Welcome to the 2015 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge.  This month we kick off our January Challenge, with several ways to learn/improve your FMQ skills, have fun, share, inspire, as well as enter to win prizes that will be awarded at the end of this monthly challenge.

2015 fmq challenge badge



Open to quilters of all levels that want to learn/improve their FMQ skills.  There will be a big emphasis, throughout the year, to ~Create ~ Share ~ Inspire ~ #FreeMotionQuiltingGoodness, aka #FMQGoodness.

Each month there will be a linky party where bloggers and non-bloggers can share the FMQ pillow (or pillows) that they created, following the respective monthly challenge.  They’ll need to finish that challenge and share via the linky, but the lst day of the month to enter to win prizes.  But everyone is invited to share any FMQ project any time through a Flickr group that has been created: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2815271@N22/


Aurifil, Clever Craft Tools/Grip & Stitch, Fabrics N Quilts, Fat Quarter Shop, Martingale, The Stencil Company, Udderly Smooth, Landauer Publishing and more will be announced soon.   Many FMQ Experts have also generously offered prizes too!

Prizes will be awarded monthly, where specific prizes will be showcased, as well as recognition of the monthly sponsors.  To clarify, prizes will vary every month.  Also, many will be shipped directly to the winner from Sponsors, but QuiltShopGal will be shipping some of the prizes using funds earned from Affiliate programs, thanks to Postage Angels.  Some prizes will be identified as only being eligible to participants in the US or US/Canada, but many will be open to WW participants.  Either way, I hope participants join this challenge to learn and have fun and not just to win a prize.


Update:  Winners were randomly selected using the random number generator which drew #40, #18, #21, #28, and #22.  An email has been sent to the winners to confirm they wish to claim their prize, otherwise another name will be drawn.

Sponsor Prize Winners
Aurifilaurifilogoweb Aurifil thread collection of 12 large spools.aurifil perfectly suited for every projectThis prize is open to WW participants and has a retail value of $130 US.
Prize #1 Bente of I Like to Quilt
Udderly Smooth, by RedEx 65668_10151884614025894_331473606_n  A gift pack of Udderly Smooth products.  Product bundle shipped may not be exactly like what QuiltShopGal is showing.Estimated Retail value $25.  Prize is open to participants living in US/Canada.  Prize #2Winner:  Dena of Living Water Quilter
Fat Quarter ShopFatQuarterShop-Circle-275x275 Gift Certificate for $25.  Prize is open to participants WW.  Prize #3 Winner – If I Can, Sew Can You
Molly Hanson Two copies of her book “Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners – and those who think they can’t”Prize is open to participants living in the US.  Estimated retail value of this book is $26.99 Prize # 4 TBA Winner Connie of Free Motion by the River Prize # 5 Jean O. (non-blogger)



Molly Hanson enjoys free-motion quilting her own quilts, as well as quilting for fabric companies, authors, bloggers, and pattern companies. While she has been published in a magazine, had her work featured in videos from fabric manufacturers.  And she can be seen on two episodes of Sewing with Nancy. Molly is also the author of a new FMQ book that is perfect for beginners, as well as those that think they can’t do FMQ!



You may recall I previously wrote a review about her new book “Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners: and those who think they can’t”.  It is an excellent book for those new to FMQ, as it will help you learn how to setup your sewing space for FMQ, understanding tools, prepping your project, sketching, as well as five important prep-steps for FMQ, along with oodles of tips, tricks and reminders.  For those that have expertise with FMQ, you may also enjoy this book and creating some fun projects that show off your FMQ too!

Molly is a very talented and I’m honored to showcase her as an FMQ Expert during this 2015 FMQ Challenge.

