The Free Motion Quilting Project: 11. New Flock of Geese and Assisted Marking

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

11. New Flock of Geese and Assisted Marking

Yay! I'm finally back on track! It's taken a few days to get life back to normal, but now it seems like everything should calm least for a few weeks!

Let's get started today by tackling an old / new design. Flock of Geese was originally inspired by Caryl Bryer Fallert's quilt New Dawn. In this quilt paper pieced flying geese swirl into the center and along flowing lines. Basically seeing the triangles flow through curvy line spaces made me think of Chain of Pearls and how easy it is to stitch circles within 2 parallel lines.

free motion quilting | Leah DaySo that was my inspiration when I sat down to stitch in 2009. But...I couldn't quilt it! I could not capture either the look or feel of what I was going for and after 3 failed attempts, I just decided this would have to do:

When it came time to re-stitch hundreds of these originals for the book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, I knew Flock of Geese had to change. I decided to return to the original inspiration and see if there was any way to quilt it the way I wanted it to look. With a little assisted marking, this is what I could quilt:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
That's much more like it!

So what is Assisted Marking? Basically it's using marking to work out a specific element of the design, but not marking the entire design.

With free motion, I find that there's a lot of confusion about marking based on the questions I get every day. Yes, I do believe a true "filler" design should be able to be quilted with NO MARKING at all.

But there's a whole giant bucket of designs that can be helped and "assisted" with a tiny bit of marking. In this case, marking the bases of each triangle shape allowed me to visualize the triangles better so I could fill the remaining 2 sides of each shape freehand. Without the little marked line, my flock of geese becomes a jumbled mess. With marking, I'm guaranteed a perfect fit and gorgeous design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Flock of Geese stitched in Isacord Pumpkin Thread
 Now for the question I know you're about to ask - how time consuming is it?

In all, it took around 3 minutes to mark all my wiggly lines and all the triangle bases within the space. That is not bad considering the hours of ripping that could have resulted if I had not marked this little bit of the design.

But as always, you don't have to do this! I'm just honestly admitting that I cannot quilt this design as well, as perfectly, as prettily without a tiny bit of marking to set the path in motion.

So you can see what I'm ranting on about, here's a video that teaches both the assisted marking and how to quilt over it with the complete design:

Have fun giving this design a try and make sure to link up with us on Friday!

Let's go quilt,



  1. Great tutorial! I'm excited to try this one.

    Before I even read anything, I saw the wiggly lines of triangles and though "that looks like something inspired by Caryl Bryer Fallert". I just LOVE her work.

  2. The flock of Geese looks like a cool design. I love sewing the geese, and I can not wait to try the fmq design. Thank you Leah for these neat ideas. You are such a great teacher.

  3. Oh this design is pretty! I can't wait to try it out! Thanks for sharing

  4. ciao! mi dici per favore a quanto metti tensione superiore filo? e quello della bobina??? uso la mia bernina 440QE

  5. Love this design! What did you say that pencil was? I have the hardest time finding a pen/pencil to mark the fabric and not disappear before I get to it.

  6. First thing tomorrow morning, I am going to work on "Flock of Geese" I love it and it will work into so many areas.

  7. I'm glad that you said something about marking. A little bit of marking goes a long way. Love your flying geese pattern. Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful tips--you are very gifted!

  8. I love your blog! You come up with the most creative designs!

  9. I love the new design! I have always loved Flying Geese. I wonder if you can avoid marking the bottoms of the triangles by sewing up one of the sides and sewing the bottoms only (over and back), then finishing the triangles one side at a time (for example, sew up doing the bottoms, down on the left side and up on the right.) It works on paper, but I haven't tried it with the machine. I'm "allergic" to marking, so always trying to find a way to avoid! This way the bases of the triangles get a lot of thread, but the triangles are consistantly only one layer each side (unless you do them twice!) You have been such a boon to FMQing, making it accessible to many of us struggling at home. THANK YOU!!
    Sally in Seattle

  10. I love that you can admit that 'three years ago I was unable to quilt what I had in mind' (because your FMQ skills weren't as polished as they are now). When experts like you admit it wasn't always as easy as it is now, it inspires beginners like me. Thank you Leah, you are a true visionary and motivator, not to mention an excellent teacher!


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