Tis the Season to decorate with Christmas Quilts

Have you done any holiday decorating yet?  I like to watch “The Sound of Music” while I decorate my tree, and sip a cup of egg nog under my Christmas Quilts at some point in the last days of November, but this year is rushing by.  It’s my own fault…I wanted some extra holiday cash so I started a seasonal job.  The downside is that I am working from 4pm to midnight which doesn’t leave much time for holiday fun!

Disclaimer…this post contains affiliate links.  My full disclosure policy can be read here.

Turning 20 at Christmas

let’s get to the good stuff! I have a few holiday projects to share.  First is a classic quilt pattern  – Turning Twenty.

Turning 20 quilt in Christmas fabric

I was trying to collect Christmas batiks, but I never found enough, so this quilt turned into a eclectic mix of holiday fabrics.  It features lots of holly and snowflakes,  with a few snowmen and ornaments thrown in.

Here is a closer look at the fabric.

fabric for a Christmas quilt

I made a pieced backing from 16″ square, cut from the leftover fabric, but I did not line things up very well.  Please look away if you are OCD…there are no straight lines on the back!

pieced backing for a quilt

I found a great holiday pantograph for the quilting that features poinsettias.

pantograph quilting poinsettias

My mom and grandmother always have fresh flowers for the holidays, but I worry about my cats and potential harmful effects, so we make do with our fake Christmas tree and wooden Nativity scene.

Christmas Quilts – Bargello

An easy pattern for the busy holiday season is bargello.  I made the strata for this wallhanging with 2-1/2″ strips, then cut them to varying widths and offset the strips to form the wave.

bargello quilt for ChristmasThis would make a fun pillow too!  Hmm, my 2017 project list is already growing!

Other Holiday Sewing Ideas

Every year, I wish I had a coordinating family set of Christmas stockings.  That needs to be on my July agenda if I have any hope of finishing before Christmas 2017!  Amy at Diary of a Quilter has a cute tutorial that I have bookmarked.

What about special holiday placemats?  Check out my Stack-n-Slice technique on Skillshare! (This link gives you a discount on premium membership.)

Shopping on Cyber Monday?  Please visit my quilting friend Sherri at Rebecca Mae Designs for some gift ideas and sweet savings!

Read about my Christmas Quilt with free motion designs here.

 

Free Motion Monday – Shadow Quilting

Shadow Quilting Designs

I invented the term “Shadow Quilting” to refer to the places where I use free motion quilting to copy the block design in the negative space of the pattern.  Of course I saw a beautiful example of this somewhere on the internet last week and now I can’t find it! In my search for additional examples, I visited Judi Madsen’s blog, and she wrote a whole book on this technique. Look for Secondary Designs with Judi Madsen, due out in December 2016.

Shadow Quilting, using block designs in negative space, is gaining popularity in modern quilting circles.  Negative space and alternate gridwork are core principles characterizing modern quilts as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild. I am delighted when I look closely and find replicas of patchwork illustrated solely with thread.

Shadow Quilt a Checkerboard

Checkerboards are an easy design to “shadow.”  Once the grid lines are stitched, you can choose from many designs to fill alternate squares.  I like the simplicity of lines or spirals.

shadow quilting checkerboard diagram

Shadow Quilting with Shapes

In the quilt I am currently working on, there are bold triangles and diamonds in the border.  I decided to use these elements to anchor the free motion designs in other areas.  I first stitched the shape, then added the swirls inside and finished with the outside fill.

shadow quilting with shapes fmq-shadow-designs-fabric

shadow quilting diagrams

Another example from Judi Madsen’s gallery is the Tree of Life quilt.  She created frames in the negative space, then filled them with grids and flowers.  Judi is a master at using rulers with her free motion quilting, and she stitches shadow blocks in many of her quilts.  As with any skill you want to improve, it takes practice, practice and more practice!

