Tag Archives: free motion quilt challenge

Initial Pillow No. 5

For this month’s pillow, I have taken my inspiration from Diane Gaudynski’s Guide to Machine Quilting.  I have owned this excellent, comprehensive book for many a year.

Diane is a very talented award winning quilter and I admire her work very much! 

You can find lots of eye candy and free motion quilting tips on Diane’s blog!

Diane is an elegant, traditional quilter and uses lots of feathers and echo quilting.  I saw this feather on page 69:

Diane Gaudynski

And on page 31 of Diane’s book:

Diane Gaudynski

I drew a version of it with a blue marker on a white tone-on-tone cotton fabric (I would have used silk, or sateen, if I had any, but couldn’t find any in my stash of fabrics.) 

Initial J Pillow

The ‘J’ is the initial of the name of a good friend to whom I will be giving this pillow.

A layer of batting is stitched with water soluble thread, and then carefully trimmed.

Initial J Pillow

I wish I were better at taking photos, especially of white on white!

Initial J Pillow

Since my friend likes pink, I am using a 40 weight pink variegated Aurifil thread for the feathers and the letter.  The rest of the wholecloth quilting is done with 50 weight white Aurifil thread.

Initial J Pillow

You can begin to see the texture forming!

Initial J Pillow

Finished and washed:

Initial J Pillow


Initial J Pillow

Initial J Pillow

Like the other pillows that I have been making, this one is simple with a covered zipper.

Initial J Pillow

Initial J Pillow

Last look:

Initial J Pillow

I participated in QuiltShopGal’s 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge, so it would’ve been fun for me to repeat Diane’s lesson and compare the ‘then and now’.  I may do that yet.  However, I am doing Option 2 from this year’s Free Motion Quilting Challenge, and I will be linking up over there.

Previous pillows/challenges:

Joy Pillow

Initial Pillow No. 1

Initial Pillow No. 2

Initial Pillow No. 3

Initial Pillow No. 4

Initial Pillow No. 3

This month’s initial pillow is for my oldest granddaughter (who is not all that old).  I appliqued a pink letter A onto a patchwork background.

I am using 50 weight Aurifil in the bobbin.  I tried something new to me for my top thread…Wonderfil’s Konfetti, also 50 weight.  I had trouble with it fraying until I switched to a size 14 needle.  Then all was well!

Alyssa Pillow

I like Christina Cameli’s peapod free motion quilting design, so I used it here.  I stitched with a small scale, so didn’t really like how it turned out.  At first.  After I got the whole picture, I decided the texture was pretty cool.  However, I still think I’d like the peapod design stitched out on a larger scale better.

The peapod fmq design is alternated with Christina’s branching free motion quilting design.  I felt the same about the results of this stitching, as I did with the peapod stitching.

Here is how the completed quilting looks from the back (as a wholecloth project, I really like it…but no one will ever see the back):

Alyssa Pillow

A closer look:

Alyssa Pillow

The front of the pillow top before sewing into a pillow and washing:

Alyssa Pillow

The completed pillow (washed, so that I can admire the texture washing creates):

Alyssa Pillow

The back is made from a sweet plaid, and has a concealed zipper.

Alyssa Pillow

I chose option #4 from QuiltShopGal’s 2015 April Free Motion Quilting Challenge.  I am linking up here.

Check out Christina’s blog; she has many ideas and tips to help and inspire your free motion quilting!

Alyssa Pillow

Joy Pillow

Initial Pillow No. 1

Initial Pillow No. 2

Initial Pillow No. 2

For my first initial pillow, I chose to create a pillow cover for my youngest grandchild.

This time, I have created a pillow covering for my oldest grandchild.  His favorite color is orange, and he is partially color blind.

Aiden Pillow

I wanted borders around the letter and star so that I could use a variety of free motion quilting designs.

