Category Archives: Free-motion quilting

A Landscape Quilt from a Photo

Dunes photo
Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com

Northwest Michigan is an area of great beauty, and this is one of my favorite photogenic spots.  When faced with designing something for a Michigan themed auction, this was the scene I chose to work from.  I drew the scene freehand, to the best of my meager artistic ability, onto freezer paper, (Chosen for having some body, but being easy to cut.)  It would have been great if I had taken a photo of this step, but because it is a simple photo, you can easily find logical places for fabric changes.

Once fabric was chosen, I attached fusible web to an appropriate amount of fabric.  The freezer paper drawing was cut into pieces, and I chose to immediately trace these onto the backing of my prepared fabric.  Care was taken to see that the pattern piece was face down on the backing.

My pieces were laid out as they were cut, and I added overlap when I cut the pieces on which others would be layered.  If you are a beginner and this does not quite make sense, watch for my next attempt at a landscape and I will take it step-by-step.  (Of course, comments requesting this will motivate me to get this done, as that is just the way I am.  Retirement is blissful.)

Once the pieces for the picture were assembled, by pressing to bond over parchment (to protect the ironing board) I did some free-motion embroidery to create the trees, grass, flip-flop detail and wood grain on the planks.  Next the borders were added and the quilt sandwich was created.  The free-motion quilting is always my favorite part.  I know by then that it can only look better with each stitch.

Once assembled I did some free-motion embroidery for the tree, grass, flip-flop detail and wood grain on the ends of the walkway planks.  When this was finished I made my quilt sandwich and proceeded to the fun part of free-motion quilting.

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Discovering Portrait Quilting

gemma selfiegemma selfie
For some time now, portrait quilts have intrigued me.  After studying them, listening to You Tube tutorials, reading and imagining, I finally jumped in and gave it a try last week.  There are as many styles and techniques as there are quilters, as we all know, so I kept reminding myself that there is no wrong or right when it comes to quilting.

I started with a selfie,Selfie for grandma posted by my son, as selfies already  have a nice low number of megapixels, making it easily simplified, and because the distortion makes me smile.  This was to be a trial piece and I anticipated it would go in a scrap pile somewhere when finished.  It really surprised me, therefore, when I actually started to really like it.  Many authors have mentioned that, with art quilting, you need to feel free to just go where the quilt takes you, and that it will often take it’s own direction.  Initially it was to be just the isolated head of my granddaughter, but as that neared completion, the distortion of the selfie begged to be explained, so the cell phone border was added, complete with hand embroidered icons and a sparkly “screen”.  The title then went from “A Selfie for Grandma”, to “Facetime with Gemma”.

The simplified process was as follows:

1.  Using a photo editor, the head was isolated and simplified using a poster app.

2.  The result was printed in gray scale and I then traced around each piece I was seeing, using parchment.  By cutting the parchment pieces apart, you have a pattern.Selfie for grandma

3.  At this point you need to consider the process you plan to use.  If doing hand applique you need to add 1/4 inch all around each piece, but I planned to bond and machine applique,   Bonding is applied to each fabric you plan to use, then the pieces are cut out.  (I traced onto the bond paper, so had to place my pattern face down as well.)

4.  The face on mine was treated as a base, with the smaller pieces ironed on.  Then the whole face was bonded to the background fabric.  I stitched close to all the edges before making a quilt sandwich, and used hand and machine embroidery on the eyes, eyebrows and eyelashes.  The rest of the quilting and machine embroidery were done after layering the quilt sandwich.

If you wish more detail on any of the steps, feel free to contact me through the comments.  I am always ready to talk about quilting.

A “Simple” Quilted Wall-Hanging

SimpleThings quilt

The second project completed while passing the winter in South Carolina, is the above quilt, inspired by the shaker tune, “Simple Gifts”, as well as by the fabric seen below.

simple fabric

“Simple Gifts”

‘Tis a gift to be simple,

‘Tis a gift to be free,

‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.

And when you find yourself in a place just right,

’twill be in the valley of love and delight.

The quilt top was pieced very randomly, to demonstrate the concepts of freedom and joyfulness, using this fabric with coordinating solids.  I chose to call it “Simple Gifts from the Valley of Delight”.

After completing the top, some machine embroidery was added, to delineate fantasy flowers, and to add a different “gift” word to each of the print squares.  I wished the appearance of the words to be subtle, so that the viewer would have to seek them out, much as in life,  we need to be watching for the presence of these gifts in order to recognize them when they occur.  Below is a close-up of one of the squares, that shows the word “joy”.

IMG_201Simple Square close50130_112630

Finally, the quilt sandwich was built, and I had the pleasure of adding the free-motion quilting,  This was a fun quilt, Put together in recognition of the generosity of a brand new friend, who seems to always put the needs of others before her own, and who told me to use whatever colors inspired me, as there is no color which would not be welcome in her home.

