improv quilting

Free Motion Meandering :: Paisley and Leafy Meanders

Welcome back to week 3 of the Free-Motion Meandering blog hop. I’m continuing to practice my free motion quilting skills by working my way through Angela Walters new book, Free-Motion Meandering. I haven’t been able to practice as much as I would have liked to this week (who knew February was going to be so busy?). But even so, I am constantly surprised and delighted how much progress you can make with a little practice.

I really enjoyed this week’s designs: Paisley and Leafy Meanders

Paisley Meander

This is a design that I love and I practiced it quite a lot over the summer. Since I was pressed for time this week, I warmed up with it a bit, but I didn’t spend too much time, since I kind of worked it to death over the summer.

Lady of the Lake table topper at kristinesser.com

Lady of the Lake table topper at kristinesser.com

The Leafy Meander

A variation of the Paisley Meander is a pointier version called the Leafy Meander. I find this motif a bit harder, due to making sure that you get that little point at the top. So, I practiced a bit on paper first, and then checked back to Angela’s step-by-step drawings. It was then that I realized that I had been doing it, well, if not wrong, then…differently. For both the paisley and the leafy designs, I was going back to the base of the design every time that I echoed it. This is fine, but can really cause a build-up of thread near the base.

After following along with Anglea’s drawings, I realized that she just echoed the design, keeping a consistent distance between the lines at all times. This turned out to be a lot easier, and frankly, it covers more territory quicker. And I love a design that stitches out quickly.

Leafy Meander quilting from Free Motion Meandering

Leafy Meander quilting from Free Motion Meandering

I filled up my light blue swath of fabric with this meander, and was feeling like it was just starting to click, so I just kept on stitching. Like many meandering designs, you have to really pay attention that the leaves don’t all point the same way. I realized at one point that a bunch of mine looked like they were starting to lay on top of each other, so I made an effort to echo back and change direction.

Leafy Meander quilting from Free Motion Meandering

Sometimes getting that leaf shape is easy, and sometimes…not so much. I eventually realized that I need to pause at the point of the leaf, or else they tend to round out. I definitely need more practice, but this design is a lot of fun and builds quickly.

I also want to go back and practice my paislies in this more spaced-out way.

Next week we will wrap this blog hop up with Flower Meander and some Improv Quilting. I’m a little nervous about these designs, so I need to be more diligent about carving out time to practice. Just 15 minutes a day should do it! And I can always find 15 minutes, right?

If you are joining in on machine quilting practice let me know–and if you would like a copy of Free-Motion Meanders, there will be a giveaway next week!

You have three chances to win a copy of the book. C&T Publishing has given Vicki, Jen, and I each a copy to giveaway. So, stay tuned for that next week!

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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.

Swirls

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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Free Motion Meandering

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.

Free-Motion Meandering by Angela Walters

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

Basic meander qulting

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

Loopy meander quilting

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.

large loopy meander quilting

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.

Loopy Meander quilting

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.

Are you quilting along? Let me know! Let’s build these skills together! And make sure to pop over to  Vicki and Jen’s blogs to see their takes on the first couple motifs as well.

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Piece and Quilt Hop Along Giveaway + Finished Quilt

Welcome to the final week of  the Piece and Quilt Hop Along, where my friends HollyAnneVicki, and I are quilting along in Christa Watson’s new book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. Start here, if you want to play catch-up .

scrappy quilts | kristinesser.com

It has been such a pleasure to stitch up two quilts from this book! I can assure you that the patterns are fast, easy, and fun! They are perfect for both gift-giving and a quick, snuggle-on-the-sofa quilt. I am going to have a hard time giving this one away–but I think it is bound for Texas. My aunt and uncle lost just about everything in Hurricane Harvey, and what better way to make a new house a home, but with the addition of a quilt.

Piece and Quilt with Precuts (kristinesser.com)

It was super windy the day we took these photos, so I was lucky to get just a few! I really love the quilt back on this–it makes it such a happy quilt!

Modern Marks fabric by Christa Watson

Once my sewing machine woes were fixed, quilting this was a pleasure. Christa lays out such fun, doable motifs. I don’t usually mix and match motifs in a single quilt, but I did with this one. Breaking up the quilting into small areas makes such a big difference! If all you have to do is quilt a 2″ x 12″ area–how hard can that be? You have a built-in resting place to get re-positioned and gather your wits every few minutes. It really made the whole quilting experience more fun and interesting.

