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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

 

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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.

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machine quilting blog hop {week 5}

Here we are already at the halfway point of our 10-week quest to quilt our way through The Ultimate Guide o Machine Quilting by Christa Watson and Angela Walters. All the previous weeks are listed at the end of this post, if you want to catch up.

domestic machine quilting

This week the chapter is called Quatrefoil Applique and oh my, Christa provides a whole toolbox of motifs to fill all types of spaces. (I’m sticking to the Christa part of the book, because she is using a domestic machine, while Angela is handling long-arm designs.) This chapter is worth the price of the book, in my opinion. Christa provides about a dozen motifs to play with and practice. And practice I have! I will be the first to admit that some of these designs are a lot easier for me than others.

The ones that were most in my wheelhouse are variations on meanders. It was a great way to start off the week. Here is an example of loops, hearts, and flowers. I already do the loopy meander–but the hearts and stars are so charming–I can’t wait to work them into an actual quilt. They would be darling in a baby quilt or seasonal table runner.

domestic machine quilting

domestic machine quilting

But then I had to go and stretch myself into designs that were not as easy for me. I can’t be the only person that thinks that spirals are hard, right?! Both Christa and Angela make them look so easy to do and they seem to stay so beautifully spaced. This is much harder than it looks! I’ve been doodling them for years, and they get better with practice, but, boy, they still need work. Have you ever heard the trick that you should have a glass of wine before you start free motion quilting–to loosen up a bit.? Well, I tried that over the weekend, and let me tell you two glasses in things just started to get worse! 🙂

I have learned something though–keep your eye on where you want to go, not where the needle is. This makes a huge difference! I can get mesmerized by the needle–but keeping my eye on the place I want to be as I spiral out has really helped.

domestic machine quilting

Another motif that I am loving from this chapter is called Echo Plumes. It is very easy to do and you get a fun build up of thread from traveling over the same lines that I think looks cool. I think this may be my new favorite design. It’s beautiful, pretty easy to do, and you can cover a large area pretty quickly.

domestic machine quilting

I don’t want to give away too much from the book, so the last design I want to show you is called Spiral Flowers. It’s another great way to fill up a large space and provides such great texture. I have a pink baby quilt that I need to quilt and I think this might be a perfect motif for it. Super easy and relaxing to do.

domestic machine quilting

One of the main takeaways for me in this chapter is to be creative when filling large spaces or even all-over designs. There is a whole world out there beyond the meander! And Christa also really showed me to not be afraid to take a design I have already mastered and think of a way to do a variation on it. Leah Day did exactly that over something like 400 designs over on her website. Keep on trying those variations until you find your signature motif!

Besides using up stash fabric, working on all these practice pieces as given me a way to use up a whole bunch of random bobbin thread. I don’t know about you, but I had at least a dozen bobbins wound halfway or less with random colors from past projects. And I often find myself scrambling to find an empty bobbin when I need one. So now,  when I start my free motion practice, I just pop one in and use it until it’s gone. Since it’s practice, it doesn’t matter that I run it completely out. I finally win at bobbin chicken!  Here’s a peek at the back of my practice piece this week, you can really see everything, warts and all! Thank goodness for blending threads!

domestic machine quilting

Five weeks in and I really feel like I am making progress on my free motions stitches. That consistent practice really makes a big difference. I hope that you are seeing some progress as well! Tell me about it in the comments.

The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting will only be on sale for a few more days on the Martingale website. It’s a great time to grab a copy! Don’t forget to share your stitches on Instagram: #machinequiltingbloghop.

Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Make sure you make all the stops on the blog hop–we all have such different perspectives!

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

HollyAnne at String and Story

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny.

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fun interview with christa and angela

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In honor of our Machining Quilting Blog Hop, HollyAnne over at String & Story did a super fun, joint interview with Christa Watson and Angela Walters, authors of The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. They reveal some tips, advice, and the motif that drives them up a wall. Pop over here to read it.

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machine quilting blog hop {week 4}

We are back for Week 4 of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I explain it here and links to the other weeks are at the end of this post. But the short form is that some friends and I are blogging and quilting our way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting in an effort to improve our machine quilting skills.

If you happen to be following along–we are going to throw you a bit of a curve ball this week because we are skipping the next chapter, called Swirling Butterflies. It is a whole cloth design and I felt that it seemed more like a Master’s Degree in Quilting rather than Quilting 101, so we all agreed that we will leave that one for Week 10 (and frankly I am making no promises about that week either).

So we all happily moved on to the chapter called Fractured Squares. In many ways, the quilt designed for this chapter covers different ways of handling borders–which I always find challenging. The most common way that I handle this is actually to leave borders off of quilt–but that’s just me 🙂 But recently I sewed up two quilts with borders and I used one of the motifs (wavy lines) on both of them and now wish that I had tried out a few others from this chapter.

The good news (for me) is that that this chapter is all about the walking foot! This was a welcome relief to me–those pebbles from Week 2 are still tormenting me.

