Craftsy Class Review: Dot to Dot Quilting by Angela Walters

Dot to Dot Quilting is the 3rd in a series of  online machine quilting classes by Angela Walters. Along with her other two classes, Machine Quilting Negative Space, and Free Motion Quilting with Feathers, Angela helps you to conquer your fear of machine quilting your own quilts.

Her warm, humorous manner along with her motto, “close enough is good enough” really put me at ease in this class. Even though she is a professional long arm quilter, Angela Walters teaches this class entirely on a domestic machine. Can we say “versatile”?

Dot to Dot Quilting

Dot to Dot Quilting is a way to quilt intricate designs on your quilt top with little to no marking, using points on the quilt as a guide.

Angela covers 3 of her favorite quilting motifs in this class (starbursts, lattice and diamonds), plus some cool FMQ variations for borders, sashing and blocks that create entirely different looks. In this class Angela shares how she thinks it’s easier to learn one design and tweak it 5 different ways, rather than learning 5 different designs. Clever!

After watching the first couple of lessons, I quickly quilted up these little diamond and starburst sample motifs, just to get the hang of it.

FMQ Practice

Dot to Dot Practice

Being able to watch Angela quilt “live” on video, then being able to pause and try it out immediately is an excellent way to learn. 🙂 I really like how I can go back and rewatch the segments again, to review what I just learned and make sure I really get it.

Here are a couple more quilting doodles I tried, to get a feel for the process. I just used some scraps I had lying around, quilting with whatever thread was in the machine.

Filling in the Diamonds

Filling in the Diamonds

Because I enjoy learning and sharing free-motion quilting techniques, I appreciate it when Angela demonstrates things that I also teach, such as using a blending thread whenever possible. This allows you to see the quilting texture, rather than the stitches themselves.

Dot to Dot Quilting is broken down into 8 different segments of about 8 to 10 minutes each, plus an introduction at the beginning. This is a wonderful way to watch because for me personally, I only have about 10 minutes of uninterrupted free-time at any given point in the day!

FMQ Practice

More of Christa’s Quilt Doodles – This is Fun!

Angela first shows how to quilt the designs in roughly square shapes, then uses a variation on a theme to show how to fit the designs into other shapes, too. Her designs are very scale-able, which means you can quilt them in any block size, large or small. She shows how to quilt them in a regular, classic way, and then she changes it up by starting off-center, or in a corner. The possibilities are endless!

My favorite motif I quilted is this diamond star. I stitched it completely with my free-motion foot and no marking. 🙂

Filling in the Diamonds

Christa’s Diamond Star, FMQ

Angela states that quilting is like handwriting – she can show you how to form the shapes, but it’s up to you on how you develop your own signature style.

At the end of the class, she shares tons of different examples of dot-to-dot quilting from quilts that she has finished. This was one of my favorite parts of the class – I love looking at all that quilting eye candy!

Dot to Dot Quilting

Angela Walters’ Dot to Dot Quilting

Angela includes a free sample pattern in the course materials along with stitching diagrams and quilting design variations. I recommend tracing them with your fingers or sketching them on a piece of paper before quilting to get your “muscle memory” flowing.

Another highlight of the class is reading the comments left by other class members as they watch. Both Angela and the other classmates are quick to answer the questions I have while watching. I highly recommend Dot to Dot Quilting!

Sew and Tell Baby French Roses #7 – Finished!

I am excited to share a finish with you today! I actually finished it last week just in time for it to win a ribbon in my guild’s quilt show. But with all of the quilt show excitement, I didn’t have time to share a little bit about the binding process plus a few in-process shots.

Roses for Katelyn

As you can see, the binding is made from leftovers of the pastel pink, yellow and blue plus some of the white. Scrappy bindings are really starting to grow on me! I stitched the binding finish by hand,  switching thread colors as needed. For detailed steps, you can read my hand binding tutorial here and my machine binding tutorial here.

Clover Wonder ClipsI used Clover Wonder Clips to keep the binding in place. These are my new favorite tool! With one box of 50 I was able to go completely around the quilt. These work way better than pins or hairclips and the hold the corners nice and tight, too.

I used Pearl Bracelets in Cotton Candy for the backing.

