Free Motion Meandering :: Swirls

Here we are on week 2 of the Free Motion Meandering blog hop with fellow quilters and bloggers Jen and Vicki. You can check out the first week here. We would love it if you grabbed a copy of the book and spent just 15 minutes a day building up your free motion quilting skills. I am finding that even 15 minutes really builds skill, and let’s face it, it often ends up being quite a bit more than 15 minutes once I get going.

This week we are tackling Swirls and Swirl Hooks. I’ll be honest, I was nervous.


Free-Motion Meanders swirl quilting

I’m just going to say it: I hate swirls. They are not my thing. And they are deceptively hard! Let’s back up here. Angela does a wonderful job of showing you how to form them in a very step-by-step way. So that was awesome. I practiced on paper, and this is not my first time around the block with swirls. But they just don’t get any easier for me. The number one tip that I have heard from Angela Walters on quilting swirls (and quilting in general) is to keep the spaces between the lines consistent. This consistency becomes texture in an overall quilt design. And texture hides a multitude of quilting missteps.

Free-Motion Meanders swirl quilting

But that consistent spacing is my problem. I start out okay. I’m fully focused and (somewhat) relaxed and I’m swirling away when about four swirls in, I start to get a little bored, so I ever-so-slightly start to speed up and things quickly get sloppy (as you can see in the photo above). It’s a bit of a revelation to me actually, to figure this out. But it hasn’t stopped it from happening. I have finally figured out how to use the width of my open-toe free-motion foot to help me gauge a consistent space, but I’m still not really happy.

The book does a beautiful job of not only showing how to make a swirl, but how to build them into an all-over meander. And she tackles common issues, like not finishing the swirls, and how if you aren’t careful, then tend to stack on you, which is not as pleasing as a more random placement. I have this problem and reading that section was helpful.

Swirls will never be my favorite motif by themselves, but I can see mixing them into an improv quilting design–so I will keep practicing them. Can we please move on though?

Swirl Hook

Free-Motion Meanders swirl hook quilting

I confess that I was dreading this design. It just seemed like harder swirls. However, Swirl Hooks turned out to be my dark horse favorite! They were tricky to figure out at first, and I followed the drawings in the book step-by-step until I had it figured out. For me the hardest part is remembering which way to come back up after I create the hook. But once I had that down, it was a lot of fun! One thing that I found easier is that there was less “swirl” in this design. If I managed to come out of the “hook” part correctly, the motif was just about complete–and then on to the next one! I found the trouble shooting section useful here as well, because I had a tendency for all my “hooks” to line up, and trust me–you don’t want that!

I’m so glad to have this design in my repertoire! Who knows, maybe practicing this one will help my plain swirls over time as well.

How do you feel about swirls? Do you have a quilting motif that you just can’t seem to master? Tell me about it in the comments. And don’t forget to swing by Jen and Vicki’s blogs to see their beautiful swirls! (Am I the only one who can’t swirl?!)

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Learn to free motion quilt swirl hooks

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