Category: free-motion quilting

Dancing With Thread

Dancing with Thread, written by Ann Fahl and published by CT Publishing is an inspirational book that is perfect for anyone interested in free-motion quilting (FMQ).  To clarify, this book is appropriate for quilters of all levels, from the beginner to advanced quilter.

The Gallery section of this book uses excellent photography of beautiful quilts, with close up photos that show the wonderful free-motion quilting.  Ann also shares insights on how she quilted each of these quilts, in a way that helps to inspire and teach. 

This 96-page book is packed full of great insights.  There is a nice section for tools and supplies, including insights on many new products on the market too!  The insights on thread are also very helpful, especially for someone new to FMQ.  Tips are also included for selecting and quilting with decorative and metallic threads.  And there is a helpful section on trouble shooting, when things don’t go the way you want.

Ann helps you plan out your FMQ for which to show off your quilt design, and creating FMQ borders.  A variety of sample quilting motifs, border ideas,  and corner suggestions are very helpful.   The give projects included in this book, range from beginner to experienced level, are all lovely designs, but they are also excellent projects to practice insights provided in this book.

Ann has also published Coloring with Thread (2005), and Coloring with Thread Dvd (2007). Both of these are on my wishlist, as I’m sure they too would help inspire and teach better free-motion quilting skills!

Dancing with Thread, Coloring with Thread, and Ann’s Coloring with Thread DVD are available for purchase from CT Publishing.

More Twice-Quilted Designs For Continuous-Line Quilting

In my quest to find ways to improve my free-motion quilting (FMQ) skills, I’ve found an excellent collection of designs.




“More Twice-Quilted Designs For Continuous-Line Quilting”, by Glorianne Cubbage, published by Martingale & Company, home of That Patchwork Place, is an excellent collection for those interested in learning and/or improving their free-motion quilting skills.

The premise of the “Twice-Quilted Designs” is that you simply stitch the first design in one color to quilt the layers together, and then add the secondary design in a different color for a spectacular finish.

This collection of designs includes 20 “interlacing” designs, which include beautiful layered flowers, leaves, hearts, birds, and more.

There is also a 16 page booklet, with this collection of designs, which provides complete instructions for tracing, transferring, and sewing.

Each of these quilting designs comes on a 23″ by 20″ paper, unbound. A novice may wish to trace these patterns, but they are great tools to emulate the designs on paper, before you proceed to stitch them out on fabric.

These 20 designs will certainly add interest to any quilt you choose to use them on.  But insights are also provided to help you create your own designs.

This is a great resource for those interested in improving their free motion quilting skills and/or looking for new design ideas.  This is definitely a collection full of goodies for free-motion quilters!  I’m eager to apply each of these designs to my quilts!

This book is available for purchase from Martingale & Company.

FMQ Challenge







You may recall that I’ve been  researching ways one can improve their Free Motion Quilting skills and reporting my findings as I go. After all, we are not all “born” with the skills of Karen McTavish, Patsy Thompson, Diane Gaudynski, or so many other talented free motion quilters.  Thus, I’m checking out books, DVDs, blogs, you-tube videos, attend quilt shows,  and classes to find ways to help quilters improve their free motion quilting skills!

In May,  I learned about the FMQ Challenge while reading Inky Threads blog.  Wendy of Inky Threads came up with this great idea for a fun challenge and partnered with her friend Joanne of Thread Head.

The challenge sounded simple, in the fact that participants simply needed to commit to practicing free motion quilting for 14 consecutive days.  No judging, no requirement for what type of free motion quilting, just simply committing to 14 consecutive days of practicing.  The challenge for me, was that I was on vacation (without a sewing machine) for most of May.  So, I gained inspiration and insights by watching DVDs by Patsy Thompson and drawing free motion quilting designs on my white board daily, while on vacation.







Upon my return from vacation, I was able to free motion quilt with my machine for 14+ days.  While doodling on a dry erase board is helpful, playing with some quilt sandwiches created for the purpose of playing, was also very helpful.







