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Free motion quilting tutorial – How to quilt pebbles

how to quilt pebbles

Pebbles are a favorite of mine when there are lots of small spaces that need extra texture. The thing is, it can get kind of boring to quilt the same size pebble over and over AND OVER again until the cows come home. Right?

I like to change up the size of the pebbles to add a little more interest and create a river rock effect. It helps to take some of the monotony out of it, but lets you keep all that ooey-gooey texture that you’re going for. Sometimes, quilting the same shape so much will make you get a little road weary, and I’ve found this is a great way to avoid that.

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How to quilt a grid using rulers tutorial

how to quilt a grid

Quilting with rulers can seem like a daunting plan. We all love how grids can look in a quilt and how much visual interest they can add. But how do you go about actually doing it? Even beginners can quilt a grid with a little planning and patience. Here are some of my best tips for quilting a grid:

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Free motion quilting tutorial – pebbles and swirls

pebbles and swirls

Quilting pebbles and swirls

You’ve got a quilt that you’re just dying to add some texture to, right? Pebbles seem like the quilting motif of choice, but you’re a little leery of the repetitive, time consuming motif. You can add some swirls in with the pebbles to make the quilting go a little faster.

I know when I’m quilting pebbles, sometimes I get road weary. You know–that feeling you get when you’ve been driving on a highway for hours with no landmarks in sight? You can’t really remember how many hours you’ve been driving for, and everything in the road looks the same. Your eyes get tired and you start to doze off.

Okay, okay! Maybe it doesn’t happen exactly like that with quilting, but you know what I mean, right? I start to get that same feeling when I’m quilting pebbles. I’ve found that adding some easy swirls in with the pebbles really mixes it up and keeps me on my toes. Pebbles are pretty time consuming too, so the larger swirls take up a little of that space and help to solve that problem.

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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

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Quilting Tips – How to plan your quilting designs

How to plan your Quilting

Happy 4th of July!  I hope you’re getting to enjoy family and friends and all the great festivities that the 4th brings!  In my neck of the woods, it’s hotter than Hades and we haven’t had a decent rain shower since March, so we may not be enjoying tons of fireworks this evening…we’re definitely praying for the little rain shower than is a minor possibility tonight.  Now lets talk quilting tips and how to tackle planning your quilting design!

I recently got to quilt an American Wave Quilt (pattern by Lisa Moore of Quilts with a Twist) for my mother-in-law and thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of my quilting tips for adding texture and movement to your quilt tops and planning your overall quilting design.  Even though I love bright colors and modern-traditional quilt designs, I have a great appreciation for traditional colors and patriotic quilts.  Some of the first quilts I made when I was learning to sew were with traditional, warm colors and American designs.  I’m using this quilt to talk about the 8 things I usually think about before I start quilting, but these tips can be applied to any quilt top.

My MIL didn’t follow the pattern exactly as shown below, but this is the original pattern, by Lisa Moore, pictured below.  If you’re interested in purchasing the pattern, you can grab a PDF copy at Quilts with a Twist (this is not an affiliate link, I’m just crediting the original designer in case you want to purchase the pattern).

American Wave Quilt Pattern
American Wave Quilt Pattern by Lisa Moore – Photo from Quilts with a Twist Pattern Page

Here are my top quilting tips for devising your quilting plan:

  1.  Consider the quilting as a design element of your quilt.
    When you get a quilt top completed that has so much work put into it–much as this one does–it’s important to consider the quilting as another design element and not an afterthought.  In my opinion, a basic meander or other edge to edge can take away from the overall impact of the quilt.Since our goal was to enhance the movement already present in the piecing, we decided to stitch in the ditch, quilt swirly waves, add some stars to go with the theme, and quilt piano keys on the striped fabric border.

