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

Plan your next Shop Hop!

Next week, I am taking a road trip with my quilting friends.  The quilt shops in our area are hosting a Shop Hop, an event that is common all across the country.  Since I am on a strict budget, I need to plan for a shop hop!

flyer for maricopa county shop hop 2016

What is a Shop Hop?

First, let me explain the basics.  Shop hopping is a day of visiting related stores. Many times shop owners will coordinate a specific period of shopping, plan special events and giveaways, and offer prizes to people who stop at every participating store. When you begin, you are typically invited to purchase a “passport” that will be marked at every shop. A full passport becomes your raffle entry for a grand prize.  I was lucky enough years ago to win a store’s raffle basket with wonderful fabrics that I turned into my Sedona Stars quilt.  quilt made from shop hop fabrics

Plan for a Shop Hop

As much fun as a full day of quilt store shopping sounds, it can be depressing when you are on a limited budget.  I want to support small business and independent store owners, so I always try to make a purchase at every stop.  Knowing that I have to make smart purchases I created this plan for a shop hop.



Tip # 1 – Think about your future projects

Are you starting a new quilt?  Is your UFO pile growing because you need borders or backing fabric?

unfinished quilts

Start your shopping list with fabric.  Be sure to include specific colors, sizes and those special designers and fabric collections that you have been drooling over in your Instagram feed!

If you are a scrappy quilter and have a sufficient stash, think about supplementing with colorful pre-cuts.  One of my local stores has a scrap bin near the register and I always find delightful fabrics in fabulous color combinations.

Tip #2 – Inventory the basics

Take a look at your notions.  Thread is a necessity, so put those basic colors on your shopping list.  I generally piece with a beige or grey but you may need bright colors for an upcoming project.  Are you working with bent pins? Treat yourself to a new box of straight pins.  Having fresh, sharp tools makes preparing your quilt pieces so much easier.  Stock up on new rotary cutter blades now!  Don’t overlook your sewing machine – grab some needles while you are in the notions aisle.

pins-needles-thread-fabric-essentials

Tip #3 – Shop for Gifts and Souvenirs

A shop hop is the perfect time to grab some gifts for your crafty friends.  Many shops have items such as notepads, pincushions, bobbin holders and scissor fobs that make lovely and useful gifts for fellow quilters and sewists.

shop hop books gifts shop-hop-books-gifts

If you are far from home and want a souvenir, look for local patterns and fabric.  The recent Row-by-Row Experience with the coordinating fabric license plates are fun to collect.  Books make wonderful gifts so make a list of titles for yourself or others.  The coloring craze is in full swing and designers are on board with coloring books featuring quilting designs and full quilt layouts.

So, are you ready to plan a shop hop with your quilting friends?  Be sure to download the planning guide and make notes about the fabric, books, notions and gifts you are interested in.  Drive safely and have fun shop-hopping! I’d love to hear about your crafty road trips so please tell me about your adventures.

Three Ways to Choose Quilt Colors

In Quilting 101*, we learn that designs are built on contrast. When it’s time to choose quilt colors, many quilters start out with a dark design on a light background. Gradually we learn to use a wider range in our color palette and medium fabrics creep in. Visit the Quilting Room with Mel for an informative discussion about finding medium values for your quilt colors. But, planning a quilt can be difficult, so let’s take a look at some modern quilts and learn how to choose quilt colors.

*While there may be class out there with this title, I use the title in jest!

Choose Quilt Colors for Contrast

The idea of contrast is built in to the color wheel, and it is one reason I love rainbow quilts that show off all the colors!how to choose quilt colors

Mother Nature has done the theoretical work for us – Red and Green are complementary, and we can add a splash of interest with another color such as pink, orange or yellow.

The shades of each color must work harder when a quilter chooses a black background. Colors have to be much brighter to contrast and allow the design to POP.

Dear Jane quilt with black background

What happens when you don’t have a single color background? The light, medium and dark values within a color family have to really work well together to make the design shine.

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Color Choices from a Quilting Rockstar

I was blown away when I saw Tula Pink‘s Radiance quilt, featuring her new Slow & Steady fabric line.  Let me try to analyze this beauty and the lesson it can teach us for how to choose quilt colors.

tula pink quilt colors

At first glance, you see the solid diamonds as a rainbow. Look closer, though, and you see a variety of prints mixed in too. The diamonds are shades of red, green, pink, white, yellow and orange, set on a mix of backgrounds in blues, purples, turquoise, grey and black.

Tula Pink's great sense of color for quilts

The result is mesmerizing as your eye follows the flow of colors as they rise and fall across the quilt.

Lesson – Whole color families, not just 2 colors, provide contrast in your quilt.

Color Blocking as a Quilt Palette

Another brilliant quilt featuring saturated colors is Star Light, Star Dark by Jessica at the Quilty Habit.

color block example from QuiltyHabit.com

Rather than set colorful stars on a consistent background, Jessica shows us how to choose quilt colors with the color block style. Each section is monochromatic, featuring a dark star on a lighter background or vice versa. The color saturation and variety of block sizes make Star Light, Star Dark a gorgeous example of modern quilting.

Lesson – keep it all in one (color) family and try a color block quilt

Keep it simple with just one color

Another method to help choose quilt colors is to pick one color family and make a monochromatic quilt. The placement of light, medium and dark fabrics are critical to the design in a monochromatic quilt.  Purple Angles by Mary McElvain features a paper pieced block.

how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt

By changing the position of fabrics within the block, you can highlight a cross or a ring.

how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt how to choose colors for a monochromatic quilt

 

 

 

 

Lesson: Monochromatic quilts have amazing variety!

Let’s continue to experiment with color selection in our quilts. Choose an unusual color or gradient for a background, or try color block and monochromatic palettes. Change the position of light, medium and dark fabrics in your block to discover alternate designs. Most of all, enjoy the creative process!

 

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

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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!

Rolling Stone Quilt Block – #9 for RAVBOM2016

Hello Ravelry friends and fellow quilters!  I chose the Rolling Stone quilt block for the sampler we are working on in the Quilters Knitting group on Ravelry. If you are just starting this project, find the details here.  The classic Rolling Stone block is a two color block, but you can add a third color accent, or get scrappy with each section.rolling stone quilt block with two colors   rolling stone quilt block with three colors

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Ooooh, I just had the thought of making it in a color wheel variation, that might be fun!  But back to business…

Rolling Stone Quilt Block Tutorial

These measurements will make a 12″ finished block.  Notice that the Rolling Stone quilt block uses a 9-patch layout.  Generally, the measurements will work best for multiples of 3 – a 6″ or 9″ block will have “nicer” measurements than an 8″ or 10″ block!  The units that make up the Rolling Stone quilt block are square-in-square (corners), rectangle pairs (sides) and a center square.

cut pieces for rolling stone quilt block

Cutting Instructions for the Rolling Stone Quilt Block

For the Square-in-Square corners, cut 4 squares from the main color at 3-3/8″. Cut 8 squares from the background at 2-7/8″, then cut once on the diagonal so you have 16 HST.

Note: In the picture above, I used the third accent color, so I cut 6 squares from the background color and 2 from the accent color.

You can also use the Square-in-a-Square ruler for these units.

For the Center, cut one square at 4-1/2″ from the main color.

For the Rectangle sides, cut  4 from the main color at  4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″, and 4 of either the accent or background at    4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″

*trim all units to 4-1/2″

Assembling your Rolling Stone Quilt Block

Square-in-square units can be tricky.  Sew alternate corners, press, then add remaining corners.  I use a quick finger-press to find the center of both the square and the triangle, then I pin before sewing the seam.

sewing corners on a quilt square

Sew the rectangle pairs together, then lay out the units in a 9-patch arrangement and sew into rows.

rolling stone quilt block ready to sew

Ta-Da!  You are on a roll!!

rolling stone quilt block

For more block tutorials, please refer to my post on the Jacob’s Ladder Block.

I also have useful tips for half square triangles and basic 4-patches.

Stretch and Move – exercises for Quilters

I hate to admit that quilting can be painful.  Joint and muscle pains are a natural consequence from being in one position for too long.  Over the past several days of working on a king-size quilt on my longarm, I remembered to take many breaks to stretch my back.  Here are some resources with exercises for quilters to use as a quick reference guide. I am NOT a doctor so please consult your own physician for specific complaints.

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Stretch every day

woman stretching

Have you ever been to an aerobics class?  There are some basic stretches that come to mind from the good ole days when I went to Jazzercise several times a week.  I work my way from head to toe with neck stretches (ear to shoulder), torso twists and ankle rotations.

Grab some simple equipment

tennis ball exercises for quilters

I have found relief for specific back pain from a chiropractor.  An at-home exercise she recommended was laying on a tennis ball.  I use it for both my shoulder and my sciatic nerve. You can see a good description of the technique on this page.

Remember, the goal is to find a balance.  If I have been looking to the left as I guide my longarm over a pantograph, I focus on stretching to the right.  If I have been hunched forward, I spread my arms and lean backwards.  An exercise ball is a great tool.  Some quilters even sew while sitting on one!  I simply lay back on mine for about five minutes to relax my torso.

woman sitting on exercise ball

Keep Moving!

In addition to stretching, keep your body moving!  I cannot stand at the longarm for more than an hour, so I set a timer which reminds me when to switch activities.  With several projects going at once, it is never hard to move to the next task!  If I am piecing at my small machine, I have a steady rotation between the cutting table, sewing space and ironing board.  These small changes in position throughout the day make a huge difference by the evening.

Since I don’t have the money for a gym membership at the moment, I am taking advantage of the free option in my neighborhood – a walk around the block.  Several blocks, actually, since I have a route that is a little over a mile long. I drag my husband along and it’s becoming a nightly ritual that gives us some time to converse rather than stare at separate screens.  Speaking of technology, are you a Fitbit wearer?  There are many tracking devices and apps to encourage you to get your steps in! What are some of your favorites?  Please share in the comments!

Let’s stay happy and healthy by doing some stretches and exercises every day!

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!