Monday, March 16, 2015

FMQ Madness!

I once blogged that there might be such as thing as too much of a good thing - that is, free-motion quilting (FMQ). Now I'm not so sure. Since I've gotten better at it, it's become incredibly addictive. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to just stitch-in-the-ditch or do some minimalist quilting. It doesn't mean that every inch of every quilt needs to be quilted. It still depends on the quilt; its design, use, etc. I'm just saying that it's really, really difficult to not keep going when you're FMQ.

I can safely thank (or blame) Cindy Needham. I have taken both of her Craftsy courses and have watched them both a number of times. Design It, Quilt It: Free-Form Techniques has some great tips on FMQ. The one that got me though, is Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts. This course is about creating Wholecloth quilts (basically from one piece of fabric as opposed to a pieced top). Since most of the quilts are just one colour, which means ample opportunities to FMQ.

Her incredible quilts are usually made of vintage linens over plain cotton or silk fabric. Cindy clearly loves her vintage linens and incorporates them on wholecloth quilts while highlighting the original creator's work. This is all beautiful and truthfully, a little intimidating. So, instead of starting with a wholecloth quilt made of linen, I've started with a project that was less intimidating but that let me FMQ like crazy. It's creating a wholecloth quilt from large print fabric. You use a fabric that has interesting shapes that would be fun to quilt, and you quilt it from the back. Let me explain.
The fabric you quilt on becomes the back of the quilt
The fabric you quilt on becomes the back of the quilt

Here's the fabric that I chose. It's got all kinds of interesting shapes that would be fun to quilt. I created a quilt sandwich with some lovely light yellow-orange fabric. I chose a couple of threads that would go well with the fabric. I used a thicker thread to outline the shapes while the other finer thread was used for the scribbling and other FMQ shapes such as pebbles, straight lines, S-curves and feathers.
Large print wholecloth quilt
Large print wholecloth quilt

All of the quilting is done on the front of the large print fabric. The beauty comes when you look at the other side! Isn't it amazing that quilting that rather gaudy fabric could create a piece of such simplicity and elegance?

This technique is perfect for quilting with metallic threads. These can be very finicky to quilt with unless they are in the bobbin. Since this project is quilted from the back, it highlights all of the bobbin thread. As you can see from the photo, the flowers were quilted with the metallic thread, sometimes 3 or 4 times so that they will show up.

Here are images of some of the details. The metallic thread and the beading add an elegant touch. You can see the scribbling, pebbles and feathers between the outlines of the flowers and leaves.

More details of metallic thread and beading

What I learned:

  • Quilting from the back of the quilt took some getting used to but what an end-product! I couldn't wait to take it out to see the results.
  • I've since tried to work with metallic thread that was not in the bobbin. What a mess!
  • This was a great project to practice FMQ. There was TONS of FMQ and you can't tell from the end product if you followed the lines or not!
  • I suspect there will be a few more of these wholecloth large print wall hangings since they were sooooo much fun to work with.
  • I may be ready to work with some linens. I'll start with hankies that I picked up in China. At least if doesn't turn out as well as I'd like, I won't have destroyed a vintage piece!
I linked up to Free Motion Mavericks. Have a look!


  1. Hello Andree,

    It's true, FMQ is addictive - once you reach a certain point, you know there is no stopping!

    This wholecloth has turned out really well. Using the different threads and the beads has added depth to the design, and must have made it even more enjoyable to do.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!

    Love, Muv

    1. Thanks for doing the linking Muv, I love checking out everyone else's FMQ.


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