    SID and swirly waves
    SID and swirly waves
  2. Examine the layout of the quilt and follow the lines in the quilt to enhance the design.This quilt design already shows lots of movement in the piecing.  I opted to stitch in the ditch on the waves and within the different fabric colors, I quilted swirly waves.  Another great quilting motif would have been to echo the wavy lines within the quilt to complement the already wavy lines.The red and white striped fabric wasn’t exactly stitched in the ditch (SID), since it was one piece of fabric and not pieced stripes, but I followed the lines of the colors and did a faux SID to make it appear that it was pieced.
  3. Consider thread color.
    I used three different thread colors on this quilt–red, cream, and blue.  I matched the thread colors to the fabrics I was quilting and changed them often.  This isn’t always necessary, but it’s important to consider before you stick with just one thread color for the entirety of the quilt.  If you want the quilting to really pop, then using just one of those colors–like cream would be a great idea.  The cream will blend into the cream colored fabrics, but contrast highly against the darker values of the red and blue.

    Blending thread
    Blending thread

    Ask yourself — Do I want my quilting to blend or POP?  If your goal is great subtle quilting, then select your thread colors to blend or melt into the fabric.  If your goal is high contrast quilting that will POP against your fabric, select thread colors that contrast with the fabric.
    Also, if you’re a beginning quilter, matching your thread colors to your fabric colors will help conceal any minor mistakes you might make.  This is a great confidence building technique to get you started on your quilting journey!

  4. What color is your backing?
    Some people prefer the quilting to blend into the backing, but in this case, the red and blue threads really pop on the cream colored muslin that was used for the backing.  It’s a good idea to think about your backing and what the quilting will look like on the back prior to starting quilting.

    Backing
    Backing
  5. Look at your borders (if there are borders).
    So there were two “borders” on this quilt top.  The outer border was a dark navy blue, and the inner border was the red and white striped fabric.  I quilted stars that connected to each other in navy blue thread on the outer border and the faux SID on the striped fabric.  It’s a little difficult to see because of the thread matching, but it’s there :).  Select quilting motifs that will complement your border designs.

    Border designs
    Border designs
  6. Think about the theme of the quilt.
    In this case, the theme is pretty straightforward.  It’s obviously a patriotic themed quilt, so think about designs that go with that theme.  Stars, stripes, waves, etc. would all be good choices to go with this quilt top.  maybe you have a quilt top that has cats on it, and the cats are made from triangles–you could quilt triangle motifs in the borders, or a ball of yarn, or little mice.  Stars probably wouldn’t be a good choice to go with a cat quilt, so you’d want to pick something in theme with the quilt top.
  7. Evaluate the purpose of the quilt. 
    This will help you decide the density of quilting that is appropriate and what type of batting you may want to use.  If it’s a quilt that’s going to be a wall hanging, you’d probably want to use a stiffer batting, or maybe double batt with a puffy top like wool.  If the quilt is intended to be used often, you might select a poly-cotton blend  or 100% cotton-something that would stand up to being washed and laundered frequently.The batting you select might also dictate how far apart the quilting can be.  If you buy packaged batting, it will usually tell you how far apart the quilting lines can be (example-up to 8″ apart).  Keep in mind the denser the quilting, the stiffer it will feel.  A looser quilted quilt will be softer and drape better than a heavily quilted one.
  8. Stitch in the ditch might be a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it.
    I’m a big fan of SID.  I haven’t ever quilted a quilt with stitch in the ditch and regretted it, but there have been instances where I didn’t do it and wished I had.  It gives the overall quilt a more finished look (in my opinion), and a very polished look.

    SID detail
    SID detail

    The overall idea is to think of your quilting plan and how it will affect the overall impact of your finished quilt.  These 8 tips are small things you can consider that will really impact your finished quilt.  I hope these tips are helpful in planning your next quilting project!  Have a safe and happy 4th, and happy quilting 🙂

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Free-Motion Framework book – Giveaway!

Free-Motion Framework

I am delighted to announce that I had the honor of contributing to Jen Eskridge’s new book from CT Publishing called Free-Motion Framework.  It’s an amazing book that offers tips and tricks for really building your free motion quilting skills.  There are so many amazing contributors (17, in fact!) in Jen’s book, you’ve really gotta check it out!  Keep on reading to the bottom for two separate chances to win!

