Thursday, November 8, 2012

Free Motion Quilting

This past week and a half have been spent free motion quilting for the first time.  On this quilt:

I wanted leaf veins in all the leaves, and I was reluctant to give it to  someone to custom quilt it, so I am doing it myself.  The machine quilting has been fun, but I can't believe the amount of bobbins I've emptied, and the amount of time it has taken me to quilt this quilt. Plus I'm not finished with it!  

I still have all the smaller leaves to quilt, but have veins in all of the larger leaves, and I just love this quilt - no leaf fabric purchased, all from stash, and a few traded fabric from my friend Julie's stash, as we each made this same quilt at the same time.

Here's a picture of what I did for the big leaves.  It was fun and a good starting project for free motion quilting, as each leaf vein could be wherever it went, and I didn't have to be very precise.  I did get better as I went along.

Also, I learned, after a mistake, to listen to my machine.  It was making a funny noise on one leaf, and I just kept on going until the leaf was all quilted, but when I looked at the back of the quilt......there were lots of snarls of bobbin thread at every stitch.  I must have had the bobbin in backwards, or something wasn't threaded correctly.  So Mr. Seam Ripper and I fixed it.

I outlined each leaf with straight stitching, and did the free motion veins on the large leaves, so I could go ahead and bind it to show it to my local guild this past Saturday.

But I am going to go back and free motion quilt veins in all of the smaller leaves, which will give me more opportunity to practice free motion quilting.

Here's a picture of the quilt on my white couch - which is where it will be until after Thanksgiving:

The backing is a Hoffman print of orange leaves, which hides all of my free motion quilting sins very well.  The quilt is a whopping 84 inches by 106 inches, which has no business being on a blog about small quilts, but I wanted to show it to you.  The pattern is "Third Weekend in October" and costs $8.00 on the web.  They describe it as follows:

This scrap quilt pattern is a real show stopper! Random leaves are scattered across the surface like leaf litter on a sunny autumn day. Simple piecing using foundation papers results in the most unique maple leaf quilt yet. Themes: seasonal, autumn, leaf & vine, foundation & paper pieced.  Designer: Ruth Powers 

The quilt is composed of 2.5 inch squares, 34 across and 44 down. My friend Julie, and I mapped out our quilts to do five rows each month, starting in January, 2012, and planned to do five more rows each month to have it completely finished by the third weekend in October.  We divided each month's squares into smaller 5 square by 5 square units, 7 each month.  (technically 6 of the 5x5 units and 1 5x4 unit per month).

Julie and I were great support for each other through this process, and when I would get behind, Julie cheered me on to keep up with her.  Thank you Julie!   I enlarged and copied the intimidating pattern, cut it into the small doable chunks, and looked at them separately, concentrating only on that week's task. 

It is not a hard pattern, but it looks hard when you look at it all at once.  I encourage you to give it a try.  Any color red to orange to yellow works in this quilt!


  1. It's strunning! Great job! Love your quilting on the leaves also! Would love to see it hanging or on a bed to see the total scattered lef affect. Thanks for sharing! I have wondered how big the squares in your header quilt are...1"?

  2. beautiful quilt and the quilting is pretty on the leaves. It really sets off the leaves.

  3. Fabulous! You did a great job; wonderful fabric selection. Missie is right: show us the whole thing. (Yes, even on a "small quilts" blog!) Good work with your first ever free motion quilting.

  4. A gorgeous quilt! Your free motion quilting is impressive for your first try! I agree... share a picture of the entire quilt!

  5. Wow! Your quilt is a riot of colour and quite beautiful.
    I love the free motion quilting too.

  6. It's beautiful and I would like to see a pic of the whole thing, also, pretty please. Practicing free motion quilting on the leaves was a great idea, something that I haven't tried yet so you make it look easier.

  7. beautiful! the detailed quilting is great!

  8. Your quilting is great! What a wonderful way to tackle a big quilt. Good for you!


  9. It is coming along beautifully Judy. I think many potential machine quilters give up after their first try because they thought it would be so fast. Hardly :)

  10. I love the quilting you are doing!! Brave soul since it is so huge!

  11. This quilt is absolutely lovely. This is a pattern I may need to get.

  12. Your quilt is simply stunning. Love your colours and patterns. Hats off to your quilted leaves! Your challenge has inspired me to give it a go, so thanks for including the pattern information. Elle

  13. I LOVE this quilt , wow! the colors and well I love the fall and fall colors... Its going to have to go on the list of quilts to make soon! your quilting is wonderful keep going.

  14. This quilt is simply scrumptious. You did a marvelous job with it!!! :)

  15. I've always loved the look of leaf quilts, and I've made a couple of small ones. I love the look of yours, and it's inspiring me to work on a big one! Awesome idea to quilt veins in the leaves! Beautiful work.

  16. Your fall leaves quilt is just beautiful. Did you mark any of the veins that you put in those leaves? They look so even and precise and I know that would be very hard for me without using a crutch of some kind -- chalk or golden thread papers.


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