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Quilting Perseverance

Place mat

A few months ago, I purchased a Juki TL 2200 Virtuoso Pro, 18″ long arm quilting machine and with it came a free reality check. After teaching free motion quilting  on domestic sewing machines for the last several years, my confidence was running high. How difficult could this be?

The first thing that I noticed when trying to long arm quilt is the sensation of having the grace of a pig trying to ice skate. Yikes! I was wobbly. My expectations were, after quilting a few small charity quilts, I would be quickly back to the top of my quilting game. Then reality set in.

I found it very difficult to follow the advice I give my students when teaching free motion quilting. Slow down and practice, practice, practice. Start out with small projects like place mats and charity quilts. Be patient. Nope, not me. Soon after quilting a few small projects, I loaded a mostly black, double size bed quilt on to the frame, quilting black on black and going half blind in the process. How quickly I had forgotten the difficulty and time it took to learn a new skill. It was so unrealistic for me to believe that guiding a 350 pound sewing machine on a quilt top was a similar quilting skill as pushing and pulling fabric under a needle. That said, I am still happy I purchased it. I am bonding with my new machine named Zelma Lou, after my maternal grandmother. One thing for sure, in the art of quilting there is always something new to learn. Perseverance and patience will eventually pay off. Practice, practice, practice.

Mock Mola


The  October challenge for an art quilt group that I belong to, was to create a quilt using a mola technique. A traditional mola is a multi-layered, needle turned, hand stitched, reverse applique. It is considered an art form. My quilt, pictured above, has been machine stitched so it is a mock mola. The process I use to make a mock mola starts out with a pattern like this.

The pattern is then traced on to freezer paper, shiny side down. I added additional cuts to the original pattern so more of the fabric that will be layered underneath will show. The trick is to not cut through the lines because then your pattern will fall apart.

I then stabilized a piece of tightly woven, black fabric with Wonder Under, a fusible web. The fusible web will help prevent stretching of the fabric, make it easier to cut and provide a way to fuse the fabric on to the underneath layer of fabric. I left the backing paper of the Wonder Under on to make the cutting easier. The freezer paper pattern, shiny side down, is then ironed on to the black fabric. The pattern can now be cut out, using an Exacto-type craft knife and scissors, leaving the freezer paper intact. Or, if you prefer, trace the design on to the black fabric and then remove the paper and begin cutting.

While cutting the design, I decided to add a flying geese-look border by cutting out triangle shapes. Once satisfied with the pattern, I removed the backing paper and layered the black fabric on to a colorful fabric that I had previously dye painted. I slipped some solid color, hand dyed fabric backed with Wonder Under behind the corner triangles to break up the color design, then fused all of the layers together.

To finish, I added a narrow, hand dyed, blue border and an additional black border for interest.  Then I layered the top with wool batting and black backing fabric to make a quilt sandwich. I outlined the cut out edges of the fish and the triangle border with free motion quilting and heavily free motion quilted the background with various designs. Using a variegated thread, I free motioned a design pattern on the border to add more color.  Instead of a traditional binding, I used Susan-Brubaker-Knapp’s method of a mitered facing. Her technique gives a nice finished look to an art quilt.

If you would like to see more examples of mock molas, visit Cathy Miller, the Singing Quilter’s website. Take a look at her classes and her student’s beautiful work.

My Swoon House Block


Ever since I saw Blue Mountain Daisy’s blog and how she used Camille Roskelley’s Swoon pattern to make a Swoon House block, I had to create one of my own.

The Swoon pattern is made with half square triangles and flying geese. While I am not a big fan of precision piecing, I felt it was worth the effort to make this, ” oh so cute block “.  The bright white background took on a pinkish tint when I photographed it. The grey flannel design board underneath the quilt top probably didn’t help the color outcome.

The unfinished block is a 24.5 inch square. It is big enough to add borders and make a small quilt. The pattern suggest making 9 blocks and creating a 80″  x 80” quilt. What I like about the  pattern is that it would look terrific in either modern or traditional fabrics.

Folk Art Fowl

6a00e54fba3dd8883401901eb49d12970bYou don’t have to live in the country to appreciate Bill Kerr’s AccuQuilt Die, Folk Art Fowl.

I created this table top quilt for my upcoming Fall classes using an AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter. A few touches of hand embroidery adds texture and pops of color. Rise and shine sleepy heads. Let’s quilt!

Red Bird Wristlet Bag


I love sewing these little wristlet bags.  This one is dressed up with my own custom stamps and  hand embroidery. The hand carved bird stamp idea came from the book, Making an Impression by Geninne Zlatkis.  Her art work is stunning.

6a00e54fba3dd888340192ac4188ae970dSince I can’t resist the urge to put a bird on it, here is the blue bird version.

6a00e54fba3dd8883401901e821fce970bSquirrels and Trees fabric by designer David Walker makes a nice bag too.

I plan to offer a class on making these cute, little wristlet bags. They have become very popular for gift giving. Even my husband keeps one in his golf bag to hold spare change and golf tees.