quilting tips Archives - Handi Quilter

Swirly Grid Design

We have used all the shapes to make continuous grid designs except for the swirl (or hook). So today we will dive deep into the swirly grid design.

The Swirl

Remember the swirl or hook for the 5 basic shapes?

Like the S shape from last week, we need to make some modifications to the shape. To make our path continuous, the shape must start on the left and end on the right. I accomplished this by extending the line leading into the swirl and the line leading out. Then I spread them apart like this:

Notice that I also closed the swirl, or over-stitched the swirly part.  I did this is because this design is a lot of quilting in each grid space. If your grid is large, feel free to leave the open swirl with the double lines, like the original shape. Make it your own!

My quilting starts at the green dot on the left and arcs down slightly.

When I get about half-way across the grid space, I start my swirl.

Backtrack along the swirl.

Then arc up towards the grid intersection.

One thing to keep in mind while you are quilting this shape is that you cannot go too deep into the grid space. You have to allow room for a swirl on each of the four sides of the space. You can add a chalked dot or circle to the center of the space as a reminder, like we did when we used the loop shape.

The Path

To keep things consistent, let’s use the same grid.

 

Start in the upper left corner and stitch the shape across the top. Just like all the other shapes before.

 

The Mantra

Like the S-shape, it is SUPER important that the shape is stitched the same each time. In this case, the swirl has to go in the same direction. I chose to stitch the swirl swirling back towards where I started.

 

To help me keep the swirls going in the correct direction, I use the mantra “SWIRL BACK”.  And just like the S-shape, this mantra will be helpful when you you have to change the orientation of the shape to fill the grid.

 

Next stitch down the side. SWIRL BACK.

 

Keep the path going

As we did before we will work across the horizontal grid line. But for this design, like the Terry Twist, the serpentine path will not work. You will simply stitch across the top of the line. Keep the mantra going!

You can see how the swirl is opposite of the ones going across the top of the grid. It’s easy to get confused and turned around without the mantra, but the mantra will keep your shapes going the way they should. SWIRL BACK.

Next, stitch across the bottom of the horizontal grid line back towards the right. Keep the mantra going!

Without the mantra, you’ll be sure to get confused on this step. With the mantra you’ll just go along easy-peasy.

Continue on down the right side, and across and back on the next horizontal grid line. Keep the mantra going!

Stitching down the right side brings you to the bottom of the grid. Begin to stitch across.

 

Just as before, work the vertical grid line up.

 

Can you see now how using a chalked dot in the center of the grid space will help?

Next, work your way back down the vertical line. Keeping the mantra? Of course you are! If you don’t, you’ll be getting out the seam ripper.

 

Move across the bottom to the next vertical line and stitch up and down. Then across the bottom to the left side. Then all that’s left to do is stitch up the left side, back to where you started!

 

This swirly grid is great for larger grids. There is a lot of quilting in each grid space!

Did you notice that this intricate design used the skills we acquired when we learned the simpler shapes grid designs? We used the path that gets us from start to finish with just one start and one stop. We used a guideline (dot), we modified the shape slightly, we used a mantra to keep the pattern going correctly.  When you come up with your own new designs be sure to remember your skills and put them to work for you!

 

The Name

I have not named this one. Will you help me give it a cool name? Add your name suggestion in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you creatives come up with!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Turning the Quilt Successfully

Turning the quilt to quilt the side borders is a great technique that’s used by most accomplished quilters. It is definitely the best way when you are using robotic quilting like Pro-Stitcher, if you are really into accuracy (like me). It’s also a good technique for free motion quilters. Quilting a border all in one go is just easier. Not to mention all the stops and starts you’d have along the sides if you don’t turn.

What am I talking about you ask?

 

Imagine this scenario: You decide to quilt the borders of the quilt differently than the rest of the quilt with a continuous design. An example of this might be a quilt with a feather vine along the border.

Silver Celebration by Mary BEth Krapil

Silver Celebration by Mary Beth Krapil

 

Or a border that does not turn the corners, like this one.

You quilt the top border all the way across and it turns out beautiful. But only a small portion of the side borders are showing in your throat space. If you quilt the side borders as you work your way through the quilt, you have to figure out a way to divide them up into manageable pieces that fit in your throat space. This is called “chunking the border”.

