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.


Teaching a Friend to Quilt

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Soon after becoming serious about quilting, myself, a friend asked for assistance in making a queen-size quilt for her bed. This sounded pretty daunting to a beginner, but after a little research we came up with the method shown above.

We created 10 inch squares using randomly cut strips. (No piecing to cut!) We then added a layer of batting and quilted each square in 3/4 inch lines. Using the number of squares she desired to create the size she wanted, we laid the squares out in a pleasing pattern, then stacked them up, labeling the rows for assemble. We sewed the squares into vertical rows, then began to assemble. She chose a queen-size sheet in white as her backing and we folded it in half vertically and ironed it, to find the center. We then placed the center vertical row in relation to the center line, turned it face down, and stitched from the center to the edge of the quilt in each direction, to attach it to the backing. In this manner, working from the center out, we attached each row in succession. We were then able to turn the whole thing over and do a bit of extra quilting by stitching in the ditch from the center out. (Not a lot is required, as the batting is already well attached, but at least you will want to go between the blocks horizontally.) Once again, we had to work from the center out. We finished with a traditional binding in the green polka-dot print.

My friend assembled pillowcases and decorator pillows from remnants and was pleased and excited by her very first quilting experience!

Everyone Has to Start Somewhere – Embroidered Squares and Simple Machine Quilting

Early Effort 1Early Effort 2

These early photos are not very clear, but as the work is that of an early student, that may be just as well. Both are in a style I still enjoy producing, as the embroidered parts are easy take-along projects.

The herb quilt makes use of Aunt Martha iron-on transfers, available in most craft stores that handle embroidery floss. I chose fabrics I liked and added my own embroidered bees that mirror the bee fabric.  (Click on photo for a closer view.)

The Hello Kitty quilt made use of transfers produced by copying coloring book pages onto transfer paper. This, of course, cannot be produced for sale, but mine was for a new granddaughter.

Both quilts have flannel backings, which are wonderful for cuddle comfort, but which necessitated machine quilting. I had begun hand quilting, at this point, but had little experience with machine quilting, so these have only simple quilting along seam lines and around the embroidered images. On the herb quilt I only encircled the images, so the Hello Kitty was slightly more sophisticated with it’s stitching done very close to the images, which did enhance them a bit.