Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on Quilting Swirls

I have admired swirly quilting for a long time. Do you know Kellie Wulfsohn's work? How about Karen McTavish? And of course, Angela Walters! I have watched Angela in action in her Craftsy class. I also have her book, Free Motion Quilting with Angela. Like she recommends, I practiced with my pen and paper first.  I thought I was ready.

Here is my test quilting on scraps.  Not bad!

Warmup round: getting my swirl on. Elves are waiting...
via Instagram

Then I started quilting my Happy Christmas quilt. Oh-my-gosh. This is so much harder than it looks! Good thing my family will still love it and I only have to look at it once a year. Bwahahaha.

In hindsight, starting with a simple baby quilt would have been better for a first try.

  • Try different feet. I really like the closed toe foot, but it's different for everyone.
  • Relax your shoulders and remember to breathe
  • Fresh needle required
  • Bounce. Yes, this one magical word from Angela helped me so much. Swirl until you come to the edge of something (block, quilt, another swirl) and the bounce off the edge and start another swirl.

  • Flannel quilt backs make for a heavier quilt and more arm muscles required to move the quilt around a home sewing machine
  • Managing the bulk of a quilt is two thirds the battle - at least!
  • Basting pins break up the workflow (more than when quilting lines or stippling)
  • The molding on my wall makes a crack wide enough for the quilt to escape off my extended sewing table. D'oh!
  • I tend to like wider, more open quilt designs, but I found wider, bigger swirls much harder to make look smooth than smaller tighter swirls. Basically, whatever you can fit in-between your two hands while quilting is perfect.

  • Spray Baste? - I'll try anything once
  • Smaller Quilt - Definitley
  • Tighter quilting - Perhaps
  • Rent a long arm?!   : )

     -Kellie Wulfsohn: Blog
     -Karen McTavish: Website
     -Angela Walters: Blog, Craftsy, Book
     -I love this post about the process of quilting by Rossie

Angela cracked me up when she said to me the other day, #putaswirlonit


  1. Your swirly windy blizzard quilting looks wonderful to me. I'm in awe of anyone who can do this. I've never quilted anything bigger than a crib size quilt

  2. I think it looks great! Thanks for the tip about practicing with pen and paper first!

  3. Me like it!

    I am going to check out the other two ladies you mentioned along with Angela:) Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hi Adrianne,
    i just ran across your blog...great job on the free motion! I have a longarm and do quilting as a small business...but i for years, machine quilted what i could with my domestic...You have some great teachers there! I have taken classes from both Angela and Karen. I just posted what i think is an awesome tip for machine quilting that i just discovered today! It's so simple, but sooo cool!! you'll find it here on my blog Have a wonderful day!! ~karen

  5. I think your swirls look great! Way to go!

  6. We are always hard on ourselves, it looks great!! I have swirled only once and I remember it being such a workout. Your result is gorgeous!!

  7. Great swirling! I've just used swirls (a la Angela Walters) on my first non-practice quilt. They are not easy, you have to take it slow, concentrate, and constantly reposition when doing on a DSM. They do create a wonderful texture though. Congrats on a great first swirly quilt :)

  8. Great Job "Putting a Swirl On It"!! What a cute Christmas quilt that you will be able to enjoy for many years to come!! Great job!!

  9. Go adrienne! Another resource to check out is Leah Day's 365 quilt project. She was the first place I learned my FMQ and I find that I go back to her site again and again ( i like the videos!!). I got Angela's book for christmas and there are def a few techniques I simple must try. Oh darn, guess I better piece another top :)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...