Are you ready to do some free motion quilting? I know that I feel more confident in my machine quilting when I am practicing regularly. And I get inspired when new quilting books hit the stands. When I heard that everyone’s quilting hero, Angela Walters had a new book out, called Free-Motion Meandering: A Beginners Guide to Machine Quilting, I definitely wanted to check it out. So, I will be working my way through this book along with my quilting and blogging friends, Vicki and Jen.
I am not exactly a beginner, but I was intrigued by the step-by-step, photo tutorial style of this book. I’m a visual learner and this approach really appeals to me. Another thing I liked about it is that while it contains all the information that an absolute beginner needs (sewing machine feet, needles, thread, batting, etc.), the motifs ramp up quickly and it ends with some designs that are quite impressive.
She really builds up the designs in a thoughtful way. As a matter of fact, you can get a preview of the motifs covered in the book and a FAQ from Angela herself here. The book is filled with Angela’s fun personality and encouragement that you should never, ever pick out your quilting mistakes. My kind of girl!
Something else that I liked is that all the machine quilting motifs that she teaches you is perfect to meander across a whole quilt (thus the name). And that is my kind of quilting! I’m not sure I’ll ever be a custom quilter–the type that quilts each area of a quilt block differently. It’s beautiful, but it’s just not my thing right now. Just give me a doable design and let me quilt the whole quilt.
The Basic Meander
We definitely start with the basics here. I’ve done hours of meandering, but it has actually been a while since I stitched out this motif. It turned out to be a great warm up. I had fun practicing it in different scales: large, medium and small enough to be considered stippling. If you are a brand-new quilter, Angela sketches this motif out for you and trouble-shoots common mistakes. I thought this troubleshooting aspect was very helpful. It was a perfect place to start, but I was quickly ready to move on.
The Loopy Meander
In a natural progression, Angela has you move onto a loopy meander. I actually love this motif and find it useful in so many places. It is fun, fast, and whimsical. With this design in your arsenal you can tackle a wide range of quilts. I practiced it with small circles, which is my usual way, and then changed it up to larger circles, which I found more challenging.
She shows you lots of ways to vary it, as well as how to use it in different areas of a quilt, like as a background filler or in borders. Lots of fun examples. Angela also tackles the most common mistakes that people make with each design and gives you tips on how to fix them.
Here is my first longarm quilting project–I wanted it to be a success, so I did the whole thing with big loopy meanders. I was able to quilt the whole thing in about an hour and a half and it was pure bliss.
I love how this books starts out so easy and doable. I got more practiced and relaxed behind the sewing machine this week–so now I am ready to tackle next week’s designs–swirls. Even though I have tackled them a couple of times before, I never seem to quite get comfortable with them. Let’s see if a week of practice will help me get over my fear of swirls and even more daunting–hooked swirls.