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How to quilt feathered swirls

how to quilt feathered swirls

Have you ever wanted to combine a couple of different quilting motifs, but didn’t know where to start? In this video tutorial, you’ll learn how to use feathers and swirls together to quilt feathered swirls! Learning how to quilt feathered swirls will give you another great tool for your quilting tool box and you’ll be able to tackle that negative space in your quilt in no time at all!

Video tutorial – how to quilt feathered swirls

Using feathered swirls in you quilt

Here are some examples of quilts I’ve used feathered swirls in. I’m showing my successes and not so successes in these, so you can see how these look in different quilts.

Example quilts

antique quilt
Antique quilt with feathered swirls

This first quilt is an antique quilt that my lovely friend Amy picked up at an estate sale. It was in relatively good condition for being around 80 years old, and it needed a fairly dense all over. The feathered swirls work really well in this top because you can see the quilting, but you also see the quilt first and foremost.

modern quilt
Modern quilt with feathered swirls

This second quilt is a good example of a pattern that is pretty complex and has lots of prints. If I’d had more time, I would have custom quilted this one and used some straight lines and ruler work. You can see the quilting, but it tends to try to compete a little with the fabric and quilt pattern–and that’s not usually the outcome I like to have. Live and learn, right!? Also, I used hot pink thread on this, and a blending thread–maybe a silver would have been a little more subtle.

elephant quilt with feathered swirls

Now this third quilt is the jackpot. The background is a nice light solid, and the quilting motif does a good job of adding texture, but not overdoing it so much that you don’t see the piecing work. My sweet friend Loretta pieced this darling elephant quilt as a baby gift. You can also scale up the design and make it larger so the quilts are more luscious and soft.

Baby quilt

And this fourth example is kind of a mix to me…the pattern is really busy and the fabrics are too. Straight lines would have been superb on this to help the quilt pattern stand out, but the client opted for this motif–which is okay!! She loved the look of it, and it does add a bit of a feminine touch to the quilt. The quilting can’t really be seen in the center, but it is seen on the outer borders where the fabric is more low volume.

Putting it into practice

I hope you’ll take a look at these quilts I’ve used feathered swirls on and take them into consideration when deciding to use feathered swirls. Think about the end product and what the complete quilt will look like. It is a really great fill when using solid fabrics, or filling the space in the background of a block. And it’s perfect for an easy all over that you want to use to add texture.

Have fun with it and go practice those feathered swirls!

Other free motion quilting tutorials

If you like feathered swirls, take a look at the basic components. I did some video tutorials of feathers and swirls separately that you might be interested in before trying this one out. You can see more videos at my youtube channel. Until next time, happy sewing!!

-Joanna

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How to quilt stacked swirls

how to quilt stacked swirls

Good Monday morning! I’m so excited to share a new video tutorial with you this morning. I just LOVE to quilt stacked swirls in the background of quilt blocks and in negative space. They create amazing texture and fill up a space without a lot of thought and concentration. This video will show you how to quilt stacked swirls and how to navigate to the spaces you want to quilt.

Quilting it

I used Kona Cotton Splash (the Kona color of the year) and white Glide thread by Hab+Dash for high visibility quilting. Typically, I would use a blending thread color when quilting this in the background of a block. I like to use blending threads because I want the quilting to show, but not compete with the design and piecing of the quilt. Contrasting thread colors definitely have their place, and should be used with discretion. After all, this is YOUR quilt, and YOU should get to decide the thread colors, right!?

Check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you’ll take a quick look at this tutorial and see how easy it is to quilt this fill. Quilting round motifs is very simple and repetitive. These are easy to perfect with just a little practice, and you will probably find that you won’t even have to doodle for very long before your swirls look great!

