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2023 Quilt Along - Quilting Block 1

Kimberlee Tanner

We are so excited to spend this year quilting with you. I've had lots of fun creating 12 unique quilting plans for each block and we'll learn and grow as we finish this quilt all year! Each month we'll focus on a different kind of motif and learn how to combine different quilting designs to make great blocks!

 

Preparing the Block

Before we can quilt, we need to prepare the block. 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 will create 1 set of threads we need to bury, but it also keeps everything in place and if things shift, they are shifting out and not creating extra backing fabric we have to deal with. 

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

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'll start by outlining the center square and filling it in with pebbles.
  2. Move to the white border and work down one side, adding the wiggly lines. When you get to the bottom of the center square, finish in the white border, then travel back up it to finish the opposite side and top of the square.
  3. Now we will focus on the flying geese. Outline each one and fill it in before moving on to the next triangle.
  4. After the flying geese are done, we'll finish each of the corner blocks as one unit. Start by stitching the straight lines across the HSTs.
  5. Add in the curved border on the lone triangle.
  6. Stitch in the border line and fill the rest of the corner with pebbles.
  7. Move along the edge of the quilt and complete the remaining corners in the same way.

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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