finishing quilts Archives - Handi Quilter

Practice with Purpose

If you’ve been following along our free motion quilting for beginners series, you know how important practice is.  And you probably have a pile of quilted fabric that you’re not quite sure what to do with. Some of them you’ll want to toss. Maybe you breathed new life into a piece by adding a second or third top layer and re-used the batting and backing. That’s a great $$ saver! Maybe your tension was so bad, the back looks like a nest. Go ahead and toss those!  They served their purpose!  You learned, you gained skills, you grew as a quilter.

Some might make a good liner for the cargo area of your car. They keep everything clean and are easily washable! Note: I did not add a binding, I just tuck the raw edges under. No one will ever know!

NEVER toss your first practice piece. It’s purpose is to remind you how far you’ve come. Put a binding on it! Hang it up! (maybe somewhere only you will see it :). Or just keep it in a drawer and pull it out if (when) you get frustrated in trying to learn a new design.  It’s good to see just how much you can accomplish with practice.

Now that you have had lots of practice, the next time you want to learn a design, you might want to think about how you could use the practice piece. Then choose your fabric accordingly.

Do you remember the echo quilting design from Helen Godden called Roadmaps?

When I stitched out a sample of that design, I thought about how I might use it.  I was wanting to do some couching with the HQ Couching feet. It’s just so addicting!

I wanted to try quilting the fabric first, then couching a design over the background quilting. My background quilting needed to be simple but interesting. Roadmaps checked all the boxes!

I thought I would make a bag out of the finished piece, so I quilted two roadmaps. One for the front and one for the back of the bag. I chose my fabric with all of those criteria in mind. The batting was also a consideration for the project.  I like using foam for my bags. It gives them good structure and crispness, while still being soft. And quilting foam really shows the quilting texture! There are many brands out there. Just Google foam batting for sewing to see what is available.

I loaded the foam just like I would normally load a backing. Then basted my top fabric in place. Using blue water soluble marker, I marked my swirls and then quilted the echos.  Go back and read the post on Roadmaps to see how to do it.

 

There was not enough of the fabric I chose, so I used a coordinating fabric and quilted the other piece in the same way, for the back of the bag.

Then life and other commitments happened. The quilted pieces rested and waited til I had some time to do the couching.

I marked a rough outline of what I wanted to couch and gathered my yarns. You can visit our YouTube channel and search for couching to learn how it’s done and get even more inspiration for projects.

 

I used several different yarns to create interesting texture.

 

Once I was happy with my couching, I trimmed the pieces and cut some lining as well.

 

You can use your quilted pieces to make just about any bag pattern of your choice. I didn’t use a pattern. I’ve made so many bags over the years, I just winged it!

 

It was a fun project that started out with a “practice with purpose”. And now I have a new summer tote!

What is your favorite way to use or re-purpose quilting practice pieces?

We’d LOVE to hear! Let us know in the comments.

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

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

 

Grid Designs – Level Up

Now that you know how to complete a continuous curve design, it’s time to level up our grid work. And it will be simple to do! We started with a curve, one of the five basic shapes. We can use the other four shapes using the same stitch path as we did for continuous curve.

 

Pro tip: This is exactly how to expand your free-motion cache of designs. Take something you know and make a small change. Voila! New design!

Straight lines

We know the path to stitch. We will simply change the shape that we stitch. Let’s start with an easy one. Straight lines.

Start with the same grid.

 

 

Start in the upper left corner like we did with the curve. Quilt a V shape. Don’t drop down too far in to the space. You need to leave room for the other V’s that will be coming.

 

Continue on with the stitch path we used for continuous curves. Across the top and down the right side.

 

Serpentine across the first horizontal grid line.

 

And serpentine back to the right.

 

Pro Tip: Mark 4 dots with chalk or washable marker in each grid space to give yourself a goal. It will also help to keep your V’s a bit more uniform.

 

Continue on along the stitch path in the same manner as the continuous curve design from last week.  Work all your horizontal grid lines as you work your way down the right side.

Stitch the vertical grid lines using the serpentine method.

 

Keep going till you finish where you started.

To level up this design, make it as uniform as you can. Some tips that will make the design more uniform: use a ruler for quilting your straight lines and use a measuring tool to mark you guide dots so they are evenly spaced. Note, you don’t have to use these tips. The design still looks great stitched completely free motion and without the guide dots. Do what makes you happy!

More shapes

What about the other three of the five basic shapes?

Loops

Change the shape to a loop. Loops are easy and fun to quilt.

 

Use the trick of guide dots to keep your loops from going too far into the center of the grid space.

 

Let’s level up and start with a little different loop, and let them over lap in the center. Fun! It’s  an entirely different look.

