Basic Quilting Skills Series · Quilt As Desired · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials

Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Quilt as Desired

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you!

Leaf Background Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

Here’s hoping we all have a productive autumn season — especially with our quilting.

I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but I tend to quilt less in the summer months. First, of course, it’s summer and I want to be busy doing other summer-y things and going places. Second, my Sewing Dungeon, er….Studio, is not air conditioned, so for a couple of months out of each year, it’s hard to sew with sweat dripping down into my eyes and onto my projects.

Yup, here’s my dungeon! LOL! Cue the creepy music, please!
Image by upklyak on Freepik

Needless to say, I look forward to the cooler fall months when I feel more productive in my studio and I get excited again about new projects.

What the Heck is “Quilt as Desired”???

If you’re new to quilting, you might have seen the phrase “quilt as desired” at the end of some of your quilt patterns. But what does it really mean? It’s a designer’s way to say quilt your quilt any way you want to.

On our Villa Rosa Designs Rose Cards, we take it a step further and say “Quilt and bind as desired.” Gee, that makes all the difference, doesn’t it? NOT!

If you’re a beginner, how are you supposed to know what to quilt or how to quilt your quilt to finish it?

Never fear — I’m here to help!

The first thing you need to consider after you complete the quilt top is what kind of quilting are you going to do? Machine quilting? Hand quilting? Or even tying/tacking?

Next, are you planning to quilt it yourself? Or pay someone to quilt it for you? Depending on your answer here, you may need to prepare your quilt differently. You can see last week’s post “Basic Quilting Skills for Beginners: Batting, Backing, and Preparing a Quilt for Quilting” to help you with your preparation.

Okay, let’s say you want to machine quilt your quilt yourself (sorry, I’m not into hand quilting, so you’re stuck with machine quilting). Here’s a little video I put together a while back about some basic free motion quilting skills and information.

Wiggly lines are just one way you can quilt your project. Here are some of my other free motion quilting favorites.

Straight Lines

If you haven’t tried quilting simple straight lines on a project, it’s way past time you did! To get your lines relatively straight, you will probably want to use a walking foot or an even-feed foot on your sewing machine. A walking foot or even-feed foot moves the top and bottom layers under the needle at the same time so your sewing lines are less likely to pucker and you won’t get those annoying tucks on the back of your quilt.

Here’s a great example of what straight lines can do for your quilt — this is only the backside and it’s unwashed! Cool, huh? Straight lines add a lot of texture. And if you look closely, you’ll see that my lines aren’t really all that straight, but by repeating the lines over and over about the same distance apart, it looks pretty awesome. Now imagine what this table runner will look like after I wash it and it crinkles up beautifully! You’ve just got to try straight lines!

Straight lines look great quilted on anything modern as well as children’s quilts. But I wouldn’t recommend straight lines on your Civil War reproduction quilt. LOL!

Loopy Loops

Loops are probably my all-time go-to design. I usually use this design edge to edge but sometimes I will use loops in the quilt center with something different in the borders. It depends on my mood, how much time I have, and what the quilt needs to be completed. (Yes, quilts talk to me — I am a quilt whisperer…)

As a free motion quilting teacher for a lot of years, I have discovered that loopy loops are more beginner-friendly than stippling/meandering. You have permission to cross over your lines in loopy loops, whereas in stippling/meandering you do not cross lines at all. Loopy loops are less stressful and I find them lots of fun to do.

Below, here’s an example of loopy loops. Neat, huh? See how all the loops are not the same shape or size? That’s what makes this design look easy-breezy. You can also use loopy loops as a jumping off point for A LOT of other variations.

I tend to quilt my loops big and open, which of course uses less thread and takes less time than quilting itty bitty loops. My rule of thumb is to quilt my lines of quilting no closer than a finger’s width. Of course, if I’m quilting a doll quilt, I’m going to quilt this design smaller and closer together than if I am quilting a throw quilt. Adapt the size and density of your quilting to the project you are quilting.

Loopy loops look pretty great on almost any project! Maybe not your Civil War repro quilt, though. (Maybe you should try hand-quilting for that one, just sayin’.)

