Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘FMQ’

Applique & Quilting Progress

I am excited to write about my progress this week.  I have actually made headway on two of my current WIPs: the Craftsy applique class project and the Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.

The star block was a quick applique, even with the sharp points.  Using freezer paper templates gives the edges crisp lines.  I was daring again and applied all the stitching to the star, then slit the back open to remove the freezer paper.  The bird was stitched down in a similar fashion, but required different preparation with the inside curve along the bird’s back.  The wing still needs stitched down, but will go quickly.

Star & Bird Blocks

These simple shapes are so fun & easy to applique.  I really love these fabrics, too. I did some auditioning of the fabric to determine exactly where to position the star template and the bird wing template for cutting.  Both are cut from the same fabric in a different colorway.  I love how the center of the flower design gives definition to the shape.

I sat down to my Bernina on Saturday afternoon and started FMQ.  Again, I had done enough thinking about shapes and decided to just start stitching.  Ultimately, I quilted designs I hadn’t even thought to quilt.  I repeated the loops across the square sections like in the previous two blocks.  Then, I began adding curves from one point to the next, followed by organic swirls and radiating lines.  I looked for ways to quilt in a continuous line, creating some squiggles and stitch-in-the-ditch to move into the next corner section.

3 Flowers block quilting

Overall, I am satisfied with the quilting.  I have found that my quilting is not steady and I often cross over patches or my lines are not straight or do not curve smoothly.  I know that some of this is due to the shoulder surgery I had several years ago.  Prior to that, my quilting was smoother. I am beginning to accept the changes I see occurring in my quilting and just begin finishing quilt tops.  Some experienced quilters will likely state the mantra, it’ll get better the more you practice.  Sorry, but I can only quilt in small sessions.  The longer I quilt the more unsteady my movements.  This square was all I could complete on Saturday.

I am overcoming my obstacles to finishing projects.  One of those obstacles has been perfection.  Have you seen some of those prize winning quilts?  Check out this Judge’s Choice from AQS Paducah by Setsuko Matsushima of Japan.  This is awesome!  These quilts set the bar too high and leave amateurs like myself frustrated with my projects. When did quilting become so competitive?  I want to enjoy my quilting again and that begins with accepting my work for what it is.  I hope to pick up more of those long forgotten projects and finish them, as I continue to accept where I am at and the outcomes I achieve.  They are uniquely me and that’s okay.

What project did you work on last week-end?  I’d love to hear about it.  Until next week…keep on stitching!


Life has a way…

Life has a way of getting in the way.  Just when everything is running along smoothly, something comes along to mess up the routine.  That’s when you just keep on living without worrying about life.  You go with the flow.  As they say in France, C‘est la vie!  I realized early last week there wouldn’t be an opportunity to write a blog post.  I also missed out on four days of Yoga with Adriene.  My body was functioning with less sleep than usual.  And, none of the things “getting in the way” had anything to do with quilting.

But, I am back writing this week, and I have some great photos to show of the FMQ I completed two weeks ago.  I quilted the center embroidered blocks in the Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.  I started by echo quilting a line around the embroidery design, then filled in the remainder of the background area with stippling.  Then, I quilted organic designs inside the embroidery motifs to evenly fill the block centers with quilting stitches.  Here are photos of each block.

I prefer to bury my threads, so I spent a couple of nights last week watching my new favorite series on Netflix, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, while knotting and pulling the thread ends into the quilt sandwich.  The show is an Australian television drama that first aired 2/1/13.  Set in the late 1950’s in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, where Dr. Lucien Blake solves crimes.  I recommend it to anyone that likes period dramas.

Here’s a look at the Sew Sweet Simplicity quilting to date.

All the quilted centers

Still lots of quilting to accomplish, so no expectations of finishing in time to enter in the AQS GR show.  There are other shows, so I will have to set a new deadline to keep me on track to finish this quilt.

Until next time…Happy quilting!

Nine Patch Baby Quilt

I finished another baby quilt.  This seems to be my forte.  Thinking about it, a baby quilt is what got me started in quilting.  And I’ve made more baby quilts than any other quilted project over the last 30+ years as a quilter.  This particular quilt is for my nephew and wife, who are expecting their first child.

As quilts go, I like the scrappy ones a lot.  This one is made from several 9-patch blocks I’ve made while working on other quilt projects.  I will take scraps from projects, such as jelly roll strips or other small pieces, and cut them into 2-1/2 inch squares.  Then, I use lights and darks to make a 9-patch block.  These are usually sewn together as beginners and enders while sewing other projects.

Nine Patch Baby Quilt

I also received several 9-patch blocks as a gift from guild members when I completed two terms as the guild president.  From this collection of nine patches, I selected several with children’s prints and flower designs.  I chose a yellow dot fabric to make alternating blocks in the center of the quilt.  Nine patches surround the center like a border.  You may notice that the blocks alternate with five dark patches in the outside corners and center patch with blocks that have four dark patches in the opposite locations.

9 patch lower right

I completed all the machine quilting on my Bernina.  The yellow dot blocks were quilted first with a meander.  The nine patches are quilted in the dark patches by stitching a curve from corner to corner.  By alternating the blocks, I was able to complete the quilting in a continuous motion from block to block.  The design also created a circle around the light patches.

9 patch upper corner

More quilting.  I really enjoyed making this quilt.  And, I found out yesterday that I have a niece that is expecting her first child.  So, I’ll have to add another baby quilt to my projects for the year.

I wasn’t away so long this time and have been steadily progressing on other projects that I hope to write about.  Next up, a wedding quilt for another niece.  I’m also following The Splendid Sampler.  Have you joined?  Some pics of those blocks may show up here, as well.

Until next time…happy stitching!

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

My two sisters and I collaborated on another baby quilt to commemorate the birth of our great-niece. Even though we live close to one another, it can be challenging to work on a project together. We each have our own activities and projects on which to work. But, we break the project down into manageable tasks.

I love making baby quilts and found a cute pattern, Tangerine Zoo, designed by Brandi Frey, in Fons & Porter’s Scrap Quilts Summer 2012. The quilt has nine Dresdan plate blocks with fussy cut zoo animal patches in the center. The pattern used a fabric with an orange background, thus the name “Tangerine” Zoo. I had a fabric with zoo animals in a light green color. We each contributed bright colored fat quarters from our stash to audition. After selecting fabrics, my oldest sister & I took them home to cut out and stitch up the Dresdan plates.

About every month or so, we get together to sew and used this time to work on the Dresdan Zoo quilt. Some of you may have followed the progress in previous blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. At this time, I was taking a class on Craftsy on how to make creative quilt backs by Elizabeth Hartman. I used this information to make the quilt back and posted about it HERE. The quilt was now ready for the final quilting stitches.

Enter my younger sister, who has recently begun quilting and taken a fancy for machine quilting. She has always been creative and enjoyed drawing. To her, free motion quilting (FMQ) is like drawing on fabric. She is the resident quilter for our collaboration quilts, but was in the process of quilting two other quilts for her grandchildren. That left the quilt in limbo for several months.

Last month, she finished the quilting and the binding was added. Today, I am adding the quilt label. The sunshine was bright and the weather beautiful, so I spent time outside snapping photographs to document our second quilt collaboration. Here are several different angles and close-ups for you to enjoy.

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

Close-up of blocks

Close-up of blocks

Alligator Block

Alligator Block

Hippo Block

Hippo Block

Pieced Back

Pieced Back

Close-up of Quilting on Back

Close-up of Quilting from Back

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

The quilt will be sent off to our niece in California, who is not expecting it. But, her brother was the recipient of our first baby quilt collaboration, so it will be a nice surprise when she receives it.