Jelly roll quilts | kristinesser.com

And I think the scrappy binding on this one is just perfect.

Jelly roll quilts | kristinesser.com

I spent much of this week hand sewing the binding on this one (two episodes of This is Us, three episodes of Poldark Season 3, if memory serves), so I don’t have any additional quilting to show. But that’s how it goes. I whole-heartedly recommend both this book and Modern Marks fabric!

And a special thanks to my son (aka Quilt Sherpa), without whom these photos would not have been possible.

boy with quilt

For your chance to win both, don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Here are the particulars:

There will be two winners . One winner will receive one copy of Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson. If the winner resides in the United States or Canada, they will have their choice of a physical or digital copy of the book. If they reside outside the US and Canada, the winner will receive a digital copy.

The second winner will receive a “jellyroll” of Modern Marks fabrics (hand cut by me). This is one 2.5″ strip from each one of Christa’s (31) beautiful fabrics! (U.S. only due to shipping costs)

You can enter below anytime between October 9-20, 2017.

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Piece and Quilt Hop Along {week 3}: A Finished Quilt

Photo by Minki Kim

Welcome back for Week 3 of the Piece and Quilt Hop Along. For those just  joining–my friends HollyAnneVicki, and I are quilting along in Christa Watson’s new book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. If you need to play catch up, start here.

Squiggles Quilt

I’m so excited to show you my finished Squiggles quilt! As I mentioned last week, the wavy line quilting went quickly and was so relaxing. And unlike so many people, I LOVE to hand bind my quilts. It gives me a great excuse to sit down with a cup of tea (or wine, depending on the time) and binge watch my latest show. During the making of this quilt, I was loving Victoria and our whole family is getting a kick out of watching The Office together. We have actually taken to calling that time our family “Office Hour”.

Squiggles quilt kristinesser.com
Photo by Minki Kim

 

Squiggles quilt kristinesser.com
Photo by Minki Kim

A few specs on this quilt: The pattern is Squiggles from Piece and Quilt with Precuts by Christa Watson, the fabric is Creekside by Moda, the batting is Warm and Natural, and it was pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50 wt. color #2000.

Squiggles quilt kristinesser.com
Photo by Minki Kim

I presented my college-bound daughter with a stack of quilts and asked her if she would like to pick one to take to school with her. This is the one she chose. It made me happy to place it, folded at the foot of her bed when we moved her in. When we said goodbye I told her, “Anytime you need a hug, just wrap yourself in that quilt. It’s a hug from me. ” The ultimate in Mama Love.

Modern Marks Fabric

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Now, on to the next quilt! I was lucky enough receive an early shipment of Christa Watson’s new fabric line from Benartex, called Modern Marks. This fabric so perfectly represents Christa’s style. The colors are spot-on, in this luscious, fully-saturated way. I could not way to cut into it!

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

The next quilt on my list from Piece and Quilt is called Dot ‘n’ Dash. Here is Christa’s beautiful version.

Dot n Dash quilt kristinesser.com
Dot’n’Dash Photography courtesy of Martingale/That Patchwork Place and Brent Kane.

I can’t wait to see this remade in Modern Marks! Instead of the solid gray, I’m using a jelly roll of low volume gray prints on white fabric–I think it will look fabulous!

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Quilting Practice

Honestly, what with finishing up one quilt and starting another, I didn’t do as much machine quilting practice this week. Part of the issue is the mental hurdle of taking the piecing foot off of my machine and setting it up for free motion quilting. I know in reality, it only takes a couple of minutes–but some days it seems like an insurmountable obstacle. My dream is to someday have enough space to have both machines set up at the same time. One for piecing and one for quilting. (sigh)

Piece and Quilt by Christa Watson kristinesser.com

Anyway, I didn’t do a ton of practice, and it shows. I practiced some more crazy eights, because I want to quilt Dot ‘n’ Dash using that motif, and then a flower motif, and some wishbones. Not my best, but it all counts as practice, right? And just like all of Christa’s books, she gives you wonderful instructions on how to do each motif.

Piece and Quilt by Christa Watson kristinesser.com

Piece and Quilt by Christa Watson kristinesser.com

Remember, if you are sewing along with us, remember to use the hastag #pieceandquilthopalong on Instagram to share your work. We’d love to see it!

 

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final machine quilting blog hop {week 10} + giveaway!

It’s the final week on the  Machine Quilting Blog Hop!   Thanks for staying with me on this Free Motion Quilting Adventure. Before we get to quilting–I wanted to remind you that we are doing an awesome giveaway this week!  Martingale has generously provided each of the blog hoppers (HollyAnneVicki, Jen, and me)  a copy of  The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting to give away!There is a link to the Rafflecopter entry form at the end of this post. Don’t forget to enter!

You guys, I was SO afraid of this chapter, called Swirling Butterflies. Here is Christa’s version. You gasped, right?! Yeah me too. That’s why we did this chapter last.

Image result for Chris watson swirling butterflies quilt

I decided right away that I would do a few things differently–the first one being that there is no way that I would use a contrasting thread! I’ve spent a bit of time checking out Christa’s stitching here–and oh my!–that girl has skills! Her travel stitching (stitching over a previously stitched line to move around the quilt) is amazing! You can hardly see it! The other thing that I did differently is that I just tackled the center motif (eight butterflies!). That was enough for me.

The first order of business was to make eight copies of the motif and tape them together. Spoiler: lots of marking ahead!

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

I used a Frixion pen so that I could easily iron off the marks later. This took a while–not gonna lie. I did figure out something that I would do differently if I did this again. Take the opportunity to find your continuous quilting path while you are tracing the design. I sort of stumbled onto this brainwave on the last butterfly. The book helps you figure out how to make a continuous path through the butterfly–but you need to find what works for you. My path ended up being a bit different that Christa’s. But it was so helpful to have the diagrams in the book to get you started. You have eight opportunities to practice–don’t waste them!

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

I decided to quilt white on white–like a classic wholecloth quilt (plus–blending thread!). I started with the center motif, where the continuous path is pretty clear. Here’s a tip: if you are quilting white on white–you need really good light! This was harder than thought it would be. The actual quilting was easier than expected (nine weeks of practice!), but not being able to see clearly where I had already stitched was difficult.

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

I will warn you that there is still plenty of wobbly stitching in there, but all in all, I was pretty pleased. There was a lot of travel stitching as I worked up and down those petals, and I do think that if I had been able to see the stitching line better, I would have done a better job of travel stitching.

Then it was on to the butterflies! There are so many pebbles in those darn butterflies! But still totally fun, once I settled into my path.

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

I took it slow (remember my mantra: Slow Down Kristin!) and stitched up about three butterflies a night. I realized that after that my concentration and coordination started to waver and it was best to walk away for a bit. Someday I’d love to have two sewing machines so that I can keep one set up for quilting and one set up for piecing. Because, ya know–the 3 minutes it takes to change from one set up to another is insurmountable! Am I right?! 🙂

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

I have to say that quilting through all those butterflies went pretty fast! Because you are not stopping to break thread very often, you just…go! Here it is when all the butterflies were done, but there was still some areas between them left to fill in. I was worried about how puffy those spaces between the butterflies were–that they would pleat or pucker when I quilted them.  But that turned out to be completely unfounded–it worked out just fine as you can see in the one spot that is filled in.

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

About those spaces between the butterflies–Christa had done those in a blending thread, in an easy arch motif that looked a little like a pineapple. It worked perfectly in her quilt because it was just texture (her butterflies are in a contrasting thread). Because all of my stitching was in the same thread–after the first one (above), I thought it seemed a little distracting and busy–but there was no way I was going to start ripping stitches out at this point! I flipped the pages in the book over to see how Angela had handled those spaces. She had done an echo spiral in that space.

So, I decided to try that, and alternate the two motifs. This is where it started to go downhill… Of course, it looked perfectly lovely when Angela did it, but I was not really happy with how these echo spirals were coming out (this was the best of the lot.)

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

But, I was in the homestretch now and committed.  So I finished off, vaguely disappointed that those spirals were not my best work. Again, it’s mostly texture and there is so much going on, I’m not going to sweat it. Honestly, I’ll probably never do a wholecloth quilt again–piecing is my jam. But who knows? I’m taking longarm lessons next month and am really looking forward to continuing on the free motion journey.

