Tag Archives: freehand quilting

Kat’s quilting question

I’m back from my travels. I got to see so much beautiful art and architecture, drink Italian coffee, eat sausages and sauerkraut in Austria, hang out with friends and family in Ohio, and after all of it Read and I still like each other. Success on all fronts. I’ll post some trip highlights later.

For now, a question from Bethany’s sister Kat (contributor and photographer for the Weber family etsy site).  She wrote in the comments section of Freehand Baby Quilt, and I realized in trying to craft a response that I wanted to share the links with everybody. So Kat – hope you don’t mind that I turned your question into a post.

For a beginning quilt collect fabric scraps from family and friends. Buying fabric can get expensive. With scraps you can play around and if it looks horrendous, you can scrap and start over without feeling guilty.

If you haven’t quilted before I think it’s helpful to buy a little booklet on quilting basics at the fabric store. Or you could research the basics online (Sew Mama Sew has a nice tutorial). I made my first quilt without researching anything, only to find out later that there are a bunch of little tricks and techniques that really help.

As for freehand vs. pattern, I think that the only necessity is a plan. Doesn’t matter whether that’s your own sketch and some templates cut from cereal boxes, or a pattern you buy at Joann Fabrics. There are so many clever, fresh quilt ideas online…here are a few I thought you might like:

Wee Wonderfuls makes beautiful yet simple quilts. It’d be easy to frame a bunch of scraps in white for a quilt like this.

Artists and friend Bonnie Hull from On the Way used men’s shirts from goodwill to make a quilt. Excellent thrift-store-hunting inspiration.

Orange flower: sketchbook just posted yesterday about hosting a piece-along for a zig-zag quilt (a project partly inspired by this quilt from Purl Bee). It got me thinking about making one…

image from The Purl Bee


Hope that helps Kat! Please send me pictures of your quilting process. 

Freehand baby quilt

My college friend Phil and his wife welcomed a new baby into the world last month. Phil’s only my second close friend to have a baby. After five or six friends have kids I might tire of planning baby presents, but for now it’s still a new and exciting venture. A coworker once suggested that blankets make good presents because the family can keep using them after babyhood (Bethany: take note of this possible future market for your circle blankets). The practicality of that suggestion stuck with me, so for Sarah I started planning a quilt.

 I explained on this blog that quilting is a little too precise for me. The right angles and straight lines, the meticulous measuring…try as I might things never matched up. And then you’re sitting there at the machine, trying to figure out how EVERY SINGLE seam on this long strip of squares could somehow not align with the seams on this other long strip of squares (insert image of a ten-year old Katie scrapping her doll quilt project in disgust). 

So I gave up on the meticulous stuff. No set pattern. No preset size. Only freehand machine quilting. The trick is getting the quilts to read “off-kilter-on-purpose” but not “novice 4-H project” (depending on the day, it’s a fine line). In the end I like them imperfect and I seem to be in good company. Craftzine advertised a class for “imperfect quilters” taught by artist Andrea Zuill. Blogger Artsy-Craftsy Babe writes about quilting and the beauty of imperfection. But my favorite quote is from Joe Cunningham at  Threads magazine, who writes that in a world of high-tech quilting tools and perfect symmetry, there’s something to be said for inexactitude: “…the appeal of freehand quilting is that it prolongs the fun part—designing and figuring out what you’re going to do next.” 

Welcome to the world baby Sarah!

I started with this bird fabric, and put it at the center of each of the four crazy squares

I put this quirky bird fabric at the center of each of the four crazy sqaures



Each crazy square is quilted in a freehand radial pattern



The backing is a starry-night-inspired black flannel



through the middle and along the top/bottom is some checkerboard stuff...


my office bookshelf does double-duty as a quilt stand