May 04, 2015

FMQ Weekly: Planks Free-Motion Quilting Design

I have a super beginner friendly design to share with you today! Meet Planks.

This design is one of my favorite kinds, going from one edge of the piece to the other, and pleasantly geometric for those times that curves won't do.

You only need sort-of straight lines to make it work. Don't stress about straight lines. Mine are wobbly too and it still works. Here is how you do it:

a. Start with a short line up, then take your line off to the side.
b. Then another short line up and off to the other side.
c. Keep going up like this, back and forth. Make the length of the lines variable as you go.

When you get to the other edge of the piece it will look something like this: 

Now you make another column the same way, right next to it, making sure you only leave a small space between columns. You can see how the columns fit together below. The more variety you have in the length of your horizontal lines, the less obvious it will be that you quilted this in columns. 

Cover the whole space with your columns...and then you can't even tell how the pattern was done! Magic.

I have a little video of this design in action right here.

Of course it doesn't have to go side to side; up and down works fine too. 

And you may be wondering, does this have to be straight lines? No way! How about curves?

Doesn't that look like stretchy meandering? So if you like the look of the stretchy meander but don't like how all over it is, you could do it this (easier) way instead.

I hope you get some use out of the Planks design. I know I will!  Now I also want to share that I'm in this all-star line up of teachers who will be teaching at QuiltCon in 2016. You know how excited this makes me? Unbelievably excited! Can't wait to be a part of the QuiltCon magic. I hope I'll meet some of you there!

May 01, 2015

My FMQ Essentials class is coming! Want to win it?

You know how sometimes I disappear for a while? Sometimes that's because my refrigerator died and someone hit my car and all my typical work time is going to getting things fixed. But sometimes it's because I'm working on something big and organized and fabulous. Like this! Free-Motion Quilting Essentials is my new class with Craftsy that will be launching soon. I'm so thrilled to have these photos to share with you, and to give you a chance to be one of the first people in the class, free!

My last class with Craftsy was all about quilting designs; understanding, adapting and recreating them. It didn't cover the basics. THIS class is the prequel to that class, so if you're just starting your free-motion adventure you have someone to take you through it one step at a time, as well as specific exercises to try as you get your feel for it.

In the class I take you though all the basic designs and skills.

 We build on what you've learned...

And build some more...

Until you're combining designs like a FMQ Wizard.

So are you excited? I am! I really hope this helps launch some of you hopers in to doers! If you would like a chance to win the class, please enter at Craftsy (it's quick!). I'll share more about the class when it launches.

Oh and I guess it's giveaway time here, the winner of the Magic Carpet Quilt pattern is "Tink's mom" who blogs at Selina Quilts. Congratulations!

April 28, 2015

Magic Carpets all around, with a giveaway!

It was a great delight to me that through the blog and Instagram there were several people who were interested in taking my new Magic Carpet pattern out for a spin. And today I get to show you what they did with it!

Kristyn at Melonpatch Quilts made this monochromatic version and I really love it! 

Beth at Cooking Up Quilts picked the perfect fabrics for a happy rainbow approach. Click over to her blog to see the beautiful quilting!

Karlee (sewinspired2day) chose an attractive color scheme with input from her 14 year old daughter. She said it's her favorite quilt she's ever made, what a compliment!

Debra Hamilton (rivergirlquilts) used a two color approach and it came out especially hypnotic.

And you may have already seen the quilt made by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. She whipped up this quilt and finished hers before I had even finished mine!

Finally, Jasmine at Quilt Kisses made the pattern with a few changes that she explains in her blog post, I love how her color scheme reads!

Isn't it fun seeing all the different ways the pattern can look with various fabric choices?

So now I'm a little embarrassed to say I intended to offer a giveaway of the pattern for sale when I posted it but I forgot. I am not the model blogger, it turns out. But now today's the day!

To enter the giveaway leave a comment here on this blog post (no emails please!) letting me know what your favorite salad is. I need some new salad ideas! (Oh, and if you've already bought the pattern thank you and you should enter anyway; if you win the giveaway I'll refund your money!)

The giveaway is now CLOSED! Thanks for the great suggestions everyone!

April 26, 2015


I'm doing a rare thing and quilting a quilt for someone else. This is about a once a year thing, and this time the quilt top is from Hillary at Entropy Always Wins.

I like Hillary's work and I was happy to be asked to quilt something of hers. I was also happy she wasn't in a hurry because I generally have about 6 hours a week to quilt and I had things already lined up for a few months.

But now I'm getting to her top and it's a lot of fun.

Hillary gave me a lot of latitude to do what I wanted on the quilt top. Mostly that kind of thing gives me a stomach ache. I'm sure professional quilters get used to it, but I am always second guessing myself with quilting someone else's work. Still, I'm glad for the experiment because it's letting me try my hand at some ideas, especially in all the negative space.

That last one is a shot from the back. I'll show more when it's finished!

April 19, 2015

The Magic Carpet Quilt

This quilt is done! And the pattern is too! I'm awash in the great satisfaction of completing a beloved project.

I was really stuck for naming the pattern until my friend Gail suggested Magic Carpet. I think it captures the idea of floating, which is really the very point of the quilt. I am thrilled with it.

The quilt is 69" x 75" and every square is quilted with a different design from Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting. I keep stopping to run my hand over the different textures. I know we'll love it for a long time. If I make this pattern again though I'll definitely be doing an all-over design. I cut and pieced the top in 6 hours but it took almost 3 times that to quilt it! Now I know!

I'm also nervous/proud to have the pattern up for sale on Craftsy as of today. That's thanks to a generous group of pattern testers: Karlee, Jasmine, Sarah, Debbie, Beth, Kristyn and Matthew. I am so grateful for their thoughtful feedback; they really helped me refine the pattern so it will be a good resource.

For instance, Karlee told me that she was struggling with picking fabrics and suggested a blank quilt design to color in. What a great idea! So I added that to the pattern. I also sent my testers some examples of how different color choices might look in the pattern. I love how versatile it is.

I'll gather the photos from the pattern testing squad and show you how lovely their quilts turned out later on. For now, it's off to bed for me to recover from Portland's epic sunny weekend! 

April 16, 2015

FMQ Weekly: Busy is your friend!

I've been stretching my FMQ muscles a little...on a long-arm!

I finished one of my grandma's unfinished quilts on the long-arm of my friend Nancy who rents time on the machine locally. 

Quilting on a longarm is so different from my domestic machine. It's very smooth and I'd say it shaved a couple hours off the time needed to finish the quilt. But things that I have so much control over sitting down, like travel stitching and echoing, just look bonkers so far when I do them on the long-arm. 

And that's ok with me. My students are willing to step into that discomfort of trying something new even though at first the results will be awkward. I can do that too!

With this quilt I decided to stretch my approach to FMQ a little. Mostly I'm experimenting with how to get different patterns to play together. How do you think I did? 

That's a trick question! Because seriously, can you see anything more than a few inches of quilting here or there? It's next to impossible! My grandma's love for these busy, colorful Kaffe Fassett prints resulted in a lovely quilt and a perfect setting for stretching a little beyond my skills: because as Nancy said "you could be quilting swear words into that quilt and no one would know!"

If you're ready to try FMQ, or to experiment with something new like a more complicated quilting design, might I suggest that you do it on some busy prints, with matching thread? Let the quilt be all about the fabrics. You get all the benefits of practice, and a beautiful finished project. 

(side note: Do you see that part above with the one strip that's red with white dots instead of orange with yellow? I'm pretty sure she didn't have enough of the orange (because I checked for binding fabric) and I just love that little bit so much. )

Here's a little view of the back: that's Kaffe too, naturally. 

There are two more quilts of my grandma's waiting to be quilted and I can't wait to get to them. I've decided to do both of them on the long-arm. Not that I'm shopping for a long-arm! We don't have the space and I can't imagine spending that kind of money at this moment in our lives. But I like the idea of at least being long-arm capable and it's fun figuring out how to get the long-arm to do what I want it to do. Because every now and then it does...

See you next new quilt (and the pattern, love that you guys seem to be as excited as I am!) is almost ready....

April 09, 2015

FMQ Weekly: Influences

I wanted to show you a little bit inside my brain today, to give a peek at how I created some of the designs in my new book, Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting.  These are a case of taking inspiration from the art of others and translating it into continuous line designs. 

Here is picture from Fancy Nancy, Stellar Stargazer, by Jane O'Conner and Robin Preiss Glasser. 

I loved the way the spirals in her hair touched some of the adjacent lines. I played with that (keeping the hair reference!) and came up with "Rapunzel":

Here's one that I'm not sure was conscious, because I don't think I recognized the similarity until after the book was submitted. This is a page from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond. See wavy lines and bubbles? 

What do you think? I think it might have resulted in this one, "Sylph": 

And finally, definitely deliberate, I love playing with pebbles and Lizzie House's "Pearl Bracelet" print looks like pebbles to me. 

So this is how I translated it into a continuous line design, "Bangle".

Does this inspire you to try creating your own FMQ designs?  I hope so!