How to quilt swirls video tutorial

Quilts that I’ve used this fill on

I thought I’d show some practical examples of quilts I’ve used this fill on so you can see it in context. Stacked swirls are a great way to add texture without drawing the viewers eye away from the focal point of the piecing on the quilt. Check out some of these quilts I quilted with stacked swirls:

Cheeky Churn Dash

This first quilt is my Cheeky Churn Dash quilt. It’s a great quilt for using layer cakes or 10″ precuts. If you want to really show off a fabric line, this is the perfect pattern for it! You can see that I really love to pair stacked swirls with simple ruler work. You can see the quilting but it doesn’t stand there shouting, “HEY!!! Look at me and not the fabulous quilt!”

As a pattern designer, I would hate for the actual quilt to not be seen for the quilting on it. We spend so much time piecing our quilts that time and thought really needs to go into planning the quilting motifs used. And as a longarm quilter, I love for my quilting to be seen, but not at the expense of the maker’s work. It needs to be an equal relationship where both parts can be valued and appreciated.

Cheeky Churn Dash

Katelen’s Applique

Now below are a couple of pics of my dear friend Katelen P.’s quilt. Katelen is SO talented and creates these amazing appliqued animals. Quilting the stacked swirls behind her applique really makes the animals pop and helps them stay the focal point of the quilt. It’s really important when picking quilt designs that you don’t upstage the maker’s work on the quilt. Quilting is there to help the quilt shine and not overpower it (that’s just MY opinion ;).

Katelens duck

Dreamer’s Star

This is my Dreamer’s Star quilt that I quilted stacked swirls in the background of. The swirls pair so nicely with a little ruler work to really show off the quilt design and the gorgeous fabrics used.

Dreamer’s Star

Above is a close up of the stacked swirls. You can see how much texture it adds without taking away from the quilt design. One of my favorites!!!

I hope you’ll give this motif a try. Quilting stacked swirls is just a breeze, and I know you’ll get in the groove of them in no time! Happy sewing!

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Inspired Free-Motion Quilting (and giveaway!)

This has been such a busy and exciting week for me! I had a little time away from sewing celebrating the Christmas season with our family (and our daycare was closed for almost two weeks–insert the screaming face emoji here ;). All joking aside, it was wonderful to get to spend so much time with the family and remember what’s important in life! I hope you were able to rest, recharge, and be around the people you love.

Photo courtesy of C&T Publishing

One thing I’m super pumped about is Amanda Leins and Bill Volckening’s new book Inspired Free-Motion Quilting. The book is described as “90 Antique designs reinterpreted for today’s quilter”. I do a lot of custom quilting, and this book is really inspirational, as far as brainstorming designs goes. There are pages of antique quilts with really amazing quilting designs, along with step-by-step instructions on how to execute and master each design. It’s a great reference for seasoned quilters and beginners alike. I’m so excited to be a part of the Inspired Free-Motion Quilting blog hop and team up with Mandy Leins and C&T Publishing to give away one free PDF copy (that means the giveaway is open internationally!!!) of this awesome book! Read to the end for details on how to enter.

As soon as I was able to flip through Inspired Free-Motion Quilting, two designs immediately caught my eye that I knew exactly what I wanted to use them for. My two favorite motifs from the book are “Double lines and orange peel” and “Echoed Crosshatch”. I really enjoy making bags (in addition to the quilting I do), and I like to add a bit of decorative quilting to the exterior of the bag, if I’m able to. I had a new pattern I was really excited to try–The Gloss Cosmetic Bag by Sew Sweetness (Sara Lawson). The pattern is available with purchase of the Minikins Season 2 pattern bundle on Sara’s site.

This is a really great way to spice up some solid fabric–and solid colors show off the quilting with less distractions than prints. I cut the green linen-canvas fabric I had slightly larger than the pattern called for and quilted it prior to assembling the pattern. I loved the instructions and diagrams that are included with the book–they really leave no room for error, even if you’re just starting out. I’m really thrilled with how impactful the design is that I selected from the book. I chose “Double Lines and Orange Peel” for a classic motif that would really look great on a cosmetic bag. I love the definition and texture it gives the solid–in what would otherwise be a really boring cosmetic bag. It’s not as easy to see in the picture, but I opted to skip the orange peels on the patterned fabric on the bottom of the case, and only quilted the echoed crosshatch.