Free Motion Quilting – Piano Keys

A simple example of Shadow Quilting is a piano key border.  This can be as simple as straight lines, or more intricate with arches.

fmq-piano-keysfree motion quilting piano key borders

What patchwork blocks are in your quilts that can be mirrored in the free motion quilting?  Please send pictures to info@truebluequilts.com so I can build a gallery of inspiration!

More you might like:

From Sketchbook to Finished Quilt

My “graffiti” style

Download a practice workbook of free motion quilting designs HERE.

 

Free Motion Monday – Quilting Designs in Triangles

spiral quilting pinwheel block

I have been trying some new patterns using the Angle Play templates.  Angle Play quilts feature strong graphic lines formed by half-square and half-rectangle triangles and lots of pinwheels.  It’s time to think of new quilting designs in triangles! A Basic … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday – Double DNA quilting design

Once the piecing is done, a quilt becomes a blank canvas for the quilter.  What elements do you want to highlight? What stitching patterns can you add to enhance and complement the overall look of the quilt?  I came up with the Double DNA quilting design to fill a sashing/border section on this Angle Play quilt.

angle play quilt features double dna quilting design

Stitching the Double DNA quilting design

Start with a ribbon wave (tutorial here). Overlap these ribbons to create the classic DNA pattern.  tutorial for double dna quilting design

The DNA strand makes an elegant texture all by itself, but I thought this quilt needed a little more.  I added pebbles between the ribbons.

add pebbles to double dna quilting design

I rarely mark my quilts, so my stitching gets a little wobbly.  If you prefer a uniform look to your quilting designs, grab a chalk pencil and mark the guidelines for the top, bottom, and middle of the quilting design.

actual stitching for double dna quilting design

Two ways to stitch pebbles

Stitch the pebbles in the same way you stitched the ribbons – start with a wave, and then repeat in the opposite direction.  The alternative is to stitch the pebbles as circles.

Additional free motion quilting designs

Note: this post contains affiliate links. Read the full disclosure policy here.

There are many shapes and colors in this quilt, which was cut using the Angle Play templates.  I selected matching thread for each section and that makes some of the stitching difficult to see unless you are taking a close look.  I used long worms/wavy lines in some of the triangles, coffee beans in the orange squares, and lots of feathers in the light areas.

stitchinfree motion feathers on angle play quilt

The designs are easier to see on the background, where the thread has more contrast.  free motion quilting designs

Thread choice is an important decision. Consider the skills of both the piecer and quilter – a novice who is more likely to make mistakes and wobbles may want to hide their stitching, while a experienced quilter may want his/her work to take center stage.

Are there any designs you would like to see?  Please comment or send an email to info@truebluequilts.com.  I’d love to hear from you!

Free Motion Monday – Quilting Animals

One of today’s most popular quilt designers is Elizabeth Hartman.  I have admired her Fancy Forest pattern for a while, so I was thrilled when a customer brought me one to quilt.  The challenge was to complement her beautiful piecing while free motion quilting animals with interesting texture.

quilting animals

Fuzzy Faces – free motion quilting animals

I outlined each animal, then used a coordinating thread for the detail stitching.  I used several variations of wavy lines and zig zags to mimic whiskers and fur on the fox and bunny. The hedgehogs were embellished with skinny flame stitches.  A simple echo filled the butterfly wings.

Related post: Flame Stitch Variations

Ribbon Candy and Leaves

The thistle blocks are my favorite!  I created the ribbon candy stitch by alternating the direction of a teardrop as I moved up each section of the thistle blossom.  I stitched a wavy stem and fit a leaf into each triangle of the flower.

free motion quilting ribbon candy design

Related post: stitching leaves

Owl Feathers

For the body of the owl, I stitched scallop hills (detailed in this blog post).  Spirals gave detail to the eyes and wavy lines filled in the head and feet.

free motion quilting

Quilting animals is pretty easy.  Think of it as sketching with thread.  What kind of details would you add to a paper-pencil drawing?  You can add those same motifs to your quilt.

Background quilting designs

If you have ever entered a quilt into a show, you know that judges are looking for consistent density of stitches across the quilt. I knew that I would be adding alot of detail to the animals, so I needed a background design that complemented the overall look of the quilt.  A simple loopy meander provides a nice balance. (Visit this post for more about that design).

I left the rainbow accent border plain, and stitched parallel lines in the outer border.  I stitched these lines free-hand, using the hopping foot as a guide for the small distance, and estimating about an inch between sets of lines.

Free Motion Monday – Simple Designs for Strip Blocks

free motion quilting strip blocks

The Bali Fever pattern by Judy Neimeyer is a stunning quilt.  The fabric and piecing should take center stage so I chose simple free motion quilting for strip blocks.  The loops and wavy lines provide just enough texture to enhance the strong … Continue reading

Free Motion Quilting Striped Blocks

A customer brought me a quilt made from striped fabric.  What design to quilt over all those lines? I used a variety of motifs when free motion quilting striped blocks. I was worried that the navy blue thread would be overpowering, but from across the room it blends nicely.

free motion quilting striped blocks

Echo Stitch around Applique

In the corners of the quilt, the customer placed applique leaf clusters that she had drawn herself.  Sometimes applique need some stitching on top as well, but these shapes were small enough to do without and the customer preferred the puffy look, so I just echoed around the stems and leaves, and added some wavy lines in the background.

echo stitching around applique

Free Motion Quilting Striped Blocks

Then I faced the challenge of choosing a motif for the striped blocks.  I wanted to use several designs, so I started with basic spirals following the lines in the fabric.

free motion quilting striped blocks

I embellished a bit with a loopy meander that spiraled to the center.

free motion quilting loops

Free Motion Quilting Plus Shapes

Some of the striped blocks were turned so that the fabric stripes formed a plus instead of a square.  I followed the lines in these sections and ended up with a quarter square design.

free motion quilting plus shape

I used my favorite Flame Flower too (read more about this design here)

flame flower on stripes

Free Motion Quilting Pebbles

The pebble block had me worried since it is very bold quilting in contrasting thread.

fmq spikes and pebbles

I created a new spiral variation with spiky lines as shown in the green block at the top of the photo.

I wanted to lighten the pebble design so I spread it out into single lines, which I call Infinity.

free motion quilting pebbles

Once you start free motion quilting, you will be surprised at all the variations.  Combine shapes, such as loops, with the basic form of a square or spiral to see what new designs you can create!

Free Motion Monday – Figure 8 Quilting Design

Loops are an easy free motion quilting design that adds great texture to a quilt with lots of straight lines.  I chose a figure 8 quilting design for a recent customer quilt.  The quilt pattern is Stacked Coins and she used men’s shirts to create the blocks.  This is a keepsake quilt for children to remember their father – what a touching gift!

free motion quilting figure eight

Free Motion Quilting is like Writing in Cursive!

The figure 8 quilting design looks like a line of Ls. I have to remind myself to keep a steady pace with the stitching so my tension doesn’t get wonky on the back. You can adjust this design to fit any space.  It would be equally effective in sashing strips or a border.

free motion quilting loops

Audition Quilt Designs Before Stitching

When I loaded this quilt onto my longarm machine, I knew what the background would be since the customer had requested echoed pebbles.  Of course, stitching white thread on a white background can be tricky, but it is a fun free motion filler design.

The primary blocks took more thought.  Many of the shirts were plaid so there are alot of striaght lines in this quilt. I had several ideas so I drew a quick sample of the Stacked Coins pattern in my notebook and auditioned these designs.

free motion quilt sketch stacked coins pattern

Maybe a basic grid of wavy lines?  What about a single feather?  Check out more free motion quilting designs here.

No, I really liked the loopy Figure 8 quilting design. I chose a light blue, slightly variegated thread that blends nicely with all the colors in the shirts.

For the outside border, I kept it simple with straight line quilting in a matching navy thread.

stacked coins quilt longarm quilting

Would you have chosen a different free motion quilting design?  I’d love to see your work! Email photos to info@truebluequilts.com and I will add them to my project gallery.