Quilting Plan

Actual Quilting

Here’s a side by side comparison of what I thought I would do for the quilting, and then what I ended up actually quilting. Sometimes I change things on the fly, or I get better ideas as I go along.

Christa's Bernina

I’m starting to get asked more often about what machine I use to make my quilts. I have a a 17 year old Bernina 1630 with a nice big drop-in table. I always practice a bit before I start quilting and use the queen-size Supreme Slider whenever I do any FMQ.

Here’s what Baby French Roses looked like after washing. It’s starting to shrink up a bit and the raw edges are getting nice and fuzzy:

French Roses WashedIt’s such a cozy quilt and I hope my sister loves it! It’s going to her new baby girl.

Cuddly RosesFrench Roses Finished Facts:

  • Quilt Name: Roses for Katelyn
  • Pattern Name: French Rose Buds by Heather French
  • Finished Size: 35″ x 42″
  • Materials: Kona Cotton Solids, Wool Batting
  • Thread: Glide Polyester and Bottom Line Polyester
  • Finished April, 2013
  • Patterns and Kits are available in my shop while supplies last.
Jenna with cousin Katelyn

Made for baby Katelyn

You can read my previous WIP on this quilt here:

  1. Baby French Roses #1- Cutting the Fabrics
  2. Baby French Roses #2- Machine Applique
  3. Baby French Roses #3 – Finished Top
  4. Baby French Roses #4 – FMQ Practice
  5. Baby French Roses #5 – Basting
  6. Baby French Roses #6 – Quilting

Christa’s Quilt Along 5.9 – Hugs ‘n Kisses FMQ Double Flowers

This week’s lesson is probably the most fun part of making this quilt! Today I will focus solely on quilting decorative flowers in the center of the O’s (or in my case the space in between the x’s). Because of this, I’ve added on an extra week of quilting to this quilt along.

Double Flowers

When I took Angela Walters‘ Quilting Negative Space class at QuiltCon, she showed us a quick sketch of how to make these adorable flowers. I was immediately struck and knew I wanted to use them in a future quilt along and asked her about that. She was cool with it. So here is my version of her “double flowers” and how I stitched them out.

Flower 1First, start quilting a little spiral in the center of the block. This does not have to be exact.

Flower 2Next, start “bouncing” off the spiral to create a few smooth petal shapes. You may or may not touch the center spiral and that is ok.

Flower 3For the second row of petals, try to echo the first row and stitch all the way to the space in between each petal.

Flower 4For the 3rd row, bounce around the petals again, but do not echo them exactly. You will have more petal “bumps” this time around.

Flower 5Echo the 4th row (and every even row), and connect your stitches in between each petal.

Flower 6On row 5 (and every odd row), bounce around again, creating more petals that do not connect to the centers.

Flower 7Finish up by echoing row 6 and then going straight into a background design to fill the rest of the space (or add more rows of petals if desired). I quilted a close series of vertical lines all the way around each flower.

Flower 8Secure your threads and then move onto the next block. It took about 8 minutes to stitch out each flower, or a total of about 8.5 hours to quilt all of the centers. Do not rush it!

Border FlowersFor the borders, I marked the rest of the block outline, then stitched the same flower in the negative space. This took an additional 5 hours for all of the border flowers.

Alternate Quilting

Here is a simpler quilting design I stitched on my original Hugs and Kisses Quilt. I used stencils to mark motifs in the middle of the O blocks plus the surrounding fabric. A fun fill such as pebbles or stippling would look great too!

Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Kits are available for purchase while supplies last. If you have any questions about this week’s homework, please be sure to join my flickr discussion, leave a comment, or email me directly at

Quilt Along Schedule – Links will go to each active post when published.

Hugs 'N Kisses

Hugs ‘N Kisses 48″ x 64″

Grab my Quilt Along button!

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Christa’s Quilt Along 5.8 – Hugs ‘n Kisses Stitching in the Ditch

Although machine quilting is my absolute favorite part of making a quilt, stitching in the ditch is my least favorite part of the quilting process. Stitching in the ditch means quilting right in the middle of the seam lines, usually outlining a block or part of the quilt. Think of stitching in the ditch as the anchor that holds the quilt together and provides stability so you can have fun quilting more exciting motifs later (as in next week)!