I quilted the bag components on my longarm, but it would be easy to do this sort of quilting on a domestic. Just pop on a walking foot and measure out your straight lines, and follow the simple instructions for free-motion quilting the orange peels between the lines to finish up. I used a slightly contrasting thread color for a little pop, but I’m dying to make another in black canvas with black thread for subtle texture and style.


Amanda and Bill do a fantastic job of sharing some amazing antique quilts and their in depth knowledge of how to reproduce the motifs, and I highly recommend Inspired Free-Motion Quilting as a must have reference for quilters! Make sure you read below to enter the giveaway, and check out the other blog hop participants’ posts for more chances to win!

Giveaway Details

Here’s what you came for!! C&T Publishing has so generously allowed me to give away one PDF copy of Inspired Free-Motion Quilting. All you need to do to enter is like my Instagram post and tag a friend in the comments OR leave a comment on THIS blog post telling me why you’re excited to get a copy of this book! The giveaway is open internationally and will close Sunday, January 13, 2019 at 6:00 PM, CST. The winner will be notified by me soon thereafter. Good luck!!!

 

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Red Heart Quilt – client quilt

I recently had the privilege of quilting this gorgeous quilt for one of my clients.  The piecing is just gorgeous and the quilt was donated to a charity event/fundraiser.  I quilted the quilt with free motion hearts all over the top.  
Quilt Pieced by Debra B.

 This was such a joy to quilt–check out the close up of the free motion hearts ๐Ÿ™‚

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Quilting for Market with Urban Artifacts Fabrics by Leslie Tucker Jenison

So I guess this is part 2 of my Quilt Market preparations posts…The quilting edition!  

I had the opportunity to quilt a couple of quilts for my friend Leslie’s quilt market booth.  I’m going to be brief here…
The first one was an awesome quilt designed by Liberty Worth.  It’s pretty modern and gave me tons of inspiration with the quilting.  Below are pictures:

Putting the binding on…
Quilt designed by Liberty Worth with Urban Artifacts by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Quilt designed by Liberty Worth with Urban Artifacts fabrics by Leslie Tucker Jenison

The next quilt was designed by Allison Chambers of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild and was inspired by mid-century modern style.  I love this quilt!  I was aiming to keep the quilting modern but understated and used a blending thread instead of a highly contrasting one.  I did some geometric ruler work with stitch in the ditch on this one.  

Quilt designed by Allison Chambers using Urban Artifacts Fabric by Leslie Tucker Jenison

Quilt designed by Allison Chambers using Urban Artifacts Fabric by Leslie Tucker Jenison
I got to quilt 2 other amazing quilts that were designed by Leslie, but those are patterns that are not yet released, so no pictures of those yet!  I am so blown away by the talent and creativity.  I really wish I could have attended Quilt Market this year, but like I said…life happens.  There’s always next year!

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A little more FMQ

I love the understated look of Superior Threads’ So fine thread for busier quilts.  There’s just enough substance there to make the quilting do its job, but not so much that the quilt is overwhelmed.  


This isn’t a super involved post–I just wanted to share a quilt that some of the ladies in the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild put together for our past president who moved out of state.  This quilt was designed by Emily Robbins using some of the modern quilt block guides put out by Love Patchwork and Quilting this year.  Cotton + Steel prints were used in combination with various shades of grey.  It’s pretty difficult to see the quilting, but the real star is the quilt design and the fabrics.  

This was the finished quilt prior to the binding being put on.  Love the design, and I think Emily did a great job!

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Quilty friends are the best

I may not have come right out and said this yet, but as I type this, I am 37 weeks pregnant with our first child.  I’m kind of a private person when it comes to this kind of stuff and social media, so there haven’t been any baby bump pictures or ultrasound photographs or “facebook official” posts.   

However…I have to talk about my “tribe”.  The group of people I didn’t even know I needed until I found them.  I also have my church family to lean on and love (thank God for that!), but there is something to be said for your sewing friends that other groups don’t relate to.  