I was extremely pleased that I’ve learned how to create nice looking feathers! {sorry the photo above doesn’t do a great job capturing the green thread used for the feathers, on the blue fabric, but it does pop up close).  Even friends have been really impressed!  Unfortunately the photo I can share doesn’t do a great job capturing the feathers I created on the borders of a Linus quilt.







This particular quilt design is also working well to try different free motion designs in the various shapes.  My pebble technique still needs more practice, but was quite fun to create.







While the FMQ Challenge is now over and winners have been announced (randomly selected), I want to say that I’m confident I’ll continue spending time doing free motion quilting on a daily basis.  I’m now addicted and really amazed how doing it every day has made such a difference!

Thank you to Wendy of Inky Threads and to Joanne of Thread Head for hosting this fun FMQ Challenge and inspiring participants to practice free motion skills on a daily basis.

Yes, practicing free motion skills for 14 days really is a great way to develop your free motion skills.  Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll see a difference in your skills too!

Free Motion Fun with Feathers







I was very lucky to win a copy of “Free Motion Fun With Feathers!, Volume 2”, by Patsy Thompson via the 30 (32) days of Giveaway hosted by Kelly, of I Have A Notion.  I was very excited to hear that I was a winner of this DVD 2 disc set, as I had been drooling over it for sometime.  You see, this year I set a goal to significantly improve my free motion quilting skills.  I’m very thankful that Patsy was a sponsor of Kelly’s delightful giveaway, and that I was lucky to win this fantastic DVD.

As this is the only DVD of Patsy that I’ve seen, I can truly only provide insights on this DVD.  But I do want to increase awareness that she also has many DVDs, and based on what I’ve seen, I believe all of her DVDs are well structured, providing great insights and inspiriations on free motion quilting techniques.

For Patsy’s Free Motion Fun With Feathers!, Volume 2, I loved seeing how she provided a quick recap of insights from Volume 1.

And I enjoyed how she showed in Volume 2 how a basic feather can be “hyper-quilted” to make it spectacular.  I loved how she shared tips & tricks to allow you to select threads, placement and create various pieces of quilted art through these quilted feathers that I’ve admired by winning quilts.
Don’t you just love these feathers?  Trust me, there are oodles more in this DVD and great insights to show you how you can create theme in your quilts.
I’m now convinced that if you want to become a master at free motion quilting of feathers, Patsy’s DVDs are an absolute must for your library collection.  You’ll be able to watch again and again, and soon see your free motion quilting skills significantly improve.  I can see my skills already improving within a short time of watching this DVD!
{above} The Volume 1 set is not a DVD that I have watched previously.  While I thought I have previously made quilted feathers, I was so impressed with Patsy’s Volume 2 DVD that I view I really “need” to get a copy of her Volume 1.  I’m sure there are many tips and tricks in her Volume 1 DVD that will help me, as well as quilters of all levels.  But clearly, this is a great DVD to start with for those interested in learning to make beautiful quilted feathers.
{above} I have also learned so much with Patsy’s volume 2 DVD, that I’m also looking forward to getting her Volume 3 DVD.  Even the cover of this DVD tells me that you can create spectactular free motion feathers after watching this DVD!
{above}Then I look at the cover of Patsy’s Free Motion Fun with Vines and Leaves and think I need to also acquire this DVD for my collection.  I am confident this DVD will help my quilting and inspire.
Don’t all of her DVDs look fantastic. And, she actually has more DVDs.  I’m sure they are all fantastic.
Difficult to say which Patsy Thompson Designs DVD will be my next DVD, but I know I’m now a loyal fan of Patsy and confident that anyone that buys her DVDs will get a great value and will see a difference quickly in their free motion quilting.

Patsy also has a large collection of free downloads, of which I highly encourage you to check out.  But, I also feel that her DVDs are well constructed and provide excellent insights and visuals to help you learn how to make amazing quilted feathers.