Here it is in all its glory.

wholecloth quilting kristinesser.com

Thanks for hanging with me throughout this machine quilting adventure. Here’s what I learned: Practice. Practice. Practice. I still have a long way to go, and I still don’t love to do pebbles–but the fear and intimidation about FMQ is gone! I’m up for any motif after taking on those butterflies! I’m sorry that I don’t have anything more profound to say other than “Practice makes progress” and “There is no such thing as perfect in quilting”. But dang it! It’s true!

I still have a few practice pieces all basted up and ready to go–so I need to make sure  that I keep up the practicing. As my happiness guru Gretchen Rubin says, “What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.” And I think that is especially true when you are building a skill like free motion quilting.

Image result for gretchen rubin what you do everyday

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting.
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In case you missed any of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

And don’t forget to stop by to visit the other blog hoppers! You have a chance to win at each one!

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

HollyAnne at String and Story

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

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machine quilting blog hop {week 9} + giveaway!

Welcome back to the penultimate post on the Machine Quilting Blog Hop!   Next week we are wrapping this series up with an awesome giveaway! Martingale has generously provided each of the blog hoppers ( HollyAnne, Vicki, Jen, and me)  a copy of  The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting to give away! All the details are at the end of this post.

Square spiral quilting || kristinesser.com

This week, we tackled the chapter called Migration. The main focus for this chapter was all about breaking up  the quilt into smaller pieces to make the quilting more manageable. That makes a lot of sense to me, so I created a patchwork sample with lots of small spaces to fill up with quilting.

None of the  free motion quilting designs in this chapter were very hard–but the focus was really on more masculine designs. It’s good to have a few of those up your sleeve! It can’t all be hearts and flowers and swirls. First up was some square spirals. This was fun and easy and a perfect motif for a narrow border. It would definitely work on a masculine quilt–but it will be useful for all types of projects. I’m pleased with how much more consistent my stitches are becoming with practice.

Square spiral quilting || kristinesser.com

Next up was just some organic wavy lines. Christa gives several variations on the wavy line motif to mix it up a bit–and I practiced them all. I’ve said it before, but this is such a fun, relaxing quilting design! No pressure of perfection! I think this version below is my favorite–wavy but not touching.

Wavy line quilting || kristinesser.com

Wavy line quilting || kristinesser.com

I’m gaining confidence as a machine quilter and this blog series and commitment to practice has really shown me that anybody can do it! I’ve heard from a lot of you saying that you want to improve at machine quilting but it just seems so intimidating. I hear you! But I encourage you to dive in! If you are like me and don’t have any spare quilt tops laying around, or are afraid of “ruining” a quilt–dig into your stash for fabric that you don’t love anymore, or buy some inexpensive solid or sale fabric and spend an evening making up some practice pieces. When you think you have enough–make some more. Repeat. It doesn’t take long to fill up these pieces!But totally worth it!

So, what are you waiting for?! Put on some good music, or a favorite podcast, slip on those quilting gloves and have some fun!

I’ve grown to love (or at least not hate) machine quilting enough that I signed up for longarm lessons! I’m so excited about it! Not only will I have the opportunity to learn to use a traditonal longarm, but also a sit-down longarm. This will be a grand experiment to find out if I really love longarm quilting. And who knows–maybe I’ll work my way through Angela’s side of the book next! Once I’ve done the 4-hour class I will be able to rent time on the longarm for $25/hour. Hopefully, this will enable me to quilt out a quilt in a few fun hours rather than wrestling a quilt through my machine a few hours a night for a couple weeks. We shall see.

Enter the giveaway! Here are the details:  The winner will receive one copy of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson. If the winner resides in the United States or Canada, they will have their choice of a physical or digital copy of the book. If they reside outside the US and Canada, the winner will receive a digital copy.  You can enter anytime between June 26, 2017-July 7, 2017.

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As always, we love to see your work if you are sewing along! Make sure to tag your post #machinequiltingbloghop over on Instagram.