Free-Motion Framework
Free-Motion Framework Book

Head over HERE to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway!  Jen will be announcing the winner on June 19th (entry closes June 18).  Prizes include: Clover marking tools, Clover Wonderclips, HandiQuilter machine quilting rulers, and a couple of copies of the book!  AND…For a second chance to win, I’m giving away a copy as well, courtesy of C&T Publishing!  Head over to Instagram @kustomkwilts and enter for your chance to win a copy of the book by:

  1. Following my instagram account @kustomkwilts
  2. Liking the giveaway post
  3. Tag a friend!

You must do all three to be entered to win!  My giveaway will close Sunday, July 10 and I’ll announce the winner Monday July 11, 2018.  The giveaway hosted by me is closed.  Congratulations to Marnie Anderson on winning a copy of the book!

Free-Motion Framework launched at Spring Quilt Market this past May, and is available on Amazon now.  Check it out here!  The book includes ten designs that can be transferred to a whole cloth or a single piece of fabric as your quilting guide.  I quilted two of the samples included in the book, and really loved how simple the process was for transferring the design to the fabric and then starting to plan your quilting ideas.

One of my samples in Free-Motion Framework

Jen gives lovely suggestions for how to create your own designs and fill the area creatively.  This book is a wonderful exercise in working out your quilting muscles and trying something new.  The skills to be gained from this are limitless, but I found that it really helped me plan block based quilting designs much more efficiently and gave me some new ideas I hadn’t tried before.  I really like the idea of using hand guided free motion quilting in conjunction with some simple ruler work and straight lines.

sneak peek
A peek at the corner of my other sample in the book

The picture above is the corner of another of my samples in the book.  The designs provided in the book are so simple to use and provide a great study on symmetry in your whole cloth work.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy so I can quilt up some more of these quilts.  Don’t forget to follow the link in the second paragraph to comment for a chance to win some great prizes in this blog tour of Free-Motion Framework!

Stop by each blog this week for a possible chance to win a copy of Free-Motion Framework. (International winners, outside the USA, will receive a digital copy.)

Monday | June 4

ReannaLily Designs (here!) 
C & T Publishing

Tuesday | June 5

Joey’s Quilting Co
Helen Ernst Longarm Quilting
Nancy Zieman Productions, LLC The Blog

Thursday | June 7

Wise Craft Handmade

Friday | June 8

Kustom Kwilts
Living Water Quilter
Seamingly Slawson Quilts – Susan Lawson

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Making it Fun Quilt – Spring Quilt Market 2018

Spring Quilt Market Quilt for Michael Miller

Guys!!!  I’m so excited to finally be able to share my project for the Michael Miller Spring Quilt Market booth.  They sent me fat quarters of their new has dot blenders and their marbled fabrics, along with some coordinating Cotton Couture solids and told me to make something fun and rainbow-y!  Is that a dream assignment, or what??  I narrowed it down to 48 unique fabrics that I wanted to use in the quilt, and lined them up:

Spring Quilt market
Holy cow!!! 48 different fabrics!

I numbered them and then numbered the design I had mocked up in EQ8, but it was starting to get a little crazy.  I ended up having to make a smaller swatch card because some of the fabrics were so similar in color and shade that I was starting to go cross-eyed flipping through that stack.

Spring Quilt Market
Swatch Card

I very rarely make swatch cards, but I found it to be very necessary with this quilt.  I designed a foundation paper piecing block in EQ8 and then rotated it slightly to complete the design.  The piecing went really quickly and I just needed to double check that I had the correct fabric for each block before I started sewing.  I’ll admit, there was a good amount of seam ripping to be had with this one!

FPP
Foundation Paper Pieced Blocks stacked and ready to go!

