Machine Quilting

. free motion quilting

.Free-motion quilting by Heather Thomas

Free-Motion Machine Quilting

Free-motion quilting is more than just a way to hold the pieces of your quilt together. Stitching lines, swirls, and motifs onto your quilt can add dimension, depth, meaning, and interest.

You can use free-motion quilting to accent parts of a quilt or as an overall texture. And you can change the look of the stitches simply by changing the color of the thread.

You can use free-motion machine quilting to write words on your quilt or to sketch an image. Just think of the needle and thread as you pencil and the quilt as your paper.

But you've heard the old adage about drawing, right? Practice makes perfect! The same goes for machine quilting. It takes time, patience, and commitment to get those stitches smooth and even, and your motifs to look impeccable.

In this video, expert machine quilting guru Susan Brubaker Knapp shows you how to machine stitch continuous motifs. Note how she explains how the sound of your machine can tell you if you are stitching at the right speed. Remember, it takes practice!


Free-Motion Machine Quilting Basics
An overview of machine quilting supplies and stitches

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Machines
You don't need a top-of-the-line machine to do free-motion quilting. The only thing necessary is a lockstitch machine (a sewing machine that has a top and bottom thread), and either a hoop or a darning foot, which is used to stabilize your stitching. A wider range of possibilities is opened up to quilters with machines that have a built-in zigzag stitch.

Feed Dogs
To begin, you need to either "drop" or "quiet" your feed dogs, so that you, not the machine, are guiding your fabric. Many machines have a switch or button that allows you to easily drop the feed dogs. If your machine does not, it may have a special plate designed to cover the feed dogs. You may need to check your manual. If you cannot drop or cover the feed dogs, simply move the stitch length to zero - this basically stops the feed dogs from moving.

Needles
For free-motion quilting, the best needle is typically a topstitching needle. It has a sharp point that ensures a straight drawing line (unlike a universal needle, which has a ball point, causing it to wheedle its way into the fabric and never create a straight line), and a large eye, that helps to reduce thread breakage as well as making it easier to thread.

Feet
A darning foot provides the ideal surface support for free-motion techniques, and the one made specifically for your machine is your best bet.

Hoops
Even if you can't find a darning foot, you can free-motion quilt with a machine quilting frame or hoop to stabilize your surface. My favorite hoops are designed for machine embroidery, made of hardwood, and have a screw on the side that you can tighten with a screwdriver.

Stabilizers
A quilt sandwich is already stabilized due to the batting, but if you intend to use your zigzag stitch, you may want to stabilize it further with either interfacing or stabilizers. A stabilizer is made to be removed once you are finished stitching.

Stitches
The three basic types are:

Drawing: Drawing free-motion is a bit like drawing by moving your paper while someone else holds the pencil. While it seems a bit awkward at first, it's a wonderful way to sketch.

Stippling: While stippling quilting originally referred to a very specific machine quilting pattern, it has come to mean any free-motion fill-in stitch.

Signatures: Free-motion is one of the best machine quilting techniques for signing your name. It takes practice, but you can sign your name right into the piece!

Source: Defining the Line: Free-motion Embroidery Skills by Ellen Anne Eddy, Adapted from Quilting Arts Magazine, Summer 2002


Free-Motion Machine Quilting Tips 

. lyric kinard
.Lyric Kinard

1. Don't be afraid to adjust your bobbin tension. You can check to see if the tension is right by placing the loaded bobbin case in your hand and lifting the thread. The case should lift but if you give the thread a little jerk it should come back down to your hand. Use the tiny screw driver that came with your machine to turn the screw a quarter turn at a time until it is adjusted to whatever thread you are using. 

2. Practice on a charity quilt. Throw together a bunch of scraps or pull out that quilt you started 10 years ago and can't stand the sight of any more. There is someone in a nursing home right now that will greatly appreciate a nice warm lap quilt.

3. Have a small fabric and batting sandwich by your machine at all times to use as a warm-up and testing cloth. Use it every time you begin to quilt to test your thread tension and to get into the flow of movements that you will be using for your quilt.  

4. Doodle on paper as often as you can. Set your pen down and don't pick it up until the page is filled with a single line of pseudo-stitching. It is a great way to get your mind in gear for machine quilting and to come up with new designs.

5. Pause the quilt's movement, but not the needle whenever you change direction. Corners and other directional changes are where tension problems often show up. Just slow down and pause for a heartbeat before you head off in the next direction. The close stitches will relieve some of your tension difficulties.

Source: Using Stitch as a Design Element  by Lyric Kinard, Quilting Arts in Stitches Vol. II, 2011

Machine Quilting Stitch Tension Tips (Or, What to Do When Stitches Go Bad) 

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.Outline zigzag stitching
by Ellen Anne Eddy

Stitches can go bad, and tension is usually the culprit, though not always. Sometimes there is a problem with the needle, the thread, or even lax quilting machine maintenance. Here are some trouble-shooting tips that can help ease your tension.

  • Regardless of what the instruction books recommend for your machine say, you will almost certainly have to adjust your tension for free-motion machine quilting.
  • It is impossible to say exactly what tension you should use, as it is dependent on the thickness of the thread, the needles you are using, the thickness and density of the batting you are using, and the backing fabric.
  • It is best to keep a small sampler piece of the materials you are working with so that you can check that the tension is right for the materials you are working with.
  • If you are having problems with the top of your work, such as threads breaking or stitches skipping, first check your needle; you may need to change it.
  • If you have changed the needle and the problem continues, there is usually something going on with your bobbin. Give it a good cleaning and then rethread it, making sure that your bobbin is properly wound.
  • If there are problems underneath your work such as tension or bunching of threads, it usually means there is a problem with the top of your machine. Rethread the top of your machine completely. With free-motion machine quilting it is possible for the threads to slip out of the tension plates, and tension is needed to make good stitches.

Source: The Liveliness of the Stitch by Dijanne Cevaal, Quilting Arts in Stitches Vol. IV, 2011

How to Pull Up the Bobbin Thread

You'll be in the zone, moving your latest creation under the needle in a steady rhythm until . . . the thread breaks; you notice the stitches are skipping; or a little tug tells you there is a problem underneath the fabric, like an unsightly nest of bobbin thread. In this video, Pokey Bolton shows you how to pull up the bobbin thread to avoid these issues and keep on stitching.



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  • Sometimes I think I'm finished with a quilt. I've surface designed it, free-motion stitched it, maybe even appliquéd it. But it still looks a little flat. It needs a little . . . something.
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  • We often advise artists to practice, practice, practice if they want to improve their machine embroidery skills. But practice doesn't have to make perfect. In fact, I recently spent time with two artists who embrace imperfections in their machine embroidery designs.
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  • Last week, my colleague, friend, and co-conspirator Helen Gregory took over the reins as Editorial Director for Interweave's Quilt, Paper, and Sewing Group.
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  • I usually have a variety of quilting designs kicking around in my head at any given time. But often, when I finally get around to actually designing a quilt, I draw a blank. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by fabric and surface design choices. Other times, I just don't know where to start.
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  • Choosing the right machine quilting pattern for your piece is as important as the thread and fabric selections.
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  • I've been using digital photos as a basis for my quilt designs for quite some time now. Digital technology has improved so much, too.
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  • 'Dancing Trees' (detail) by Frieda Anderson. We choose to make art quilts (rather than traditional quilts) because we want to express our point of view with fabric and thread. With so many methods, tools, and techniques at our disposal, sometimes
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  • If I had to create a basic lesson plan for how to make a quilt it would be broken down into these three basic steps:
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  • We art quilters march to a different drummer and dance to our own tune. If we follow rules at all, we see them more as guidelines, jumping off points for improvisation.
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  • When the leaves start to turn and there's a nip in the air, my thoughts immediately turn to International Quilt Festival/Houston.
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  • This special issue from Quilting Arts and International Quilt Festival captures the energy, beauty, and community of today's quilt scene. Packed with feature articles, projects, and beautiful photography, this 148-page issue debuted at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall.
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  • Quilting Arts Gifts is a special issue of Quilting Arts Magazine devoted to the art of gift-giving. Inside this whopping 144-page issue, you'll find dozens of festive gift projects, seasonal décor ideas, the newest and best tools and gadgets, and much more!
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  • Machine quilting that enhances the design of the quilt is a thing of beauty. But very few people can just put their quilt under the needle and produce perfect stitching. Even award-winning pros like Judy Coates Perez, whose machine quilting designs complement her quilts' composition and theme, have
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  • Have you noticed that feathers are all the rage these days? Feathers in your hair, feathers inclothes and accessories, feathers in art, and the feather stitch in the October/November issue of Quilting Arts .
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  • Master your machine quilting with our stitch intensive issue. Explore new free-motion quilting motifs and learn how to use zippers to embellish your art quilts. Judy Coates Perez shares her guide to machine quilting success, Margaret Applin takes art quilts from flat to fabulous with digital monoprinting
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  • Just as the summer is winding down (sniff!), so is the celebration of 10 years of Quilting Arts Magazine . It's not a sad ending, though, because it's been really gratifying to revisit all the talented artists we've worked with and all the gorgeous artwork that has come through our offices
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  • Oh, how I love being seated in front of my beloved Bernina®, moving my latest creation under the needle in a steady rhythm, free-motion quilting away until...the thread breaks; I notice the stitches are skipping; or a little tug tells me there is a problem underneath the fabric, like an unsightly
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  • Here at Quilting Arts , just one of the many reasons we enjoy receiving Letters to the Editor is that it gives us a chance to know exactly what you thought of the latest issue and what suggestions and feedback you have to make QA even better. In the upcoming
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  • Machine and hand embroidery are the hallmarks of art quilt design and construction. Depending on the stitch and the thread or fiber used, embroidery techniques can give your quilts a contemporary edge or vintage charm. In this free eBook, Essential Embroidery Stitches: Free Hand and Machine Embroidery
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  • [View: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BnRXJ1EkS0 ] 804 Stitch Intensive Contemporary Quilting has so many faces and ideas. On today’s show we’ll spend some time again with Ana Buzzalino as she embodies the spirit of contemporary art quilting
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  • Check out our surface design issue, full of fresh techniques to create your own fabrics. Stamp and stencil with unusual objects, learn to dye with ice, explore finger painting on cloth, and much more; plus art quilts meet mixed media, color theory for art quilters, tips on working in a series, and our
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  • It seems as if summer is just flying by and I can't believe we're already well into July. Here at the Quilting Arts offices we're hard at work on the August/September 2011 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. And while I can't wait for this
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  • What do you get when you challenge a bunch of mixed-media and fiber artists to create their own 9" x 9" fabric swatches to be swapped? You get nearly 200 pieces of amazingly creative fabric and a whole lot of very happy artists. That's just what happened when Quilting Arts' sister publication
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  • Thread sketching? Love it! Using free-motion stitching with your sewing machine to create what looks like pen-and-ink drawings lends a real "hand of the artist" look to a quilt. The technique is also an effective way to add stitched imagery to fabric collages.
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  • Quilt making doesn't have to be complex, with hours of cutting, piecing, and sewing tiny seams. In this free ebook, How to Quilt: 4 Free Projects to Learn How to Make a Quilt , you'll learn how to quilt using fabric scraps, craft-store flowers, a fish, and canvas and paint.
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  • Don’t miss our portrait issue! Translate your photos into art quilts with Joan Sowada, explore detailed thread painting with Jennifer Day, and discover how to make a simple portrait quilt top in a weekend with Jen Eskridge. Stitch yourself silly with monoprinted art dolls by Tracy Stilwell and
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  • I don’t know about you, but when I sit down at my sewing machine, my mind is completely focused on the project at hand—the colors, the textures, fitting everything together just right. I hardly give a thought to how I’m sitting in my
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  • You might have seen this picture from my wrap up of "QATV" Season 8. Yes, I am vertically challenged and need a little boost in order to reach the pedal on the set's sewing machine. The Quilting Arts crew thinks it's funny to capture these little behind-the-scenes TV moments. And frankly
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  • Free-motion machine stitching is a hallmark of contemporary quilting. But, my friends, it does not always come easily. Practice and experience are key, and if you're like me, you also get by with some help from your expert friends.
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  • Celebrate spring with our nature issue! Get creative with Zen doodle quilts by Laura Wasilowski. Make a sweet little series of free-motion stitched wildflower quilts by Jeanelle McCall. Join Margaret Applin as she uses digital imagery in quilted collages. Check out our new materials column, Out of the
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  • When someone asks me what's the difference between contemporary art quilts and traditional quilts, one of the first things I think of is embellishment, especially beads and encrustation.
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  • Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by the LAST stop of the Quilting Arts In Stitches blog tour! I hope that you have enjoyed all the stops along the way. For the last post, I have asked artist Faith Cleary to tell us a little about her experience with
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  • The art of appliqué quilting has long been a way for quilters to add designs to their fabric, in addition to piecing. But while traditional quilters used the hand appliqué stitch to place their fabric motifs, contemporary quilters are more apt to fuse or machine appliqué, opening
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  • To anyone who loves fabric and thread, making a handmade quilt is often the ultimate creative experience. The contemplative act of hand quilting-needle moving rhythmically over and under fabric-is a pleasure even for those who primarily rely on machine quilting enjoy.
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  • 112 Tools of the Trade Needle and thread will always be essential to quilting, but today, an art quilter’s tool box also includes heat guns, stabilizers, and a myriad of other products and devices designed to achieve unusual effects and to make
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  • 210 Graphic Elements Just about any design can be considered a graphic element. In particular the collage trend has its roots in graphic design where words are used for both their meaning and their appearance. First up, Laura and Linda Kemshall are back
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  • 209 Photo Images On today’s show we’ve harnessed the energy of technology and applied it to our quilts. First we learn to take, alter and print one-of-a-kind images to create a fabric book. Then special guest Wen Redmond shows how to use a
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  • 205 Thread is the Focus The hallmark of contemporary quilting is the use of thread in a new way. Instead of being content to only use thread as a way to quilt pieces of fabric or stitch on an applique, today's quilter uses thread as its own feature
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  • 204 Embellishment Contemporary quilts often include some form of surface embellishment such as charms or fiber, or maybe the addition of paint or another surface design. First is a lesson on using puff paints to create dimension on your quilts. Then Ruth
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  • 202 Color Color is the spirit within our designs; it evokes emotion, creates movement and reinforces our design and pattern. First, fabric designer, Tina Givens demonstrates a simple but striking appliqué technique using free motion stitching.
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  • 201 Every picture tells a story . Every quilt project has a little bit of you stitched into it and we all have a story to tell. First up is Katie Pasquini-Masopust and a lesson on how to take your design from a picture to a quilt. Then Laura and Linda
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  • Little by little, I'm establishing a style for our Colorado home, accessorizing with pieces of artwork here and some new furniture there. With one eye on the budget and another on the time I have available for decorating (almost none!) I have been looking for some quick, easy, and budget-friendly
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  • 313 Stitch This: free motion quilting and threads and surfaces. Melissa Averinos is our first guest with a simple argyle stitch pattern that can be applied to all different items. Then it’s a thread tutorial; learn which thread to use with what
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  • Let’s face it: pet owners love our pets. My next door neighbor loves his labs so much, the only décor he has in his house relates to black labs--from every piece of wall art to the toilet paper dispensers! So it was no surprise to me that
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  • 413 Catherine Nicholls is our first guest artist with a perfect free motion paper quilt collage inspired by photos she took of graffiti during some of her travels. Pokey shows how to make a colorful, whole cloth doggie jacket that will give the other
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  • 412 Today’s show is all about tips for great quilting. Our artists have agreed to share a few of their favorite tricks with us. Our first guest is artist, Lyric Kinard. Learn a few carving tips and tricks to create a stamp from an eraser and then
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  • 411 Today’s show focuses on perfecting your sewing skills. First up, Jeanne Delpit will demonstrate stitching techniques for mixed media quilting especially with metal. We’ll discuss needle tension and thread strength. Then, meet designer
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  • 409 Get ready to be inspired by innovative designers with the latest in contemporary quilting. We begin our show today with designer Terry White. She’s going to demonstrate thread painting techniques with her stitch samplers. Next, it’s mixed
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  • 406 Let your inner artist shine with Quilting Arts. Pokey starts at her sewing machine to give tips and trips for practicing free motion sketching. Then, meet artist Maria Elkins for an easy fabric portrait – you don’t even need to know how
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  • 404 Quilting arts is all about trends. First up, is Melanie Testa. Her trend is artists’ trading cards and she uses them to demonstrate alternate finishing and binding techniques for quilts. Then, meet designer Sue Kelly with the latest in surface
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  • 403 Today’s show is about technique. To get started on a new project sometimes we begin with a design, or maybe a pattern or even a new medium - but how about using a technique as your starting point? Carol Ingram is our first designer with techniques
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  • 506 Today’s episode introduces us to some new materials to incorporate into our art quilting. Mary Hettmansperger leads off with metal embellishments on a quilted wall panel. Her experiences as a mixed-media artist, weaver, and jewelry designer
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  • 505 All of our guests have started out with a traditional technique or pattern, but they’ve interpreted it in a whole new way. First up is Sarah Vedeler – you’ll be amazed at her technique for using machine embroidery to create quilt
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  • 503 Make sure you have your machine threaded and ready. As we feature machine quilting. Our first guest is Teri Lucas. She’ll demonstrate her innovative free-motion designs and give us tips and hints for machine quilting. Up next is Carol Ingram
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  • 501 The first show begins with Susan Brubaker Knapp. She creates art from her photos using fused appliqué and thread painting. Today’s inspiration is a lighthouse in North Carolina. Next, Pokey shares a stitched and stenciled book with photos
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  • 101 Surface Design There is a rich array of commercially printed fabric to choose from ––but you can also make your own with paints, oils sticks, and stencils. First we go to our host’s personal studio and combine simple household tools
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  • Check out our new machine quilting column, “Stitch This! Free-motion Motifs to Try” by Heather Thomas. Enjoy Lisa Kerpoe’s second installment of “Resists from the Kitchen” with a look at mashed potato flakes. Don’t miss Lyric Kinard’s suggestions for quilting
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  • There's an old joke, from well before my time, that is still around because it's a classic. An elderly gentleman is walking down the street in New York City. A younger man steps up to him and asks, "Excuse me, sir, but how do I get to Carnegie Hall?
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  • As I write this, the snow is coming down, I'm wearing extra warm socks and a scarf, and I'm wondering if I remembered to put the ice scraper in my trunk. The very thought of a being outside in a silk slip dress makes me shiver.
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  • I've been enjoying the stories over on the QA community discussion board where members are sharing how they learned to sew. Everyone has their own unique story (some funny, some bittersweet) but most people seem to have learned to sew from: their mothers, their 8 th -grade home ec class, or from
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  • Last week while back in Massachusetts I picked up a few essential Christmas mementos to send to our new Colorado home. As I was packing them up at Quilting Arts headquarters, people gathered around to comment.
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  • Celebrate Quilting Arts 10th Anniversary with 10 innovative techniques! From adding LED lights to your art quilts to screen printing with natural items and creating machine stitched reverse applique pieces, you're sure to find a unique art quilting process that catches your fancy. Learn strategies
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  • Contemporary art quilters and mixed-media stitchers may take vastly different approaches to their art, but one thing we all have in common is our love of stitchery and sewing techniques. I, for one, can never get enough sewing ideas, whether its machine quilting stitches or hand stitching techniques
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  • If you had your choice between a brand new BMW sedan and a state-of-the-art Bernina sewing machine, what would you choose? Car vs. sewing machine: which would you choose? Hmmmmm, not an easy decision, right? Well it was for David Hyatt of Dallas, Texas
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  • The topic of episode 611 is the world around us. Liz Berg is the first guest. She shares techniques for making abstract quilts inspired by photographs. Then, Terry White demonstrates beautiful thread painting. Finally, Andrea Bishop shows how to make
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  • The first project in episode 605 combines drawing and stitching. Karen Fricke demonstrates thread sketching on stabilizer, starting with pen and ink and then moving to thread and fabric. Next, Sharon Morton—from one of the largest guilds in the
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  • In Episode 604 it’s time for a fashion update—to your stitching and your wardrobe. Liz Kettle appears first with a lesson on free-form machine embroidery. Then, Lindsay Mason demonstrates how to make the perfect year-round fashion accessory
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  • When I look at Kathy York's body of work, it's hard to believe she has only been making art quilts since 2003. Her award-winning quilts are easily recognizable for their bold and graphic styles, bright colors, and whimsical or humorous topics. I'm an especially big fan of her three-dimensional
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  • I couldn't wait to turn the calendar to October, and not just because it's my birthday month! I was just so excited to enjoy one of the best examples of free-motion thread painting I've seen, Susan Brubaker Knapp's "Autumn's Bounty," the October quilt in the 2010 Quilting
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  • Fresh surface design techniques and much more! Screen printing with shredded paper; oatmeal resist; digital imagery; thread sketching; tie-transfer dyeing; wire embellishment; sell your art; and the list goes on! Learn strategies for selling your artwork at fairs and festivals from Jane Dávila’s
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  • For many, this is the time of year when nature beckons. The scorching summer heat has passed but the sun is still shining, and the great outdoors has so much appeal. I think this is one of many reasons that SharonV. Rotz’s colorful art quilts recently
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  • I'm excited to decorate our new home in Colorado, but lately I've had to do it on the fly--literally--ordering furniture online as I hop from airport to airport to attend the Cloth Paper Scissors CREATE art retreat and the taping of "QATV" Season
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  • Our packed Fall 2010 issue of Stitch , available in early September, celebrates our passionate love of fabric. Get ready for fabulous projects and articles celebrating the wide world of textiles that inspire our sewing fantasies and fill our overflowing
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  • I confess: sometimes I get so caught up in the "art" I forget about the "quilting." Let me explain. An idea for an art quilt forms in my mind based on, say, a favorite TV show such as (still--and forever) Tony Soprano. Or, a new line of gorgeous fabrics hits my desk and I have to
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  • Has this ever happened to you? You find something you really love--like the perfect shade of pink lipstick that doesn't make your skin look dull and is appropriate for day or evening--and the next time you go to buy it, you find out it's been discontinued. Gone. Gone forever.
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  • Few things exciting me more than stumbling upon a glorious fabric store--so when I realized I was staying less than a block away from Britex Fabrics on my recent trip to San Francisco, I could hardly contain my joy. This four-story fabric haven is filled
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  • Don’t miss the first of our newest series: Mary Hettmansperger presents “Metal as a Surface Embellishment” and dives right in with copper foil. Explore more thread sketching strategies with Susan Brubaker Knapp, with a look at dimension. Be inspired to start your own small art group
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  • I first became aware of Elin Waterston through the Quilting Arts reader challenges, particularly our annual calendar contests. Very quickly, our team came to recognize Elin's distinctive brand of well-thought-out, uncluttered design featuring a strong focal point.
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  • I love the ethereal effects you can achieve with water-soluble stabilizer, fibers, and free-motion machine embroidery. The combination can create a stunning focal point for an art quilt or wall-hanging, or even be used to create a garment. But working with the stabilizer can be tricky-unless you know
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  • It's officially summer, and that means blueberry season. I'm lucky enough to live right next to my father-in-law's blueberry patch--more of a field, actually. While they last, I just have to walk out my back door and down the path to have access to fresh blueberries for breakfast, a snack
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  • We live in a time of high-speed connectivity, with hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, and newspapers online and in print, with texting, Twitter, Facebook, and patterns available for instant download. It's hard to imagine a world without them. But long before instant communication, before
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  • You know how I feel about frogs , right? So when Karen Fricke submitted her thread-sketched frog quilt, "Coqui Up Close" to Quilting Arts Magazine back in 2007, I was captivated. And not just by the frog motif, but by her technique for turning a photo into a thread-sketched design on stabilizer
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  • Is there such a thing as too much texture? I don't think so! Texture is what we art quilters are all about. Texture is what excites the quilt artist and it's what entices the art quilt viewer to come up and take a closer look. Plus, adding more texture to our quilts gives us a great excuse to
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  • Inspiration and techniques! Thread sketching; needle felting; hand stitching; recycled sweaters; 3-D embellishments; batik with soy wax; Dunnewold on design; circular quilts; “Inner Animal”; and more! Continue thread sketching with Susan Brubaker Knapp, with a focus on texture. Learn Jane
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  • Isn't it funny how sometimes the simplest of art processes can be so satisfying? I mean, you know I love my Thermofax screen printing and I am a sucker for hand embroidery. Thread sketching fascinates me and I never get tired of dyeing. But when it comes to hands-down fun, I have to go with stamping
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  • Many communicate with their loved ones overseas through letters or care packages, but when Pat Hamlin’s son was serving with the Montana National Guard in Bagdad, she kept in touch with him through a quilt. Each week that he was away (52 altogether
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  • As a devotee of "Project Runway," one of the things I love most about the show-after the hilarious Tim Gunn quips-is watching how the designers translate their inspirations into line, pattern, and form. Take last week's episode, where Anthony and Maya were inspired by New York's Chinatown
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  • It’s officially spring, and not a moment too soon for me. I already traded my boots for open-toed shoes a few weeks ago--and I'm not going back! Now it’s time to open the windows, do some spring cleaning, and let some fresh air into my studio in the hopes that fresh ideas will float in
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  • In the April/May 2010 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine , treat yourself to: more thread sketching with Susan Brubaker Knapp, focusing on line; silk-screen printing onto disposable facial washcloths with Leslie Tucker Jenison; Pokey’s journal quilt-sized and fabric collaged pet portraits; Susan Carlson’s
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  • Above: Diane Nunez's dimensional fabric flowers Five days, 39 segments, and 13 episodes later, Season Six of Quilting Arts TV is born. A number of very talented guests joined me this season: Jane Dunnewold was back to dazzle us with two surface design
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  • I'm packing my suitcase again, getting ready to fly to Cleveland to tape the sixth season of "Quilting Arts TV." As hectic as the shooting pace is, I always look forward to taping, because I get to learn new tricks and techniques in person
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  • We received so many fun and interesting Let Out Your Inner Animal Challenge quilts from readers that the Quilting Arts editors decided we had to play, too.
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  • There isn’t normally a great deal of crossover between acting and art quilting , but textile artist Lalla Ward has crossed this unusual divide. Well-known for her role as alien Romana in the BBC television series Dr. Who, Lalla now devotes the majority
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  • I like to think I'm always open to trying new things, especially when it comes to surface design methods. But there was one technique I shied away from: batik. I loved the effects, but doing it myself always seemed so complicated and time consuming.
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  • We're introducing a new feature to the Quilting Arts Community... Every month I will be cruising the site, noting what people are posting in the galleries and forums, and essentially looking to see how you--our cherished members--are utilizing our
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  • Makers of custom quilts and people who want to learn how to make a quilt, here is an invaluable resource on free-motion stitching: Free-Motion Machine Quilting - How to Make a Quilt: 67 Machine Stitching Tips and Motifs .
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  • Creating Figures in Fabric; Leftover Dye Pillows; Turning fabric dyeing mistakes into masterpieces; Experimentations in resist dyeing; Embellish your quilts with simple machine stitching; Lession 1: Focus on color; A conversation with art quilter Barbara Walter; Major works by leading artists; Creating
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  • Thread sketching is not a new technique, but it seems as though more people are willing to give it a try and are looking for tips on how to do it. If you're one of them, then look no further, as Quilting Arts has plenty of thread sketching tricks and techniques for you to try.
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  • This January, I’m all about soup. You see, I ate a little too much of this kind of thing while on vacation in Mexico: (the best chicken and mole I’ve ever had in my life) I received a glorious Le Creuset ® French oven for Christmas (basically
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  • Of all the elements of design--line, color, texture, shape, form, value, and size--I think the most difficult one to grasp is value. Not only understanding what it is, but how to use it when you're in the process of designing a fiber art piece. How can you use value to your advantage? How do you
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  • I love the variety of novelty yarns and fibers available today: thick, thin, sparkly, variegated, fuzzy, sumptuous-and they come in every color you can imagine. They are a feast for the eyes and whenever I see a ball, skein, or even snippets of these yarns, I want to plunge my hands into them and get
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  • I’m sure many of you did a double take when you saw the cover of the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Quilting Arts . The quilt, “My Buddy and Me,” by Barbara McKie (featured in the exhibit “SAQA@20: Art and Excellence”
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  • Around the Quilting Arts Community, people with "tension problems" don't need relaxation techniques--they need a stitching specialist. Fortunately, we know several, and Susan Brubaker Knapp is one of the best.
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  • Well, it may have been at the expense of far more practical chores—cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.—but I managed to accomplish my somewhat excessive sewing goals this weekend! Yes, all three projects are complete—and each one was so
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  • With my focus on journaling and drawing, I decided to make a pencil case for all that I will need to carry back and forth to figure drawing sessions. I had the machine quilting samples for the International Quilt Fest: Quilt Scene article I wrote and
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  • A famine, then a feast. That seems to be the way of life, I think. Just before Houston, I decided it was time to make a larger piece, based on the recent painting of a Wester Tanager in my journal and I set out. I printed in a flurry, with no true thought
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  • Downsizing and de-stashing are popular buzzwords today. We all just have so much stuff. So I think those of us who like to make gifts for others want to create something that's useful as well as beautiful. If it helps use up scraps from our stash, so much the better .
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  • There are many things I should blog about, like the ten yards of fabric that came to my door on winning the Nature's Best contest, THANKS to you! Or the fabulous review of my book in Machine Quilting Unlimited , or the fantastic blog I found this
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  • It's almost inevitable: anyone who loves the pattern and colors of fabric has to be drawn to the vast variety of papers available, both commercial and found. Of course, like the children's story about giving a mouse a cookie, once you have an assortment of beautiful papers, you're going to
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  • Our readers and online followers instantly made the QA Community the place to come and chat, share, and play show-and-tell. But each month we've added new features or updated previous ones. If you haven't stopped by the Community in a while, here's what you might have missed.
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  • I added the two blog comments together, 10 from my Author blog and 27 from my personal blog and used a random number generator to choose a number between 1 and 37. Drum Roll please! Debbie L. I am going to Houston tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. so please excuse
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  • What's New On the Quilt Scene: IQF/Houston Edition - As you read this, I'm on the Quilt Scene at the International Quilt Festival/Houston , surrounded by some of the most beautiful quilts-and talented quilt artists-in the world.
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  • Arrow didn't want me to go to Long Beach, so he solved the problem by tucking himself into my luggage. Pretty lil guy. But went I did! Quilt Festival is new to me, it is like one big Partay, with the added benefit of gorgeous quilts, enthusiastic
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  • A gelatin monoprint process; Asian-inspired, richly embroidered accessories; creating with silk: painted and beaded trees; printing with incised rubbing plates and non-toxic materials; the effective artist statement; The Lowell Fiber Studio; Artist Profile; The Whisper Challenge, and more. Cover quilt
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  • Thread painting; pieced landscapes; perspectives on art and quilting with Inge Mardal and Steen Hougs; inspiration from the Symbolists; time management for artists; inspiration from a Kenyan tradition; image transfers; “Rock On!” challenge results; print fabrics with hardware store finds;
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  • Pokey Bolton chats with “Project Runway” winner Jay McCarroll; Venus-inspired art: from prehistoric times through the Renaissance; designing with ink pads; thread painting 101; hand embroidery; designing with Paintstiks®; glue gel resist; monoprinting fabrics, and many more art quilting
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  • Making stamps; painted backgrounds for art quilts; inspiration from Matisse; batik art quilts; profile of a hand embroiderer; thickened silk dyes; quilting with a longarm; finishing techniques for small quilt edges; free-motion machine quilting; working with transfer paints; stitched paper quilt design;
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  • Collaged fabric panels with found objects; wholecloth facing technique; monoprinting fabrics, including sheers; free-motion machine quilting; mounting and framing art quilts; flour paste resist with Jane Dunnewold; painterly quilt collage; eco-friendly journal quilting; 2007 Journal Quilt Project; Goddess
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  • My, my...what a busy group of elves you've been this season. I was thrilled to receive so many emails with pictures of handmade gifts you've been making this year! Here's a sampling of ten gifts (randomly selected) that I hope will inspire
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  • Digital imagery; delicate design with silk, lace, flower petals, and machine embroidery; the Kemshalls on finishing with embroidery, foil, and color; quilted fabric sculpture; textural book wraps; large-scale photograph quilts; thread sketching on stabilizer; showing artwork; binding techniques; embellishments;
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