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machine quilting blog hop {week 8}

We are coming into the homestretch of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop.  This week we  are practicing the motifs in the chapter called U-Turns from The Ultimate Guide to Machine QuiltingThe hardest motif for me this week is simply Loops. I practiced them all week on paper in boring meetings. They look easy–but there are a thousand ways this design can go wrong (or right, depending on your perspective). It’s hard to keep the spacing consistent, to keep them the same size, to space them out enough to echo them–a thousand ways!

domestic machine quilting

I won’t even show you my first attempts–but they eventually got better (that practice thing, ya know!). I did learn a few things throughout the week. I learned to space them out more and flatten them out–that gave me room to echo. Echoing had its own set of challenges. It was easy to get lost on which side of the line I was echoing. But it turned out that it sort of doesn’t matter. You need to aim for the base of the loop and try to get your stitches to all come together there at the intersection and then echo back out to the next loop. This improved the way they looked dramatically.

The next motif in this chapter was a really fun and easy–free motion wavy lines. I could do this one forever! You can just turn on some music and totally relax into stitching these wavy lines. I can’t wait to use this one on a whole quilt.

domestic machine quilting

We also revisited switchbacks, which comes in really handy in narrow borders. Also a very low-stress design.

domestic machine quilting

domestic machine quilting

Lastly, Christa brings up the idea of using a printed fabric and merely outlining the motif. I didn’t have anything that worked exactly the way she described–but I did find this autumn leaves fabric and I free motioned around the leaves (in the black) and then did small scale stippling between the leaves to travel to the next leaf to outline. It was good practice in control (I’m sure it would have been a disaster seven weeks ago). I really ended up liking how leaving the leaves unquilted made them pop out in relief.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any updates on my quest for new sewing machine. I’m still ruminating and looking for an opportunity to drive 40 minutes away to test drive both the Juki TL-2010Q and the Babylock Jazz. I’d still love to hear your thoughts if you use either one of these machines. I have learned that the Juki has a bit of a cult following and even has a Facebook page for its devoted followers. That’s got to mean something, right?

As always, we love to see your work if you are sewing along! Make sure to tag your post #machinequiltingbloghop over on Instagram.

In case you missed any of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Don’t forget to stop by to check out all my friends on the hop!

HollyAnne at String and Story

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

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machine quilting blog hop {week 7}

Welcome back to the Machine Quilting Blog Hop.! This week’s chapter from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is called Exploding Star, but it is actually all about continuous spirals. I was super excited to try this design because I have admired it on many quilts. I assumed that it would be a little challenging–and all that turning is probably not fun on a large quilt, but all-in-all this was a fun design and I am so pleased with the result!

domestic machine quilting

This is a walking foot design (yay!) and since my walking foot is 3/8″–that’s how far apart my spiral lines are. I started with tracing a circle in the center of my quilt–I used the base of an Aurifil spool. I followed Christa’s instructions on how to trace a spiral out of that circle and I was on my way!

I’ll be honest–the inner spirals are a bit fiddly because you are turning the work so frequently. It’s a little hard to keep the spiral smooth. But once again, I realized that my stitching got wobbly when I started to go too fast. Slow down Kristin! I also found that lowering my stitch length to 2.0 helped on the tighter turns. Once you get to the larger spirals it’s much easier to keep the stitching smooth and straight. So you just have to endure the fiddly part at the beginning. And look–you hardly notice the wobbly bits once you focus on the whole spiral.

domestic machine quilting

After I quilted the large center spiral, I wasn’t quite ready to be done, so I went ahead and embellished with corner spirals. That was fun and I got a bit more practice with handling the touchy beginning part. The corners presented their own challenge since you have to manage the entire bulk of the quilt for part of the spiral and then barely hanging onto the edge for the rest of it. I really like how the overlapping spirals came out. I am going to keep my eyes open for the right quilt to use this motif. I’m really glad that the whole process of quilting spirals is demystified for me–it’s actually pretty easy!

