November 24, 2014

FMQ weekly: Windswept quilting design

Such a nice lot of supportive comments on my last post, thank you all! Today I want to share one of the designs I used on that quilt. I asked my Instagram followers to help me name it. I heard a lot of wind and hair references so I'm going with Windswept!

I like really flowing designs and I'm hoping that I share this in a way that it makes sense to you. This is an "emerging" type of design, it starts at a point and each new motif emerges from between two others, which you can probably see above if you look for the start of each new swirl. It's not hard, it just looks hard. I had a new quilter in a class this week who did great with it.

So here is how I make the basic motif:

a. Make a loose spiral/swirl
b. Come back to the point along the inside of the spiral.
c. Echo back around the outside of the spiral to the far point.
d. Echo back along the inside of the spiral to the starting point.

e. Then take a short line up to the curve of the spiral, travel along it a little way and then go back down to the point.

That's it. Do it over and over again! You can make your four-spiral unit in whatever order you want. It doesn't matter whether you're coming back on the inside or the outside of the spiral. The explanation above is just the way I've been doing it, and the way that I stitch it in the video below.

The only other thing you need to be prepared for is that where the round ends of your shapes come together they will leave some odd shaped open spaces between them. Unless those are tiny you'll probably want to fill them with some evenly spaced lines to keep the texture consistent and avoid those areas "popping" forward in your design.

You can see me stitching the design in this video. You can also maybe hear my 2 year old waking up from his nap at the end, so it did get cut a little short. If you watch it I think you'll get the idea of how the design flows.

Here's a shot from the quilt I posted about in my last post. Windswept is in the upper left corner in this picture.

Hope you get some use out of this one quilters. Happy stitching!

November 21, 2014

Trying new things

I usually just quilt my quilts with all over designs. I'm just not very fancy. I don't enter my quilts in shows or anything, it's not something that has felt important to me so far. I like finishing my quilts so I can give them to people I love, and I like helping other people do the same thing. 

So when I agreed to quilt one of the Monaluna challenge tops for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild I thought I would just do something all over. Right? Uhhhhh....wrong. Suzanne had pieced these blocks from guild members in this really unique way, lining up strips of the same print in different blocks. "I was hoping the quilting could highlight that" she told me. I felt stumped. It felt out of my league. It felt like a job for a longarmer. I thought about it for two weeks. 

And then I got busy. I didn't get great pictures before handing it off for binding (that made me feel like a princess!) but you can maybe see a little of the quilting above in the negative space. I left these "pipes" that joined the strips unquilted, so they would pop forward, and I made some circles connecting the pipes. I traced around bowls for that part. Here you see my high tech tools.

In the different sections created by the pipes I used different all over patterns.

It worked really well!

I got a great picture of one section in the sunlight.

I'm grateful for being stretched a little out of my comfort zone.  Thank you PMQG and Suzanne! It's wonderful how a community of quilters improves everyone's skills in ways like this. I doubt I'll get this fancy very often but I know I can when I want to!

November 18, 2014

FMQ weekly: pebble power

I recently made this little sample to show the power of pebbling. It's just a plain piece of fabric and the whole thing is quilted in pebbles. I marked a circle (by tracing around a bowl) in the center of the piece and quilted that in a bright contrasting thread. The rest was quilted in a thread that almost matched the background. I love when you can make a plain piece of fabric amazing with quilting.

In each section I occasionally did something fancy inside the pebbles: a spiral in the center section and an asterisk in the background. I think that's my favorite way to dress up pebbling, just adding an occasional fancy one.

If you need a little free-motion quilting time this week and don't have a project ready, try something like this! Ours is now a little pillow. I've made so many pillows and small quilts lately I might do a craft fair booth this season, I need to make some space in here!

November 11, 2014

Gently Down the Stream

I can't believe I'm saying this, but a quilt of mine is in a special issue of Quilter's Newsletter!

This is their new release, Best Fat Quarter Quilts. I didn't know they had put my quilt on the cover and when I opened my mail and saw it I gasped. What a fabulous surprise. I showed it to pretty much everyone I know. Sorry, coworkers.

Maybe you remember when I was geeking out about 60 degree triangles? Well this quilt is what came out of that playing around. It's called Gently Down the Stream. When a quilt name comes to me out of the blue like that one did, I don't question it. It's perfect for this little 40" x 48" quilt.

Because it has all the colors of the rainbow, my five year old has claimed it as her bed quilt. I do love seeing its happy colors enwrapping her little body every evening at bedtime. It's also the best quilt we have for play-sleeping with, it would appear.

I'm glad I challenged myself with a design requiring more precision than I usually use. It was a fun experience and it worked well. If you read my blog on the web or follow me on Facebook (yes that's new!) you might have noticed that my new profile picture is in front of this very quilt. And of course, a close up of the quilting...

Happily, I get to select a commenter to win a fat quarter bundle. Thanks, Quilter's Newsletter! And if you check out the blog hop you can find more giveaways to get your name into. To enter mine, please leave a comment on this post and I will pick a winner tomorrow, Nov 12.  The giveaway is now closed and I have emailed the winner, Diane H!

Thanks for the lovely comments about this quilt. Happy stitching to you!

November 10, 2014

FMQ weekly: Peapods quilting design

I like to name my free-motion designs, even though I always wonder if I'll choose one that someone else has used, or even one that I've already used and forgotten about. I need a system to keep track of them. I totally lack a system.

For this one I picked Wishes. Then I posted a picture on Instagram and Instagram renamed it for me. Instagram called it Peapods and obviously that's a better description than Wishes. I should have checked with you all first! What was I thinking?

Did I stitch this one in a no-narration video? Heck yes I did. I'm really liking the video thing. It's like we're hanging out and quilting together. Here's the video link for those of you who subscribe by email.

These peapods are kind of fat but I've also stitched it with skinnier ones and that looks great too.

And of course, for those who just want a description:

a. You start with a line and make a leaf shape.
b. Make a smaller leaf inside that leaf (making sure to go all the way to the points)
c. Then come up with a string of pebbles in that inner leaf
d. Travel up the side of the inner leaf to the tip of the leaf and continue your line

You repeat that all the way to the edge of your piece, then come back with another column. Consecutive columns are offset so they nestle together. Then you put some echoing lines between the columns for maximum quilting oomph. If that's confusing just watch the first couple minutes of the video.

I hope you get some use out of this one, quilters.

P.S. Portland folks: I have some upcoming FMQ classes at Modern Domestic!

November 04, 2014

Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting on Craftsy!

Hooray! Today is the day! Not only is it Election Day, but today my first ever video class, The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting is available on Craftsy!

A little about the class:
  • We build on simple continuous line designs to create new and interesting variations using skills you already have.
  • We cover seven design families, one in each lesson. You'll see lots of free-motion quilting designs and lots of me drawing and stitching them. 
  • And my favorite part is that in each lesson we practice looking at a FMQ design and breaking it down. I want you to feel confident in re-creating the designs you see out there in the world, in quilt shows, on blogs, in books. So I made it a point to teach how I break down a design to understand it. 
I tried to include all the little guidelines I've developed for myself as I've improved my free-motion quilting. So there are little "secrets" sprinkled throughout the class. I hope they are helpful for you!

I watched the class and I'm very happy with it. The only thing I wish was different is how I look! Why do I keep making that nervous face that looks like a sneer? Why did they have me wear that much makeup? These questions will never be answered. But the stitching is good, so I can handle the other stuff.

My special offer for all you dedicated blog followers is this special link for $20 off.  This will be good here on my blog for the next two weeks. Update 11/22/14: Half price link is gone but you can often find sales at Craftsy!  I do get a bonus when you use my links when you shop for classes on Craftsy so if you can click from here, thank you!

If you've never taken a class on Craftsy, you should know that once you purchase the class,  it stays in your account forever. You can watch it on your computer at your own pace, as many times as you wish. If you have questions about anything in the class, I can answer them online though their class discussion function. I think I'm going to love that part, getting to interact even though we aren't in a classroom together.

Well that's my big news, thanks for sharing in the excitement with me today.

Happy stitching everyone!

November 03, 2014

FMQ Weekly: Wayward quilting design

This is an easygoing free-motion design I want to show you today. This one is good for a quick finish. Not that you need those. Not that you're ever finishing your binding the morning that you have to give away your quilt. No, that never happens.

So this is what I call a follow-along design, meaning you give yourself a guiding line and then you follow along that line with the next step.

a. To start you give yourself a wavy guiding line. 
b. Then you come down one side of your guiding line, making a loop in every indentation in the line. 
c. Now go along the other side of the guiding line, doing the same thing. 
d. Move over and start a new wavy line. leaving enough room between them for adding the loopy lines. 

You can see how this gives you a not-completely-plain design but it doesn't ask much more of you than a simple wavy line would.  I like a design that can handle natural variability and so I tried practice stitching this one with more and less stretched out wavy lines, as well as varied sizes of circles. It worked well with all of those variables in play, so I think it qualifies as a beginner-friendly design. 

Here's a no-narration video, because it's so fun for me to show you how I do it!

I have been trying to show you my new designs on patchwork so you can see how they might play on a quilt. This is a very busy quilt block but hopefully you can still see how pillowy and lighthearted this design comes across.

And don't miss it: today is the last day to sign up for the giveaway for my soon-to-be-announced Craftsy class.  The giveaway has ended. If you'd like to check out the class, click the image below:

Happy stitching!

November 01, 2014

Quilt all the things

I made this journal cover out of a beautiful piece of wool from the Pendleton Woolen Mill store. I went there because my friend and superstar Susan Beal was writing a book about sewing with their fabrics and I was curious. Her book, Hand-Stitched Home is out now and it is lovely. Cozy and sweet, which is exactly the kind of person Susan is.

So at Pendleton I picked up a piece of this thick, solid colored wool that was different colors on each side. It was labeled "Jacquard". I think usually jacquard means complicated weaving but in this case even though it was solid it was done on their jacquard looms, and that is how they got different colors on each side.

I thought I would make a little clutch out of it or something. But then one day I got that FMQ itch and I thought.... what if? And I started stitching on some of the scrap wool I'd gotten from the scrap bins on that same shopping trip....

And then I tried it with thicker thread on that lovely mustard wool...

And wow! How cool to not have to worry about batting or backing, just sit down and stitch.

I took a picture of the sticker on my fabric in case you're in love and want to call the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store and see if they can find you some:

What an easy present! Measure your piece, stitch something pretty, fold over the edges and stitch along the top and bottom. The one thing I was particular about was keeping the stitching from going off the edges of my piece, I didn't want to cut any threads and have them unravel.

This makes me think holiday gifts. (One down, twenty to go!)

Happy stitching!