We are moving right along to month 3! After we finish quilting this month's block, we will be putting our first row together.
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 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. 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.
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:
- Put on your free motion quilting foot. This will let us move around the quilt block in any direction.
- 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.
- Create as much flat space as possible. If you have an extension table or can set it level in your sewing table, this helps.
- 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:
- Before we start quilting this block, we want to mark all of the straight lines. I used a ruler and the back of a butter knife. Use the lines and points in the quilt block to keep things even.
- We'll start in the center, quilting the center triangles as one unit, start at an outer corner and quilt figure 8s across the diamond and to the opposite corner, growing and shrinking your motif to fill the shape.
- After you have finished the inside diamond, quilt a straight line across the white area to the outer corner, then quilt over the top of your stitching, back to the corner of the inside diamond. Stitch in the ditch to the next corner. Stitch back out across the white in a straight line and right back in. Repeat moving around the entire center diamond and quilting straight lines connecting all the corners.
- When you get back to where you started, quilt along the line again, moving into the white until you reach your first marked line. Quilt along this line echoing the center diamond.
- Repeat with the second echo in the white are, move along the previous quilted line until you reach your marked line and quilt around the entire diamond.
- Move out to the edge of the white diamond along your previously stitched line and stitch in the ditch to finish the center area.
- Stitch in the ditch along the edge of the large triangles and then starting in the outer corner, stitch figure 8s to fill the space, ending at the inner corner.
- From here, continue stitching figure 8s on the adjoining triangle. Move along the outer edge to the next set of large triangles and repeat until the triangles on the star motif are complete.
- Moving onto the corner blocks, stitch in the ditch along a triangle until you reach the connected bar. Stitch just inside the edge to the opposite triangle. Travel to the center of the bar and stitch back, travel to the opposite edge, and finish it off with one more stitch line, just inside the edge.
- Stitch in the ditch along the triangle to get to the outer edge. Stitch on your marked line until you reach the final small triangle. Fill it with figure 8s and finish stitching on your marked line. Backtrack until you come to the lines echoing the corner.
- Working from the outer lines in, follow your marked lines and backtrack as needed to quilt them all. Stitch along the diagonal line until you reach the edge of the quilt block, travel to the next corner and repeat as needed to finish 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.
- 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.
- Doodle the design first. If you are comfortable doodling the pattern, you'll feel more comfortable stitching it.
- Sit up straight. Try not to hunch over your machine. You'll just end up causing unnecessary muscle strain and pain.
- Try different hand positions and holds till you find one that feels comfortable for you.
- 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!
- Have fun! If it's not fun, why are we doing it?
Straight Line Quilting Designs
Want to join the quilt along but not into free motion? We've had a request for some straight line designs for those that want to use a walking foot or their regular sewing foot. For these designs, use the seams and ditches to move around from motif to motif. You'll still want to start in the center of the block and work your way out, stitching the corners last. Click the images to open up a PDF you can print.
If you have any questions, please let us know!
Kimie and Missy