There is a new baby in my family… my niece has had a little boy and I have decided to make him a quilt. I am a great uncle. It has only just occurred to me that my ‘great-uncle’ status is tantamount to being a Grandfather! Eek!) …

A while ago now I was lucky enough to win £20 to spend on a Craftsy class, in a hashtag competition run by Hélène Martin of CORA fame. I chose something I’d never done before, something that would take my sewing skills and make me use them in a totally different way… Free Motion Quilting.

I’ve only made one quilt before. It was a massive deal at the time but now I’ve done some homework I see that I made a pretty basic patchwork-square quilt. I’m not putting it down, it was made from fabric given to MrA & I by our wedding guests. It means the world to us and has been on our bed constantly. (For the whole story, check out the blog post about it!)

It even made it to the pages of Quilt Now magazine…! (…not the cover…)

As I started watching my Craftsy class (Free motion quilting a sampler with Leah Day) I realised that I had a heck of a lot more to learn about quilting before I got to free-motion. I diligently started researching piecing and block designs. There are (of course) so many videos and tutorials on line. Quite confusing in fact, so I found THIS SITE and bookmarked it as it seemed to contain more than enough ideas and instruction to keep me going.

What struck me mainly was the similarity to origami. Folding, turning etc. The techniques become intricate and time consuming very quickly, so I grabbed some fabric from my stash and cut out some big squares to try out a few of the basic techniques. I particularly like top right, middle & middle right…

I couldn’t stop myself and carried on to make 12 blocks that I’m pleased as punch with but I am sure will consider niaveley amateur pretty quickly… Fingers crossed they’ll maintain some charm though. A few days later my practise batting and basting spray arrived from Amazon and, after hearing SO much about them, I was finally able to make a few of my own QUILT SANDWICHES! There was no way I was going to sleep that night so I swotted up on a few of Leah’s practice moves and had a late-night go…

It wasn’t the easiest thing, but there were enough non-panic moments to encourage me to keep going. After a few more sandwiches I’m going full steam ahead with this first quilt. It’s getting gifted no matter how it turns out.

One thing that it seemed quite clear would be of use to me was a ‘Supreme Slider’ to help everything move a bit more easily under my machine. There’s no way to tell at this point if the smoothness will be improved with practise or gadgets, but I know which one is quicker to attain… so a few days later my supreme slider arrived.

I think it helps. Yes, it helps. I’m such a total amateur at this though that I need all the help I can get. Maybe it would have rocked my world more if I’d already been free-motioning without one for years?

I’m loving Leah’s course, both content and delivery. However, as is often my wont, I’m not following it properly. I’m not making her quilt, I’m making (for better or worse) my quilt. I’m sure I could pick up most of the information I’m getting somewhere on line for free too. But I’ve discovered that one of the lovely things aboout using a Craftsy class is that you get all the information you need from one person, in one go, when you want it, without the frustration of watching lots of the wrong videos first. I’m not sure I’ll pay out for one myself, but it’s a very nice treat and I feel incredibly spoilt.

So, I’ve checked out my options for piecing all the squares together and it looks like I have three basic options…

  1. Make the whole thing then heft it through the machine while simultaneously learning and producing free motion quilting. (Hmm…)
  2. Make and quilt each panel in seperate sandwiches as Leah instructs and fix them together with her clever binding trick (which appears to rely heavily on a degree of accuracy which I am not yet sure I can deliver).
  3. Quilt each piece seperately with a thin batting, sew them together then do the backing in one go & stitch in the ditch to hold it together before binding.

I’m going for option three. It seems to be the best option for easily replacing pieces if I muck up the free motion too much – I’ve made a 13th block just in case. Hopefully the Slider is going to come into it’s own. Well, here goes…

The freemotion quilting is terrible, I’m sure, so please look away if you are easily offended. I just sat and did it all in one night. In fact, in about 2hrs, with no thought as to what the finished designs would look like or how they would sit together. I started with swirls, circles and stippling… went straight on to straight-line stippling… had a go at a sort of paisley design, hearts, Greek-keys, spirals… you name it… I was unstoppable!

So I’ve gone for ‘get it done’ rather than agonising over ‘getting it done right’. I had plenty of cheering along, oooh-ing and aaah-ing from MrA and his role really came into its own when it came to choosing layout. We opted for this…

As you can see, it doesn’t really line up very well and overall looks a bit of a mish-mash, but I’m really happy with it. We’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

After sewing it all up, I cut another piece of wadding to fluff it all up a bit and sandwiched that between my quilt and backing fabric. I stitched in the ditch if the big squares to hold it all together. 

I had some blue towelling fabric which matched okay, so used that for the binding. I also thought it would add a nice texture for my Great Nephew to chew on. And here’s the finished quilt…

Unlike its recipient, the quilt is far from perfect. I’d go as far as to say that it is technically a mess! But I’m really happy with it, and hopefully it will be loved and used for many years.

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Make sure all the blocks are the same size in future!
  • Don’t beat yourself up, it looks great!
  • Does this mean I will never throw any scraps away ever again…?!