Next up…a bowtie baby quilt for my nephew, my oldest sister’s son. He has a baby son born earlier this summer. We’ve already sewn together the blocks and laid them out in a pattern. My older sister and I are going on a retreat next week-end, where we will finish stitching the blocks together. Then, off to my baby sister for the final quilting touches. And…there’s a wedding on the horizon, so we’ve been talking about collaborating on a wedding quilt.

Happy Quilting!

P.S. I’d love to hear what you think of the photography. I am not a professional, not by a long shot. But, I have been reading up on photography, took a lecture at AQS Grand Rapids, listened to a photography webinar, and had a lengthy conversation with a photographer friend at work. I have been playing around with my digital camera settings and feel that these pictures show the colors of the quilt well. I even think I implemented the rule of thirds into the shots. I’d love to hear your feedback.

SewBatik Challenge 2014 – H2O

My SewBatik Challenge quilt is shipping out to the National Quilting Association annual quilt show tomorrow morning. H2O is the name I’ve given the quilt. The theme of the show is Going Green! I chose an ocean waves pattern for the design and stitched together four blocks. I did modify the look by placing white triangles in the outside corners of the blocks. These corner blocks have sayings and statistics written on them about water and the effects of using bottled water.

The FMQ was completed over several weeks. I used two quilting designs from The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day. I chose two different patterns on her blog and incorporated them into the quilt. The first design is pebble ripples and is worked into the center of the quilt. I quilted waves in the blue triangles of the HST (half square triangles), making a curve from one corner of the triangle to another. Lastly, I added underwater rocks in each of the white HST sections.

SewBatik Challenge 2014 - H2O

I used four different blue batiks to make the ocean waves blocks. The lower left batik is the challenge fabric. The center fabric is a paisley design called blue green karachi by Modern Quilt Studio. I purchased a packet of fabrics from their booth at the AQS show in Grand Rapids last August. The colors fit perfectly with my design idea and I was able to match four batiks pulled from my stash. I used Aurifil 50 wt. thread for the piecing and quilting. Here is a closeup of the center.

Center of H2O


I found a quote about water that I added to the quilt. It speaks to the necessity of water. The remaining corners have statistics written in them culled from online about the cost of and waste from consuming bottled water. Writing on the quilt proved to be challenging. It can be nerve racking thinking about writing on a quilt. One night, I finally took the leap and calculated the spacing for the words. After the first stokes of the pigma pen, I completed each one until finished. My quilting stretched the edges of the quilt, so that some of the letters were lost when stitching on the binding. But, I am still pleased with the results. I’ve never made a perfect quilt and I am my own worst critic.

Corner of H2O

This quilt will hang at the show in Columbus, Ohio from May 23-25, 2014. It will then travel around the country to various locales as a part of a traveling quilt exhibit. My last entry travelled to seven locations, including Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, and Nevada.

If you’re in Columbus for the NQA show, check out the SewBatik Challenge display. I am always amazed at the creative ideas that others come up with to make these 20-inch square quilts. Now, I off to place the quilt in a ziploc bag and place tags on everything for shipping.

Happy Stitching!



Free Motion Quilting Frustration

Practice! Practice! Practice! Anyone that does FMQ (free motion quilting) knows that you need to practice regularly. I have been doing FMQ on my domestic sewing machine for several years. Before I begin quilting a new project, I practice on a sample square. My quilting has progressed over the years, but still has room for improvement. Mostly because I need to do it more often.

I’ve mentioned before that I had surgery on my shoulder last year for a rotator cuff tear, related to a bone spur that was also removed. Not that everyone needs to know my medical history, but the shoulder issue was far more than just a tear. Since the problem had persisted far too long without proper treatment, I also developed problems with my humerus and tendons. In layman terms, the surgeon literally detached my tendons, cut off the ends that were dead, and reattached them to my humerus.

