SewCalGal’s 2012 FMQ Challenge in Review

Early in the year I was lucky enough to stumble across SewCalGal’s free motion quilting challenge.  The caliber of instructors to provide tutorials were just amazing.  I had only just gotten into quilting the summer of 2011 and had wanted to learn free motion quilting so this challenge was perfect for me.  The resources online are incredible, but this challenge provided insights from so many wonderful instructors and provided so many viewpoints.

I want to extend a HUGE “THANK YOU” to SewCalGal for hosting this challenge and to each of the instructors for sharing their time and experience with us.

1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus    Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail
1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus
Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail

[The photos were taken with my new Nikon D5100, but still appear too dark.  I’ll have to keep working on that.]

It was actually fun reviewing the year in order to write these posts.  I kept thinking, “Oh!  that was my favorite!”  Then I would get to another and think the same thing.  The instructors were just incredible!  Did I mention that?

Even though I still have a long way to go, I look at the first samples and can see the improvements I’ve made.  There were a couple sandwiches I couldn’t find and had to redo in order to get photos.  They were so much easier now.  Although, feathers are still such a challenge for me.  Diane Gaudynski makes them look so easy and so beautiful.  Mine are just pathetic.  I was looking at my initial attempts and HAD to recreate one to photo.  What you see in the collage above was just quilted today. As a matter of fact, I believe I will show you what I mean!  Below are some of my attempts to date.  Sad, just sad.

1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012
1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012

Unfortunately, I’m still working on December and wanted to get this post entered before the deadline.    December is borders and I’ve already started playing with designs.  Christmas totally sidetracked me from the FMQ fun.  I really enjoyed watching all the other submissions.  Some are just incredibly fabulous!

Many of the tutorials were still up last time I looked.  If you’re interested in FMQ you really should check out the SewCalGal site.   Again, thanks so very much to SewCalGal and to all the instructors.  I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge.





Skill Builder Block of the Month


Block of the Month 2013

Alyssa, at, is starting a block of the month for 2013 that is designed to build and review a multitude of quilting skills.  You should check out her blog post that gives all the details.

I have been involved in a few things hosted by Alyssa and can say that she is not only talented but awesomely organized.  I know you will enjoy following her .. and hopefully quilting along .. on this journey.

Happy Quilting!


“doodle Quilting” = Awesome!

So, I was shopping at Amazon.  Love it.  (I always end up getting my own Christmas at this time of year.  😦  How bad is that of me?)

Bought a few quilting books at fantastic prices.  How great is that?

And then there’s doodle Quilting by Cheryl Malkowski!  Love IT!  There are full page designs with the recommendation to use a plastic sheet and erasable markers to trace the patterns.  Great for creating muscle memory.

There are some wonderful and varied designs for all sorts of quilting situations.

This is one of those books that is totally worth getting at full price.

I’m so excited about this book.  Thanks, Ms. Malkowski!

“Happy” Quilt

Just for the record, I’m blogging backwards.  This quilt was begun in January 2012 and finished in April.

I recently created a quilt for Victoria, a friend of my daughter.  They both are in art school and Victoria sent me a stool she had painted which I use in my sewing room.  I’m showing you two different angles to show off some of the detail and variety she put into this piece.  I decided to create a throw for her as a thank you.  And let me say, it got a little out of hand.  It finished closer to a twin size than a throw.

I discovered Jennifer Haynen’s Happy fabrics and they really reminded me of Victoria’s style.  I started creating half square triangles with the idea of piecing randomly.  It really gave me fits when it came time to laying out the pattern and I never really liked it until after I quilted it.  And let me tell you, I hate working on something that I don’t love.

This was the third quilt that I free motion quilted and the first quilt larger than a baby quilt. Below are some shots of detail within many of the blocks.  I stalked blogs like Angela Walters’ ‘Quiltingismytherapy’ and borrowed styles from Leah Day’s quilting design books and basically just played.  Quilting this was the most fun in the whole process.


The quilting went much better than I expected.  I have seen improvement with each quilt, so even though I can spot problems, I am really happy to have made such progress.  I’m quilting this on a Bernina 820 and I believe I used Isacord thread.  I really should have posted this sooner or made better notes.

This is the finished quilt.  You can see many of the broken patterns in this quilt and may understand why I wasn’t very happy with the way this was piecing.  The truth on this quilt is I had it laid out to look looked like broken circles…a lot like the top of the quilt.  I was working on a cutting mat on the floor and killing my back. I had the bright idea to pick up the mat and move the quilt.  You know what happened…the pieces went everywhere.  I never got it back like it was.  So this is what I had and it wasn’t until I got a black binding on this quilt that I really liked it.  Unfortunately, you can’t really see it in these photos.  It really helped the black pieces on the bottom to fall into place.

On a side note, I was really excited with some of the resulting practice sandwiches.  Because I had so many fabrics and I was playing with thread colors and designs, I had pieced scrap fabrics of many of my main fabrics to play with.  Basically I practiced designs I planed to use on certain fabrics to make sure they didn’t clash with fabric pattern.  And of course, I played with thread choices.  Below are two of the main sandwiches I ended up with.

The bottom right two photos show the front and back of the pieces I was working on.  I realized as I was working on these they would make a great iPad zip case.  Once I finished the quilt, these pieces were fully quilted.  I added fabric flowers onto the front, reinforced a piece of the yellow fabric with Dritz InnerFuse for a divider, inserted a zipper and sewed it all together.  I am really pleased with it.  It is always fun to make something useful out of those practice pieces.

What do you create from those practice sandwiches?

Retro Flower QAL

So Retro Flowers is sort of finished.  I’ve tried not to over quilt it, and now have under quilted.  I need to go back and fill in some spots.  This is the fourth quilt I’ve machine quilted and two of those were baby quilts.  This one was right under 70″ square and I used polyester batting for the first time on this one.  For some reason it was pretty ungainly and hard to maneuver.  I’m sewing on a Bernina 820, so I have plenty of room to work with.  I used Mettler Metrozene thread, with a Supreme Glider and feed dogs down.

Before starting I sketched the quilt layout and what I was hoping to quilt.  My daughter wanted straight horizontal lines with intermittent circles much like an abacus.  I also used a sketch of hers of leggy flowers for the bottom and sides.  Let me say straight lines are much harder to sew on a machine than I thought it would be.  I would much rather work with a curvy pattern.  I think this would have been a really fun design to quilt on a long arm.  I would love the chance to try one.

Here is a close up of some of the flowers.  You can probably see some of those blank spaces I need to fill in.

I didn’t have enough white for the back, and I’m glad.  I really like the lime green on the back.  You may not be able to see the detail, but I think I like the quilting from the back.  I wasn’t sure I would.  Again, definitely need to fill in some.

Forgot the label again!!  I really want to get in the habit of sewing label into the back.  Oh well, next time.

2012 Free Motion Quilting … May project

This month’s tutorial for SewCalGal’s 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge was led by Leah Day. I was really excited when I heard.  Leah Day’s blog was the main free motion quilting tutorial I found when I became interested in quilting.  She has an awesome blog that lists so many patterns and tutorials.  Her tutorial this month was for two patterns based on a foundational meandering.  I’m sewing this on a Bernina 820, with OpenToe Embroidery foot, Feed Dogs down, Tension 3, Universal 75 needle, and Mettler Metrosene thread.  You can’t tell by this photo, but tension was the best I’ve done so far.

Leah suggests buying layer cakes and keeping them to one side for practice ‘sandwiches’.  I really liked that idea, but decided to hit a sale at Hancock’s, buy inexpensive quilting cotton and cut them in 10″ squares.  I think it will work great.