Quilt No. 3: The Halloween Quilt and Free Motion Quilting

I’m not sure how to number these quilts as I have several ongoing, but I guess I’ll just number them as I completely finish them. This quilt was one of the last ones I started, but it sewed up very quickly and then I got a bit obsessed with free motion quilting it on my home machine.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that we are massive Halloween fans, but I’m sure I have. I was in the local quilting shop to pick up a small order and I saw some cute Moda jelly rolls on sale in this fabulous Halloween fabric, which I promptly snapped up. This whole quilt was made with one jelly roll and two little extra strips from another fabric (the same as the binding).

This brings me onto another recent obsession of mine. I discovered The Midnight Quilt Show on Craftsy with Angela Walters. Now, if you’re already a quilter, you’re probably yawning… yesss Claire, that’s been popular since 2017. I am, however, a brand new quilter, so you’ll have to bear with me. For anyone who is a novice like myself, Angela Walters has made 10 seasons of her show, which comprises perfect little bite-size episodes of about 8-12 mins where she makes up a new quilt and shows you how she quilts it – in a very condensed version of course. It’s very inspiring and quite addictive!

She often uses precuts: jelly rolls, charm squares and fat quarters and this brings me back to my spying the jelly rolls in the store. I already had one of her free patterns in mind as a quick and fun project and that was the Criss Cross quilt, which she produced as a fast Christmas present option. As well as being speedy, it features strip piecing, which was a technique I wanted to try and it also had a fun design feature, where the column seams are offset, so you don’t need to match every chevron. That sounded like a timesaver to me!

I was sold, so I bought the jelly roll and proceeded to make it up. I wanted the quilt to have a random scrappy feel and realised about halfway through piecing that it was probably about time for a makeshift design wall. I really need one for another quilt I’m working on, and this gave me the final push. Off I went to Joann, where I bought 3 yards of extra wide felt in a sale for $3.99/yard and I hooked it up on my wardrobe when I got home. INSTANT DESIGN WALL! Actually, I think I’ll put the felt on some backing board at some point so I can move it around, but I’m quite chuffed with it nonetheless and it totally feels like grown-up fuzzy felt.

Once I’d figured out a nice scrappy configuration, I pieced it all together and it came together in just a couple of hours. Yay! Since it was for my 6 year old, I decided to put some minky on the back and found some at one of my local quilting stores, along with the Free Spirit cotton for the binding.

To baste the quilt, I used the kitchen counter method that I resorted to on my first quilt and I have to say I have no complaints! It all went together smoothly and I appear to have no pulls or tucks in the front or back of the quilt, so yay!

Free Motion Quilting

On my last quilt, No. 2, I tried out the longarm machine at my local quilt shop, which was really rather fun. This time, I had a hankering to give free motion quilting a go on the old home machine. Blame Angela Walters I guess, haha. I spoke to a quilter the other day who told me I was quite mad to have done so, because my machine is the Brother CS6000i. Now, I won’t hear a word against my little guy. He cost me just over $100 and was an experiment to see if I liked sewing. I have run that little machine into the ground over the last 6 years, fashioning everything from winter coats to duffle bags and he has done me proud. I would heartily recommend this machine to any beginner 1,000 times over.

As a quilting machine though, it does have some limitations. The most severe of these is probably the throat plate, which is only about 4 or 5 inches in width. This particular quilt is throw sized and I’m pretty sure that’s about the max I could work with on this machine. My Brother also chugs along like a car with no suspension, which makes it a little tricky to keep the stitching smooth. But I will say that I know this machine inside out and I was actually very pleasantly surprised at how rapidly I got a feel for the different shapes and the motion rhythm.

I started out by trying a meander on the white strips, which is a classic beginner’s shape as you can wander around anywhere you like. Nevertheless, I found the needle ran away with me to start off with and I produced all sorts of jaggedy shapes. I quickly realised that slower was better to begin with until you found a sweet spot where you could maintain a decent and consistent stitch length. For me, that ended up being right in the middle, at a “2” on the speed control for my machine (it goes from 1 slow to 3 fast).

Another thing I figured out was that the need for quilting gloves was real. I had some household latex gloves in the kitchen, so snipped off the thumb and a couple of fingers and – voila – my own budget version! They worked pretty well. That minky didn’t half rub off on them though!

For my second pattern I decided to do something horizontally along the black strips and went for some black wavy lines that were reasonably random. I made sure some overlapped others to give some texture.

I wasn’t sure what to quilt for the orange strips, but I then came across the class “Free Motion Quilting Essentials” with Christina Cameli on Craftsy, which was marvellous. I watched the first class, which was all about whirls and loops and decided to just go ahead and practice a whole variety on the orange strips. You can see loops, swirls, herringbone loops and candy ribbon among them. I love the texture these seemingly simple shaped produce. Additionally, they are a helluva lot quicker to quilt than the other designs I chose, so that was pleasing! Here’s a look at my herringbone if you’re interested – listen to the machine chug!

My final design choice was pebbles. These were easily the hardest as it took quite a bit of practice to get the hang of both travelling and being able to stitch on the same line twice. You can see the difference between one I did early and then a few times later above (early on the left, later on the top right). I found that I made them too small to start off with and got a much better texture as well as having more control by making some of them larger. It’s a fun pattern though with lots of potential design variations to work on.

I found that with very light embroidery thread such as Aurafil, I needed a normal thread tension of 4. However, with some of the other embroidery threads I need to turn the tension right down to 1 to get a good balance on the front and back. It was pretty interesting how different they were and I definitely understand why quilters always recommend trying a sample piece after every thread change.

Conclusion

This was a really fun quilt to make and I feel like I got a darn good opportunity to try free motion quilting. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, but I really did! It’s quite therapeutic and I was always a doodler as a child and teenager – and it’s basically thread doodling! I know that some quilters like the top piecing better and other the quilting, but I feel like I might just be one of those who likes both. Let’s see eh?

The most important thing is that the recipient likes it and that’s what matters to me! πŸ™‚

6 thoughts on “Quilt No. 3: The Halloween Quilt and Free Motion Quilting

  1. Love Angela!! Also check it Just Get It Done Quilts on YouTube – she has a ton of super useful videos perfect for beginning quilters and experienced folks alike!

    Like

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