You will have to have tie-offs at each section. Tie-offs can sometimes be visible unless you knot and bury the tails. Visible tie-offs are not good. Knotting and burying takes lots of time, also not good! So how do you solve this problem? Turning the quilt!

MY process

Start by basting the top and sides raw edges within your first throat space. Whenever I quilt a separate design in the border, I will stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between the border and the body of the quilt. It makes a great difference in the look of the finished quilt and is well worth your time and effort. Stitch-in-the-ditch across the top seam and as far down on both side seams as you can go.

Quilt the top border. Don’t quilt the side borders, just the top. Baste the side borders. Either with long basting stitches or with pins placed horizontally.

Then quilt the interior of the the quilt (as much as you can within the throat space).

 

I usually use pins unless the border is very wide.  Be SURE to place the pins horizontally. This allows the pins to roll around the take-up pole without bending.

 

Advance the quilt, baste the side raw edges and stitch-in-the-ditch the seam between border and body as much as you can in that next throat space. Baste the borders. Quilt the interior.

Continue in this manner til you reach the bottom of the quilt.

In the last throat space, baste the sides and bottom raw edges. SID (Stitch-in-the-ditch). Then quilt the bottom border. Baste the side borders. Quilt the interior of the quilt.

Now everything is quilted except the side borders. They are basted in place.

Tips for turning successfully

Remove the quilt from the frame. Trim all excess batting away from the quilt top. Be careful not to cut the backing.

Handi Batting Scissors are ideal for this job.  Trim all four sides.

 

Measure the excess backing fabric from the edge of the quilt top on both un-quilted sides. Trim if needed so that it is even all the way across.

 

Attach one of the sides to the take-up leader. I pin to my leaders. Use whatever method you are comfortable with. Do NOT pin the other end to the backing bar. Drape the quilt over the backing bar and clamp in place with HQ Super Clamps.

 

Notice that I have not removed my basting pins. Wait until you are ready to quilt!

Remove your basting (pins or stitches) and quilt this border.

 

Then remove the quilt from the frame and turn 180 degrees. Attach the other border to the take-up leader. Secure the quilt to the backing bar. Remove your basting and quilt the final border.

 

Your side borders are quilted perfectly! With no stops and starts! All in one go!

I hope you give this a try. You’ll find it does not take any more time than chunking the border as-you-go and you will get much better results! If you do, let us know what you think of turning the quilt in the comments.

Happy Quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

P.S. The designs you see on the patriotic quilt are available on Quiltable.com!

 

 

 

One More Echo – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

One more super easy and super fun echo quilting design and I promise to stop. (Maybe) But can you see how echoing is a essential skill for a free motion quilter? It is a must-have in your tool box.

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

 

This design was originated by my good friend and Handi Quilter Ambassador, Helen Godden. Helen quilts free-motion on the HQ Capri. If you don’t already follow her on social media, you should! She is a wealth of fabulous ideas and techniques. You can find her here:

Facebook:  Helen Godden Quilts
YouTube: Helen Godden Quilts
Website: www.helengodden.com

She calls this design “Roadmaps”. That’s an appropriate name since you create a roadmap for yourself and then echo quilt. It’s really that simple!

I love the look you get with swirls.

Here’s How:

Choose your favorite removable marking tool. Chalk, Handi Iron-Off Pencils, water soluble marker, air soluble marker….  There are lots to choose from. Just be sure to test, to make sure the marks will come out once you’re finished quilting.

Handi Iron Off Pencils

 

Create your roadmap

Draw a swirl.

 

Add another swirl. And one more.

Keep going until you fill up your space.

 

Now you have your roadmap.

Quilting

Start at the beginning with your first swirl. Echo quilt next to one side of the swirl. Which side you choose does not matter. Use the side of your machine’s foot to glide along your drawn line. This will give you even spacing.

 

When you come to the end of your first swirl, swing around the tip.

 

 

And start quilting the other side of your marked line. When you encounter another swirl, keep going next to that swirl.

Keep going and keep going and eventually you will wind up finishing back where you started. Once finished, you can remove your roadmap.

You are left with a beautiful echo quilting design!

 

So fun and so easy and so very beautiful! I like to use this design for all-over quilting, for background filling, or to fill busy blocks.

Here is one I quilted out.

 

Here’s a close-up, but it’s a little hard to see my blue water soluble marks. I was able to see them fine for quilting.

 

I quilted this piece of fabric to use for a bag project. Why buy pre-quilted fabric, when you can quilt your own?

I like using the foam headliner material in place of batting for bags.  Bosal In-R-Form and By Annie’s Soft and Stable are a couple of brand names for the product.  I load it just like I would load a backing fabric. Then baste the top fabric on, and quilt away. It creates beautiful texture and gives your bag nice form.

I’m planning to have some fun with my couching foot on this. So the echo design is perfect for some quilting and a backdrop for my couching.

I’ll share the rest of my process in another post.  For now, Have fun echoing one more!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

 

 

More Easy Echo Designs – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

As promised, we’ll learn some more easy echo designs. How did you do with the peacock feathers? I’d love to see some pics in the comments!

We can modify the teardrop shape of the peacock feather to create a similar but very different looking design.

Leaves

Start with a leaf shape. You should be proficient at stitching leaves by now. If not, go back to this post for a review and more practice.

     OR   

 

Then just like the teardrop, echo it.

And echo again.

Start a new leaf and do it again to travel around your quilt.

Remember to travel in an undulating path to prevent the design from looking like “rows”.  You want to have your quilting be an all over texture and not rows.

This design is available on Quiltable.com, if you like to quilt with pantographs or robotic quilting systems. Pro-Stitcher is the robotic system that pairs with Handi Quilter, Janome, King Quilter, and Babylock longarm machines. The design’s name on Quiltable is “Flames”

Pro Tip: I called the initial shape for this design a leaf. It can just as easily be called a flame. Depending on the theme of the top you are quilting you can quilt echoed leaves or echoed flames. Only you will know it’s the exact same design.

 

Rainbows

Along the same lines, with a little twist, are rainbows.

 

Start by quilting an arc.

Don’t start your echo from the point where you finish your first arc.

 

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Instead, travel a bit away from where you ended.

Then quilt your echo.

Travel, and then quilt your second echo.

Start another arc.

Travel along the previous rainbow and echo the arc.

Travel away from your ending point and stitch your 2nd echo.

Notice that the echos go until you hit the rainbow already stitched.

Once you get going you will nestle your arcs between the rainbows you have already quilted.

Continue on in this matter to fill up your quilting space.

You can tell this one takes a bit more concentration and you will get more practice in over-stitching as you do your traveling.

The same tips apply to the leaves design and the rainbow design as we mentioned with the peacock feathers:

If you need to fill space, add another echo.

If you don’t have enough space for 2 echos, just do one. Or none! No one will ever know!

Also, where your first shape ends, will be the side you end on after 2 echos.

 

An even more challenging way to quilt the Rainbow design is the traditional Baptist Fan design. Where the rainbows are in rows and are uniform size.

The best way to accomplish Baptist Fan, if you are quilting free motion, is to use rulers. It’s a bit labor intensive but it is really beautiful when finished.

Remember, post pictures of your stitching in the comments!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Quilt From the Back – Free Motion for Beginners

When we talk about “quilt from the back”, most quilters think of pantographs or groovy boards. Handi Quilter sells the Quilt From the Back Kit for folks interested in quilting with pantographs. Pantographs are printed quilting designs that usually come on rolls. They are placed on the table at the back of the machine and you quilt by following along the pattern line with a laser light attached to the machine. You use the controls on the handlebars at the back. Can you see the little dot of laser light on the pattern in the photo?

HQ Amara with quilt from the back kit

But this post is about quilting from the back – free motion style! This technique draws on all the practice and skills we’ve gained so far in this free motion quilting for beginners series. One of the things we learned was to draw quilting inspiration from the fabrics in the quilt. But what about the backing fabric? What if it has a really cool quilting design? You could make a stencil using Golden Threads paper like in this post. Then mark the designs on the quilt top. But why mark, when you don’t have to?

An Example

I had this cute baby quilt top that needed quilting. This one will go to Quilts for Kids to bless a child in a local hospital.

 

With super cute backing fabric.

I was stumped about what design to quilt. Looking at the backing I thought those flowers would make a good design for this quilt.

So I decided to quilt from the back and use the flowers on the backing fabric as my guide. No mark quilting!

Here’s how I did it:

To quilt the back, the backing fabric needs to be on top. Since the quilt top is smaller than the backing that could be problematic. My solution was to load the quilt as I normally would. With the quilt backing on the bottom, and the quilt top on top, and the batting in between.