I used my new Daylight Company light box to help with the foundation paper piecing, and I really love how thin and lightweight the unit is.  I had a very bulky, cumbersome light box in the past and recently upgraded to this one.  It’s been such a nice treat to have one that doesn’t take up all of my cutting mat.  I also used Adobe Illustrator to help design the applique text in the right size and fonts, then tiled the pages to make a huge pattern.  I hand cut each letter and symbol out, then used the paper as a template to trace onto the white fabric for the applique.  I used Misty Fuse on the backside of the white Cotton Couture and then cut out each letter.  It was pretty time and labor intensive, but I love how it turned out.

My EQ layout compared to the quilt top, prior to adding applique
My EQ layout compared to the quilt top, prior to adding applique

I did come up with a slight problem in getting the applique on straight, centered, and spaced equally.  Usually, I would just use a big window and tape the quilt in place or trace where the letters needed to be, but I decided to buy a cheap portable projector and project the original applique design onto the quilt while it hung, and then I positioned the letters in place with a small amount of glue from an Elmer’s glue stick.  Once they were in position, I lightly fused them into place and then took the quilt top to my Janome MC9400 to complete the applique blanket stitching around each individual letter (that took about a day and a half!).

projector
Using the portable projector to project my applique design onto the quilt

Once I finished the applique, it was time to throw it on the longarm for quilting.  I chose just a single layer of Quilter’s Dream Wool to maximize the quilting texture and also keep it fairly lightweight.  Then I quilted some straight diagonal lines with rulers to finish it off.  I opted to not bind the quilt traditionally, but I faced it to not take away from the overall punch of the quilt, and keep the focus on the applique.  I really loved making this quilt and loved the new fabrics being released by Michael Miller Fabrics for Spring Quilt Market 2018.  I can’t wait to get my hands on more of that fabric!

Spring Quilt Market Quilt for Michael Miller
Spring Quilt Market Quilt for Michael Miller

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Quilting applique and some modern maples

Swirls!

I just love some good free motion quilting!  Last month, I quilted some amazing client quilts.  One quilt was a BOM from a local quilt shop – Sew Special in San Antonio, TX, and another was pieced by Kasandra Lee from the SAMQG.  The first quilt I mentioned was a quilt pieced by Katelen Postert that started as a traditional BOM using Moda’s Grunge line.  Katelen added her own special touch and added some amazing animal appliques to really make this quilt special.  Katelen is so talented, and that mini-parade of wildlife strolling down the center of the quilt is just perfection!

Katelen's Quilt
Katelen’s Quilt

When I met with Katelen for her quilting consultation, we decided on some  clean straight line quilting (not too dense), and outline the appliques with some stitch in the ditch and surround them with medium-sized swirls.  I used Glide thread in a 50 wt. light teal color that matched the duck (along with a lighter cream color for the swirls), and used a single layer of Quilter’s Dream Wool batting.

Duck Applique
Duck Applique

Longarm View
Longarm View

I was so in love with Katelen’s color choices and her addition of the applique was such an awesome touch.  Here’s a portion of the finished quilt with the applique.  Bravo Katelen!!!

Katelen's quilt
Katelen’s quilt

Kasandra’s quilt was just as exciting for me to quilt.  She did a great modern maple quilt with lots of negative space in a cool color palette.

Kasandra's Quilt
Kasandra’s Quilt

I did some diagonal straight line quilting within the maple leaves to follow the lines of the piecing, and then added some free flowing swirls to the background.  The batting used was Quilter’s Dream Orient for a functional, soft, and drapey quilt that will be useful in a hot climate.

Longarm View
Longarm View

And these are the free-flowing swirls I did in the negative space.  This is truly one of my favorite fills to do, and so relaxing to get lost in!

Swirls!
Swirls!

I’m so happy I can share these quilts made by some very talented women.  I love mixing a little free motion quilting with ruler work and I think it makes the quilt really stand out without being overly done.  Hope you’re getting to do some lovely sewing this week!

