Tuesday, September 20, 2011

100 Quilts For Kids: Charity Quilting is Good Practice!!

Hi, all!

I'm so excited to be doing this post today in conjunction with 100 Quilts for Kids and Kate, who blogs over at Swim, Bike, Quilt.   Thanks for asking me, Kate, and welcome to everyone who's popped over here from Kate's blog!  I'm glad you're here!! 

When Kate asked me to do a post about one way to quilt her model quilt for 100QFK, I have to admit I was a little intimidated.  Most of the quilting I do is related to our church's quilt ministry, and we usually do pretty quick and easy quilting because we have to move the quilts through so quickly.  

But then I was working on some quilting the other day, doing a simple random meander, and thought about how many quilters are intimidated by free motion quilting.  And I realized that I was never intimidated by it, for two reasons - one, I hadn't been blogging long enough and reading enough quilting blogs to realize that it was supposed to be difficult, and two, I've had so much practice because of the quantity of quilts we've done in the past year and a half!  

So - here are five things I tell my ladies as I teach them to do free motion quilting...

1.  Relax!  It's just doodling...

2.  No one will look at it with the same critical eye that you do.  The recipient will not critique your quilting.  

3.  Breathe!  It's much easier to quilt when you do...

4.  Everything looks better after the quilt goes through a wash and dry!  All that lovely crinkliness hides a multitude of sins!

5.  Have fun!!

With that being said, this quilt design is a great way to try out different techniques - to get practice with different kinds of stitching.  Here's a picture of my finished quilt...

Hopefully you can see that I've done different stitching designs in each section.  Here's a close-up of the center...

I tried out a pebble stitch in the center - my first time trying this on a real quilt and not a practice piece.  Here's a close-up of the stitching process...

 Just lots of little circles (actually mine are pretty big, about the size of dimes and quarters) all connected together.  This is pretty easy, and it makes a great filler!

If you look on the white bordering the center squares, you can see that I switched off and used my even feed foot to do some straight line quilting.  I did lines on angle in the corners, and then zigzags from corner to corner.  Now, let me introduce you to one of the most wonderful phrases in the English language - organic quilting!  Here's a close-up of my straight line quilting...

As you can see, my straight lines are much more organic than straight!!  But it's all good in the end!  And some kid is going to love this quilt....  but not if I don't get it quilted and into his or her hands!!

The next row of blocks, I went back to free motion quilting, doing some double loop-de-loops.  This is a favorite stitch of one of our quilt ministry members, and I just love it!

The next row of white is a duplicate of the inner white row, and I'll tell you why - I goofed and did one of the triangle corners on that row by mistake!  I had intended to do a different kind of straight line quilting in that row.  Oh well, that reminds me of a sixth thing I tell my ladies - if you make a mistake, make it work!!

In the outer row of blocks, I did a series of large spirals that move from block to block in one long series of stitches.  Here's a close-up...

You can see how they just travel from block to block. This is a really easy stitch, but can also be very organic!  It takes lots of thread, though - wind plenty of bobbins!

And here's a pic of the outside border - I just did straight line stitching from edge to edge and let it make a grid on each corner.  Easy peasy!!

Now, I don't usually use this many techniques in one quilt - but it is a fun way to try out different stitches.  Many people find straight line stitching to be boring - but in a border, it's a quick way to incorporate the look.  Just play with it - you'll like it!!

If you want to learn some different techniques for free motion quilting, I highly recommend that you check out Christina's blog, A Few Scraps.  She did a series of classes on her blog that are an excellent introduction to free motion quilting, including machine set-up to get the best results, and I guarantee that if you work through them, you will feel much more confident about it!  But the best thing to do is practice, practice, practice - and charity quilting is a great place to do it.  I can also guarantee that the recipient of your quilt will be much more involved with how beautiful it is, rather than how perfect your stitching turned out!  We've made almost 150 quilts in the past year and a half, and we've not had one come back saying the quilting wasn't up to par!

I hope you'll join us in making a quilt for 100 Quilts For Kids - it's a great cause, and a great place to practice your quilting skills!!  See you at the Flickr pool!!



PS - If this is your first time visiting my blog, and you'd like to know more about our quilt ministry, you might want to check out this post - it tells all about how we got started.


  1. Great post Sarah. It's true - just relax and breath and have fun. You are passing joy and hugs onto another.

  2. Yes, just what I needed to hear too Sarah. I must admit I keep putting off doing FMQ because I want it to look "perfect"! At the end of the day, you are quite right...no-one ever looks at the quilting. Ok I was going to straight line quilt my Bliss quilt, but will FMQ it. Yikes!

  3. Amen to every word. This is what I tell folks, "There are NO quilt police!" Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas. I know you have inspired and will inspire a lot of folks. Love the quilt, the colors, the quilting, everything. You are an angel, Sarah!

  4. Great tips. I am one of those people who puts off quilting because I think it's going to be a bear of a job, and then when I finally sit down to do it...I just do it and think to myself "Why did I wait so long?" It's never perfect, but it is done. I loved looking at your "quilting sampler" Great job!!

  5. i love this. it makes me want to do a sampler NOW. do i need another project though??

  6. Thanks for sharing your quilting tips. Most of the quilts I have been making lately work well with the "Stitch In the Ditch" grid style quilting that I feel comfortable with. Every time I branch out and do FMQ, I am not satisfied with the results. I think some of your tips may help me out.

  7. Great post. Love what you have done with that quilt. Wish I had the patience (and the skill) to do something like that. You are awesome!

  8. Thanks for the great post. Like you, I didn't know that FMQ was supposed to be hard. I haven't quilted tons of quilts, but I am comfortable with the random stippling I do. I thoght about branching out, and learning more, but I am not sure I really want to at this oint in time. I do happen to have some 5" squares I think will make a nice quilt for a kid. Maybe I will get it done this weekend. Now, I am off to pick Bella up from preschool. Have a joyfilled day.

  9. Thanks, Sarah! I think I'm going to do a fmq sampler on one or my 100 quilts strip quilts :)

  10. Sarah -- I LOVE simple quilting. Sometimes I get down on myself because I don't do fancy feathers, etc. Then I stop and realize, wait, I really like simple quilting. I love your blog and your ministry ... thanks for reinforcing the beauty and simplicity of simple quilting!

  11. You are so right that if you don't know it's "supposed to" be scary then it can just be fun! Thanks so much for the compliment on the quilt along posts. Totally made me smile! You sure get a lot done my dear, what an inspiration.


Comments make me smile!! Because of changes in Blogger, I'll probably have to respond to you here, since the comments no longer come to my inbox. If you want a private reply, include your email address and I'll do my best to get back to you, or email me directly at salliesue57 (at) gmail (dot) com!