some of the cards is more obvious than on others.

The variation of square spiral on the dull brown came from Angela Walker, Walters, a video somewhere–I don’t remember where.

I was debating whether to do both strips of sashing with the same design or to vary it–I was thinking triangles mignt be a nice variation. And about that time, Night Quilter posted a tutorial for “Wonky Triangles for Narrow Sashing.” Timely indeed! So I was about this degree of finished when I counted days till the quilt show quilts were due.

And got out Urban Chickens.  (Here is the top in case you forgot–I’m always surprised at how much time has passed when I go looking for an old post.)

Urban Chicken quilting

And got going on the design suggested by Kathlee Quilts’ Free Motion Friday. I got into a pleasant zone doing the squiggles, but by the time I’d finished them on  160 “chickens,” I knew I couldn’t handle that much of the same thing for the rest of the quilt, even though I had liked the look. So I am pondering designs for the square parts of the blocks.  And what do I don when I don’t know how to proceed?  Write a blog post, of course.

I figure I need to quilt 8 blocks a day to be finished in time.  It is doable if I forget about leisurely. Here’s to having an idea by tomorrow.

Linking up with Free Motion Mavericks a day late.


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Enlarging Quilting Designs

After practicing on 12-inch blocks, I felt ready to expand to 40 x 60 tops. Easier said than done on a domestic sewing machine. That stitch length that I’d begun to get under control is again all over the place. Those curves that are easy to do in one smooth motion when working small need stops and starts and are no longer smooth.  Even though I stopped and put the needle down (by hand; mine is not a new sewing machine) and tried to keep the same angle, I ended up with more zigs and zags than intended. I did learn a couple of things, though.

Improv pieced with 'paper clip' quilting

Paperclips had been recognizable as such when done smaller; not so much larger. This overlapping design tended to get the quilting closer than I wanted it. Whether that is the nature of all overlapping designs or just my lack of control, time will tell. I learned it was harder to plan space coverage with a design that starts large and echoes internally. The opposite of what I would have expected. This top, which has been patiently waiting since August (here), is finally a  finished quilt.

I worked a little more successfully on this top that  has been finished (here), since February. For quilting it I chose a pattern Leah Day calls Hobbit Holes

Purple sampler

It was easier to enlarge to fit because it is sewn from inside out.  I could start a motif and evaluate how much larger it needed to be to fit. After each “loop” I could pause and evaluate again. It also kept a nicer distance between rows of stitching. It shows better on the back (and I love the backing print–it is a print, not a batik).

Quilt backI found the tension changing with speed changes. Interesting. I’ll have to learn to control that. Also it seemed on some fabrics–the Kona solids–I got a nicer stitch than on others.

So far I have not been worrying about that equidistant space between lines. I think that will come with more practice.  I did consciously focus on travel stitching and echoing. Thank goodness kids are not fussy.

The destination has changed. These two quilts will go to a foster care mom who likes to give each fostered child a quilt.

It’s a finish, so I’ll be linking up with TGIFF and Link a Finish Friday. Don’t get to do that  often. And with Leah Day’s FMQ linkup.

One more view



Filed under quilting