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QuiltCon 2018

Quilting spacing

Well, months have passed since QuiltCon happened in California, and I’m just now getting around to writing a blog post about it.  I wasn’t able to attend, but several of the quilts I quilted did!  There’s a reason I didn’t write this post in a timely manner.  I have this thing where I think that quilting someone else’s quilt doesn’t necessarily give me the right to share the quilting.  I guess I don’t want people to think I’m trying to take credit for someone else’s work.  I also don’t really know or understand the rules about when someone’s quilt wins something that I’ve quilted…does that mean I also share that victory?  I’m sharing this one because I am super excited about how the quilting turned out, and it won a Judge’s Choice Award at QuiltCon.  There are so many amazing quilts and creators in the winner’s circle, so be sure you check them all out here!  A huge congratulations to Leslie and all the other amazing artists who were recognized for their work.

Nests and vessels
Nests and Vessels by Leslie Tucker Jenison, Quilted by Joanna Marsh (photo from the QuiltCon Website)

Leslie Tucker Jenison created and constructed this quilt titled “Nests and Vessels”, and it was awarded a Judge’s Choice Award by Beverly Fine.  Leslie has studied with Nancy Crow and her style is truly unique and inspiring.   L is a contemporary quilt artist and designer for RJR fabrics.  Leslie’s use of color and shape never cease to amaze me, and I consider myself quite lucky that I get to quilt for her.  Leslie had several quilts that were juried into the show, and they were all equally inspiring and thought provoking.

I’ll share a few progress pictures from the quilting.  Leslie requested some straight line quilting on this one, and I varied the proximity of the lines to be distanced 1/16″ apart to 1/4″ apart.  This picture probably demonstrates that the best:

Quilting spacing
Quilting spacing

And here are a few more:

Nests and Vessels
Nests and Vessels

ladder view
Ladder view

longarm view
longarm view

This quilt was quilted with MicroQuilter thread by Superior Threads and the batting was Quilter’s Dream Orient and Quilter’s Dream Wool.  I really love the subtle finish the Microquilter thread gives a project.  You can definitely see the quilting, but it doesn’t overpower the project and leaves more of a hint of design rather than barging into a room and demanding attention.

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Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt FREE PATTERN

Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt

Who wants a free Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt Pattern?  Well today is your lucky day!!!

You have to check out this adorable fabric line Michael Miller Fabrics just released. The line is called Ice Cream, You Scream and the colors are everything!  Also, there’s this border print that is just dying to be put in a quilt (or made into a little girl’s skirt!!), and nearly makes me swoon!  I got a chance to get my hands on this fabric to design a quilt for the release, and I’m not gonna lie…I spent a few hours just playing with the fabric and coordinating Cotton Couture.  It features sweet ice cream cones, sundaes, and the best stripes.  It reminded me of the 4th of July and ice cream socials and everything pure in the world.  The best part is, Michael Miller Fabrics is offering this pattern as a freebie–you can get your own PDF pattern download from their website.

Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt
Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt – Picture from Michael Miller Fabrics website

The pattern is for “confident beginners”, which just means you need a general knowledge of foundation paper piecing and fussy cutting.  I fussy cut the border pieces so the ice cream sundaes were centered along the center of the borders, and the cornerstones in the border were fussy cut to showcase the cute little ice cream phrases on the fabric.

I had a blast designing and piecing the quilt.  I had even more fun quilting it!  I used Glide thread (from Hab+Dash) and Quilter’s Dream batting in the quilt.  I used a few different colors of thread and matched them to the different fabrics.  Most of the quilting was handguided free motion quilting, with the assistance of straight rulers for the grids.

Ice cream cone
Ice Cream Cone Quilting

Cornerstone block quilting

I’d love to see what you do with the pattern–the foundation paper piecing blocks are pretty quick to sew up.  Just remember to shorten your stitch length (I like to use 1.5) so the paper is perforated enough to tear away easily and print your paper piecing templates at 100%.  Then add your sashing and borders and voila!  Don’t forget to grab your free copy, and check out the pattern (pictured below).  Happy sewing!!!

Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt
Ice Cream, You Scream Quilt