Thursday, February 22, 2024

Having Fun with Panels on Free Motion Mavericks

Hi and welcome 😊. This is week 570 of the Free Motion Mavericks linking party. I've been busy learning how to create a wall hanging with a couple of companion panels. Let's see how it's going!

Fun with Panels with Cyndi McChesney

Last week, the Common Thread Quilt Guilt (CTQG), had Cyndi McChesney as the virtual guest speaker. A few days later, there was the first of a two-part workshop on Zoom with Cyndi to teach us how to make wonderful quilts with our panels.

Here is the companion panels that I purchased for my husband a few years ago. "Healing Waters" was created by Anishinaabe/Ojibwe artist Mark Anthony Jacobson for Northcott Studios. There was an entire collection, but I just purchased these two amazing panels.

Large panels

Small companion panel

Cyndi McChesney is the author of the book, Fun with Panels. She has another book, Playful Panel Quilts, coming out in the spring. Our course was supposed to be Montages with Panels, which is what her newest book is about, but the panels that the participants had were better suited for her first method. If you're interested, check out Related links below.

When I showed my husband the panels, he absolutely loved them - but I had no idea how to begin putting everything together into a large wall hanging.

The first thing that we did in class was to talk about our panels. We were then put into groups to brainstorm what kind of traditional blocks we could use with out panels. Here were some of the questions we considered:
  • Does the panels have a theme that could translate into some traditional blocks? For example, flying geese would be great for a panel with birds. 
  • Are there visual elements in the panel that could be used for appliqué or be found in traditional blocks?
  • Are there visual elements that could be used for background or complimentary fabric, etc.?
  • Can some of the blocks be cut up and used?
As we brainstormed each of our panels, someone mentioned elongated blocks and improve. That's when I knew that I had found my answer.

Measuring, graphing and cutting 

I knew that I would be cutting up the panels to make the wall hanging. I measured each image and noted where there was extra fabric for the seam allowances and where it would be very tight to get a full image with enough of a seam allowance. 

I cut the individual images based on those measurements. For example, with the image below, I knew that I wanted to keep as much of the image intact as possible, but that the images directly above and below had extra fabric that I could cut into for a larger seam allowance.

Taking extra fabric above and below
the panel for the seam allowances

You may have noticed the masking tape at the top of this panel. I gave each image a number so that they could be easily identified when I created the graph. 

Graph of possible setting

This is my plan so far. I attended our second class this morning and got some positive feedback on my plan to date. You can see my proposed design and some improv strips between the panels.

Panels with improv strips at the top

This is what the improv strips look like between the panels.

Wonky improv strips that will be the background

More improv strips made of Kona solids

I'll be working on this project for a while. At least the improv strips can be sewn up and adjusted as required.

What I learned
  • It's been a very busy week. I didn't intend to take this class but after hearing Cyndi McChesney speak at our guild, I knew that this is what I needed to get the panel wall hanging done.
  • Cyndi is an excellent teacher and had some really great advice. I bought a Kindle version of her book - it really is wonderful and comprehensive. I'm looking forward to seeing her latest book. Her panel collages are very special.
  • I am so glad that we did some brainstorming in groups at the beginning of the class. I'm not sure that I would have thought of improv strips.
  • Between the large panels, I've decided that the improv strips will be at least 2". I think that this will be proportionate to the size of the panels.
  • The wonky improv strips are fun to make. I started off making regular improv piecing but I didn't like the joined strips showing since there is already so much going on. I will probably have to join some strips together at the top since that's the only way to avoid "y seams" but I'll be matching them as much as possible so they won't be too visible.
  • This quilt was on my list for 2024 so I'm glad that it's finally started.
  • I started a cold this week- so I've been pretty out of it the last few days. I sure won't be sewing any of this together until I can think again.
Related links
Linking parties
I'll be linking to many fun linking parties this week. Why not check one out after you've linked up below? Design Wall Monday, Sew & Tell, Midweek Makers, Put your foot down, Needle & Thread Thursday, Off The Wall Friday, Patchwork & Quilts, Oh Scrap!, 15 Minutes to Stitch 2024

Free Motion Mavericks

We had lots of quilting and blogging going on in the last week. Thanks to everyone who linked up 😊

Melva gave new life to a vintage linen runner by attaching it to a lovely batik and then quilting it. What a great way to showcase and keep using it. 

Giving a second life to a vintage linen runner

Donnalee finished an Attic Windows block quilt for her guild's charity group. She quilted it with a serpentine stitch and variegated orange thread. 

A lovely colourful quilt for someone to love!

It's now your turn!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. I love the wonky improv strips!!! I hope you make it through the cold quickly. I've had one now for 2 weeks and am still battling.

    1. Thanks Nancy - I hope that you'll feel better. I'm doing fine except for a lack of energy. Thank goodness that my second favourite thing to do is that's been lovely :-) Take care.

  2. Your panel is really neat, and that sounds like an interesting class. My quilting this week was inspired by Melva's from last week, so I thought I'd link up this week, too!

    1. Thanks Diann, I'm so glad that you may be the only one this week. I love your very happy placemat!

  3. Those panels are quite spectacular. I'll look forward to seeing how you work them into a wall hanging :)

    1. Thanks so much Janine. It took me a while to get used to them and I love them now. I should be able to get lots done in March. Take care.

  4. Wouah, tes panneaux sont magnifiques ! J'adore les couleurs et les motifs, et cette classe semble être exactement ce dont tu avais besoin ! Bravo, ça va être un projet superbe.
    Merci pour le partage !

    1. Merci beaucoup Frédérique. Ce sont des connaissances que j'utiliserai beaucoup je crois. J'ai cousu plusieurs pièces improv mais je réalise que je devrais commencer à les mesurer. Ça serait un peu plus efficace ;-)

  5. Sounds like a very useful glass. You've got the start of a very bright and bold wall hanging. Hope you feel better soon, colds really are no fun at all.

    1. Thanks Kate. I need to get back to working on this project or March will be over and not much done! My cold was a tiny one, so I'm very happy about that. I just need to learn to rest when I'm tired - not something that I always do!

  6. Very interesting, I can't wait to see the finish. I don't know that I have ever worked with a panel, however, one is supposed to be delivered today. Carol at Just Let Me Quilt shared a Cars panel that my grandson would love. Thank you for linking up to Put your foot down.


Hi! I would love to hear from you and I will try to answer you. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a message. :-)