Patsy’s DVDs are also available for purchase, at a great price, from IHAN. But be sure when you go shopping at IHAN you take time to check out their other great products.  IHAN has a great selection and excellent prices.  Plus, there customer service is top notch!
Lastly, I want to say thank you to Patsy and Kelly for this opportunity.  I really am enjoying the Free Motion Fun With Feathers,Volume 2. 

Free-Motion Quilting Skills

Do you want to improve your free hand machine quilting skills?  This was one of my personal goals this year.  There are many ways to do this, from reading books, watching DVDs, taking classes.  But hands on practice is critical.  But what if you are traveling without a machine, or find yourself stuck on the phone, or in a carpool?  While I’m not an expert about machine quilting (or an expert on anything), I wanted to share some tricks with you for how you can develop your free hand machine quilting skills, even in times when you don’t have a machine handy.

There really isn’t a secret to becoming a great free motion quilter.  It requires practice, practice, practice.  But not all the practice times requires a machine.  And, in addition to practice, to become a great free motion quilter it needs inspiration (or great creativity from within).  As I don’t have “great creativity from within”, I look for various opportunities to inspire.


To start, I recommend that you create a 3 ring binder where you can compile all your notes about free motion quilting.  Or, you may want to create an electronic file.  I actually have a 3 ring binder where I keep flyers, class notes, and prints that inspire and share insights.  And, I also keep a power point file where I’ve collected various designs that I’d like to master (hard copy of this file is also inside of my binder).  I like my electronic copy, as I can easily take it with me any place I take my laptop.

Be sure to right this tip down:  Get a stack of paper, or a tablet, or an white board that can easily be erased.  And keep marking tools, appropriate to each of these tools handy.  Strive to find 10-15 minutes daily “doodling” various free motion quilting designs.  When your mind and hand can easily doodle a free-motion quilting style, then give it a try on a test quilt sandwich or actual quilt.  For the purpose of this post, where I’m focusing on tricks that will work when you do not have a sewing machine handy, I’m not going to take time to talk about creating test quilt sandwiches, or what you would do on a machine. This post is about how to get your mind into that free flowing mindset, and your hand obeying the mind, to freely create designs on paper that you would want to place on fabric.

When you practice, don’t think of it as practice time. Think of it as doodling.  Close your eyes, breath in, breath out.  Visualize the free flowing line draw the image you want to create.  It might be left, right, left right, or loopty left, loopty right, or feather, feather, feather…but visualize it while you relax and breath in, breath out.  Now doodle to that same comfortable pace, while remembering to breath in, breath out.  Hear that simple beat while you are doodling?

Don’t stop in the midst of your doodle and criticize yourself.  Breath in, breath out…doodle.  Get the rythym down.

You may choose to save your drawings in your notebook, but I do not.


For inspiration you can take classes, attend presentations and/or quilt shows.  Reading blogs,  websites and youtube videos are also helpful.  Some of my favorites are:

Thread Head
365 Days of Free Motion Quilting

My Quilter
All Things Quilty
Bobbin & Threads
Quilt Vine
Quilting Arts – 
Thrifty Quilter
Feathered Fibers
Diane Gaudynski
Karen McTavish
Sharon Schamber
Patsy Thompson Designs
Judy Madsen (Green Fairy Quilts)
Google Images

But in all of these opportunities, remember while you are visiting, that you need to slow down and take time to really look at the machine quilting.  Breath in what you see.  Get your mind to visualize the start, the direction, the flow and the rythym till you can close your eyes and repeat it in your mind.

I also find great inspiration from DVDs, books and various online classes.  I’ll share more on these in the future.

For now, I need to get back to my free-motion quilting without a machine (my doodling).  I’ve got that beat in my head and my mind has that whimsical flow of the needle swirling on fabric, but as I’m traveling with out my machine, I’m doodling on my whiteboard!  Great fun, and a great way to develop my free-motion quilting skills!

Do you practice your free motion quilting skills without a machine?  What tips & tricks do you recommend for others?

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