Category Archives: Skillful Sunday

Skillful Sunday: Free Motion Quilting

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I just finished this simple top for a baby quilt and I was wondering if it might be a good candidate for free motion quilting. I am pretty much a straight-line quilter, and my go-to pattern is a grid of two-inch spaced diagonal lines. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of its clean and simple geometry, but I thought that this quilt’s design might need something a little more free form. I read a brief tutorial about free motion quilting on Oh, Fransson! with just enough information to make me think, hey, I can probably do this. (I am a little bit “less is more” when it comes to tutorials.) I made a test scrap, and tried my hand at some loops.

My first attempt was not so good. It didn’t look horrible from the top, but the back looked like cartoon eyes with long lashes. Slight problem with the tension! The only plus was that my first attempt was very easy to unpick.

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My next attempt went much better. I increased my tension to 2, even though the tutorial suggested setting the tension to 0; this worked better for me. And I got more used to moving the fabric at an even rhythm.

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Even the back was not too shabby–no more creepy eyes peering out from the back of the quilt!

I am pretty sure that my free motion quilting is not ready for prime time, and I don’t think I’m ready to give up my neat and tidy grids. But, it was great to try something new, and I’ll definitely practice some more on little projects. So, one day when I’m feeling a little loopy, I’ll be ready for it!

 

 

 

Skillful Sunday: Needle-turn applique

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One of my goals this year is to expand my repertoire of crafty skills. First on my list? Needle turn applique. My guild is doing a mug rug swap this month, so this was a great opportunity to test my skills on an unsuspecting guild member. (They’re a pretty friendly bunch.) I used a very simple bull’s eye shape adapted from Denyse Schmidt’s Quilts book (hands down my favorite quilting book–it’s really great for beginners). It’s just three irregular circles stacked; aiming for imperfection is a great choice when you are learning a new skill (or improving a rusty one).

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When I’ve tried needle-turn in the past, I’ve always cheated and turned the raw edge under with my hand, which can result in an uneven edge. I think I finally got the knack of needle turning by the third circle! You use the point of the needle to push under the next section of edge before you sew–which turns the edge evenly as you move along. If you are working on a precise shape, having a clear line for the seam would be very important. Because my circle did not need to be precise I just winged it.┬áIt was so nice to work on a small project by hand that I decided to hand quilt, too. At first I quilted around each circle–not good! The circles poofed up, totally negating all my careful applique. Here’s a picture, before I pulled out the hand quilting:

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What else do I want to try this year? Embroidery, making a stuffed animal, and (maybe!) English paper piecing. Look for more Skillful Sunday posts in the coming months!