I say all this to suggest that I may not be able to FMQ like I used to. And, this is frustrating to me. I am finding that my motion is not fluid. While quilting recently, I have noticed sudden jerks or an inability to maintain control of my movements. I am hoping that this is temporary as I re-establish regular FMQ time. I mean, it has been over a year since I have been doing regular FMQ. I cannot expect to just go back to quilting like I did before surgery. Unfortunately, I have also developed bouts of tendonitis after sessions of quilting.

You be the judge… Here are some examples of FMQ on a wall-hanging I am finishing up for a challenge. I made Ocean Waves blocks and wanted to quilt pebbles and waves into the quilt. I viewed tutorials on the The Free Motion Quilting Project by Leah Day. I browsed her library and chose a pebble ripples design to incorporate into the center of the quilt.

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Front

Pebble Ripple Back

Pebble Ripple Back

I added curved line quilting in the dark HST (half square triangles), to look like waves. Then, I looked for something to add to the white HST. I settled on another Leah Day design, underwater rocks. I currently have it on my machine, quilting in short spurts, but keeping the quilt intact until I get to the end of a section.

Underwater Rocks design

Underwater Rocks design

For those who are interested, I am using 50 wt. Aurifil thread in a variegated blue #3770 Stonewashed Denim. The white  HST are being quilted in 50 wt. Aurifil #2021 Natural White.

Aurifil #3770

Aurifil #3770

It may be that I just need to practice. I appreciated the blog post by Christa Quilts! yesterday. She reviewed a Craftsy class on FMQ by Elizabeth Dackson. I especially liked Elizabeth’s philosophy:

The Golden Rules of Quilting

  1. Practice, practice, practice!
  2. Give yourself permission for things not to be perfect right away.
  3. Walk away and take a break if you feel that you’re getting frustrated.

I really needed to hear this today. Whether my FMQ ability returns to it’s former level or I have to adjust how often and how much I do, I will keep quilting. Maybe I’ll take that Craftsy class, too.

Happy Stitching!

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

I finished the farm animal baby quilt for my great niece in time to place it in my guild’s local quilt show. This was a quilt that I began last summer while I was recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. I couldn’t tolerate too much activity with my shoulder, so I made the applique blocks. I stitched the blocks together in the Fall and had the quilt pinned for quilting before Christmas. I first blogged about this baby quilt project HERE.

Alas, I did not get the quilting done until a week ago. Honestly, I was not sure I was ready to FMQ again. I tore my rotator cuff a year ago in February after a week-end of micro-stippling. This was not the first tear, but another tear related to a bone spur. Then in January, I spent a few hours on a week-end doing FMQ on a small project and ended up with tendonitis and suffered with three weeks of pain. Needless to say, I have been reluctant to begin doing any FMQ. But, I had to get this quilt finished and the guild quilt show was my motivation.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

I quilted in the ditch around all the blocks. This was fairly easy using the walking foot. I continued with straight line quilting across the diagonal of the 9-patches. With planning, I was able to complete this quilting in two continuous lines. The next challenge was adding in some FMQ around the farm animals and in the borders. I chose to outline stitch around the animals, which did not come out as nicely as I had hoped. But, practice makes perfect and I haven’t been practicing. The quilting would have to do. Lastly, I added a heart border. I completed the design as a continuous motif by stitching the heart shape and then stitching back through the center of the heart and beginning the next one. I got this idea from tutorials that Lori gives in her blog The Inbox Jaunt. Here are some closeup pics that reveal the quilting.

Quilting around farm animals & hearts; quilting in 9-patch blocks

Quilting around farm animals & hearts & in 9-patch blocks

More examples of quilting  from left side

More examples of quilting from left side including the border

My favorite part of stitching this quilt was creating the applique blocks and adding the blanket stitching. I joined the War on WIPs at the Modern Quilt Guild forums and this is the third WIP completed in 2014. I am actually moving along at one quilt per month. Yeah!!

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Here’s another look at the finished quilt. Happy Stitching!

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