Last week we started working together to create this small Heart and Feather Wholecloth quilt:
Just in case you're running a bit behind, you can find this free pattern here and last week's post about it here.
Today you should have your quilt top marked, basted and ready to go so let's learn how to tackle outline quilting in free motion:
In this video I used a Queen Supreme Slider, Machingers, Bobbin Washers, and Isacord Thread when quilting this project. Of all of these tools, the gloves and thread were definitely the most helpful for maintaining control over the quilt and being able to quilt over the same area multiple times without breaking thread.
Now let's talk through outline quilting on your Heart and Feather Wholecloth.
We can break this quilt down into 4 sections: center heart motif, middle interlocking squares, corner heart motifs, and the feathers.
For each section of the quilt, it's a very good idea to spend some time tracing the paper pattern to get a mental idea of how you will quilt around each motif.
This allows you to plan ahead and minimize the amount of travel stitching you'll need to do. It will also mentally prepare you for moving the quilt under your needle. Even though they're marked lines, it's still possible to get "lost" as you quilt each motif and not know where to stitch next.
Now let's talk about some tips for staying on a line as you quilt. The biggest tip here is to GO SLOWLY. I had to speed up the video just to show you everything within 15 minutes, but I promise the machine was moving slower than usual in order to stay on the lines perfectly.
Also look at the position of your hands. Bring them slightly closer to your needle and spread your fingers wide for more control. Watch out for stitching through your fingers of course!
When quilting the straight lines, use your index finger as a guide by keeping it parallel with your needle and pushing the quilt straight through your machine. This will help keep those straight lines perfectly straight and right on the line without wiggles.
It also helps to take breaks often, breathe, and shake your whole body to release tension. It's very easy to get all wound up when stitching on a line and this tension will work against you.
Of course, this section of the quilt feels a lot like week 4, but this time we're adding a new challenge: travel stitching.
Travel stitching or traveling is a necessary step to stitching this outline. In order to complete even the simplest section, the heart motifs, you HAVE to be able to quilt right on top of previous lines of quilting.
Beyond creating this wholecloth, traveling is a fundamental technique to free motion quilting. There are so many designs that require this skill so it will definitely pay off to spend some time working at it.
Personally I learned how to travel stitch by doing exactly what we're doing this week: I marked designs and forced myself to stitch around them. Again and again I'd mark designs from Karen McTavish's book Secrets of Elemental Quilting onto white fabric then quilt on the lines, travel stitching whenever I needed to.
It wasn't perfect and it took several motifs before the skill started to emerge. Even now I still make mistakes and stitch off the line if I'm not focused on what I'm doing. It happens! Don't beat yourself up about it and don't rip it out unless you absolutely can't stand it.
Of course, travel stitching can be extremely annoying if you're constantly breaking thread every time you try it. Sometimes you'll need to be able to travel stitch 2 to 5 times over the same area and most cotton threads are simply too weak and too thick for this job.
I'm using Isacord thread in this video because it's very thin and very strong and able to stitch over itself without breaking. If you're absolutely insistent on using cotton, Aurifil's 50 wt mako cotton will probably be your best bet.
Now the last section of the video covered feathers, one of the most beautiful elements to stitch on a quilt, but also one that gives many beginners fits.
So we learned two different ways of quilting around these feathers. Of course, there are many more ways to quilt around feathers and even more ways to quilt them freeform, but let's learn these two methods today:
Travel Back Feather - This feather is formed by hitting the vine line, then traveling along the back of the previous feather then swinging out to form the next. All the travel stitching will run between the feathers, making them stand out nicely on your quilt.
Bump Bump Feather - This feather is formed by traveling along the vine, forming a feather, then traveling back along the top of that feather and bumping off to swing out with the next feather.
Give both of these methods a try and see which one works best for you! Also play with the direction and angle you stitch the feathers in. Feathers are challenging only because they angle and bend in a fluid way that is hard to stitch unless it feels natural for you.
The best advice I have is to PLAY. Don't obsess about perfection, just stitch on the lines and accept whatever happens. You may even want to mark several tops to play with simply so you don't get too worked up about small mistakes.
Now it's time to link up your progress from last week preparing your wholecloth quilt!
Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog:
1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com), but the link to the specific post: http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2012/01/quilt-along-2-quilting-in-rows.html
3. Click the blue link up button above and paste your link into the box.
Keep in mind that you're posting your progress from LAST week on THIS week's post. This way you have time to watch the lesson, play with the ideas, then post your progress to the next quilt along. I hope that makes sense!
As always, any questions you have, please post them in the comments below or on your blog and I'll answer 5 tomorrow on Question Thursday.
Time for me to shut up and quilt,