Free Motion Monday – Quilting Swoon Blocks

Recently I made a quilt for Quilts of Valor and then it was time to choose a design for quilting Swoon blocks. I considered the final destination and use of the quilt.  Is it for show or daily use?  Should I use an all-over pantograph design or heavy heirloom stitching?

swoon for Quilts of Valor

This longarm quilting project is a top made from Swoon blocks in patriotic colors. From the start, my goal was to donate this quilt to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. For this purpose, I chose a simple design that will stand up to daily use and multiple washings. A pantograph or all-over pattern would be fine but I decided to do a custom design because of the high contrast in colors and the various elements of the block.

Sketch before you quilt

paper sketch quilting swoon blocks

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Rather than jump right into the quilting process, I used EQ7 to print out a diagram of the block. This gives me a practice sheet or coloring page to sketch my ideas. I started with the star and diamonds shapes and quickly found a continuous line design that I feel compliments the piece elements.  I wanted a simple background fill so I used wavy lines in the house sections of the block.

Related post: my favorite features in EQ7!

Final plan for quilting Swoon blocks

When I took this design to the quilt and started thinking about thread color, I realized that I did not want the houses and background to be the same color.  I substituted a loopy meander in the house sections where I can match thread color, and I kept the wavy lines in the background. I filled in the sashing with lines and loops.

alternate plan quilting swoon blocks
Longarm process… when I started quilting on a longarm, I would quilt all of one color throughout the quilt before changing thread colors.  This meant rolling the quilt back and forth several times. Recently, I began changing thread color more often so that I quilted all the colors in one row before advancing the quilt.  For this Swoon quilt, I am doing a combination.  I started with white thread, then changed to red and gold before advancing.  When I get to the bottom row, I will change to blue thread and work my way back to the top.

Using matching thread means that some of the quilting design is less noticeable, but it will still have great texture and I’m sure it will be a great quilt to cuddle under!

final quilting swoon blocks

What is your standard quilting design? Have you tried this popular Swoon block yet?

But I don’t have time to quilt! 4 ways to find more quilting time

How do you find quilting time? A common stereotype of a quilter is the retired grandmother who spends all day cutting up fabric and sewing adorable quilts for her multitude of grandchildren. The reality is quilters come in all sizes and shapes, but many of us have full-time day jobs so you won’t find us shopping at 10am on Thursday mornings.

Since time is at a premium for everyone, how can we find more quilting time? (Or knit, scrapbook, or just create!)

make time for quilting

#1 Create more quilting time with a 15 minute sprint.

      Many of us have those small spaces of time here and there in our schedule. The challenge is to use that time for creative pursuits and not just conquering the next level of Candy Crush. One way to make this happen more frequently is to keep your sewing machine and craft supplies set up. It is much easier to sew a block or two when the machine is ready to go. Too many times I have taken the tempting choice of vegging on the couch rather than take out my machine, gather fabric, thread, pins etc and sit down to work.

#2 Increase quilting time with “kits” on hand

    When your machine and tools are ready you need the fabric supplies as well, so my idea of kit is the pieces necessary for whatever project is in the works.  Paper plates or empty pizza boxes are a cheap alternative to the plastic craft bins, but they serve the same purpose – keep everything contained and ready to sew when you have a few minutes.  I also keep baskets of triangles, trimmed from binding strips, near my machine so there are always pieces waiting when I don’t have time for a more complex project.  save quilting time with precut unitsIf you enjoy handwork, English paper piecing (hexies) makes a great take-along project. A small tote or plastic pencil box is perfect for this type of sewing supply box.

#3  Get more quilting time by using precut-friendly patterns

Let someone else do the time-consuming prep work like cutting fabric. The ever popular Jelly Roll strips can be sewn into a variety of blocks.jelly roll rainbow quilt

 Strips sets with three or four colors can quickly become rail fence blocks.

kids rail fence quilt

 The Moda Bake Shop and Cozy Quilts offer patterns for a variety of pre-cut shapes such as charm squares and layer cakes. If you spend some time cutting fabric into sizes you most often use, you will be able to start sewing that much faster. Bonnie Hunter offers great tips on stash management and she has a number of free patterns on her site as well.

#4 Dedicated Quilting time: Plan retreat

    I realize that this conjures up travel and the associated costs of spending the weekend away from home.  There are many quilting retreat options if your budget allows such as Glamp Stichalot or on location with Judy Neimeyer. Traveling to a show such as Quilt Market or QuiltCon may give you the opportunity to take classes and see fabulous works of art in person.  If travel is not possible, treat yourself to a sewing staycation. Invite some friends over, make a crockpot dinner, and enjoy some un-interrupted quilting time.  This may require bribing family members to leave you alone, but I think it is definitely worth the cost!  


Any day is better when quilting, so find time to do what you love!