Stippling/Meandering

All beginner quilters want to learn how to stipple/meander. I have found over the years that a lot of intro to free motion quilting classes start with stippling/meandering. This is not really a true beginner design, in my humble opinion. I think it is better suited for a more advanced machine quilter. Why? Because you cannot cross over your lines and that is hard to do (or not do) while you are trying to get all the other 101 free motion skills and information all at the same time — beginning free motion can be a bit overwhelming, and that’s without having to worry about not crossing over your stitching lines! Ugh!

Sadly, intro free motion classes keep trying. And mostly failing. Then beginners get frustrated and upset when they can’t quickly pick up stippling/meandering in a couple hour class. Then many of them just quit. I’m sorry to tell you, but stippling/meandering takes most people a lot of practice to master. So I recommend that beginner free motion quilters start with straight lines, wiggly lines, and loopy loops before even attempting stippling/meandering. Most of us have to crawl before we walk….

By the way, in case you wondered, stippling and meandering are pretty much interchangeable terms at this point, although once upon a time they were slightly different. I am using both at the same time so as not to cause any confusion for anyone. 🙂

To me, stippling/meandering is a lot like loopy loops except you are not crossing over any lines. That difference can be very daunting to a beginner, however. If the idea of not crossing lines terrifies you, then please do try straight lines, wiggly lines, and loopy loops before moving on to stippling/meandering. I still try to use my rule of thumb of leaving at least a finger’s width between my lines of stitching.

Here’s an example of stippling/meandering. I apologize that it might be hard to see my brown thread on the swirly-printed pink backing fabric on this place mat. Aha! Here’s another one of my tips: Use a busy fabric on the back of your quilt because it helps to hide your quilting stitches — this is particularly helpful when you are a beginner. It will help you to feel more confident about your developing quilting skills!

Probably the most important thing to remember about machine quilting is RELAX and HAVE FUN! Because quilting shouldn’t be like a job or chore, it should be relaxing and fun or else why would we be doing it???

You can check out some of my other favorite quilting tips HERE.

Next week we are going to tackle Binding, so stay tuned!

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

A Little Gardening and Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

Hello Quilty Friends!

Happy Thursday to you! I hope you all are having a wonderful summer so far.

My summer just got a whole lot better! Just recently my family got in gear and finally got our little back porch raised garden planted. And our flowers, too. We may be running a little behind, but I have hopes that in late summer/early fall we’ll be enjoying some fresh veggies picked right out of our little garden pf goodness. If it goes well, next year we are going to add a second raised bed garden.

I used to be an avid gardener way back when, but gave up the year I planted my garden twice and the critters ate everything before it even had a chance to grow. That was it.

But now I’m excited to try container gardening. Besides, ”container gardening” sounds so trendy, don’t you agree?

Cake Day Quilt Block Assembly Tips

I thought I’d share a quick tutorial on how I put the Cake Day table runner quilt block together along with some of my favorite piecing tips.

Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card Pattern

You can get your own Cake Day Table Runner Rose Card pattern HERE.

Often, I prefer to cut out all my pieces for the blocks before I start sewing. I find this is usually quicker than cutting and sewing one block at a time.

Here you can see the pieces all laid out in the right order (all four blocks are stacked) on a flannel board and then I can simply take everything to my sewing machine. This works well if you have to stop in the middle and come back to your project later. Everything stays right where you left — unless of course, you have gremlins or leprechauns or some other little mischievous creatures running around your sewing room when you are not looking.

I have also found that laying out and stacking the pieces in order makes sewing them together faster and easier because I don’t have to stop and figure out where each piece goes.

With all the pieces cut and laid out right sides up, sewing them together is a breeze, especially when I chain-stitch the units one right after the other without cutting my thread in between the units.

Nope! No need to head to my ironing board after clipping the thread between the units, I just kept sewing and chain-stitched the other side too.

I have discovered that the less I press as I’m putting together quilt blocks, the less the blocks stretch or get distorted, which of course improves the accuracy of my sewing.

In the next photo you can see I have the left side background sewn to the Cake print rectangles. Now it’s time to sew the right side.

