Friday, October 14, 2022

A Free-Motion Quilting Success! / Beauties Pageant 190

Longtime readers know my heart belongs to straight-line quilting. I particularly like parallel lines on a diagonal, but I also love a good cross-hatch or something slightly fancier a la Jacquie Gering (see the list of links at the bottom of the post for examples of past projects). When a project warrants a quilting design with soft curves or something intricate, I usually opt to “quilt by check” and send the project to a longarmer.

Free-motion quilting appeals to me in theory, but up until now, I haven’t free-motion quilted frequently enough to master anything more than a simple stipple, which makes my current project noteworthy.

I’m not ready reveal anything more than a peek or two of this quilt. It’s slated to be submitted to QuiltCon, and if it’s accepted, I like the idea of withholding it from blog readers and social media until after the show. But the gist of the project is this: I pieced large-scale blocks using my Still Pretty Simple Jelly Roll Quilt pattern and then free-motion quilted a series of words horizontally across it. To practice quilting the words, I composed them in a Word document and printed them out on newspaper. Then I experimented using small quilt sandwiches. Doing so improved my muscle memory and helped me get better at stopping and starting midword. In fact, the paper worked so well that I decided to quilt the entire 62-inch by 70-inch project with the technique.

As you can imagine, it’s been slow going. I’ve been pinning a word to the sandwich, quilting it, and then pinning the next one. The picture above shows me a few lines from the bottom of the project (I started at the top and worked left to right). At this point, there is so much bulk. I have to pivot the quilt to be able to smooth it out and pin the next word, and then I pivot it back under the arm of the machine to do the actual quilting. It’s been quite the wrestling match.

I think the results are worth the hassle, though, and honestly I don’t know if I’d be able to get this caliber of quilting text any other way. Ripping out the paper, however, has proved to be a headache. Tiny fibers of newsprint are getting caught underneath the stitches, and I’ve resorted to using a seam ripper and tweezers to tease them out. : /

Slow and steady will win this race! Wish me luck!

Examples of quilting designs I’ve used to date:

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  1. It’s a brilliant way to get the quilting right. I can’t wait to see. I am wishing you luck and keeping my fingers crossed!


  2. Wow, this sure is noteworthy. And I would love to read it at QuiltCon. Good luck! xo

  3. I bet that removing the paper takes some patience. Slow and steady wins the race!

  4. Wishing you much luck with this project!! Hope it hangs at 2023 QuiltCon!

  5. So glad to see you embracing free motion quilting. ☺ I've only attempted my name in the bottom of quilts. I like your idea of printing the words and tracing them.

  6. Great technique for getting words just right on your quilt, Michelle! I look forward to the future reveal, hopefully after QuiltCon!

  7. Good for you to be working toward a QuiltCon entry! Your quilting idea is really nice. Your words show prettily, though I'm sorry about paper-removing being difficult. I sure understand that! From experience I know QuiltCon is a tough show to get into. I wish you the best! I've been working on QC entries too, and have a way to go to finish! Best wishes!

  8. Hi Michelle, good for you for taking the time to do free motion quilting. I've used paper often and so far my favourite is tracing paper or, if you have it, Golden Thread's quilting paper. It makes the tearing out much easier, unless you're quilting snow shoes! If you get a chance, please come link up to Free Motion Mavericks. It's pretty lonely out here right now! Thanks (and good luck with the submission!)


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