Aiden Pillow

Whether I am free motion quilting a pillow cover, or a full-size quilt, I like to begin by stitching in the ditch to stabilize my project.  It also allows me to remove the pins so that they no longer hinder my stitching (I quilt with a domestic sewing machine).

Aiden Pillow

Wonderfil Invisfil is my favorite thread to use for stitching in the ditch.

Aiden Pillow

I used one of Cindy Needham’s stencils to easily mark quilting lines on the star points.  I could have used several choices of markers, but I used chalk that I pounced on.

Aiden Pillow

Aiden Pillow

I also like to use Pam Clarke’s stencils for marking.  The grids are great for spacing even distances for parallel quilting or many other types of designs.

The rest of the free motion quilting on the pillow cover was done without marking.  I use Aurifil 50 weight thread for the quilting.

This is the finished pillow before washing:

Aiden Pillow

The pillow back has a concealed zipper.

Aiden Pillow

There is a lot of texture after washing!

Aiden Pillow

I am doing Option #1 from QuiltShopGal’s Free Motion Quilting Challenge 2015 March (featuring Patsy Thompson).  Here is a link to the post that shows my participation in the Patsy Thompson part of the Free Motion Quilting Challenge 2012.

I am linking up with quiltshopgal. 

Initial Pillow

I have decided to make one pillow a month.  One pillow for each of my grandchildren.

I think a pillow with their initial on it would be a fun and personal Christmas gift.

Totally doable for me.  So, yes, for the first time ever, I’m starting my Christmas list early.

Here you see the initial already machine appliqued onto a white background layered with batting and muslin.  I drew a squiggly machine quilting guideline with a blue washout marker.

Nathaniel Pillow

Next time, I think I should space that guideline further apart, but it worked out.

Nathaniel Pillow

The squiggly line was quilted first, then the rest of the filler quilting was done.

Nathaniel Pillow

Oops.  I missed a small section.  I hope the quilt police don’t find it!

Nathaniel Pillow

I made an 18″ pillow and filled it with an 18″ pillow form.  I think a bigger form might look better.

Nathaniel Pillow

I like the railroad tracks filler.  It is fun and wonky.  No rules.  Thanks Leah Day!

Nathaniel Pillow

The back of the pillow has a concealed zipper.

Nathaniel Pillow

I am linking up with quiltshopgal

The railroad tracks free motion quilting is from Option #1 from the February Pillow Challenge.

Nathaniel Pillow



Free Motion Quilt Challenge Summary

Thank you so much to SewCalGal and her talented and generous free motion quilting teachers!  I have enjoyed a year’s worth of practice and growth since joining the Free Motion Quilt Challenge.  Each month, in 2012, a new challenge was presented.

In summary:


FMQ January Spiral Leaves

Frances Moore  gave us a fun leaf design to practice free motion quilting.  She also gave us a video to view.  You can see this post here.


 First Feather Front

One of my favorite experts, Diane Gaudynski, taught feathers this month.  What a treat!  You can see this post here.


Flower Meandering

Ann Fahl,  suggested keeping a binder/journal of free motion quilting ideas.  She also suggested learning meandering patterns other than stippling.  You can see this post here.


Front Quilted

Don Linn created a video tutorial for April.  He showed a great transfer method for quilt designs!  He also described an easy way to come up with quilting designs.  You can see this post here.



This month’s free motion quilt expert was the generous Leah DayLeah gave two assignments…a Double Stipple and Railroad Tracks.  You can see this post here.



The June Free Motion Quilting Challenge was a tutorial by Cindy NeedhamCindy gave us so much useful information and lots of practice!  I loved this month!  Cindy suggested the ‘divide and conquer’ method.  You can see this post here.



Angela Walters,  Quilting Is My Therapytaught how to section off the work and then fill in the sections.  She calls this quilting design Tiles.  You can see this post here.



The August Free Motion Quilt Challenge was a tutorial from Wendy Sheppard.   You can find her blog at Ivory SpringWendy shared her “Jester” free motion quilting design for this challenge.  You can see this post here.



The September Free Motion Quilt Challenge was a tutorial Paula Reid.   Paula’s tutorial had us practice with a stencil.  You can see this post here.



Teri Lucas had us begin this month’s tutorial by drawing our names and designs on paper.  We branched out from there.  You can see this post here.


Trapunto added for Texture

Trapunto added for Texture

Sarah Vedeler had us practicing spiral variations; lots of fun!  You can see that post here.



Patsy Thompson shared border design and quilting tips.  She created a terrific video to demonstrate her tips.  I loved this month!  You can see that post here.

Linda Moran, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Diane Loomis and Teri Lucas all provided  bonus challenges.  I look forward to doing those after the holidays.  What a wonderful year of quilting!

Free Motion Quilt Project – December

The December Free Motion Quilt Challenge at SewCalGal is a tutorial from the wonderful designer and teacher, Patsy ThompsonPatsy is one of my favorite quilt artists, so I was delighted when I found out that she was the guest for this month!

Patsy shared excellent tips for border designing and quilting.  So I got out my high tech practice notebook and went to work.



I sewed some hand-dyed fabric together, pin basted a quilt sandwich, and, using 100 weight Wonderfil Invisfil, stabilized my sandwich.

And this is where this month’s challenge became a double challenge.  My beloved Bernina (we’ve been together about 25 years) just couldn’t manage a simple straight stitch.  I knew she had troubles…she’d been to the doctor once already (he turned out to be a quack…but that’s another story).   I’d been wanting another sewing machine, but had been putting it off. 

Is it strange to say that I feel guilty sewing with a new Janome, while my Bernina sits on the floor in despair?  (I do hope to find a trustworthy doctor who can perform mechanical miracles.)


Miss Janome and I have been cramming time getting to know one another.  Christmas is coming so we finally had to say to each other, “Let’s do this!”

So, with lowered feed dogs, and 50 weight Aurifil, we did alot of free motion quilting…Patsy style (or at least our best imitation for where we are in life).

Here’s a couple of close-ups:



I wouldn’t make such large pebbles on this size quilt in the future…don’t like the look of that, but I thoroughly enjoyed making feathers with a flexi-curve ruler.  I’ve had that ruler for years, yet never realized it’s potential.  Thank you Patsy!

Here’s the back (difficult to see unless you click on the photo for a closer look):


And here’s the front:


I have yet to sew with Miss Janome and have the feed dogs up.  I’ll be doing that when I put on the binding.

Free Motion Quilt Project – November

The November Free Motion Quilt Challenge at SewCalGal is a tutorial from the very talented designer and teacher, Sarah Vedeler.

Sarah had us practicing spirals this month.  She made it easy by establishing a grid on paper.  The boundaries really helped me to  establish a rhythm in drawing the spirals.

For my practice piece, I used hand-dyed fabric scraps, an almost empty spool of Coats & Clark for the top thread, and an assortment of almost empty bobbins with Aurifil 50 weight threads.  I loosened my top tension a bit.  And, yes, I use practice pieces to use up odd bits and pieces unless I have an end result in mind and I really need to know how the materials are going to play together. 

I drew a grid on the fabric with a blue washout marker.

Close Up

The back:

For some practical application, I grabbed another piece of hand-dyed fabric (I wish I had the foresight to see that it would be a lousy choice for photography, as you will soon see.)

On this piece, I free-motion stitched a tree with 30 weight variegated cotton thread.  I should have chosen a different color; then maybe the stitching would have shown better.

I’m calling it “The Ghost Tree” since you can’t see it.  Sigh.

It will help if you click on the photos for a closer look.

The background is filled with free-motion swirls made from 100 weight polyester.  No grid.  Funny…after stitching all of those swirls on a grid, I had a hard time deliberately stitching swirls that are not evenly sized and spaced.  I didn’t want the swirls the same in my background.

Showing Texture

The tree is not flat, but that’s hard to photograph too.

A look at the back: