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.


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.

Using Scraps for an “I Spy” Quilt

(click on image for details)
(click on image for details)

This was a fun quilt created for my youngest granddaughter. It was inspired by my own love for playing “I Spy” as a child, so may have amused me more than her. But it provided yet another opportunity to work on my free-motion quilting. I used my clear 4″ template to find fun picture segments for the squares and used a simple flower motif for the quilting. (Three more days until my first class!)

Remembering the Flowers of Summer

Poppies wall-hanging

Poppies detail 1

While excitedly awaiting my first free-motion class, I have taken time to record some of my earlier work. This wall quilt of poppies was completed last summer. I was working on my hand-quilting, and chose to outline the flowers and mark lines for quilting the borders. Because I am currently more focused on the quilting process itself, you are probably beginning to see my penchant for simple piecing. One of the things I love so about quilting is the many aspects of the art. There will always be something new to learn.

Moving Along in Free-Motion

Piglet overview

Piglet detail - Shelter House

The second of my free-motion practice quilts produced better results. Someone had donated Winnie-the-Pooh flannel, which inspired adding Piglet to the front. I discovered a free-motion pattern that pleased me and seemed easy to do, and was on my way.

I have read from other quilters that each quilter finds they are drawn more to either curvy designs or linear designs. I seem to be a curvy. This was fun and relaxing. Unfortunately there are places on the back that do not yet please me. I have learned that speeding through the sharpest part of the turns can create messy bobbin threads. Another case of “slow and steady” winning the race.

Today I picked up the materials list for my free-motion class with Patsy Thompson, and see that I must have 15 to 20 9X12 inch quilt sandwiches ready to go by next Tuesday. Sounds as if she will work us hard. You can check out her website by Googling. Much to see there.

Practicing Free-Motion Quilting


As I began my adventure into free-motion quilting I discovered a “market” for practice pieces that has spurred me on while waiting for my first class, next week. A local women’s shelter requests baby quilts and usually receives basic tied quilts, so my efforts at free-motion quilting are well-received.

Earlier this year a bag of beautiful, bright and unusual scraps, called to me for this quilt. As they were picked up as remnants at a quilt show, they were in smallish pieces, so I decided to make them into crazy quilt squares. These brought to mind Baby Einstein products, so I used black and white to border and bind it. When the piecing was done, I had the fun part of practicing the free-motion skills I have been learning in books and on-line. I tried a different pattern in each square, and then decided I didn’t want to deal with the borders. Forgive me my perfectionist quilting friends. I do long to be like you, but knew that I had already failed on this number, so was ready to move on. I called it finished. There are better efforts at craftsmanship to come, but I liked the basic idea and also want a record of my progress, so have included it.