domestic machine quilting

domestic machine quilting

In other news, my search for a sewing machine that will help me fall in love with free-motion quilting is still in full swing. Last week, I fell a little bit in love with the Brother 1300PRW (also known as the Bablylock Soprano), but now I’ve ruled them out because they are a little out of my price range and I only gain 1″ of horizontal quilting space. And I want space! So, I checked out the Bablylock Jazz this week. I love what Babylock has done here–given us quilters 12″ of horizontal throat space (you heard me right–12 inches!) at a reasonable price. It is also a mechanical machine–like the Juki TL-2010Q. Which means that it’s a bit noisy, but it also has no pesky computer that may possibly fail one day. It felt really good, the stitches were perfect, and has also has 20 decorative stitches (no serpentine stitch though)–so it’s not just a straight stitch machine. Downsides: no automatic needle down, no thread cutter, no speed control. But I still liked it–it felt really good doing free motion and the dealer will throw in the Deluxe walking foot and a ruler foot all for $999. I think I need to go back to a different dealer that has both the Juki TL-2010Q and the Babylock Jazz on the floor and have a showdown. I’ll keep you posted.

We have had so much fun checking the hashtag and love seeing your quilting progress! Make sure to tag your post #machinequiltingbloghop over on Instagram.

Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Make sure you make all the stops on the blog hop:

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

HollyAnne at String and Story

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

 

improv quilting

machine quilting blog hop {week 6}

We are tackling the chapter called Cornered from The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting this week on the Machine Quilting Blog Hop. This chapter has some great information combining motifs and switching threads with the least amount of starts and stops. I really see the beauty of using blending threads to appreciate the texture that the quilting gives, without sweating trying to get it perfect (which it will never be).

First up was spiral flowers. This motif was so easy and fun! I see it on any kind of girly quilt from a baby quilt on up. It would also make a fabulous motif for a spring table runner. I practiced this for just a few minutes before moving on. It was good to start with a design that came easily to me and gave me confidence–because that was all about to change.

domestic machine quilting

The next design to tackle involved quilting continuous curves around a square. I have seen and appreciated this motif many times in other people’s quilts, but had never attempted it myself. Ahem. Let’s just say that it took a bit of practice. The first piece of advice I have if you want to try this motif is to keep those curves shallow. If the curves are too deep, then you start crossing over the lines when you do the diagonal curves. Christa explains how to approach this design to help you easily travel from square to square. She also teaches you how to do it in a corner, or triangle shape. After a frustrating start, I started to get the hang of it–however wobbly. I simply drew some lines on my practice piece with a Frixion pen to create some squares and kept practicing.

domestic machine quilting

Once I erased the lines with a hot iron, the effect was pretty good.

domestic machine quilting

I was pleased to see that even my wobbly start still looked pretty good with a blending thread. And on the back it is just pure texture. I love simple, square patchwork and this is a great design to complement a project constructed like that.

domestic machine quilting

So, whew! I made it through the tough design of the week, right? Well, what has Christa gone and done but mash up two of my nemesis designs: spirals and pebbles! It looks totally charming when she does it and I heard her call it “Swirls and Pearls” when I watched her demo at Quilt Market last fall (cute, huh?!). This one I really practiced. My pebbles were already getting rusty and I learned again that bigger is better when it comes to pebbles for me. Thank goodness for blending thread! Here is how I ended the week.

domestic machine quilting

Again, there are a couple other designs in this chapter that I didn’t photograph–lots of awesome inspiration. I learn every week that consistent practice makes progress (not perfection).

The only problem with doing all this free motion quilting is that it is making me want a new sewing machine! I actually dropped by a dealer this week because I’ve heard awesome things about the Juki TL-2010Q for free motion quilting. There is so much space! I came equipped with practice quilt sandwiches and patchwork squares to sew. At first I really liked it–it feels very different that my sewing machine. It’s very industrial and solid feeling. It’s a little on the noisy side, but I was digging it. But then a saleswoman walked by and said, “If you want a machine for free motion quilting–then you should try this one.” I was determined not to like it–it was more expensive and I was weirdly prejudiced against the Brother brand (turns out it ‘s the same machine as the Babylock Soprano). But, oh my!!! It free motioned like buttah!! The quilting foot is not a hopping foot–so it is so smooth and quiet. I was easily quilting with just my fingertips moving the piece around.  It was amazing! It only has one more inch of horizontal space than my machine now–but it just feels so different! So–all that sort of threw me for a curve. I’m still thinking on it.

If you are quilting along, please let me know in the comments or on Instagram. Just tag your post #machinequiltingbloghop.

Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Make sure you make all the stops on the blog hop:

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

HollyAnne at String and Story

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny.