Workshop sampler

These last months I have had the opportunity to teach several beginners FreeMotion Quilting workshops. Preparing for these classes meant going through my quilt sampler book and looking through my quilts and the books I have collected on FMQ.


All this inspired me to create a inspirational sampler specially for this beginners class that I could use besides the the class samples and the pages from the older sampler book. I will be adding this new sampler to the class samples for this workshops from now on.

I wanted a freestyle sampler, meaning a sampler where the quilting does it own thing. One that would show that you don’t need to know complex FMQ patterns to create a beautiful quilt. (I was inspired by the Wholecloth class on Craftsy (non-affiliated link). Amongst other things, I picked up tips on how to build up your different threads.)

The students from my beginners workshop worked from the class examples I had. The new sampler is meant as inspirational piece to show that simple quilting can create very complex looking quilts. 

As a backdrop for the quilting patterns, I chose to use several fabric colors instead of just one like in a wholecloth quilt. I selected a layer cake of Moda’s Grunge. It looks like a solid, but there are many “brush strokes” of other colors on each background. The minute I spotted it in my local quilt store, I adored it!

I pieced a simple four patch and added a grey border.

And smothered it with quilting!

I drew circles with a craft ruler I picked up in a paper shop. For the larger circles I used the Fine Line longarm rulers from Accent in Design (non-affiliated link). These turn out to handy for marking a drawing too! I didn’t use the rulers for quilting here, I just used the regular freemotion foot on the Janome 7700.

You may spot the faint white lines on the grey. These are marks left my black Frixion pen. I haven’t washed this quilt yet, and I do hope these will come out. If not… lesson learned!  (The marks are not visible on the colored fabric)

To fill the quilt, I only used the FMQ patterns from the beginners class I taught.

I purposely used all different kinds of threads (cotton, polyester) and colors in this quilt. All to show my students what the effect of matching thread is versus the contrasting thread.

When all the dense quilting was done, I decided that the quilt needed some more contrast and something like a focal point. I added metallic thread on the outsides of most of the circles and even some metallic pebbles got thrown in.

As you can see, I built up the metallic thread quite heavily. I like it that way!

( I wrote a bit on working with metallics in this blogpost. )

After all that stitching, I changed my sewing machine foot for the regular acufeed sewing foot (similar to a walking foot system) and put in a very large needle (100/16). I used a decorative stitch to highlight the Wonderfil Accent variegated thread in blues and greens (like peacock colors). In the picture underneath you can see the emerald green crossing over the silver.

All this did the trick! Please compare the before and after picture:

After going through a pile of fabrics to select a binding fabric, I picked out a very light grey fabric that has some silver sparkle on it. I chose it because it highlights the silver metallic threads in the quilt. It really is lovely in real life, but as always, the glitz can not be photographed. It just won’t show on camera.

I used three strips of 1,25″ WOF for the binding. It is the width I prefer for a single binding.

I hand stitched it to the back after I put the label on (also hand sewn on). On the back I also added a thin sleeve for a wooden dowel.

This beauty now hangs in pride of place in my sewing room and will be taken to my next FMQ class in a week and a half.

I hope you can find time to do some FMQ too and remember that simple FMQ patterns can have a BIG impact!




p.s. Linking up with:

Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday

Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I get a Whoop Whoop?






25 thoughts on “Workshop sampler

    • Thank you! I really enjoyed creating this mini quilt for the classes. It is a lovely challenge to set yourself the task to create something from a limited “palette” of patterns.
      Have a lovely day!

  1. WOW .. another masterpiece. I just love how you build up the layers of “dimensionality” in your quilts. Color combination very pleasing to the eye. You should call it “early spring blossoms”.

  2. Wow, you inspired me again! This looks beautifull.
    I like the collors anyway. Such a little quilt looks so great!

  3. I love this quilt and the column was very informative. Thank you. I have also had frixion pens do what yours did. I think it comes from pressing too hard instead of letting the ink flow.

    • Hello Babette,
      I knew that the frixion pens left white marks, but I had forgotten when I marked some reference lines on the grey. I should know better, ha ha!
      Bye bye

  4. Wish I could come to your class! I don’t like what they teach locally, and while I understand the theory of how to achieve nice results, I need to see how it’s physically achieved; how you sit, how you hold your hands, where you speed up and where you slow down… Online videos don’t give you a whole picture, they concentrate on the area immediately around the needle, and that doesn’t help me. Oh well, one of these days I’ll pluck up courage to have a go with my completely unused FMQ foot instead of my very well used walking foot!

    • Hi Kate!

      I have explained to my students how to sit and hold their hands, but we all tend to creep up to the machine when we are concentrating. The trick is to sit back in your chair with your back touching the back of the chair.

      Let your elbows rest on the table or extension table as much as you can. Keep your elbows low. One trick is to set your alarm so you don’t FMQ too long. I advise an half hour and then walk away. I normally work until my bobbin is empty, but I should take my own advice ha ha!

      Try to sit upright and not slump in an effort to see the needle. My machine lets me open ” the hood” on the left so I can see just a bit more of what is happening at the back of the needle.


        • I use IKEA’s unbleached cotton for my practice pieces. Just 1/10 of the cost compared to quilting cotton here! I do use the same batting for practicing. Use a color thread that is ‘medium’ like a pink or light blue. You can still see the thread but “mistake” are not that obvious.

          • Sadly, I don’t have access to Ikea – our nearest one is over a day’s drive away… I have plenty of scraps to practice with, so I’ll just make more scrap blocks – I can always use more heat pads! And thank you so much for that fantastic cake block for T4T!

  5. Esther your sampler is wonderful. As well as the pages of your sampler book … wish I could take your class!
    Be careful with frixion pens!!!! The coliur only disappears with heat (frixion is nothing else than heat). The gel always stays at the fabrics. If it is cold enough the lines return and it doesn’t matter if you have washed your fabric… (you can put a sample in your fridge to try).

    • Hi Annett,
      I know about the pens, and I should’t have used them here. Oh well, maybe I should think a bit longer about a project before I jump in!
      Still looking for the perfect marking tool on darker fabrics. I bought a special pencil, but it doesn’t even mark the fabric. Bleh!
      Hugs and have a lovely weekend!

  6. Your quilting is wonderful, your students will be inspired. I have had the same problem with the frixion pens on occasion. It’s like they leave a waxy residue behind and on some fabrics it is visible but most times are not. I have not washed a piece to see if that helps or not.

    • Hi Vicki,
      I should have know better…. it has happened before! I was so exited to start on this project that I grabbed the first marking tool on the table and I did’t test it…. My mistake!
      I will let all of you know if washing the quilt will help or not!
      Have a lovely Friday evening!

  7. Wow, I love how you divided the quilting for the quilt to NOT line up with the patchwork, and I love the metallic threads work you did (I love metallic threads). Thanks for the info on needle size too! Any tips on cleaning out the bits of metal that I find for a long time afterwards in my bobbin area and underneath area of my machine?

  8. Your sampler is so amazing. Perhaps you already mentioned this but what batting do you like to use?

  9. Hi. One word, Wow!! I am a very beginner. I really like that piece. I don’t know yet if I would quilt like that, but this is what I like. Very detailed small piece of work. I like to make bags. I think I could work some focus pieces in the project.
    I just discovered you word and you inspired me.

      • Me, too!!!! I feel I’ve so neglected my blog reading (terrible internet in TX) and know I’ll never really catch up……just start at…………..maybe Wednesday next!!! LOL!!!!

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