For this design I put a guide dot in the very center of the grid spaces. Then I tried to just touch the dot with my loops.

 

This is where that 15 minutes of practice, I mean PLAY, every day, really becomes fun. Creating new designs for your stash.

Have some fun trying different ways to use the loops and straight lines and see what you come up with! Please share in the comments.

We will explore the other two shapes soon!

Happy gridding!

 

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!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Welcome New Quilters!

Santa ordered a slew of HQ longarm quilting machines from us this year to be delivered all over the world. So I want to say, “welcome new quilters! to the Handi Quilter family.”  Families look after one another and help each other out. And that’s what Handi Quilter is all about.

Helping you finish your quilts

We do that in 3 ways.

1. Equip

We make great machines that will help you finish quilts quickly, easily, and professionally. Visit our website and clock on the machine tab to check out all the possibilities.

2. Educate

We provide the education you need to get the most from your machine. At the website, click on the Education, Events and Resources tabs to see the many opportunities available to you.

3. Inspire

We share inspiration to spark your creativity. You’ll find a Community tab on the website that shares some of the ways we endevor to inspire you.

This blog is all about #2 and #3.

Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

At the end of May 2021 I started a series of posts on Free Motion Quilting for Beginners. It has become wildly popular! And I know you’ll want to join in. You’ll probably want to start from the very beginning. To make it easy for you I have compiled a list of the links to all the posts. This list is in order from first to most recent.

Pace Yourself

There are 20 posts and you’re going to want to pace yourself. I recommend reading one or two a week and practicing the techniques. Everyday practice/play is essential to becoming a good free motion quilter. Gift yourself the time to learn. And be kind to yourself. Some shapes will come easy to you and others you will find more challenging. It’s not that you cannot quilt those shapes, you just need more practice time.

Pro-Tip: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” The pro who said these words was Vincent VanGogh. Seems he should know.

portrait of Vincent VanGogh

 

Getting Started

Curves

Loops

Ready for a Real Quilt!

Stipple / Meander

 

Are you keeping up with your everyday quilting play? I hope that it becomes a life-long habit.

Spiral out of Control!

 

S Shapes

Leaves

Holiday designs

Edge to edge

Stay tuned!

More posts on free motion quilting are coming.  I hope this list is helpful for you. For those who have been following along, show us your best quilting with a pic in the comments to welcome new quilters. We are on the road to becoming Super Quilters!

 

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 – 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 Quilting For Beginners – Backtrack Spiral

Last week we got started with the spiral, hook or swirl shape. This week we will talk about another kind of spiral. I call it the backtrack spiral. Instead of spiraling in, and then splitting the path you created to spiral out, you will backtrack spiral back out. Or in other words, you will stitch directly on top of the stitching you just did, only in the opposite direction. They look like this:

You start on the left and spiral in.

Then backtrack to spiral back out.

As you are backtracking, you can leave this spiral and start a new spiral.

The new spiral can swirl in the same direction.

Or it can swirl in the opposite direction.

Here’s an example where I took off from the backtracking in a different place.

I find this backtrack spiral to be easier to quilt than the spiral we did last week.

Wait, what?

woman questioning

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

I know, right?  Backtracking is not easy. But with these backtrack spirals, if you don’t backtrack perfectly, they still look great.

Sometimes, when you change direction at the end of your spiraling in, you’ll get a little loop. I think that looks cute!

And you might not hit your backtracking at all.

As long as you are close, it still looks good. You can use these backtrack spirals as an opportunity to practice your backtracking skills.

All over or edge-to-edge quilting

all over backtrack spiral

 

Notice it’s not perfect but it still looks great quilted! The great thing about these spirals is that it is super easy to fill in any space on the quilt. You can start a new spiral wherever you need and you can make them different sizes. Not only does that make it easy to fill in spaces, it also adds interest to the design.

Borders

All in one direction.

If you look close you see the next spiral starts at about 5 o’clock. (red dots)

Keeping that in mind helps to keep the spirals consistent.

 

Or alternate direction of the swirls

 

alternating spiral border

For alternating spirals I like to try to start the next spiral at 3 o’clock-ish. (red dots)

Remember mantras? This is a good design to use a mantra to help keep the alternation going.

My mantra is: “up and over, down and around.”  I start with stitching up and over the top of the first spiral. Then I backtrack  to 3 o’clock and reverse direction, to go down and around the next spiral. Backtrack to 3 o’clock and go up and over. Rinse and repeat. (don’t rinse, just repeat).

If you have been keeping up with your 15 minutes of practice each day, you deserve a sticker!

free motion fabulous sticker

Happy quilting!

 

by Mary Beth Krapil

 

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