The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting a Sampler Quilt Part 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quilting a Sampler Quilt Part 2

Okay, we're ready to cover the next 3 blocks of this Quilter's Pallet sampler quilt and some more tips for show quilting.

To recap, here's the original quilt top:

And here's the drawn over show version:

2nd Row Left Block - I really liked the sets of 3 appliqued leaves with this block and choose to emphasize them and the dark squares of the 9 patch as well.

The rest of the block should be filled with dense fillers and stitched in the ditch all around the block and motifs.

A quilter named "The Scott" asked in the comments of Part 1 how to stitch in the ditch.

Quite basically, when you stitch in the ditch with free motion, you just run around the ditch of your blocks with a line of quilting stitches.

If done correctly, your stitching should rest within the seam, making it nearly invisible, unless you look really hard.

Now, when you're filling your whole block with free motion fillers, you can get away with a much less perfect stitching in the ditch because people are going to be drooling so much over your filler stitches that they won't bother to nit pick your ditchwork.

Of course, sometimes you don't have a real "ditch" to stitch in. Most quilters press their seams to one side rather than open (naughty girls!) and this creates a noticeably ridge to one side of the seam.

When you try to stitch in the ditch with this ridge, your stitching isn't going to go fully in the ditch, but to one side or the other of that ridge.

This is one reason why I always press my seams open. I know it's annoying and time consuming, but it also reduces the bulk of those seams in the seam allowance, making it easier to quilt over those seams.

You also won't have a "ditch" around applique. In this situation, just stitch as close to the edge of the applique as you can, without stitching on it.

I'll try to get a video up soon showing how to do this. It's on my list of things to do!

2nd Row, Right Block - This is a very simple block and I choose to leave it that way. I liked the shapes of the triangle pinwheel, so I stitched in the ditch around those pieces to bring them out, then filled in the dark triangles with dense fillers.

This is one situation where I would probably use a super dense, flat filler for the dark triangles, like stippling, then another, more flowing filler for the background of the block.

I think that would add to the dimension and movement of the block, plus be fun to quilt that way!

3rd Row, Left Block - With this block, I really liked the interlocking squares, so I'd definitely make that a central motif.

I also liked the center star, but wanted to again soften some of the angles of this quilt with dresden curves. This tiny dresden plate motif would then be surrounded with a dense filler so it stands out over the piecing.

You can quilt whatever you like in the background of this block. You've got enough space for an edge to edge design like Cartoon Tree, or even an edge to center design like flowing glass.

Yesterday, a quilter named Ethne also asked in the comments of part 1 where I come up with so many designs and inspiration on a daily basis.

To be honest, I don't think of it that way. It's not a matter of volume or quantity. I simply live and breath quilting!

I've been working on my new ebook that will cover everything I know about quilting. It's going to be geared to beginners, but with the intent to move beyond the beginner phase and into advanced quilting.

I didn't even realize how MUCH I have to say about things like machines, thread, needles, and tension, until I started actually writing it all down.

I'm already on page 30 and we haven't even started quilting yet!

But I'm so extremely thankful to have this to work on and to share it with all of you! Keep the comments coming and let me know where your major confusion areas are on a quilt.

Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Thanks Leah, this is very useful. BUT
    Girls AND boys if you please!

  2. Do you stitch in the ditch around every pieced seam in the quilt or just around the blocks?

  3. NVD - Ditching for a quilt like this would be around every area that has a different design. So if you have a design in tear drop shapes, obviously stitch around the shape, then fill with the design. If you ignore seams, you don't have to ditch them, but definitely ditch around each block and each area where there is a different design.

    Of course, this is my opinion based on the best way for the quilt to look on the front and back. It's your quilt and you can quilt it any way you like!


    Leah Day


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