spray basting

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.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

spray basting

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.

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

spray basting

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

spray basting

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.

spray basting

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.

spray basting

fun interview with christa and angela

FullSizeRender_3.jpgFullSizeRender.jpgFullSizeRender_2.jpg

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.

spray basting

machine quilting blog hop {week 1}

I’m so excited to get this Machine Quilting Blog Hop started! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this. I’ll wait 🙂

The first thing I did was to assemble the basics: The book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting, a Supreme Slider (optional, but oh so helpful), Machingers quilting gloves (sorry they are so dirty!), the darning foot for my machine, and my favorite thread–Aurifil 2311.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

I should confess right now that I don’t have an ideal quilting set up. Like many of you, I’m sure, I sew at the dining room table. I have a Sew Steady extension table for my Baby Lock sewing machine and I actually sit on a yoga bolster to get to a comfortable height when I quilt. So, there is no high-end sewing machine sunk into a custom-fit cabinet for this girl (maybe someday?).

This first week is all about filling horizontal or vertical spaces with quilting. I created a couple of practice pieces with some stash fabric and just spray basted them. I used black fabric because 1. I have a lot of it and 2. the stitching would show up well on it. I probably won’t do that again because boy, it does not photograph well! So please excuse all the lint on these pieces that I did not actually see in real life. Also–one last tip: wind a whole bunch of bobbins!

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

I drew some long lines with a chalk pencil on the fabric to create different sized channels to quilt in.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

First up was a simple, curved switchback motif–not too hard, even for me.

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

We then moved onto a freehand zig zag. I’m still holding my own, in my opinion. I’m thinking, “I can do this–I’m not actually that bad.”

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

Ultimate guide to machine quilting book

Then I moved onto square chains. Hmmmm. These were not as hard as I expected–and if I had done this with a blending thread, it could still be passable.  I practiced these for a while using two different techniques. But you will have to get the book to find out what they are 🙂 You can see them a bit in the photo below.

Onto the spirals! Hold the phone. These are not as easy as they look. I learned quite a few things with this design. First, I was doing them in a channel that was too big to start with. Smaller was definitely easier. Also, I realized that I was focused on the edge of the darning foot and not the needle as I was creating the spiral. This resulted in me not filling the entire space at first. Once I started focusing on where the needle was, I was able to fill the entire channel with quilting. I also realized that I wasn’t filling in the spiral enough at first. They started to look better when I filled them a little more densely. I still won’t win any quilting awards with this design, but I see definite improvement and again, if it had been done with a blending thread, I think it would create a lot of nice texture.

 machine quilting
my first attempt
domestic machine quilting
starting to improve–smaller and denser

I will admit, that putting my amateurish quilting out there is a bit out of my comfort zone–but I’m encouraged with my progress.  I really need to spend an evening creating a big pile of practice pieces so that I can spend just 10-15 minutes a day improving my skills.

So, how about you? Are you following along? If so, don’t forget to share on Instagram: #machinequiltingbloghop

Also–any advice? I’d love to hear it! Just leave it in the comments.

Lastly, don’t forget to visit the other bloggers who are quilting along!

HollyAnne at String and Story

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

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

 

spray basting

announcing the machine quilting blog hop!

Would you like to join me and some other bloggers as we  quilt our way through The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–piecing is my favorite part of the quilting process. And over the last couple of years, I’ve put in the effort and practice to become quite a bit more accurate. I smile every single time that I get some perfect points on my blocks. But the quilting part. That’s a different story.

machine quilting

walking foot quilting

I’ve simply just never practiced enough free motion quilting to feel confident and proficient at it. I’m sure I’m capable of it–I just need to put in the time. In the last year or so, I’ve kind of fallen in love with straight line/walking foot quilting. And I’ve finished at least a half a dozen quilts with various forms of walking foot quilting. But I want to have the skills to free motion decently when I think the quilt calls for it.

Enter the book The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting by Angela Walters and Christa Watson–two of the reigning queens of machine quilting. As a sort of challenge to myself, I hatched this plan of working my way through the book practicing the free motions designs. In the book, Angela does longarm designs and Christa’s designs are for a sit-down domestic machine. So I will be following along with Christa. There are actual quilts in each chapter that are specifically designed to practice the motifs–but I will just be putting together practice pieces to work on. The real point of this is just to practice. I have a couple baby quilt tops sitting on a shelf, and I may try a couple of the designs to those to finish them up.

I fully expect the first few weeks to show how unskilled I actually am at free motion quilting–but at the end of ten weeks (ten chapters=ten weeks), I hope to see some significant progress in my skills.

And to add to the fun–three of my blogger friends are joinging in as well! Each Monday, we will each post our thoughts and adventures as we work our way through this wonderful resource.

HollyAnne at String and Story

Vicki at My Creative Corner3

Jen at Quiltin’Jenny

We are kicking off on May 1 and would love it if you would like to pick up a copy of the book and join us! If you do–be sure to show us your work on Instagram with this hastag: #machinequiltingbloghop.