All right! All the units are sewn together and I’ve clipped the threads between them. I made double sure I layered the units again exactly the same as when I started — we’re ready for the next step.

Again, I’m going to ignore my iron (it must be getting lonely). Time to sew the units together. More chain piecing.

Want to know what happens when I get to seams (remember I haven’t done any pressing at this point)? I’ve already decided which way I wanted my seams to go so as I sew, I hold them down and keep on sewing. Pedal to the metal!

In this next photo you can see I sewed the top unit to the second unit. We’re on a roll — let’s keep sewing.

Okay, we’re almost there! I sewed the rest of the units all together and presto — all 4 of our blocks are now complete and I didn’t even have to get up from my sewing machine.

All right, all right, I relented and finally pressed my blocks — my iron was getting a little dusty from disuse.

Voila! Here is a finished Cake Day block. It’s a cutie, isn’t it?

My 4 blocks are now ready to assemble into a runner. There are sew many possibilities for this runner — birthdays, weddings, showers, parties, and the list goes on and on.

Any day can be a “Cake Day.” What’s yours?

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt As Desired · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

NEW June VRD Rose Card Patterns and A Free Motion Quilting Demo

Hello Quilty Friends!

Welcome to another Thursday — the first Thursday in June. Summertime, right? The kids are out of school or will be soon. Life will get crazy. Fun. And more crazy.

Are you kidding? I thought it was still March.

At least, it should still be March, don’t you think?

Que sera, sera.

OH! Did you see the new Rose Cards for June yet???? As always, our VRD designers didn’t let you down.

You can order all 5 cards HERE.

And here is June’s NEW Table Runner, Cake Day. Cute, huh?

You can purchase the Cake Day pattern HERE.

Did you know you can actually join the Rose Card Pattern Club and get the new monthly Rose Cards delivered right to your mailbox every month without you having to do a thing????

If you live out of the USA, you can sign up for the digital Rose Cards, which will be delivered to your inbox without you having to do a single thing.

There are even several different Pattern Club options to consider. Cool, huh?

You can sign up for the Pattern Clubs HERE .

Another really AWESOME thing about Villa Rosa is that we create a lot of kits using our Rose Card patterns. You can find kits for this month’s new patterns AND you can find kits for lots of other favorites, too. You can visit the website HERE to see what our selection of kits are. Please remember that we add new kits all the time, with all kinds of different fabric, so make sure you stop in often to see what’s new.

A Little Bit of Free Motion Quilting and a Video Demo

How many of you are a little bit afraid of free motion quilting on your own domestic sewing machine?

Be honest!

Okay, that’s better, I see a lot of hands raised and heads nodding out there.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid anymore. I’ve been teaching free motion quilting (FMQ) for more than 10 years and I haven’t lost anyone yet!

Here’s my TOP 12 TIPS for FMQ:

1. Find a teacher at your local quilt shop to show you how and to guide you so you feel safe. Don’t try to teach yourself by using YouTube videos.

2. Start out small — the smaller the project the better for beginners. Potholders, table runners, place mats, wall quilts, or other small projects.

3. Start with a beginner-friendly design like wavy lines or loops. Meandering and stippling are NOT beginner-friendly.

4. Try to relax. The more tense you are, the worse your quilting will be.

5. Play music while you quilt, something with a beat. A beat will help you find your rhythm for FMQ on your own machine.

6. Keep practicing, every day if you can, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better your quilting will get.

7. Practice machine quilting with a friend. You can encourage each other and laugh together.

8. Try machine quilting gloves. There are a lot of different types of gloves out there, so you might have to try different kinds to find the ones that work for you. Machine quilting gloves will help you get a good grip on the fabric so you can move the quilt more easily when you are quilting.

9. Doodle. Doodle a lot. Practice drawing the designs before you quilt them — this builds some muscle memory between your hands and you brain.

10. Practice…….practice……..practice…….

11. Practice……practice…..practice……. (I can’t stress this one enough)

12. HAVE FUN!

Here’s a little video I put together demonstrating how to free motion quilt wiggly lines on last week’s Ying Yang Cats. Enjoy!

I hope this video inspires you to try free motion quilting some wiggly lines on your own little project.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD