Free Motion Quilting Tip: The One Stitch Switch

In my last post, I shared how I was free motion quilting around a lovely laser cut applique Christmas scene using McTavishing as my main design of choice. You can see there's a lot of interlocking applique.

I also mentioned a little trick I have to move between small areas of background between the appliques without having to cut my thread with each move and bring up the bobbin thread with each new spot.

I'm sure I'm not the only one doing this to move around, but I'm gonna name it the "One Stitch Switch." Will the name catch on? I doubt it, but it makes a decent blog title, don't you think?

Here I'm quilting on the left side of the ornament and going over to the right side with my single stitch before returning to another area on the left.

Basically, you raise your needle and foot and move about 4-5 inches away, and take a single stitch. I use my needle down button twice. Then move to the next area to be quilted.

If you are trying off your threads, this will leave you enough to work with to knot and bury. I'f you are just using a few stitches in place to secure your threads and then will snip them close to the surface, this make it a little more efficient.

Good planning will keep the threads out of the way of your quilting. It's never fun to realize you had a thread tail on the backside and you stitched over it repeatedly, and now need to trim it off, especially if you've stitched into the thread a bunch.

McTavishing Revisited

A while back I was asked to quilt a piece for Laser Cut Quilts, a wholesale only laser cutting company. I rarely take in pieces for me to quilt for others, but occasionally I am persuaded and I knew this piece would be a nice one to show some swirly, whirly, McTavishing. I was told I could take my time, but I did leave it be for longer than I should have. So I've been stitching away at it and if you follow me on Instagram or maybe Facebook, you've likely seen some of my progress.

First I outlined all the applique with FilTec's monofilament thread, Essence. This clear, super fine nylon thread is soft, flexible, and works great. It has been mistaken for blond hair here before. If I accidentally popped onto the applique, you can't tell and it allowed me to travel over some of the applique to get to other small areas of background.  I did a video of part of this step.

This video may look familiar, Janome shared it out in an email last month. Then I switched to Aurifil 50 weight thread in white as I wanted the quilting to give texture and movement, but not take away from the intricate applique. Even though all the applique was done by someone else, I can really appreciate the time saved by using this laser cut kit. The detail boggles my mind!

I decided that I wanted to mimic the pine branches (spruce? I dunno.) with some of my quilting. With the intricacies of the applique, I knew I was either going to have to quilt loosely enough to not quilt into every nook and cranny, or I'd have to quilt densely to get into all the little spots. Since it's a wall hanging, I had no qualms about going dense.

I used my trusty purple pen of disappearing ink to mark wedges of three lines. The wedges represented the branch stem down the center and the outer edges of my 'branch.' My branches had to be a little bigger than the appliqued version or I would have had to microquilt in order for them to stand out from the background.

Then it was time to swish and shwoosh my way all over the place with McTavishing. The design is named after Karen McTavish and I did a month-long series on it back in 2014. McTavishing Monday Series

Check out the series to learn more about this design. Look at the texture! I still struggle with my McTavishing a bit, but it's getting there.

I've just got a few more tiny bits left. Small spots that are enclosed with appliqued pine needles, so there's a lot of stops and starts. Hopefully, it will be done this weekend and I'll share a tip I use when I need to move between small parts of quilting without having to break thread each time I stop and bring up the bobbin thread each time I start.

Have you done any laser cut quilt kits before? I know many shops use them in their Row by Row kits.

Quilting with Rulers: Continuous Curves on Hexagons

I shared this pillow with you last week. I used ruler work to quilt it with "Continuous Curves" except as I shared, I didn't work out my stitching path ahead of time and my results were far from continuous! A couple of hexies in, I realized what my path should have been, but by then I had already stitched up my own quilting roadblocks and had to made do with several detours.

I did have a blast with the quilting anyway, using a Simple Circle template for my curves on my new machine with the new Janome ruler foot. (Janome Quilt Maker MC15000) I love quilting with rulers on this machine.

Making curves continuous takes discipline and an orderly mind, something I'm in short supply quite often. (I'm not the only one, am I?) You've got to just say no to completing one entire hexagon. Just don't do it! Instead, think "angle, angle, over, back. Angle, angle, over, back.

 Starting from the fushia at the bottom is the perfect illustration of  A, A, O, B. So is the green on the way down. But at some point you end up with something like the orange line. I don't want to cross over to the right for the horizontal motions of  'over and back' instead waiting for the purple pass to do that leg of the journey.

As I mentioned, I'm not the most orderly, being easily distracted these days (I need more sleep!) so I actually talk these steps to myself as I quilt. "Angle, angle, over, back." So far no one has come to fit me with an extra long sleeved sweater or for a vacation in a padded room.

There you have it: my orderly stitching path for continuous curves on hexagons. It's a fairly simple quilting design with rulers and suits this pillow perfectly.

How about you? I bet I'm not the only one who speaks the shapes or directions out loud when quilting. At least I hope not.

Happy quilting!