You can find Molly at:




  1.  a sketchbook, which is a great place to start whether you are brand new to FMQ, or wanting to plan FMQ on a pillow, quilt or other project.  Sketching a FMQ motif on paper is a great way to embed a design in your muscle memory.
  2. practice quilt  sandwiches are really important.  Even FMQ Experts using practice sandwiches before they stitch any design on a project, even if they have stitched that design previously.  Practice helps you master a design, as well as ensure your machine is stitching properly.
  3. pillow form that is purchased or handmade, of any size, but I personally prefer a 18″x18″ or 16″x16″ pillow for these challenges.
  4. fabric marking pen that will wash out
  5. Quilting Gloves or Grip & Stitch Gloves
  6.  40 or 50wt cotton thread that compliments your fabric.  Aurifil is an excellent choice!
  7. Fabric for your quilt sandwich:
    • Pillow front: minimum of 20″x20″ (or larger) of neutral fabric that will show your stitching, but it is up to you to pick your fabric.
    • Pillow front backing: 20″x20″  (or larger) of any fabric.   As this fabric will be on the inside of your pillow and not visible, this is a great time to pick a fabric from your stash that is your least favorite.
    • Pillow backing: 20″x20″ (or larger) of a fabric that compliments the front of your pillow. Note, the size of your pillow backing should align with the size of the quilt sandwich for your front if you wish to do any FMQ on your back, which is totally optional.
    • Pillow back side – backing: totally optional, if you wish to add FMQ to the back side of your pillow.  Size should match your pillow backing sandwich (see above).


Pillow Pattern will be provided shortly, as well as a pattern to make your own pillow form, I recommend you start with a quilt sandwich that is approximately 20″x20″  to make a pillow that is 16″ or 18″ square in size.

Using a fabric marker and a quilt ruler, mark a square in the center of your sandwich that measures the intended size of your pillow. For example, if you plan on using a 18″x18″ pillow a square that is 18″x18″ would be marked on the center of your quilt sandwich that is at least 20″x20″ in size.



Using the book “Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners: and those who think they can’t “, by Molly Hanson and use the pattern in this book to create a pillow using the FMQ motif instructions in this book.  Of course, this book will teaches ten different FMQ designs and includes 15 different projects that are fun to create and show off your FMQ skills. 

Final B1278 Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners.inddEasy to follow instructions for this pillow, as well as supply requirements, to make this 16″x16″ pillow with free-motion quilting are included in this book which can be purchased in Martingale’s online store, Amazon, or your favorite quilt shop.


Use the free FMQ tutorial provided by Frances Moore, from the 2012 FMQ Challenge, to create a FMQ Pillow using the heart shaped leaf motif in her tutorial video that can be found at: http://quiltshopgal.com/welcome-to-the-2012-free-motion-quilting-challenge  You can also find a photo of the swirl in heart motif, which is an adaption of the leaf design Frances shared in her free video tutorial.  This motif is also visible on Fran’s blog at: http://frantastic-stitchwitchery.blogspot.com/2012/01/elements.html.  This is a fun FMQ background filler that is easy to learn, but best to practice by sketching on paper, before stitching on a “practice” sandwich. Apply this filler design, as you wish, to create your FMQ pillow.

heart motif with swirl by frances moore


Create a Pillow with FMQ which incorporates a heart motif.  Use a fabric marker (wash away) to draw out your heart on your quilt sandwich.


Fill your heart with FMQ Feathers and has a background stitched of your choosing.

LuAnn Kessi previously shared sketches of such a feathered motif, that may help to provide you inspiration.  She took step by step photos, which also provide a good visual tutorial.  Still, you are encouraged to sketch out your design on paper, before you stitch it out on your quilt sandwich.


LuAnn Kessi Heart FMQ Step 8

Create a FMQ Pillow with any Heart theme. Consider creating a heart shape with feathers that can be stitched free hand, sketched first, or by using a stencil, or a basic heart that is filled with feathers.  Use the free tutorial by Lu Ann Kessi (Insert a photo and link).



1) Entries need to be completed pillows that show free-motion quilting that aligns with the options defined in this monthly challenge.

2) You can enter one completed pillow for any, or all of the options.  Bloggers can do so in one blog post, but to help with the entries, their post needs to show photos and clarify which options they are entering for this monthly challenge.  Non-bloggers need to reflect the same as bloggers, in the comments for the photo they upload to the flickr group for this challenge. Both bloggers and non-bloggers can add one link to the linky tool, for each of the options they wish to enter.  Note, to help with administration, please be sure the photo in the linky tool reflects which of the challenge options you are claiming when you enter/add the link.