I’m a member of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild, and have been for a little over 2 years.  From the first meeting I attended, I looked around the room, and I could feel something different about the group.  It was mostly (I think ALL, then) women.  They were talking about things they made with their own hands, and they were supporting and encouraging each other.  There was laughter and gossip and friendship.  And they were all very different in their own way.  

Sewing can be a very isolating hobby if you don’t have a tribe.  And I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I went to that first meeting.  I immediately joined and can’t believe the friendships I’ve made in that short period of time.  There has been laughter, tears, good times, and bad.  And sometimes there wasn’t any sewing going on during this.  My point here is that sewing/quilting friends are the BEST.  They get it.  You can be talking about your dog dying one minute and the new quilting technique the next, and they don’t bat an eye.  

I feel like I got a little derailed there, so let me get back to my point.  Our MQG has a tradition that someone will head up making a baby quilt for expecting moms in the guild.  So several of the people in the guild got together and put this amazing quilt together.  I love everything about it, and it couldn’t be more perfect.  They had even finished piecing it back in August.  Which is the month our guild had booked Karlee Porter to come do a graffiti quilting workshop for us.  Somewhere in all of this, they were discussing the baby quilt in front of Karlee and discussing who would quilt it.  (I have to say here that Karlee is hands down the most authentic Sewlebrity I’ve even met.  She is real and such a great person to be around.  And AMAZINGLY talented.)

And Karlee volunteered to take it home and quilt it.  NUTS.  Not only did she take it home and quilt it, she couched my baby’s name in the center of the quilt with metallic yarn.  This post is more for me than anyone else.  I want to always remember how special I felt when i received this.  Emily presented it to me at our October guild meeting, and I had no idea that it was finished.  I wasn’t expecting it, and lately, I have been nothing but a bucket of raw emotions.  So they told me how they put it together, the amazingly special people that planned it, gave fabric for it, gave their time for it, and arranged for Karlee to help as well.  And I lost my shit.   (Pardon the french.  I don’t cuss on the blog, but there it is.)  I cried so hard that I nearly couldn’t recover to do the rest of the meeting (I’m currently interim President).  Ugly tears were seen by all, and I didn’t even care.  Because this group is my tribe.  And wouldn’t you know, I’m crying again while I’m typing this.  Seriously, I can’t wait for these pregnancy hormones to be gone!  

Anyway. I’m totally overwhelmed at the thought of being a new mom and have no clue what to do once Gemma gets here, but I know that she will be SO loved.  And already is if this group is any indication.  
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Is more sometimes less?

Let’s talk a little bit about quilt designs.  Of the quilting variety.  Not the piecing variety.  How many of us struggle with keeping our quilting plans fresh and unique?  If you’re anything like me, you might be constantly on Instagram or Pinterest searching through “free motion quilting” posts or “custom quilting” or “longarm quilting”, or any other search request you can think of.  And while I don’t ever want to copy someone else’s work, I’m always trying to find my own voice through things I like in other quilters’ work.  
I’m often blown away by tedious, tiny, overthought, quilted to death quilts.  I know I don’t charge nearly enough to compensate me for my time if I were to quilt every quilt that way.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even be able to pay the electric bill!  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post to get on my soap box about charging what you’re worth.  I just want to discuss simplicity in quilt design.  I chose one of the quilts I quilted this year, that honestly, isn’t a show quilt–it isn’t a mind blowing quilt design, but it is thoughtful enough to look good (in my opinion).  
Isn’t the purpose of a good quilter to make the designer/piecer’s work shine?  To make the block or the quilt look it’s absolute best? 

I chose two motifs do be used on this quilt.  One was a continuous loop that was stitched throughout the green pieces on the quilt to give uniformity to the design.

The other motif was simple double wavy lines with curved lines connecting them on the larger pieced blocks.  While these two designs won’t be winning any ribbons at quilting shows, I’m sure, it does enough to simply enhance the quilt without drawing so much attention to the quilting that you can’t even see the actual quilt or blocks anymore.  I know this is nothing special, but I just want to point out that not every quilt has to be QTD.  (Quilted to death)

I recently saw a quilt on Instagram from a quilter I follow on a log cabin quilt.  The quilter is extremely talented and really takes quilting to a new level.  The log cabin quilt was QTD.  Quilted. To. Death.  It looks good.  But the actual quilt is lost in the quilting.  What purpose does this serve?  I almost feel like it is just to inflate the ego of the quilter, and maybe the piecer requested this…but I wouldn’t think so.  Shouldn’t the piecing and quilting work together to make the quilt balanced overall?  I would really like to post a picture of what I’m talking about, but I don’t want to demean anyone’s work.

Also, keep in mind that I’ve only been sewing and quilting since about 2011.  So really, in the grand scheme of things, what do I know? ๐Ÿ™‚  Just something to chew on and think about when it comes to quilt design…does more sometimes equal less?

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Spooky Spiderweb Trick Or Treat bag tutorial

If you’d like to make the perfect project for your special little trick-or-treater, I teamed up with Janome to bring you the perfect tutorial for a reusable treat bag!  Visit Janome’s website for the full tutorial and a quick and easy sew!  

 This is a great project with a little pop of color on the reverse side of the drawstring bag–you can use a contrasting fabric to really make it pop (or even glow in the dark fabric!)


And learn to quilt some really fun spiderwebs!  Enjoy!

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Quilting a “Letters from home” quilt

A couple of months ago, I had the awesome opportunity to quilt one of my customer’s “Letters from Home” quilt (pattern by Heather Givens/Crimson Tate).  Now, I have to preface this post by saying that I’m barely wetting my toes in the waters of custom quilting.  But I am super-duper proud of the quilting on this quilt.  I’m going to take you through the process.

I like Glide’s thread for a little pop of sheen on a quilt.  Plus, it quilts like a DREAM.  I selected a few different thread colors for the quilting on this quilt.  Mainly, I changed thread colors to help them blend with the fabrics they were quilting on for a more subtle pop.  I used Quilter’s Dream batting for this quilt, as I do with most of my client quilts.

Glide Threads selected

 Some people might have you believe that once the quilt was loaded and the threads picked out that the quilting just magically happened with a wave of their wand.  Here’s my dirty little secret:  This quilt sat on my frame for a week.  An entire WEEK.  I had sketched out at least a dozen ideas for quilting, and each morning I would go out to my studio, ready to attack.  But then I would end up standing there, staring at the quilt top.  I changed my mind so many times, and then decided on the most difficult (or most time consuming) design I had drawn up.

Beginning to mark and quilt the borders

So I broke out my water soluble marking pen and trusty ruler and started marking some guidelines for the quilting.  I did some straight line quilting on the borders after marking them, and then marked the rest of the quilt as I went.  Each pass on the longarm took me about an hour to mark with the ruler and pen.

More markings, filled in with some quilting
The thing about the design being quilted, is that it isn’t complicated.  It’s just a bunch of straight lines and loops, but the way they are put together really leaves you with a huge impact.  
I have a black light on my longarm and seriously think it is SO cool.  This shows the texture a little better.

I really wanted to focus on the texture on this quilt, and so I chose to stitch in the ditch around the envelopes and the focal fabrics so they would pop out more.  My client selected Japanese import fabrics from Bunny Designs (out of Austin, TX), with a backing out of an adorable cupcake pattern (see the first photo in the post).  The attention to detail and her impeccable piecing made this quilt one of my all time favorites to quilt.  The quilt pattern by Crimson Tate is SO cute, and an ingenious way to showcase focal fabrics.

So, aside from me just talking about how much I loved this quilt, my other point is that sometimes it isn’t second nature to just come up with quilting designs out of thin air.  And it’s okay if the quilt has to sit on your frame for a week while you change your mind a hundred times about the quilting design (as long as your client has allowed you to do so!).  And while it is my favorite thing ever for a client to say–I want custom quilting, and the design is up to you–it can also be the most challenging (and rewarding) part of my job.  I think this is a great way to grow your skill set and think about how many different ways there are to quilt a quilt.  (Quilt construction and fabric selection by Debra Barnes)