Step 1 – Gather the Needed Supplies

My Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt is basted and ready to go so now it’s time to give a little thought to quilting supplies and thread selection.  Below are my absolute favorite supplies for machine quilting: a Supreme Slider, quilting gloves, a free-motion foot and a walking foot.

Machine Quilting Supplies

The Supreme Slider enables me to slide the quilt around easily during free-motion quilting.  It sits on the bed of the machine and covers the feed dogs so I don’t even have to drop them if I don’t want to (some machines perform better when the feed dogs are still engaged). However, one word of caution – remember to remove it when doing any walking foot quilting or you’ll stitch right through it!

I wear a pair of quilting gloves the entire time while quilting (both with the walking foot and the free motion foot). They allow me to grip the quilt, smoosh it around and push it through with ease. If you can only buy one tool for quilting, this is my number one recommendation. They are machine washable, too.

Thread and Needles

My favorite needles to use are titanium topstitch needles from Superior Threads. They have a longer eye so the thread can easily glide through the hole. I use them for all sewing from piecing to quilting. I use a size 70 or 80 needle for thinner polyester threads (50-60 weight) and a size 90 needle for thicker (30-40 weight) cotton or polyester threads, or specialty threads.

Whenever possible, I like to choose a stitch in the ditch thread that blends with most of the colors of my quilt top. In this case a light pink thread will work well for this quilt. A 50 weight cotton or 50-60 weight polyester are good choices for stitching in the ditch. I use the same color thread in top and bobbin.

Step 2 – Stitch in the Ditch to Anchor the Quilt (4.5 Hours)

First, decide which “ditches” you want to stitch. If you are quilting the X and O configuration it’s very easy to stitch between each row of blocks. Start in the middle of the quilt and stitch all of the horizontal rows from one end of the row to the other. Move over one row, and quilt all of the rows on that side. Then finish the other side, turn the quilt 90 degrees and stitch through all of the vertical rows. I’ve also included a closeup of my original Hug’s N Kisses where I was able to stitch through all of the ditches in white thread.

Stitch in the Ditch Closeup

Hugs 'N Kisses

Stitching in between the X and O blocks and should take a lot less time. Because I made my quilt with all X’s, getting in between the ditches took a lot longer.

For the all X configuration, I had to constantly turn and pivot to outline all of the blocks. In some cases, I back-stitched through previous lines of stitching. Here are some in process photos below:

Pulling up the Bobbin ThreadAlways thread your machine with the needle in the “up” position. This ensures proper threading of the top thread in between the tension discs.

When starting a line of stitching, pull your bobbin thread up to the top. Remember this phrase, “needle down, foot down – needle up, foot up” to grab your bobbin thread. You can either tie off your thread ends, or start and stop each  line of stitching with a few tiny stitches to secure your threads.

You can pull your bobbin thread up to the top at the end of a line of stitching by yanking on the top thread until a little loop of bobbin thread comes to the surface. Then pull it through with a needle or small pin.

Stitch in the DitchPivot When Needed

Using an open-toe walking foot really helps so you can see where you are stitching! Try to stay as close to the ditch as possible and slow down if needed so your stitches are straight and consistent. I only removed pins as they got in my way. I left the rest of the pins in for stability as I stitched.

About halfway through quilting, I decided to see if I could stitch in the ditch using my free-motion foot. This is a little more advanced technique which requires a lot of control over the movement of the foot. I found that if I slowed down enough I could stitch in the ditch with my free motion foot. The upside is that I didn’t have to pivot the quilt so much. I could just move the foot where I needed to go to get around all of the ditches.

FMQ Ditching
Whenever I’m quilting, my hands act as a hoop constantly surrounding the needle, giving me more control over the quilting process.

Step 3 – Quilting the Border Outlines (30 Minutes)

Some of the inner border will have already been quilted from outlining the blocks. I quilted the rest of the inner border seams and the outer border seam. This will stabilize the borders for now so I can add more decorative quilting later.

Stitch the BordersYou can see that I’ve left in most of my basting pins. I will remove them as I need to next week when doing the decorative free-motion work.

Stitched in the Ditch

All of my ditches have been stitched! I know it doesn’t look like much but you can sort of see the “poof” left by the quilting. The quilt is nice and flat and stable and I’m ready to move onto the “exciting” quilting next week!

Hugs ‘n Kisses Quilt Kits are available for purchase while supplies last. If you have any questions about this week’s homework, please be sure to join my flickr discussion, leave a comment, or email me directly at

Quilt Along Schedule – Links will go to each active post when published.

Hugs 'N Kisses

Hugs ‘N Kisses 48″ x 64″

Grab my Quilt Along button!

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Skillbuilder BOM – January Blocks Quilted

I am excited to share a WIP/block finish with you today! I am participating in Pile O’Fabric’s Skillbuilder Block of the Month series where we sew and quilt two blocks a month using quilt-as-you go techniques. I’ve never made a quilt like this before, and it’s “sew” fun!

Here are my finished blocks from January, called Magnum and Sound Wave. Click each picture to enlarge so that you can see closeups of the quilting detail.

Magnum, Quilted

Soundwave, Quilted

I chose fat quarters of Kona Cotton Solids in shades of red, orange and yellow, with a complement of turquoise thrown in, just for fun. I used cotton threads (Aurifil and Superior) to match all the colors of the fabrics with thin grey polyester thread for the background.

Colorful Thread

I stitched in the ditch through all of the seams first to stabilize them, then filled in each color with a fun design, changing thread colors as I went. I used a quarter to mark the circles.


Add a Quarter

Here are the backs of the blocks. I love how the thread colors stand out!

Soundwave BackMagnum Back

Now I’m off to catch up on February’s Blocks!

Sew and Tell – Meet Lisa Sipes

For show and tell today, I want to introduce you to my new friend and amazing machine quilter, Lisa Sipes.

I was first introduced to Lisa’s work when I attended Road to California last year. Her quilt, BeDazzled really dazzled me. The bright solid colors really spoke to me and this was even before I started using them in my own quilts.

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Bedazzled by Lisa Sipes

Fast forward to QuiltCon this year and who won best of show? Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes with their quilt, Double Edged love. I mean can you see all the detail in that quilting? This gorgeous quilt is a fantastic modern interpretation of the classic  double wedding ring quilt pattern.

Double Edged Love

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Lisa Sipes

And guess who took Viewer’s Choice at QuiltCon? Again, it was Lisa’s amazing quilting along with Alison Glass’ impeccable applique in “Overgrown” that stole the show.

Overgrown Quilting Detail

OverGrown – Detail of quilting by Lisa Sipes

I believe it’s amazing quilting like this that is becoming one of the hallmarks of the modern quilting movement. I recently had a chat with Lisa to talk about her inspirational work.

Lisa began quilting near the end of 2008 when her mother suggested she take up long arm quilting as a new career direction (after dabbling in such varied occupations as accounting and bartending).

Lisa Sipes

Lisa Sipes

Lisa does all of her quilting on a Gamill long arm machine. She is a Gamill quilting artist which means she gets to travel with them showing off what these machines are capable of.  Her work has been seen in such magazines as American Patchwork and Quilting, Generation Q, and Modern Quilts Unlimited.

She does mostly quilting these days and her friends help with the piecing. Like any good artist, she always has several designs in her head that just HAVE to get made someday (I can relate!) as therapy to soothe the soul.

It takes her anywhere from a few day to a couple of weeks of focused effort to achieve such impeccable results. She doesn’t quilt just for the sake of quilting, but instead likes to have conversations with the quilters to determine how the quilt would best be quilted.

Sometimes she bases the quilting on the name of the quilt or why it was made or for whom. Other times, her inspiration comes from the design of the quilt or fabric. In all cases, she tries to make the quilting tell a story, such as her collaberation with Thomas Knauer for In Defense of Handmade:

In Defense of Handmade

In Defense of Handmade by Thomas Knauer and Lisa Sipes

This quilt is the actual barcode representation of a celebrity designed quilt that was mass marketed and sold through department stores. According to the quilt’s artistic statement, “the… bar code becomes a place for color and play… in lieu of the homogeneity of the factory-made.” Lisa’s painstaking quilting, tied off at every single straight line start and stop embodies the meaning of this quilt. It is beautiful hand-crafted work, indeed.

