Nov 30 07

Observations, Found Objects in My Sewing Room, and New Experimental Quilt Finished

We had the most wonderful Thanksgiving last week and part of what made it so fun was that 3 of our nieces were visiting and all 3 wanted to learn about quilting! My heart palpated at the thought of luring young prey into the quilting cult! These 3 girls were 13, 11, and 8 years old and each of them wanted to make a quilted pillow that had fusible appliqué shapes on it. The part of this that was so grand was seeing how they reacted to free motion work. I get to watch a lot of adults struggle with learning free motion because I teach it, but I’ve never had a child in one of my classes. They were fearless! They had none of the anxiety and hesitation that all of us have when we’ve tried to learn this skill as an adult, but instead, they were exhilarated by how liberating it was to draw with the sewing machine needle! The 8 year old had trouble with it, I think mainly because she didn’t really have the fine motor skill development needed, plus her arms were so short it was hard to manipulate the sandwich. Somehow, though, she did very well with satin stitching around her appliqués, so I don’t know what to make of that! Have any of you taught little ones and what was your experience with them? I am so excited by this that I haven’t stopped thinking about it all week!

Once the holiday was over, I needed to straighten up my sewing room and I unearthed a few things I’d forgotten about. Sometimes I’ll make a small block to try out different free motion embroidery ideas for an appliqué shape that’s on a new quilt-it’s safer this way because if I don’t like it, I don’t use it on my quilt! Anyway, they make great labels for quilts later on. Here’s one I found where I was playing with the best way to “decorate” a hummingbird:


Here’s a better shot of the decorative stitching:


Here’s another one where I was playing with variegated threads on leaves:


…and here’s a closeup of the stitching:


I also was able to finish a new “experimental” quilt; this is one of those traditional style quilt tops I got off ebay so I could play with quilting it. I think the woman who pieced it did a realy nice job:


Most of the quilting on it is a variation of what I call the heart-leaf vine. It’s like the freeform feather but you change the plume shape to a highly curvaceous heart. You can soften the central “indentation” of the heart to give it even more of a leaf-like appearance, but I used a pointy indentation for these:


The pic above shows a long and short heart leaf vine. This next one has a “pinwheel” form of heart leaves:


What is so great about this quilting motif is that’s is quite easy to either stretch or contract any heart leaf so you can easily fill whatever size space you’re working in. This last shot shows the center vines, (not heart-leaf!) and an opening rose…that rose is a snap to stitch if you think of it as 1 single irregular swirl and when you get back to its outer edge, just zip around the perimeter of the rose and throw in a couple of leaves!


This heart leaf vine looks pretty “calm” when stitched in its raw form, but check out this picture of a hyperquilted heart leaf vine…isn’t it just beautiful?! I love it and they’re both on the next DVD!



  1. Kim Says:

    Seeing all of your stitching is such an inspiration for me to try new things in my stitching. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. Sally Bramald Says:

    My DD could do quite good freemotion work by the time she was ten, though I used to worry about her stitching her fingers! She sat at a normal height table with the machine pedal resting on a box underneath.
    As you say, they don’t ‘know’ it’s difficult.

  3. joyce Says:

    I am very inspired by your quilting instructions. I have taught two of my granddaughters to quilt and was amazed at how easily they took to it. One of them at age 13 designed her own quilt on graph paper and then made it. Nobody told her it would be too difficult and it wasn’t!