Free Motioning for Somebody Else!

 So most of the long arm quilters around here use a computer guided system and this quilt just called out for free hand quilting. Recognizing that to program in all the applique so the computer could quilt around the applique instead of over it would take a heck of a long time, the very busy quilter and fabulous quilt shop owner thought maybe my freehand work with my sewing machine might be better than hers on the long arm.

Time was short too, and I was flattered and in need of quilting income so I said yes! Eeek! It didn't take me long to wonder just what had I gotten myself into? Not that I couldn't handle it, but taking my perfectionist tendencies and combining them with a short deadline and not one, but two other quilters' opinions? And this quilt is a sample for yet another quilt shop!

Oh my word! I was totally stressed about it, my inner critic had a field day nit picking it to death (and I restitched some areas too), but I was assured that they were quite happy with the results. Thanks to Lori at Thread Runs Through It for all the encouragement and giving me a try.

Oops! It's sideways on the bed!
This is a block-of-the-month project and kit designed by Edyta Sitar, called Spring Bouquet. Believe it or not, those applique shapes come pre-cut with paper-backed fusible web already on them! I watched  Edyta on an episode of  The Quilt Show and she's great! Lovely accent too and they even showed her studio. Must. Not. Covet.

Somebody did a lot of work on each shape, with a zigzag around the edges and a change of thread for each color. But while they wanted custom quilting, they didn't want it too fancy or dense so it took me a while to find a balance.

If I had to do it over again, and I just might since the shop that has this quilt is selling the kits, I would not have quilted quite as densely in the 9 blocks. I love how the borders turned out. With all the fusible on some fairly large areas and a double layer of batting, it was a challenge to avoid ripples as I wove in and out of some places. I'd love to do this quilt quite densely for somebody and add details in some of the larger appliques.

I had to go back into several areas later (see pin above) as it was hard to travel around all those shapes.

I ripped out the stitching in the area around the pin below, and re-stitched. With a puffy top (To be clear,it laid perfectly flat before quilting, but was an issue with extra batting, fusible, and stitching that couldn't work simply from center out.) I re-learned that extra stitching in a puffy area makes it worse. I also realized that nearly parallel lines of stitching look really bad if the stitch length gets a bit long.

 Guess what happened below? Yep, stitched the edge to the quilt. Easily fixed, but really annoying.

 I got this quilt basted first by the initial long armer, which was helpful, even though I had to pin baste in some areas, especially as I took out the basting as I stitched. I was also told I didn't need to stitch around all the applique, but in many areas, it was easier to do that than it was to figure out how to stitch a shape into and out of narrow areas between applique shapes.

I freaked out at one point thinking I was gonna have two quilters upset with me, but Lori encouraged me and asked for pictures. I'm so glad she did, because unwadding the quilt from under the machine and laying it flat for pictures removed 98% of the areas I disliked. Not to mention getting more distance than 8-12 inches from my nose to the quilt.

I actually enjoyed stitching all of those different shapes and swirls when I ignored my harsh inner critic. I even gave the butterflies antennae!

This quilt did have me starting to long for a bigger machine like a sit-down long arm, just for the visibility as these blocks were quite large and while they are very asymmetric, I would have liked to do a more cohesive design, which was impossible without either marking a lot beforehand, or removing the quilt repeatedly so I could see more of the block/quilt at a time. But the freehand fill was fun and worked well for this design. 

The back above. I had absolutely no trouble with the back, no puckers, nada. I did have a few moments of panic and then realized there were some dark spots in the batik that tried to trick my eye. 

It's not perfect, but it was beautifully put together and the quilting set it off well and turned a lovely top into a gorgeous quilt. I am not sure I am wanting to quilt for others, but Lori has shared my contact info with some others and we'll just see how it goes.

Lori and I have talked about having me teach some free motion classes this fall when their new classroom space is finished. Until then, my quilting space looks like this:

OK, hopefully I will be done with this mess soon. I am putting the finishing touches on our homeschool plans for this year, which will start on Monday!

Part two of my inspiration series is in the works, check back soon. This post is linked up with the Free Motion Friday post at Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project.

Have you quilted for others? On a domestic sewing machine, one of the big sit-down machines, or are you a long arm user? Share in the comments please!


  1. That is a beautiful quilt and I love how the quilting lines echo the applique

  2. Wow! It is lovely indeed! Nope, never done anything for anyone else. Kind of gives me hives just thinking about it. It's bold and certainly opens up the possibility of receiving harsh criticism. Not in your case though, nothing to say about that except fabulous!

  3. I've never quilted for anyone else. At this point I haven't even given quilts away. I'm always interested in what people do with real quilts. I'm pretty amazed with what you did with this one because it is anything but standard. I think there is a new quilting style happening in the free motion by domestic machine world, and what you did is an excellent example of that.

    I also think that a quilt with such beautiful applique just might need dense quilting.

  4. It is beautiful. Great job Amy!

  5. such a beautiful challenge!!
    i like yourFMQ very much. i know the inner critiks also well, but from the distanze i looked there is only fluid spiral swirling to see.
    thanks for sharing.

  6. you've done a beautiful job on this Amy! I've done some quilting for others on charity quilts, and one job that was a "paid" one (we bartered), but I'm not overly keen on quilting for others as I don't like having to answer to others! Terrible, what? I do all my quilting on a domestic.

  7. You really did a smashing job! Free motion is an art for sure. Paintings, sketches and so on are not all symmetrical, precise and perfect. That I think is what makes it so appealing

  8. I have begun taking quilting jobs for others this year. I have a long arm and am already pining to upgrade it for one with a stitch regulator. Fortunately, the jobs I have been given were basic all-over designs, nothing overly detailed, that I could start and keep on going on until it was time to stop to advance the rollers or if it ran out of bobbin thread. I know that feeling of fear but, for me, it goes away once I get quilting. Keep it up - you do really great work!
    See my blog if you'd like to see what I do! and my Facebook page, Pamelyn's Postings if you want to share photos.

  9. I adore the quilt top. Great design and lovely colors. Your free motion quilting absolutely MAKES this quilt. It sets off the design beautifully. You did a fantastic job!

  10. Oh my gosh! This is gorgeous!!! I love the fabrics she chose and you did an AWESOME job on the quilting! I can't wait to show a friend here!

  11. Thanks everyone for such encouraging comments!

  12. your quilt is beautiful, you should be proud.