Observations from FMQ Purgatory

Friday, August 19, 2016

For the past few weeks I've been in FMQ Purgatory, which is just a dramatic way to say that I'm trying to quilt my way through an out of control pile of quilt tops. Quilting 9 tops in 6 weeks (plus a few minis) has given me plenty of opportunities to make some helpful observations. Here are some of my findings:

1. Snipping some fingers off a pair of quilting gloves makes my life easier. I used to take my gloves off every time I had to change a bobbin, scratch my itchy eyes, or look up something on my iPad. I was watching the preview for Christina Cameli's "Wild Quilting" class on Craftsy when I noticed how she had modified her gloves. I decided to give it a try by cutting off the thumbs and index fingers on my gloves and I have no regrets! No more taking my gloves off and on.

2. Monofilament/invisible thread is super convenient. I purchased a cone of Aurifil's monofilament thread after successfully using the Coats and Clark invisible thread on my Heather Ross Scatterbrain Quilt. I highly recommend the Aurifil! I've used it on 4 quilts so far with awesome results. I still try to use a bobbin thread that matches the section of quilt top I'm working on, but I have less pressure to find the perfect matching thread this way. Normally I have no qualms about ordering matching thread, but when you have a stack of quilts to get through, it's nice to have one less thing to worry about. For tips on quilting with invisible thread, I suggest reading this article.

3. The Supreme Slider isn't a game changer for me. The Supreme Slider is supposed to reduce drag and help you move your quilt more easily as you quilt. I guess the extension table for my Juki is already pretty slick because I have not felt much difference while using it to merit the $34 retail price. In fact, the other day, I lifted up my quilt to change a bobbin only to realize I had forgotten to put the back Slider on my machine. I had been FMQing for 30 minutes and hadn't even noticed! I think the reason is simple: the drag isn't because of the machine surface only...it's because you're trying to move several pounds of giant quilt with your fingertips. Obviously there will be some drag no matter what.

4. Testing quilt designs using clear template plastic and dry erase marker is brilliant. I used to audition quilt designs by doodling on a sketch of my quilt, but placing the template plastic on your quilt allows you to get a feel for the true scale and execution.

5. Worry about how to quilt one section at a time. Trying to map out every detail gets overwhelming and makes me more likely to procrastinate. Instead, I just focus on the task at hand, be it one block, a border, or the center of a medallion. When that part is done, I can choose how to proceed based on what designs compliment the work I just finished. It helps reduce the pressure to find the absolute perfect combination of designs.

Kawaii Polaroid Swap

Friday, July 29, 2016

I'm hosting a Polaroid block swap with a focus on kawaii Japanese fabrics! Keep reading for details and sign ups! Check out the hashtag #KawaiiPolaroidSwap to see what people are making.


1. Make your Polaroids according to the instructions from Occasional Piece but do not trim your finished polaroid as stated in step 5. We will be mailing our Polaroids untrimmed.

Image from Occasional Piece

2. Use quilt shop quality white (not off white, cream, or beige) solid fabric for your Polaroids. Kona White is the preferred brand/color, but other quilt shop brands like Michael Miller, Art Gallery, and Moda are fine.

3. "Photo" fabric must be kawaii. We're looking for cuteness, not traditional kimono prints or boring florals. Look for themes of fairy tale characters, cute food, animals, ordinary items with faces, and lovable characters. 

4. "Photo" fabric must be of Japanese origin. We want Polaroids featuring fabrics that are less commonly found in the US, so no Cotton + Steel, Lizzy House, Heather Ross, etc. Even if the print fits the kawaii aesthetic, it still needs to be Japanese. Western designers who designed for Japanese companies (like Heather Ross for Kokka) should not be used either. Good shops for kawaii fabric include Bunny's Designs, Pink Castle Fabrics, Super Buzzy, and various etsy sellers.

5. Send no more than 3 blocks from the same fabric. We want variety so that everyone gets something new.

6. Blocks that do not follow these rules will be returned to their owner.


You will ship your finished Polaroids to me in increments of 5 with a maximum of 20 Polaroids. I will sort through all the Polaroids and send you new ones made by other participants. You will receive the the same amount that you sent, so send 10, receive 10, etc. 

This swap is open to US residents only. Include an unsealed self-addressed envelope, including postage with your Polaroids. I will use this to send new Polaroids back to you. 

Shipping deadline is September 30th.

To sign up, fill out the sign up form by clicking this link. Once you submit, the form will show you my mailing address.

Pokemon Starter Mini Quilt Tutorial

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I post my impromptu Pokemon starter mini quilt yesterday on Instagram and today I'm sharing a tutorial so you can make your own!

You will need:

  • (33) 2.75" low volume squares
  • Scraps of fabric for your applique pieces 
  • Paper backed fusible web (I use Pellon Wonder Under)
  • Invisible thread or thread to match your applique
  • 28" x 9" backing and batting
  • Binding, about 50"
  • Pokemon Applique Templates PDF (download here)

Start by piecing your low volume squares into (3) rows of (11) squares each, then sew those rows together to make a 25.25" x 7.25" background.

Trace the template components onto the fusible web, fuse to the wrong side of your fabric, and cut out with scissors. Now start fusing your pieces to the background, starting with the bottom layers, working up to the top. Normally you'd stitch around each piece using a blanket or applique stitch to secure it, but since I'm just hanging mine on the wall where it won't be handled, I skipped this step.

Once all your pieces are fused, baste your quilt sandwich and quilt away! I did straight lines in my background with white thread, then switch to transparent thread to quilt around some of the details in my Pokemon to give them more dimension (like around Pikachu's cheeks, Bulbasaur's mouth, etc). After that, all that's left is to bind it off and hang it up!