Then I basted the top and side (within the throat space). I also basted across the body of the quilt about every 4-5 inches. Using a long 1 inch basting stitch made it easy to remove the basting later. Als0, I chose a contrasting thread to do the basting.

 

I worked my way down, basting the sides and across the quilt. Then across the bottom edge.

Once the quilt was all basted, I cut away the excess batting using my Handi batting scissors. Love these scissors!

 

Then I unpinned from the leaders, flipped it over (so that the backing was facing up) and pinned it back on.

 

Now comes the fun part! I quilted around each flower connecting one to another with a short line of stitching. The basting around the outside edge of the quilt showed me where to quilt. I removed the interior basting little-by-little as I went.

quilting path

Start tracing around the petals:

quilt from the back quilting path

 

Complete all the petals and go into the flower to go around the center with a loop:

 

Travel out between two petals and stitch to the next flower:

 

Repeat!  This stitched really fast.

 

Some of the skills you will utilize with this technique are:

Quilting curves and loops – two of our basic shapes!

Tracing a design – remember those practice fabrics?

Looking ahead – Not only to get nice smooth curves, but also to know where to exit the flower and which flower you will stitch to next and where you will enter that next one.

It’s easy quilting, but you do have to have your brain engaged for all this looking ahead. Remember the secret!

And it’s so fun to unpin from the leaders and turn it over to see what it looks like on top.

 

I think the quilting looks so fun on the same fabric squares on the front. Like echoing.

Give it a try and let us know how it went for you in the comments. BTW this is easier to do on a stationary machine or a domestic machine. All you have to do is flip it over!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – More Anything E2E Inspiration

Last week we got inspiration from fabric and created a design for stitching an Anything E2E. I hope it got you thinking about other designs and other places to draw inspiration.

Look around

All you need to do is take a look around your environment. There are quilting motifs everywhere!

 

I love this bird shape on a little wall decor.

photo for inspiration wall decor

 

Tableware tulip

photo for inspiration bowl with painted tulip

 

Teddy

photo for inspiration teddy bear

 

Leaf found on an autumn wreath

photo for inspiration wreath detail

 

Look closely at wallpaper, carpet, tiles.  Don’t forget about books and magazines.

 

Shapes

I’m interested in the SHAPES that I can create a design with. For instance, the bird on that little wall decor:

line drawing showing stitch path for bird

Start stitching at the green dot, stitch around the wing. When you get back to the start point turn and stitch around the body. End at the red dot. (ignore the dashed line)

Pro Tip: Lazy loops make a good flowing connection between birds. It kinda looks like the bird’s flight path.

This bird might be a shape that’s a little hard to stitch consistently. It’s not as forgiving as flowers or leaves. The proportions of the body parts need to be consistent to look nice. As a beginner, (or even the pros do this) you can rely on some help to get the shape right. What to do?

Create a stencil

Remember the flower inspiration from fabric last week?

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

What if you wanted all your flowers to look almost the same. Same size, same number of petals, same shape center….  Or maybe you were a little challenged quilting that flower without some guidelines and would appreciate some help. Here’s how to help yourself.

Step 1: trace or draw from inspiration

Trace or draw your design. I like to use a light box for tracing but you can also use a sunny window.

flower inspiration on a light box

 

Step 2: Resize

Decide how big you’d like your quilted flower to be. Measure the traced drawing of the flower. If you need to adjust the size, the easiest way is to use a copy machine.

That round tool in the photo is a Quilter’s Assistant Proportional Scale. Instead of guessing what percent to enlarge your copy (and wasting lots of paper refining your guess), the QAPS easily tells you what % to punch into the copy machine. No math required!

Line up the original size on the inner ring with the reproduction size (the size you desire) on the outer ring. The number that shows in the window indicated by the black arrows is what you will enter into the copy machine.

Notice the instructions are printed right on the QASP.

Print out the re-sized image.

 

Step 3: Trace on Golden Threads paper

Golden Threads paper is a wonder in the sewing studio! It has many uses. It comes on a roll in 3 different sizes.

In this case we will use it to make a stencil.

Trace the flower on the Golden Threads paper.

Cut out a square with your image on it.

Step 4: Create the stencil

Take the GT paper to your sewing machine (or your longarm). Remove the thread from your needle and stitch along the drawn line

creating holes in the GT paper.  A longer stitch length works well for this.

Step 5: Mark and quilt!

