DIY dishtowel hack

Modern Marks Blog Hop + Giveaway!

(This post  contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through this link, I will get a tiny commission, at no additional charge to you. Rest assured, I only link to products that I love!  My disclosure policy can be found here.)

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Welcome to my stop on the Modern Marks blog hop! If you are new here, feel free to have a look around!

This fabulous line is by Christa Watson and manufactured by Benartex. Working with this line was pure joy and fun. The colors are so rich and saturated and there is such a big selection of blues, which are my favorite. But there are also some really fun colors that are a little outside my wheelhouse–like lime greens and orange, so it was fun to expand my horizons. This was my first time sewing with Benartex fabrics and the quality is absolutely first-rate. The fabric is beautifully soft, with minimal fraying.

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

The quilt I chose to make was Dot ‘n Dash from Christa’s book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. It is a “pinwheel” (aka jellyroll or 2.5″ strip roll) friendly quilt, for both the main and background fabrics. I used a fun low volume pinwheel as my background fabric, and I love the effect. I cut the 2.5″ strips from yardage, but it would be so fast to just use a pinwheel!

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Piece and Quilt with Precuts (kristinesser.com)

These fabrics absolutely POP and are so perfect for modern quilts.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

 

And I especially love this larger-scale “mash up” print for the quilt back. It comes in several colorways–so it’s perfect for so many projects.

Modern Marks fabric by Christa Watson

Another thing that I love about this line is there is a great variety of focus fabrics, small and medium scale prints, and blenders. I’ve already pulled several of these prints for new projects that I’m working on–they have just the perfect amount of punch.

Dot n Dash Quilt | krsitinesser.com

I was able to work in several quilting motifs that I have learned from Christa’s book and the leftover strips were perfect for a scrappy binding.

Jelly roll quilts | kristinesser.com

scrappy quilts | kristinesser.com

I’m already plotting my next project for this line–it may be a liberated wonky star quilt. The yellows, lime greens, and oranges are just begging to twinkle.

I blogged about this fabric and quilt in more detail here,  here, and here. To find a shop to buy some Modern Marks of your own, check here.

And now for the giveaway! I know that you want to get your hands on this fantastic line–and Benartex has graciously offered to giveaway a bundle of 8-10 Modern Marks fabrics on each stop on the blog tour!(US residents only please.) You can enter my giveaway below, but make sure to hit every stop on the tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit all the stops on our Modern Marks blog hop, including our host, the Benartex blog, Sew in Love {with Fabric}, where there is a fabulous interview with our favorite fabric designer, Christa Watson
Monday
Hollyanne @String & Story
 
Tuesday
 
Wednesday
Hilary @Aurifil
 
Thursday
 
Friday
Stephanie @Modern Sewciety

 

DIY dishtowel hack

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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DIY dishtowel hack

Piece and Quilt Hop Along {week 4}: Giveaway!

It’s Week 4 of the Piece and Quilt Hop Along. My friends HollyAnneVicki, and I are quilting along in Christa Watson’s new book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. It all started here, if you want to start at the beginning.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

Dot ‘n’ Dash Quilt

This quilt went together so fast! If you start with jellyrolls, you already have such a head start on putting this quilt together. I started with a jellyroll of the background, and cut strips from yardage, and it was still super quick.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

Here’s a little secret–I love nothing more that sewing fabric together. This quilt is chain piecing at its finest. And because it is scrappy, I literally just picked up the scrap nearest to me and started sewing them together. I wondered if I would regret not having a plan when it came time to sew it all together, like would I get stuck with too many of the same fabrics lining up, etc. But it worked out just fine. There are a few places that that I had to let go of my perfectionism and let two patches of the same color touch. Which is what happens with random, right? But I like a little more “controlled random”.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

Another new-to-me technique was pressing seams open. It was a great idea for this quilt because then you didn’t have to worry about which way to press your seams to have them nest. And since it was so random–I didn’t really know how the final layout would go. I have to say–the blocks lie so flat! This little tool really helped to get them opened up before pressing. I had to set my stitch length quite a bit smaller, as I noticed that the edges of blocks would start to come apart–so there was a bit of a learning curve. You definitely need pin to get those seams to line up. But I got pretty good at getting a pin right in the seam line and had good results with it. All in all, I love how it came out.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

The Quilting (Nightmare)

This is where our story takes a dark turn. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but this quilt is headed to Quilt Market to show off both Christa’s pattern and fabrics in the Benartex booth. So, of course, I wanted it to be perfect (sigh). I decided to quilt it pretty much the way Christa showed in the book. It looked perfect for the quilt and very doable.

My newly beloved Juki started breaking thread in a way it never had before. I did all the things. I re-threaded, I cleaned out the bobbin case, I changed the needle. It broke three needles in a row. I started wearing glasses every time I changed the needle, just in case, (I didn’t want to lose an eye over this). If it worked, it would start skipping stitches after a few minutes. This quilt has so many stops and starts in the quilting–something that of course, I was trying to minimize.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com
Skipped stitches, broken thread, stops and starts–every quilting problem you could have!

So, I drove 40 minutes to the Juki dealer. They showed me a place where I was threading it wrong (although it had worked fine the way I had it threaded all summer), and of course, it behaved itself at the dealer, so I took it back home. You know how this goes, right? It started acting up as soon as I got home. I spent hours trying to get it to work. Then I finally pulled the old Babylock out of the closet.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

It’s amazing how you get used to a new machine! The Bablylock felt so different and I had become so used to having all that extra harp space on the Juki. But, I pushed on. I was quickly reminded of why I wanted the Juki in the first place. The free motion tension on the Babylock is not great. And I wanted the quilting to be great! So I did all the things. Changed the needle. Opened it up to clean out the bobbin area, etc. Then I put it all back together and I couldn’t get the bobbin thread up. A tangled mess!  I got up and ran it to the dealer. Turns out the bobbin hook was broken. Nooooo! Am I cursed or what?!

At this point, I am up against a deadline and I start looking for Plan B. Luckily, my friend Vicki tells me that I can send it to her and she will finish it (God bless you Vicki!). This plan is looking pretty good about now. But, I get up early on Saturday morning and drive the 40 minutes back to the Juki dealer. They understand my plight at this point and the technician sits down with it then and there to figure it out. I won’t bore you with the details–but it had something to do with the needle threader, which resulted in the timing being off.  He fixed it right there. The threader will not be replaced for a couple of weeks–but in the meantime I have a working sewing machine!!

Free motion machine quilting kristinesser.com

I finished up the wavy line motif that I had been struggling with before (because of the machine–the motif is fun!) and then moved onto some simple zig-zags. It was then that I felt my love for machine quilting return. It felt so good to get back in the zone.

Crazy eight machine quilting kristinesser.com

After that nice warm-up, I got up the nerve to start on some crazy eights.  They are so fun and fast! Definitely not perfect, but they keep getting better and the they give the quilt a beautiful texture.

Free motion machine quilting kristinesser.com

The Giveaway!

Whew! If you made it this far, you deserve a giveaway! Martingale has generously provided each of the Blog Hoppers a copy of the book to giveaway, plus we are each throwing in some free Modern Marks fabric as well! So, make sure you also visit Vicki and HollyAnne.

Here are the details for my giveaway:  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. 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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DIY dishtowel hack

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!

 

DIY dishtowel hack

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

DIY dishtowel hack

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.

DIY dishtowel hack

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

DIY dishtowel hack

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.

DIY dishtowel hack

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.

DIY dishtowel hack

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.