3.   In keeping with the spirit of this challenge, I hope in you encourage others to enter this challenge as well as check out all the entries to get inspired.

4.  In the spirit of ~Create ~ Share ~ Inspire ~ #CreativeGoodness, those that wish to share tips and tutorials during any of these monthly challenges will be appreciated.  And, as always, QuiltShopGal will try to do her best to help increase awareness of such.  Collectively, we can create great fun and help others learn/improve their FMQ Skills.


This linky party will be open thru the last day of the month.  You need to have your project completed and linked to enter to win prizes.  Those that may complete this challenge at a different time, as well as those that want to share any FMQ related project, are encouraged to share photos in the Flickr group created for this challenge: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2815271@N22/

If you are not familiar with how to use a linky click here for a tutorial.

For blogger participants that are interested in posting a badge, I’m working on creating and hope to have this post updated with such code shortly.


If you have questions for this Challenge, please read the FAQ:  http://quiltshopgal.com/faq-for-challenges-and-shows/

email QuiltShopGal if you still have questions at info @ quiltshopgal dot com and I will try to respond as fast as I can.

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Here is a list of previous posts 2015 FMQ Challenge:

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18 comments on “2015 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge – January”

  1. This looks like fun! I’m super excited to get started! I learned how to FMQ just a couple months ago so I’m sure I’ll learn a lot!

  2. I’m excited about this year’s set of challenges!! And I really like that we have a choice of fillers for this cushion 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Congratulations on your new format and all the great things happening! So much fun…I sure hope I can join in! I’m going to try!

  4. Thanks so much for this FMQ new challenge. I plan to follow along although I don’t know if I will get my projects done by the end of the month.

    I couldn’t get the link to the tutorial in Option #2 to work. I got the 404 error not found thingy.

    Thanks again, Claudia W

    • Claudia – there are two links that are listed in the section for option #2 and both worked for me. Can you try a different browser and see if that resolves the problem for you. If not, please let me know if you are PC/Mac and what browser you are using. I’ll see what I can figure out as an option. But again, from everything I see on my end you should be able to access the tutorial via the link in option #2.

      • It was the first link under option #2 that was the problem for me. I got a 404 Error Not Found both with Firefox on my pc and Safari on my iPad. I’ll try it later with Chrome. Thanks, Claudia W

        • Ooops. My bad. Thank you for staying on top of this. I now see the error message you get. Thanks for letting me know. this is a “my learning curve” issue for migrating to wordpress. I’ll try to get it fixed this weekend. Thank you for letting me know. My apologies for being so slow about seeing the error you were seeing.

  5. Cool! Another blogger very kindly pointed me towards this as a good way to learn more FMQ and get better at using my shiny new sewing machine – I’d love to learn more and it’s my weakest “skill”. Not sure whether I’ll manage *all* the monthly challenges, but I’ll give it a decent shot. 🙂

    • Great question. Participants can certainly use the learnings from this challenge to apply to quilts, table runners, purses and more. But to enter the challenge, you need to make a pillow. Of course you can keep the pillows to decorate your home or give as gifts.
      The Flickr group for this challenge was created for those that make other projects (e.g. quilts, table runners, purses, etc) can share and inspire, but linky parties for the monthly challenge need to reflect the respective monthly challenge on a pillow of any size.

  6. Great !!! I will surely participate. I did the 2012 FMQ Challange and it was so much fun and did so much on the increase of my FMQ-skills. Thx for this QuiltShopGal. – always a pleasure…
    Regards Christine from Germany.

  7. Thanks… I’m going to try my best and keep up … I love that we made something useful with our challenge quilting….
    and it’s great to pop over and see what others are doing…

  8. Your new blog looks great and the 2015 FMQ challenge looks very inviting! Can’t wait to finish setting up my new sewing room here in western NY and get back into the swing of FMQ again. Hope to enter in the coming months. Best to you in the new year and with your new blog/site!

  9. This is going to be a great fmq challenge this year! Thank you!! Sadly I won’t be able to complete this month’s as we’ve just had our daughter’s wedding and have been rather busy but I do hope I can get on board next month 🙂

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