You now have a stencil you can use with your pounce pad and chalk to mark the image on your quilt top.

Place the stencil where you’d like to have the flowers and swipe with the pounce pad to transfer the design. The GT paper stencil can be used over and over.

Quilt with your lolly-gag continuous line connecting your flowers for E2E quilting.

Result: beautifully finished quilt with your unique quilting design.

I hope you start seeing design inspiration everywhere you go! Let us know in the comments where you found your next quilting design.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

 

 

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners – Pro Tips for Anything E2E

As promised, I have some Pro Tips for you, so that you can get the most out of Anything E2E quilting.  This technique allows you to customize a design that is unique to each quilt.

It’s edge-to-edge, so it is fast and easy to stitch. Just choose a motif that compliments your quilt and connect repeats of that motif with  continuous flowing stitching.

One fun way to decide on a motif is to look at your fabric.

Flower Power

Maybe your fabric has a flower that you love and that might make a really cool quilting design.

fabric with a multi-color floral motif

I really like the orange flower with the blue center. It will be easy to stitch. After all it is an organic shape. By now you’ve heard it many times if you have been following along with this series. Organic shapes, like flowers and leaves are super easy to stitch because they are very forgiving. Not enough petals? Too many petals? Center not really round? It’s all good! No two flowers in nature are the same. And EVERY flower in nature is perfect and beautiful.

So we’ve got a motif that will be easy to stitch. Now we have to figure it all out.

Decide the stitch path

First analyze the motif and suss out the shapes you will need to quilt. Remember the 5 basic shapes? Each petal is a molar shape (you know, like the tooth, molar) like this:

line drawing that looks like the shape of a molar

 

The center is a circle.

Because we are creating an E2E pattern we have to decide how to enter and how to exit the motif (flower).

Here’s how I decided to quilt it. This is not the only way to do it! You might come up with an even better way. If you do, please share with all of us in the comments.

Stitch path

Enter on the left and stitch 2 molars at the top of the flower. Note: the pencil line is how I imagine the flower will look when completed. I keep thinking about this image as I quilt. It helps me form the elements.

 

Stitch a big round loop for the center circle.

 

Complete the flower with three molars under the center.

 

Exit towards the right.

 

Make it an Anything E2E

To make this an E2E we need some connecting lines. My good friend Mary Fisher from Oklahoma likes to say, “lolly-gag over to the next flower.”  By that she means travel to the next motif with a design you are very comfortable with.

 

It might be loops.

flower anything E2E

 

Or it might be a stipple-type meander.

stipple anything E2E

 

Kick it up a notch using a design that you’ve had lots of practice with recently. You should be pretty comfortable with stitching Leaves! What could possibly go better with flowers, right?

flower anything E2E with leaves

Advanced Pro-Tip: Take a look at these three Anything E2E designs. Which one is your favorite?

I love the leaves, but I would reject the stipple meander. The flowers get lost in the meander because the shape of the flowers (curves) and the shape of the stipple (curves) are just too similar. So think about going for contrast between your motif and your flowing lolly-gag connecting design.

 

More Ideas for Anything E2E

Still working on those holiday quilts?

Here is some inspiration for motifs you can use for Anything E2E!

Gingerbread men

photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

 

Candy Canes

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com from Pexels

 

Stars

photo of Christmas Star ornaments

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

 

How would you draw these shapes? Here’s a hint:

fun holiday cookies

Photo by Jonathan Meyer from Pexels

 

Did you guess?

an assortment of cookie cutters

That’s right! Cookie cutters are great shapes to use for Anything E2E. They are very easy to trace around.

Uber Pro Tip:  Use your pounce powder to mark the motifs on your quilt. Tap the cookie cutter on a damp sponge, then into a dish of pounce powder, then onto your quilt.

You will have to do the steps we did with the flower.  Decide on the stitch path of the motif, find an enter and exit path, and choose a lolly-gag connecting pattern. You are ready to make your quilt unique!

What will you Anything E2E?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion for Beginners – More Holiday Fun

Stuffed like a turkey with Thanksgiving treats? Ready to get to work on more holiday fun designs? This time around let’s learn a useful technique that can be used on any quilt, anywhere, anytime. It’s so versatile, and yet allows you to personalize the quilt. It’s simple, but maybe something you’ve never thought about doing. Let’s call it, “Anything E2E”.

E2E

E2E is quilt code for edge-to-edge.