Need some practice with free motion designs?  I have a free workbook for you!

Free Motion Monday – Quilting Tips for Modern Curves

A simple wavy line is a beautiful design element to use in your free motion quilting. Let’s take a look at quilting tips for modern curves. Straight line quilting has been popular for a while and I am noticing modern curves may be taking over. Curves add softness and texture to the negative space that you often find in modern quilt designs.judy neimeyer pattern with modern curves quilting

Quilting Tips for Modern Curves

The 2 basic variations of the wavy lines that make the modern curves quilting design come from how shallow or deep you make the curves.

tutorial for modern curves quilting

You can add even more texture by combining and overlapping both styles of wavy lines.  Another way to draw the audience in and get them to take a closer look at your quilt is to vary the spacing of your lines.  Echo closely for a few lines and then add more space.

spacing of modern curves quilting lines

Modern Curves in a Quilt

Judy Neimeyer’s pattern for Glacier Star is a stunning quilt.  The fabulous medallion framed by circles of flying geese needs very little quilting so the modern curves and wavy lines add just the right amount of texture to highlight the quilter’s fabric choices.

glacier star with wavy line quilting

wavy line glacier star quilting detail

Focus on the wedge shape where I used the modern curves quilting and played with the spacing of my stitching lines. I was stitching with turquoise thread.

quilting modern curves

Continuous Curves Free Motion Quilting

I explain the idea behind quilting continuous curves in this post.  The orange peel effect is an elegant touch in the diamond section of the Glacier Star pattern.

continous curve quilting glacier star

Note…stitching is in turquoise!

continuous curve free motion quilting

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. The full disclosure policy is here.

There are several books available if you want to learn more about continuous curve quilting.

judy neimeyer pattern with modern curves quilting

Quilting the Glacier Star pattern gave me the opportunity to try many different quilting designs, but I can’t overlook the basics. Stitch in the ditch is an important technique in machine quilting to stabilize the quilt and define your quilting space.  The flying geese in this quilt were fairly small, so I did not add any additional quilting beyond stitch in the ditch for those borders.

Whatever pattern you choose, free motion quilting can help you Enjoy, Experiment and Excel while you create!

Free Motion Monday – Stars and Stripes

Happy Independence Day!  Here in the U.S. of A we celebrate our country’s birthday on the 4th of July, waving the Stars and Stripes and proudly displaying our patriotism in red, white, and blue.  That patriotic feeling extends to the quilting world in various ways.  My charity of choice is the Quilts of Valor Foundation whose mission is “… to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”  When I am finishing a QOV, I include stars and stripes in the quilting designs to convey the gratitude I have for the servicemember who will ultimately receive the quilt.

quilts of valor disappearing nine patch

Adding Stars to your quilt

Most of us learned to sketch a simple five pointed star as a child which makes it a great starting point for free motion quilting. Combine the five pointed star with meandering lines and you can finish your patriotic quilt in a jiffy.

stars free motion quilting

Maybe you are feeling SPARKLY!  Quilt a straight-line star, similar to an asterisk (*) and branch off any line to move to the next space.  Sparklers can be lined up, then offset in a border, or stitched in a more random fashion.

asterisk star free motion quilting

Quilting Stripes

Adding stripes to your quilt is quite fashionable.  Straight line quilting can add modern flair to your quilt, especially when you include an unexpected pop of color as LeAnn/shecanquilt does.

stripes free motion quilting

If you want your stripes to mimic a flag, just wave~~~  put a gentle curve into your stitching line. Remember to keep the edges straight.

Stars and Stripes

Here is an example of both designs in one image.  Start with a classic star and exit to the top right to begin the stripes. Vary the spacing as desired, then travel to a new starting point.

stars and stripes free motion quilting

I have several more patriotic quilts waiting for some free motion quilting.  These stars and stripes will surely find their way to fabric soon!

Related Post: See how I quilted the Swoon pattern for a QOV.

My Summertime table runner is the perfect place to try out free motion quilting designs!