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Creating a Donald Duck (or any other favorite character) Quilt

finished donald

Sometime before last Christmas, I set aside blogging, as my then current projects were all to be top secret gifts.  Now as a snowbird on Hilton Head Island, with nothing more pressing than to enjoy the sun and do some quilting, it’s time to return to sharing. My first project after settling in was this quilt, in order to fulfill a Christmas IOU.  Well before Christmas, I  made several false starts that ended with tabling the project until after the busy holidays.  This had shown me what didn’t work, and made it easier to find a process that produced what I had imagined.  Below is a simple version of the steps.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more details.

first three steps

1.  The first step was searching out the images I wished to use and transferring them to my blocks.  I found mine in Google images which is acceptable when making an item for your own use.  I used a printshop type program to create like-sized images and to print them. .  At this point you could use whatever method you prefer.  (Print directly on your fabric, print a heat transfer or print a copy and trace)  I was forced to trace, as I had brought copies and have no printer with me.  Make extra paper copies with any method, to use as patterns for the applique.

Fused applique2.  In choosing fabric, I was guided by Donald’s original cartoon images, only darkening them a bit to suit my own taste.  I then chose to work the rest of the quilt in those colors, adding only a striped fabric to draw the design together.  Fuse your fabrics to Wonder Under or the bonding product of your choice.  Cut patterns from your Donald image and trace them right side down to the Wonder Under backing of the appropriate colors.  Cut out the pieces and bond them to your block using the transferred image for placement. I then stitched around each piece, very close to the edge.  Donald is always shown with black lines around each object so I tried using my machine satin stitch for this, but wasn’t happy with the look, so ended up using hand embroidery for his lines.  Your might, however, wish to experiment with your machine.  A blanket stitch might have sufficed.

3.  Once the blocks were complete, I cut an assortment of various width strips of each fabric and laid them out to decide on my design.  Some people complete their design on paper and then know exactly what to cut, but this is the method I chose for this project.

laying out the design

4.  Now you are ready to sew your pieces together and create a quilt sandwich of backing, batting and the top.  I have recently begun using a spray bonding product in place of pinning.  This works so much better than pinning if you plan to free-motion quilt, which is my preferred method.

That completes your quilt.   Next blog I’ll share another simple wall hanging created as a thank you for a special friend.

Iris Thread Sketching

The completed piece
The completed piece
Iris detail
Iris detail

My sewing machine has been humming, and I’m eager to post about it. As a pledge just made to 81 other quilting bloggers, I’ll include more of my processes, trials and tribulations, from this day forward.

I started this piece as another way to practice my free-motion quilting without boredom. There are so many possible processes when working with thread and fabric that I am constantly trying to incorporate more. These pieces will be far from perfection, but will make me happy to see posted on the walls of my sewing cave.

I first randomly pieced the iris print and white Kona cotton. This was layered with batting and more white Kona for the backing. As you saw in my previous post, I fastened the layers together with just a few pins and was on my way. Using white in my bobbin and various colors of polyester embroidery thread on top, I free-motioned around the lines of the iris, and when comfortable with the patterns involved, I continued onto the white background with approximations of what the rest of the flower might look like, if these particular plants were mutants. (I don’t think it looks too bad, over-all, if one isn’t too judgmental.)

When satisfied with the “sketching”, I changed the upper thread to white and completed the background using some of the free-motion that I am actually supposed to be practicing. I finished with a traditional binding with the hand stitched back side.

I like the way this method makes the print fabric begin to resemble applique.

Meanwhile, two new presser feet arrived in the mail today, so I will soon be doing some applique and might also be able to complete a better machine stitched binding on quilts which are to get a lot of laundering.

They Say Practice Makes Perfect

Practice "sandwiches"
Practice “sandwiches”

Here is the starting point. Class was wonderful fun, but to become accomplished at free-motion quilting takes a lot of practice. Learning to pace your machine to your movements is what it is all about, and what I will be struggling to learn. These are the practice “sandwiches” we were told to bring with us, made up of a backing, batting and front piece. The fabric can all be muslin, off course, which will keep the cost down and allows you to clearly see colored stitches. Mine were on a pale green, just because it is a color I like to look at.

I’ve also started some thread painting on the sample below. Stitch length is not so important here, and it looks better with more layers, as opposed to the more controlled look I am trying to develop above.

Thread sketching preview
Thread sketching preview

I used pins to hold this together, but this isn’t necessary on the small samples. The finished piece will appear soon, unless other fabric calls and distracts me.

Finally Finished!

HQ 1<a

After a full year of dragging this lap robe quilt about with me, it is finally finished.
This is the quilt which has been the inspiration for my desire to perfect free-motion quilting. The quilting is hand done, and I have now realized how few hand quilted projects I would be able to finish in my lifetime.

HQ3

Here is the detail. My stitching is coming along, but it was during the long process of finishing that I began to experiment with free-motion.

I do love the colors in this quilt and am drawn to batiks. As you can see, it is another simple design, purposely chosen for ease of hand quilting. It would, however, equally have lent itself to free-motion. So on I go to perfect those skills. First class tomorrow! The teacher has directed us to Patsy Thompson’s website to make copies of the free-motion designs offered there at no charge.