Edge to edge quilting utilizes a continuous line design that is stitched all over the quilt from one edge to the other without regard to piecing, blocks or borders.

It’s the best way to quilt quilts made with busy fabrics where the quilting will not readily show.

If you want to finish a quilt fast, E2E is the way to go.

Anything E2E

It’s fun to incorporate motifs into your quilting. Anything E2E uses motifs and connecting shapes. Let’s start with something we already know: holly leaves. If you don’t know, check out this post to learn about quilting holly leaves.

We made strings of holly leaves to fill borders and sashings and to meander around on our quilts. Often we see holly leaves in clusters of 2 or 3 combined with berries.

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We can use this motif in our Anything E2E technique. It’s simple. Stitch the motif then choose a flowing continuous line shape to connect it to another of the same motif. And keep going filling the quilt from edge to edge.

Let’s try it with holly clusters and loops. It might look something like this:

line drawing of holly e2e

I can meander all over my quilt with this design and fill the whole thing Edge to Edge, side to side, top to bottom.

Take note

There are a few things to notice about this design.

1. The motif (holly) is facing in different directions.

2. The motif is many different sizes.

3. The loops face in  different directions.

4. The loops are different sizes.

These things are intentional!  This way I can fill in spaces as needed and it won’t look funny if I have to make a loop bigger or a holly smaller to fill the space. If I made them all the same and one was different, it would stand out like a sore thumb. Making them different sizes and directions not only adds interest to the design, it makes it easier to quilt. You don’t have to worry about uniformity. No stress!

Quilting the motif

Anytime you want to quilt a Anything E2E you have to start with knowing how to quilt the motif. You also need to pick a spot where you will enter and exit the motif.

Here’s how to quilt the holly cluster. I chose the berries as my enter/exit point.

Start by stitching 3 circles. (The green line is where you would stitch if coming from a previous holly cluster)

stitchpath for holly berries

 

 

Travel along the edge of the circles to stitch 3 holly leaves (notice there are no veins this time).

Travel along the edge of the circles to come out and head towards some loops and your next holly cluster. (red line).

stitch path for holly leaves

 

Use your loops (you know how to quilt loops) to move the design in the direction you want to go to fill up the quilt.

line drawing of holly e2e

More ideas

photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels

Gingerbread men are a nice simple shape to quilt! And those little guys are full of holiday fun.

Photo by George Dolgikh @ Giftpundits.com from Pexels

Candy Canes!

 

photo of Christmas Star ornaments

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

And stars!

There are plenty of simple shapes that inspire thoughts of holiday fun.

holiday fun cookies

Photo by Jonathan Meyer from Pexels

Come back next week to learn some pro tips for quilting Anything E2E designs.

In the meantime Happy Quilting!

Free Motion for Beginners – Holiday Fun

I think I have recovered from teaching and working at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. So now we can throw ourselves into full holiday preparedness mode.

Are you ready for this? Now is the time for finishing up those gift quilts and making holiday decorations and last minute quilty gifts. Put your newly gained skills quilting the 5 basic shapes to good use and try out some holiday themed motifs for free motion quilting.

Holiday Leaves

We have been creating lots of leaves on our quilts lately and there’s no reason to stop. There are some special holiday leaves that are fun and easy to quilt.

photo of holly

photo by lum3n on pexels

Holly

Holly can be quilted with simple curves. Like this:

Start with a slightly curved line. Make it the length you want your holly leaf to be.

start of holly quilting design

 

Add 3 curves going back toward the start.

part 2 of holly quilting design

 

Cross over the original curved line and add 3 more curves, ending at the right side of the original line.

part 3 of holly quilting design

You have a holly leaf!

Note that this design starts on the left and ends on the right. That means it is repeatable! Why is that so exciting?  You can do lots of things with a repeatable motif like this.

Make a string of holly leaves and you can fill a border or sashing. Simply start with one holly leaf and repeat the motif as many times as you need to fill your space.

line drawing of continuous string of holly leaves

Pro Tip: Holly leaves, just like all leaves, are organic. No two are alike! They can be different sizes and shapes and they all look great! No stress here! Notice the center lines are not perfectly straight, they are just a very slight curve. Vary the way that curve turns (up or down) randomly along your string of leaves.

 

To make your holly extra jolly, add in some circles here and there for berries. You can place two or three berries in a cluster between leaves. Make it random.