Enough with the chit chat! What did I practice this week? I know I told you it was all borders, but there is also a center motif that I enjoyed stitching. It is a really fun way to fill up a block. You can do this with a quilting ruler–but I just totally winged it with my walking foot with no marking (except for the outer rectangle) and I love the way it came out. There is obviously a lot of turning with this design–but if the quilt isn’t huge–it’s totally doable.

domestic machine quilting

domestic machine quilting

Next came the border designs. I actually have some examples of some of these on real quilts, not just practice pieces. First up is the wavy stitch motif–done with a decorative stitch. On my Babylock, I stretch the default setting for this stitch out to 7.0/3.0 and I use it all the time. It give such a great texture to the quilt and is very relaxing to quilt. I usually quilt the lines about 1″ apart.

domestic machine quilting

And I really love the way they look when they overlap in the corners.

domestic machine quilting

Next is a cross hatch. This is pretty zen to quilt as well. There are a few ways to mark the lines for this–but my favorite is a hera marker. It leaves a crease easy enough to sew on, but eventually relaxes out and leaves no mark.

domestic machine quilting

The last border design is clever in its simplicity. It is just doing straight line quilting with different spacing between the lines. No picture really needed for this. Christa is very clever in how she shows you to do this with no marking.  Really this book is so packed with instructions and tips–I’m so glad to be going through it in depth to really absorb all the information. What we are showing you here on the blog hop is just the tip of the iceberg.

Truthfully, I’ve not be as diligent as I’d hoped about putting in my 20 a day practicing quilting this week. Since this week was walking foot designs–that turned out okay–but I hope to get some more practice pieces prepped (so. many practice. pieces.) and sit down each night after dinner and practice. But I thought I would leave you this week with what what one of my practice pieces looks like before I retire it. It is well used.

domestic machine quilting

I found a great YouTube channel to check out called Man Sewing. He has a whole playlist of Free Motion Tips and Tutorials. You might want to check that out.

A quick reminder that–The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is on sale all month long over on the Martingale website. It’s a great time to grab a copy! Don’t forget to share on Instagram: #machinequiltingbloghop.

Machine Quilting Blog Hop series:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

See how the others handled this weeks designs:

HollyAnne at String and Story

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Or just click the image below to get all the links.

 

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machine quilting blog hop {week 2}

Here we are again for Week 2 of the Machine Quilting Blog Hop. To recap–a few blogging friends and I are quilting our way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting in an effort to improve our machine quilting skills. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I’m already seeing progress! Click here to start at the beginning.

I made about a million more quilt sandwiches to practice on this week.. No piece of ugly fabric is safe from me anymore! I’m actually regretting donating a bunch of fabric that I didn’t love to charity last fall. I could really use it now.

This week the focus was on two new designs–pebbles and a wood grain motif. Now, I know a lot of people do pebbles, and they act like it’s no big deal–but (ahem) I beg to differ. Pebbles are hard! I’ve been training for this for months, doodling pebbles while in boring meetings. But still . The struggle is real.

the ultimate guide to machine quilting

The first night, I filled up a full fat quarter with pebbles. And I have to say–I actually saw progress from the beginning of the night to the end. The part that I find the hardest is traveling back over the original line to start the next pebble. I’m often all over the place and it just looks…sloppy. I learned pretty quickly that I just need to Slow. Down. This is the story of my life–trying to do things too fast. Going slower gives you more control–when will I learn this?  I also started making the pebbles a little bigger, which helped. I found this interesting, because last week I found that making spirals smaller made it easier for me. Go figure.

So, after practicing them for a while, I decided to try them on a practice piece with more of a blending thread–which is a lot more forgiving. Not forgiving enough, I’m afraid. They still need work, but that’s what this challenge is all about! In fact, I plan to continue practicing each motif each week–and I’m excited to see what my pebbles look like at Week 10.

pebble quilting

Next, onto the wood grain motif. I’ll admit–I was intimidated by this one. So much so, that I also watched Christa’s Craftsy class, where she demonstrates this motif (actually most of the motifs in the book are covered in her class–it is a treasured resource for me!). The first thing I did was practice on paper to start to figure the design out and start to establish the muscle memory. Here’s what that looked like:

domestic machine quilting

Then I hit the machine. I found this motif so much fun! I actually tried quilting the design horizontally at first, but eventually found that it was much easier for me to quilt it vertically. So much of machine quilting is finding what works for you–so I was pleased to figure that out. I can totally picture myself using this motif in the future! It looks much harder than it is and creates such a cool look.

the ultimate guide to machine quilting

Here is the other thing that that I found out this week–I want to try an open toe free-motion foot. I feel that the foot I have makes it hard to see what is happening (pictured below). Leah Day has a video on how to modify a foot like this for better visibility. But I was a bit hesitate to do that in case I actually broke the whole foot. Instead, I have a metal, open-toe free motion foot on order at my local sewing machine dealer. I suspect I will like that one better, and I will then try the modification that Leah suggests on my existing foot. I will let you know what I think of the new foot once I have a chance to play with it.

darning foot

Some good news if you would like to follow along–The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting is on sale all month long over on the Martingale website. It’s a great time to grab a copy!

So, how did you do this week? Did pebbles kick your butt too? Let me know and don’t for get to share your work in Instagram #machinequiltingbloghop.

Don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who are quilting along!

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

HollyAnne at String and Story