If you haven’t been following it already, Darlene of Quiltshopgal blog has a new free motion quilting challenge going this year. She hosted an incredible free motion quilting challenge a few years ago and thousands of quilters really honed their FMQ skills by participating. This year, she is a hosting a new monthly FMQ challenge where participants make a pillow that showcases various FMQ skills/techniques. For the month of March, the challenge relates to some of my favorite techniques and you can read all the details on her blog by clicking right here. I’m going to hopefully inspire you with a couple of ideas in my blog post today.
Darlene has 3 different options for quilters to explore in the March FMQ challenge. I have a quick class where we learn the basics of trapunto and it’s a popular class so I’ve needed to make many, many samples for it over the last several months. I’m going to post how I recently made 2 different pillow samples and each of these will incorporate all of the options included in Darlene’s challenge. We’re going to use:
1. Cool border design work using principles from my 2012 FMQ Challenge. (Click here to go to that original posting.)
2. Trapunto and hyperquilting from my Craftsy class. ( Click here for a link for $25 off of my Craftsy class…that’s MORE than 50% off!)
3. Cool background free motion quilting from my instructional DVDs on free motion quilting. (Click here to see our instructional DVDs.)
For my pillows, I started with an 18 inch square fabric block. The fabric was deliberately solid so that the stitching would be obvious. (A gently mottled fabric would also work great for this.) For this trapunto class, we begin with an elaborate feathered wreath that has already been stitched in the center of the block (I provide this wreath block to the students and I make these quickly on my embroidery machine using one of our Majestic Feathered Wreath Designs.) If you do this on an embroidery machine, you can either throw a piece of scrap batting underneath the fabric block or pin it underneath the hooped stabilizer. If you are stitching the wreath yourself, just pin a piece of batting underneath the block before you begin stitching. (I’ve posted about how to do this a million times in my blog, so surf through the posts under “trapunto” if this part seems foreign to you.) Once the wreath has been stitched, you will cut away all the excess batting/stabilizer that falls outside the wreath. Take care to avoid accidentally cutting into that top fabric! The backside of your block will look something like this when you’re done:
Once done, place that square into a quilt sandwich with batting and backing fabric. I spray baste, but you can baste however you’d like. The first thing you’ll do is to outline the various “zones” of the wreath w/invisible thread. For the wreath I’m using on pillow 1, this means outlining the inside and outside of the wide spine zone and then outlining each plume. You do not want to outline any of the detail stitching inside the spine or inside the plumes because that will kind of flatten the trapunto. At this stage, you will begin to see your trapuntoed feathered wreath protruding out somewhat. To make my wreath really pop, I then echo outline the perimeter of the entire wreath with a highly contrasting color of thread. This will add a halo of color around the wreath and will also make the trapunto more prominent. Once you’re done w/the outlining, switch to whatever thread you are going to use for your quilting. I chose a green that was just a tad darker than the background fabric and created a series of empty borders that lie on the diagonal from each corner of the square block:
You can do this with your walking foot or you can do this as ruler work. If you look at the bottom right corner, you’ll see that I messed up on the width of a border, but I just kept going! In this tangential shot, you can get a better sense of the trapuntoed wreath protruding out a bit: