Sunday, April 19, 2015

Modern Batik Scrap Wreath Tutorial 2: Embrace Your Inner Awkward Freemotion Quilting

Last week I showed you how to piece a wreath/ring/thing with batik scraps, and a fusible fleece backing for dimension. I decided it looked like a ring flying through the sky, so I decided to call it "Ring Toss." 

This week: Freemotion quilting the ten background motifs. 
After stitching down the ring and the grey motion-marks (or alien quarter-moons), I added batting and backing, and stitched 9 double diagonal lines separating the background into 10 sections. So I needed 10 different sky motifs to fill them.  Below left is one, star/suns that's not original to me - I've seen many variations.  
As you may have sensed if you've read this blog in recent weeks, freemotion quilting is not my forté.  But I am far too too cheap/possessive/proud to farm it out. The alternative, Grasshopper, is to embrace our inner awkward. My quilts may not be magnificent, but I do have a lot of fun!

And believe it or not, I do a lot of homework to achieve awkward.  I do a Google image search for the thing. I sketch out as many different poses as I have patience for. Then I draw them again and again and again from memory, connecting them up, until they're not hideously embarrassing. 

So what flies through the skies? First, Birds. 
What else? Frisbees and boomerangs. They're much more interesting together. 
Stitched out:
Butterflies and bees: 
Stars, planets, galaxies (and those are raindrops on the right)
Below left, stars/asterisks, raindrops, The backtracking on the asterisks made the lines thicker and more prominent. The trick is to set the lines at more-or-less 60 degree angles.
What else flies? Humans and superheroes shot from cannons, first draft
Later draft, connected: 
And, of course, drones. I image-searched "drones," and found a lot of non-amusing war drones, as well as highly-entertaining Amazon drones,
I made up my own version. They unexpectedly acquired a retro look:
To the right of the drones, below, there are the cannon people:

Can you see the cannon on the lower right?
Before stitching each motif, I practiced over and over: 
and over: 
I have a half inch thick folder full of practice pages. 
Here's the center of the ring: 
I only needed ten motifs but wound up with more. There were three especially that I was sorry I couldn't use. First, overlapping angels. The backtracking for this design was challenging with a pencil, and I didn't think I could pull it off at all with a sewing machine, not without a few more months of diligent practice. 
Or how about the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I didn't think of him until the quilt was done, alas.
And a final favorite, but the details would have been too tiny for the scale of this quilt: 
Now I need to come up with another quilt to use these little guys!!!
That's all, folks!
(More awkward freemotion quilting here: 1, 2, 3).
If you seriously want to get better at freemotion quilting, be sure to check out Leah Day's freemotion quilting project (no financial affiliation!)


  1. LOL! I love seeing the planning process and many of these stitched. I think the clouds was my favorite. Very well done Cathy!

    1. Leah, thank you so much, that means a lot to me!

  2. Your designs are irreverent, funny, and fabulous! And I don't think you can say your free-motion quilting is awkward any more! Looks pretty good to me!!! Great job!

    1. Thank you, Ruth, but oh no, I never want to lose my inner awkward, do I? On the other hand, if I move into magnificent territory, that would be great!

  3. my comment disappeared so sorry if this is a repeat. :(
    Love that you show that you practice on paper first!!! Good way to gain practice and confidence! ! Always told my students to do that, and sooo glad to see someone actually do it! :) You are sooo creative with your ideas and your designs. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Judi. The paper practice is essential! I wouldn't do it if I didn't need it, and there are probably gifted souls out there who don't need it, but I sure do. It separates the impossible from the unlikely-but-possible! Thank you so much for your kind note!

  4. It doesn't matter how it looks on paper, on fabric with matching thread it always looks much better - and let's face it the only people who are going to look closely are other free motion quilters ... and mostly they are just jealous. Bravo - keep up the inventing. We need creative people inventing new fill patterns.

  5. Thank you, Helen - you're so right about matching thread. If this were going into a competition, I might well have used a matching color, out of fear! I appreciate your kind comment!


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