2023 Quilt Along - Month 6

Kimberlee Tanner

We are almost half way done with this years quilt along. I'm always so amazed at how quickly the year goes. If you aren't caught up, don't worry, there's still plenty of time and these videos aren't going anywhere, so you can finish at your own pace.

Looking for previous months? Check out the main quilt along page for links to all the blocks and instructions.

2023 Quilt Along - Quilt as You Go

Preparing the Block

Before we can quilt, we need to prepare the block. If you want to see this, head to Month 1, we show you how in that video. Grab one of your 19" background squares and 1 - 19" batting square. If you want to spray baste them, spray the backing square and carefully lay the batting on top of it. If you are pin basting, you don't need to worry about this.

Next, fold the backing and batting in half on the diagonal and press it. This will help us line up the quilt block in the middle. Press it again on the opposite diagonal and press again.

Now that you have an X across your block, spray (if using spray) the back of your quilt block, then gently lay it down, lining up all the corners on your X. I find that folding it in half makes this easier so it's not sticking to everything.

If you are pin basting, after lining up your block, go ahead and put a few pins in. You might not need as many as a full sized quilt, but it's good to keep everything in place.

If you have a specific layout, quilt the blocks following the order below. We'll be trimming outside edges differently when joining the blocks to allow us to add the borders. 

The Quilting Plan

We are going to start our quilting plan in the center block and work our way out. This keeps everything in place and if things shift, they are shifting out and not creating extra backing fabric we have to deal with. Remember, don't do anything with the extra backing and batting yet, that will be used to join the blocks.

If you want to print out the quilting plan, click on the photo below and it will pull up a bigger version.

2023 Quilt Along Month 6 quilting plan

If you want to create your own quilting plan, click on the blank photo and you can print out the block and sketch your own designs.

If you are new to free motion quilting, I recommend printing out the blank block and practice drawing the designs, moving as if you were quilting the block. This is great practice, creates muscle memory, and helps you figure out how to move around without the stress of ruining the quilt block. 

Setting up your Sewing Machine for Free Motion Quilting

Now we need to set up our sewing machines. A couple of general tips:

  1. Put on your free motion quilting foot. This will let us move around the quilt block in any direction.
  2. Lower your feed dogs. If you can't lower your feed dogs, try setting your stitch length to zero. That way they won't move.
  3. Create as much flat space as possible. If you have an extension table or can set it level in your sewing table, this helps.
  4. Put your needle to stop in the down position.

If you have quilting gloves and want to use them, grab them! They can really help with moving your quilt around the machine.

Quilting the Block

Now we are ready to start quilting. We'll complete the plan as follows:

  1. We are going to start in the center of the block. Place your needle at one of the corners of the inside square. Quilt a small curve to the inside point, and then back out on the opposite side of the seam.
  2. Now quilt another small curve along the outside seam inside the center square to the next corner. Repeat, going up one side to the center point, and back down the opposite side. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to complete the center square.
  3. From an outside corner of the inside square, start with the swirled border. I placed 2 swirls in between the corner swirls. If you want 2, make them taller and skinnier, if you only want one, make it round. Quilt a gently swirl in and gently swirl back out. 
  4. For the corner swirls, make sure to completely fill the space, but don't venture into the side areas. Curve around to the next side and fill the entire border with swirls. At the end, join the stitch lines, bring both your threads to the top, and cut thread. Knot and bury these threads.
  5. Put your thread down on an outside border near one of the larger outside triangles. Stitch in the ditch about 1/4 into the long edge of one triangle. Now so a gentle echo (don't stop at the point, just quilt through it) along the two short sides of the triangle. Stitch in the ditch to the middle of the outside triangle. Complete a second gentle echo. Stitch in the ditch another 1/4 of the way and complete a final echo. Stitch in the ditch around to the next triangle and repeat.
  6. After the second triangle, quilt in the ditch to the edge of the block and work your way around to the next set, making sure to stay less than 1/4" from the edge of the block.
  7. After all 4 large corner triangle sets are done, stitch in the ditch back to the top edge of the connecting bar. Stitch along the top edge to the small triangle, and stitch a gentle curve along all three edges. stitch along the top edge of the connecting bar to the opposite side, stitch down and quilt three swirls in the connecting bar. 
  8. Stitch in the ditch to the corner of the large triangle and stitch a diagonal line across the edge of the outer triangle to the opposite large triangle. Fill the corner with back and forth lines.
  9. Quilt along the edge to the next corner and repeat steps 7 and 8 to complete all the corners. Make sure that you stitch the swirl border in the same direction all around the block.

When quilting, remember to stop at the edge of the quilt block. Don't stitch into the extra batting and backing, we'll need these free for when we join the blocks.

Free Motion Quilting Tips

If you are new to free motion quilting, there are a couple tips that might help.

  1. If you are having trouble moving the block around, try stitching a little faster. This will also help smooth out curves. It seems crazy, but works. I promise.
  2. Doodle the design first. If you are comfortable doodling the pattern, you'll feel more comfortable stitching it.
  3. Sit up straight. Try not to hunch over your machine. You'll just end up causing unnecessary muscle strain and pain.
  4. Try different hand positions and holds till you find one that feels comfortable for you.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Just like anything, you can't get better if you don't quilt! Be gracious with yourself and allow the opportunity to improve. No one looks at your quilting as closely as you do, so don't judge too harshly!
  6. Have fun! If it's not fun, why are we doing it? 

If you have any questions, please let us know!

Happy Quilting

Kimie and Missy

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