Line drawing of holly leaves with berries

 

Another idea is to mark a large meandering line over your quilt and add holly leaves to it for an all-over edge-to-edge design. Like we did in this blog post. Use the meandering line as the center vein of your leaves. But don’t quilt the line first, quilt it as you quilt each leaf.

line drawing of meandering holly leaves with berries

 

Mistletoe

Another iconic holiday leaf is mistletoe.

photo of christmas poppers with mistletoe painted one them

Photo by Nick Fewings on Pexels

Notice the shape of the mistletoe leaf, an elongated teardrop. A teardrop is like a long tall loop with a narrow base and a wider head. Quilt this like a vine, adding in berries (circles) randomly. The berries are usually in clusters, two or three together work well for a quilting design. Remember, quilting designs are not literal depictions of an image or thing, but rather a simplified version.

line drawing of holiday misletoe with berries

Just like holly, you can make the mistletoe meander to fill areas of your quilt or quilt an all-over edge-to-edge pattern.

 

Poinsettia

photo of poinsetta flowers

photo by kstankss on pexels

This popular holiday flower is a great design for blocks. It uses the lazy S shape.

Start with a swirl for the center and add leaves around it made with the lazy S shape. I find that five leaves is a good number for the first round. But there are no rules! If your flower has less, or more, it’s all good!

line drawing of the start of a poinsettia flower

 

Then add more leaves (or bracts is the real name) around that first round. You might have to do a little over-stitching, traveling along the leaves you already quilted.

line drawing of holiday poinsettia

You can keep going adding as many rounds as you like, or need, to fill in your space.

 

Stay tuned for more holiday fun designs!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

Free Motion for Beginners – More Leaves

More leaves are falling here in North Carolina and the air is crisp and clear. Since leaves are such a popular quilting motif, I thought we might explore some more designs, using more leaves.

Vines

photo of green leafy vines

photo by nothing ahead on pexels

 

Meandering leafy vines make great edge-to-edge designs, or a fill design for any shape on your quilt.

You can use the familiar leaf shape, simply attaching them to a vine as you meander and fill your quilt. Alternate adding leaves to both sides of your meandering vine.

Try it with just single leaves attached to the vine.

line drawing of a meandering leafy vine

Pro Tip: Mark your meandering vine with a removable marker. Then stitch along the vine adding leaves as you go.

 

Or two together might be twice the fun:

line drawing of a meandering vine with 2 leaves

 

My favorite is a cluster of three together:

line drawing of a meandering vine with groups of 3 leaves attached

 

Make it fancy by adding in swirls here and there:

line drawing of vine with leaves and spirals

 

Ferns

photo of lush green ferns

Photo by Carolina Gusmund from Pexels

 

We can use the S shape to create lush ferns on our quilts. The creation of a fern-like leaf is a bit different from the leaves we have been stitching. Rather than stitching the S for one side of the leaf, then stitching a mirror image S to form the other side of the leaf, to create a fern leaf stitch an S shape then echo that same S for the 2nd side.

Let’s dive right in and stitch a fern frond.

First stitch your spine from top to bottom. It is a long and lazy S shape!

Pro Tip: When first getting started with any new design, it is a good idea to draw the design first. So substitute the word “draw” for the word “stitch” in these directions.

 

Then start adding in the leaves. Stitch a lazy S away from the spine and then echo that same S as you stitch back toward the spine.

fern leaves stitching path

 

Add more leaves up one side of the spine. At the top I like to make a little swirl or curl. You can get creative here and make any shape you like to make the transition to the other side of the spine. A tear drop or a leaf would work well.

stitching path for multiple fern leaves

 

Next start stitching leaves down the 2nd side.

 

And continue to add more leaves until you reach the bottom.

 

You don’t have to have the same number of leaves on both sides. Just fill the space and don’t worry about lining them up side to side.

Once again, you can get fancy and add in some swirls.

 

Pro Tip: When filling an area on your quilt with a fern frond extend the leaves as you need to, so that the space is filled. There are many shapes of ferns in nature so it will look fantastic no matter what shape results.

 

quilt by Mary Beth Krapil with quilted fern leaves

Daffodils by Mary Beth Krapil

Challenge

Can you come up with a way to use more leaves? We would all love to see your drawings or stitching in the comments! How about some leaf wreaths?

 

by Mary Beth Krapil, Handi Quilter National Educator

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