I applaud Lisa for bringing the art of machine quilting to a higher-level. Whether you quilt on a long-arm like she does, or use a domestic machine like I do, I hope you appreciate the artistry and vision that quilting can bring to a quilt.

Christa’s Sew and Tell – A Few Quilt Along Finishes

Here are a couple of great finishes from followers of my previous quilt-alongs:

Joanne P. finished her version of Baby Bricks featuring some fantastic geometric prints. It looks very modern and makes me want to make another one to try out more fabrics! (I’m still in the the process of adding more quilting to my two baby bricks quilts).

Joanne's Baby Bricks

Kathleen W. sent me a picture of her lovely Charming Chevrons finish. Doesn’t it look fantastic in shades of black, white and gray? She did a wonderful job with the quilting, too.

Kathleen's Chevrons

Both of these quilts are posted on my flickr group. I want to see your quilt-along pics, too!

No matter what tutorial step you are on, or which quilt pattern you are making. I hope you’ll join so we can all share in the fun and get inspired!

The link is:

Techniques and Tools – Intro to Free-Motion Quilting

Welcome to Technique Tutorial Tuesday. This is a long post so sit back, relax, and read awhile!

Today I will be presenting an introduction to Free-Motion Quilting (FMQ for short). I will cover topics such as thread selection and tools needed for successful quilting, as well as starting and stopping and the density of your quilting.

I quilt all of my quilts on a Bernina machine that’s almost 20 years old. If I can do it, so can you! I hope you will give FMQ a try because I think it’s the most fun part of making a quilt!

Machingers Quilting GlovesSupreme SliderTopstitch NeedlesThread

For starters, here are my 3 favorite tools for quilting:

  1. Machingers quilting gloves help grip the quilt while quilting which in turn reduces stress and tension on your shoulders. They are machine washable and breathe well.
  2. A Supreme Slider helps for two reasons: it allows your quilt to glide smoothly under the bed of the machine. It also acts as a cover for your feed-dogs so you can still have FMQ success even if you are unable to drop them.
  3. Superior Titanium Coated Topstitch needles come in several sizes according to the weight of your thread. They have a larger eye which makes them much easier to thread. They also have a longer needle shaft which helps prevent thread breaks. I use a new needle at the start of each quilt and change them about every 8-10 hours of quilting.

FMQ FootFor FMQ, you also need to use a darning foot or free-motion foot made specifically to fit your machine.

Speaking from experience, it’s best to get this straight from the dealer. The best type of foot has an “open toe” so you can see where you are stitching.

Thoughts on Thread and Tension

I love lots of quilting on my quilts but I want the quilting to show, not the thread. In order to do this, I try to blend my threads as much as possible on my quilt. I have a rainbow of colors and I don’t mind switching thread colors or weights when needed, even in the same quilt.

Auditioning Thread Choices

Auditioning Thread Choices

Quilted Thread

Light Grey for Background, Colors for Blocks

To decide on the correct thread color for a quilt, I will audition several choices and see which one “disappears”  most into the quilt. I test the thread out on a practice piece first,  to check the tension and to see how well the thread blends or stands out. Here are more tips:

  • With a thinner thread like silk or 60 weight polyester, your stitches will blend more, even if the thread does not exactly match the fabric. You can use neutrals to quilt over lots of different colors. If you want your stitches to show, use a heavier 30-40 weight cotton or polyester. A medium 50 weight cotton is a great choice for beginners because it is very forgiving and can cover a lot of area quickly without looking too “thready”.
  • Some of my favorite brands that I use are Superior Threads (in cotton, polyester or silk), Isacord (polyester), or Aurifil (cotton). Unfortunately, I have not had good results with invisible threads so I stay away from them as much as possible!
  • Use the same color thread in the top and bobbin. You don’t have to use the same weight. You can use a heavier weight on top and a lighter weight in the bobbin, or they can be from the same spool. No matter how well I balance my tension, little thread “pokies” still show through if the thread colors are vastly different.
  • If you can’t match your thread exactly to your fabric, opt for a darker thread color rather than a lighter color. A darker color will blend more; lighter colors stand out.
  • Use a “busy” backing for the lining of your quilt. This will easily hide any less than perfect tension issues or quilting mistakes. A busy back also hides lots of different thread color changes. Save the solid backings for when you want to “show off” your precise quilting, or if “thread play” is a part of your intended design.
  • To balance your tension, do not be afraid to change your bobbin tension as well as your top tension. Superior Threads has a great visual on how to balance your tension:
Thread Tension

Click to Enlarge

Starting, Stopping and Smooshing

When beginning a session of free-motion quilting, I like to use this phrase: needle down – foot down, needle up – foot up to bring the bobbin thread up through the top of the quilt. Be sure that your feed-dogs are disengaged, or covered with your stitch length set to zero.

Catch Bobbin Thread

Ending Thread

Hold both thread tails lightly with your hand, then take a few tiny stitches in place to lock your threads. When you come to the end of a quilting session, you will need to end with a few small stitches, then pull up a loop of bobbin. You can either clip the threads close to the surface, or make a knot by hand and “pop” it through to the batting.

When quilting a larger quilt, I use my hands as a hoop and quilt in one  small area at a time.

Hoop Your HandsYou will want to quilt your quilts enough so that the batting will not fall apart during washing. How much more dense you quilt is a matter of personal preference. I personally think that quilts look best when all areas are quilted, but this does take some time to do.

When the bulk of a quilt gets too much to handle, I simply move and “smoosh” it out of the way. If it’s been basted properly, all of the tugging, pulling and scrunching of the quilt will not cause any problems.

Smoosh and Scrunch

Smoosh and Scrunch

Practice, Practice, Practice!

It cannot be stressed enough: you need to practice a lot to get really good at FMQ. Make several practice sandwiches by inserting a piece of batting between two scrap pieces of fabric. It will take some time to find a rhythm that you are comfortable with. It took me a good solid year of FMQ to get to where I was happy with it.

Scrap 1

Scrap 1

Operate your foot pedal at a speed that keeps you in control of your hands and do not move your hands faster than the speed of your machine. Here’s a good rule of thumb (or foot!): if you are making tiny stitches, you need to slow down the speed of your foot pedal and increase the speed of your hands moving the practice sandwich around under the machine.

Scrap 2

Scrap 2

If your stitches are too big, you need to slow your hands down and and speed up your foot. Practice different combinations of speed between your hands and feet until it feels right. Your stitch movements should not be jerky, they should be nice and smooth.

“Handwriting Practice”

Handwriting PracticeIf you can draw it, you can quilt it! Think of your needle as an electric pen writing on a quilted canvas.

You have to practice your handwriting to know where your hand is moving on the paper. The same thing applies to FMQ with needle and thread.

You need to build muscle memory and hand eye-coordination.

The best way to do this is to draw, draw, draw. Take some time and sketch out some doodles like I did. I can sit for hours sketching out pages full of quilting designs!

Straight Line QuiltingSerpentine QuiltingThese are just a few of my favorite tips when it comes to free-motion quilting.

But do not overlook the possibilities of quilting with your walking foot, too.

Straight-line quilting can add lots of texture, especially when quilted closely together.

You can also add interesting designs by playing around with decorative stitches, too. The quilt below was quilted entirely with a serpentine stitch and my walking foot.

My final words are to have fun with it and don’t stress too much. Stick with it and you will see improvement over time, I promise!

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.9 – Finishing Charming Chevrons

Free Quilt Pattern

Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free pattern!

I’ve come to the end of my Charming Chevrons tutorial and it’s kind of sad. I really loved every minute of making this quilt! Today I will demo binding. Scroll to the end for links to the previous steps plus my announcement for my next DIY quilt-along starting next week!

Charming Chevrons Quilt

Christa’s Charming Chevrons

If you like this quilt and want to make one just like it, Charming Chevrons quilt kits are available from my shop for a limited time.

Step 1 – Trimming The Edges (10 Minutes)

When the quilting has been completed and all of your basting pins removed, it’s time to trim the extra backing and batting and square up your quilt.


Use a large square ruler for the corners and a long 6 to 8 inch wide ruler for the sides. The markings on the ruler help keep things nice and even. I use the long lines to make sure I am cutting straight.

If the quilt seems a little wavy, I will block it at the end after binding by soaking it in the washing machine, and laying it out flat on a table to dry. (I do this only if I know for sure the fabrics won’t bleed when wet – I’ve had way too many “accidents.”)

Step 2 – Making the Binding Strips (15 Minutes)

Binding 2I sew continuous double fold straight grain binding strips that I make myself.

Cut enough 2 1/4″ wide strips to go around the perimeter plus about 10 extra inches.

For this quilt I cut a total of 7 strips that measured 2 1/4″ by the width of the fabric (40″-42″).

Join the strips together on a mitered (45 degree) angle to smooth out the seam formed by sewing the strips.

Join all the strips together so that you have one continuous piece with the joined seams all going the same direction.

At the beginning of the binding, cut off one end at a 45 degree angle. Then press the binding in half lengthwise (press seam allowances open).

Angled Binding

Press Binding

Step 3 – Attaching the Binding to the Quilt by Machine (35 Minutes)

Sewing the BindingLeave a few inches of a “tail” unsewn when you begin.

Do not start at a corner, and quickly measure your binding around the perimeter of the quilt to ensure it is long enough.

Try not to end up where you have any of your seams in the corners. Adjust your start if needed.

Use a matching cotton thread in the top and bobbin and use the same thread to finish your binding (whether by hand or machine).

Using a walking foot, sew with 1/4″ seam allowances and stop when you reach exactly 1/4″ inch from the end of your first corner. Take the quilt off the machine and fold the corner like the pictures below. This will create nice crisp mitered corners when you fold them over.

Click on the pictures below to see a larger version for more detailed closeups.

Stop at Corner

Fold Up

Fold Down

Repeat for all corners of the quilt and leave a few inches of “tail” when you near the end.

Binding EndOpen up both folded ends and with a pen, mark where the beginning meets the end.

Cut off the excess 1/2″ away from the marked line (for seam allowances) and join the two ends together.

You can see I cut off a full extra strip’s length of binding but just barely!

It’s better to have too much length than not enough!

Once your ends are joined, finish  sewing down the binding completely to the front of the quilt.

Step 4 – Hold the Binding in Place With Pins or Glue  (30 Minutes)

To baste the binding in place on back, I usually use pins and Pinmoors.  However, for this quilt, I wanted to try a glue pen to temporarily adhere the binding to the back of the quilt.  It worked like a charm and I got to see what the quilt looked like before it was done. I was even able to glue the corners in place to form a pretty miter. That will be much easier to sew!

Glue Stick

Step 4 – Finish by Hand or Machine (Hand Sewing 5 Hours)

Whether I finish my binding by hand or machine, the above steps are still the same. Because I finished this quilt for QuiltCon (and possibly other quilt shows), I chose to sew by hand.  So I got nice and comfy on the couch and watched a couple movies while I stitched away.

Binding by Hand

For more info on both types of finishes, you can read my post about hand-binding and my machine binding tutorial.

Charming Chevrons Tutorials. Click the links below to go to that post.

Here are Charming Chevron’s Vital Statistics

  • Original design, pieced and quilted by Christa Watson
  • Finished size 46″ x 54″, completed November 2012
  • Finished block size 8″, 42 blocks total
  • Made from 4 packs of Kona Cotton charm squares (2 New Classic colors, 2 Ash grey)
  • Pieced backing, shades of grey with pops of color
  • Double batting (Warm-N-Natural and Legacy Wool)
  • Superior Highlights trilobal polyester in top and bobbin  for pebbles (18 colors)
  • Isacord Sterling polyester in top and bobbin for chevron outlines
  • Total piecing time: 9.5 hours
  • Marking and basting: 2.5 hours
  • Total quilting time: 28 hours
  • Total binding time: 6.75 hours

Sharing is Caring

Please share your work in progress in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa . 🙂

Christa’s Quilt Along 3.8 – Quilting Chevrons Part 2

I love quilting pebbles! I have stippled my quilts like crazy for the last 10 years, but just recently got the hang of pebbling. Jut in time,  too, as I was on stipple burnout!!

Pebble Quilting

The time it took to finish the pebbling on my Charming Chevrons quilt was a little ridiculous though – it took 23 hours!! Yes, that’s right. The pebbling took more time to do than every other part of the quilt combined. It gives new meaning to the term Quilt-in-a -Day, LOL!!

Since I don’t really expect everyone to spend that much time quilting this quilt, I will first talk about pebbling in more detail, but then give you an alternative so that you can actually finish this quilt. (But by all means do the pebbling if your heart desires – mine did!)

Step 1 – Doodle on Paper First

Just like you had to learn your alphabet before you could write, so it is with quilting any FMQ (free-motion quilting) design. When I was in kindergarten my penmanship was terrible! (And it hasn’t really improved much since!) You need to practice your quilting “penmanship”, too!

Paper Practice

If you doodle on scraps of paper every day before you begin quilting, it will help you develop muscle memory between what you are drawing with your hands and what you are stitching out on the quilt. This will form a mind body connection so that eventually you will be able quilt without thinking. Think of FMQ as drawing with your sewing needle.

Step 2 – Practice on Scraps Next

I took a few FMQ classes at Road to California 2 years ago. For most of the class, we just made practice samples. If you really want the feeling of completing FMQ on a quilt, practice on charity quilts. You will get great practice and the recipients will love your efforts!

Practice Scraps

When I began free-motion quilting, my first efforts looked pretty bad. It took a while for me to put together different combinations of fabric, thread, batting, needles and tension settings. A few quick things I learned while practicing FMQ on my Bernina:

  • Select a needle with a large hole so that the thread doesn’t shred, like Superior Topstich needles. The size depends on the thickness of your thread (size 90 for the heavier polyster thread). Change every 8-12 hours of quilting. I used 3 of them on this quilt.
  • Loosen the bobbin tension slightly.
  • Use the same thread in top and bobbin for most quilts – it hides mistakes and makes for more even tension. I used Superior Highlights polyester in a rainbow of colors.
  • Break your quilting up into sections and don’t rush the process. Although it took a long time to quilt my pebbles, it really worked out to about 33 minutes per chevron block.  Quilting one block a day is not a bad goal.
  • Use a free motion slider, quilting gloves, and bobbin washers for the best quilting combo.
  • It’s Ok to “travel stitch” over your previous lines to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 3 – Apply your practice to your actual quilt

Thread DrawerFor this quilt I changed threads with every fabric color. I never could find a neutral that blended in with everything so I used a total of 18 different colors.

When I didn’t have an exact match, I used something close. It gave the quilt some interest without being overpowering.

I quilted the pebbles in sections first.

I quilted a batch of greens, then oranges, then reds, then blues, etc. This helped me from getting too bored. Usually I like to off each my stitches between thread changes. However, because I stitched over many of my quilting lines to form the pebbles, it hid most of my stops and starts. Therefore, I cheated a little and used really small “anchor” stitches at the beginning and end of each color change to avoid tying off.

Pebble Quilting

Step 4 – Alternative Quilting Motif – Loops

Loop QuiltingIf  you are not crazy like me and don’t want to spend this much time quilting your chevrons, try a simple meandering loop instead.

This is my other “go-to” design and it covers your area pretty quickly. In fact, this motif would look great quilted all over the surface if you want to skip the straight line background quilting.

Here’s a little background quilting I did using loops on an earlier quilt. Click to enlarge.

Because I used so many threads, my quilt back turned out just as colorful as the front!

Chevron Quilt Back

Other Resources

Please visit Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Project.  Her blog has so many in-depth tutorials on stitching particular FMQ designs. She has a video tutorial showing how to do pebble quilting and loops.

Yes, it was a little crazy to quilt that much, but honestly, I loved every minute of it! Next week it will be time to finish the binding and then I’ll start on another brand new tutorial. Isn’t this fun?? Be sure to check out my other two quilt-alongs here and here.

And, please continue to email me pictures of your Charming Chevrons quilt. I love to see how you are doing, no matter how you quilt it!

Quilt Along Schedule (Links are active once each step has been completed.)