Friday, March 28, 2014

Lazy Girl is quilted and how I filled the spaces with quilting

Yahoo! Lazy Girl is quilted so all that is left is to bind the quilt. I'll do that this weekend. I continued to doodle all different stitches all around the border and I am really pleased with the overall effect. It isn't perfect (far from in) but the quilting is so dense that the imperfections are masked! I absolutely love Superior's So Fine! thread. Aside from using Monopoly (Superior's invisible thread)  for the stitch in the ditch, the entire quilt top with quilted with So Fine! There was no heavy build-up, the thread has a subtle sheen and the quilt is quite soft give the amount of dense quilting.

I never thought I would ever be able to do something like this and I am beyond thrilled with the results. If I were to use this filler method again I think I would try to make the designs larger. This dense quilting takes a lot of bobbin thread - I used more than 18 bobbins of Superior's The Bottom Line! I don't normally count but I remember that I had 9 full bobbins at the outset and used all of the so had to refill them and I used those as well! So here it is folded on my sewing table.

Today I thought I would talk about how I did my filler design. I sketched one of the shapes from my quilt. In this diagram it is 11" tall and 11" wide. The actual size on the quilt is a little larger. What you don't see in this picture is that there is a seam that runs through the middle horizontally and vertically and it was stitched in the ditch. The curves are the edges of my applique circles and they were also stitched in the ditch.

I start in a corner and work my way out trying to stay close to the stitch in the ditch. While I quilt I'm constantly making sure that my quilt sandwich is flat and smooth. I selected a small motif to get out of the corner. In this example I used circles which are also known as pebbles or pearls.

I added some teardrops.

I want to get back up to the top edge so I tossed in a few circles. If you do add circles, or any shape for that matter, try to work with an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, etc) because it will be much more visually appealing.

I threw in a few more teardrops.

 A small feather is added.

I echoed stitched by the top edge of the feather and then filled in the little space that was left with circles.

Echoed circles bring me close to the top corner.

A few more circles to fill a little space.

Some tear drops fill the corner. I stitched a curvy line to get me away from the top corner.

I echoed the curve and then to the left of the bottom of the curve I added some more circles.

 The last echo on the curve was on left so that I would end up in the middle of the shape. I added some circles to fill the pace and then more teardrops. A strng of circles that go from large to small take me close to the right egde.

I echo stitched around the circles. This creates a really interesting effect very much like a pea pod. It flattens the area around the circles so that they puff up and pop. I love that look!

After that I fill in the area near the edge just above the pea pod. I'll continue in this way working down the shape and fill in the corner on the right next and then moved across and down until I get to the bottom point.

Here it is filled in.

You can make your shapes larger to fill in the space and it will go very quickly.

To do this kind of quilting one of the things you will need to practice is backtracking which simply means stitching over previously stitched lines so that you can get yourself to another area. Amy of Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures has lots of great videos on her blog and you can watch her as she backtracks. She works on a domestic sewing machine which I found particularly informative. Leah Day's The Free Motion Quilting Project is another great place to see demo's and to get inspired. Another great way to train your brain to think about how to fill in spaces is to take a Zentangle class. If you can't find a class in your area visit the Zentangle blog for loads of inspiration and how to's. Not all of the designs are transferable to quilting but many are and it will get you thinking about shapes and filling empty spaces in a beautiful way!

I never thought I would be able to quilt like this and I am amazed with the results I got. I am confident that you too can be a successful machine quilter on your domestic machine but it takes work. Really if you enjoy what you are doing it isn't work! Start out with some practice sandwiches (I like using 18" squares) and just get started! Ten to fifteen minutes of practice each day will pay off in short order. When you can't practice on your machine just do it with a pencil and paper. In no time flat you will be swirly and curling like a pro!

Until I post again, happy quilting!
Karen H


  1. This is spectacular. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration. I have been apprehensive to say the least, but you have given me a bit more confidence to try.

    Thanks, Karen.

  2. Looks fantastic Karen! I love seeing how other quilters fill negative space and plan their quilting designs. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks so much for the step by step pictures. Your quilt is wonderful.

  4. This looks great! Congratultions on the 'nearly done'! And thank you for the step by step, it is good to see how you achieved the look. Thanks also for the links, I'll go check them out now.

  5. you inspired me to get sketching...beautiful finish!!!

  6. it's a great filler with lots of texture and interest. My quilting, especially my feathers, improved after lots of sketching. You prompt me to keep doing it. "Lazy Girl" is looking fabulous

  7. Beautiful quilting and thanks for the tutorial on how you managed all that quilting. I seem to have little patience when learning to FMQ I really should spend mor time practicing. Too many things to do lol.

  8. It has been wonderful following you through the journey! It is so interesting to see and hear the thought process. Your quilting is wonderful!

  9. Look at those feathers Karen! Fabulous work...

  10. Thank you for explaining your process. Seeing your drawings really helps to visualize how fill the open areas.

  11. Fantastic!!!!Thanks for showing us how to quilt a block with a sewing machine!

  12. It's so fun to do such a varied filler and you've done it so well. Thanks for the shout out and link.

  13. I love the way you've used several designs altogether, it's so good to see the process you used - thanks.

  14. A stunning design. Thanks for sharing it step by step.

  15. Karen, do you have a formula for how much negative space should be left in a quilt? I am always worried to put too much quilting on a quilt. I did not do my last quilt but I asked the long armer to do minimal because of the busyness of the quilt. I emailed you a link to a picture. I guess I will learn to visualize what I am putting on a quilt BEFORE I put it on there. I was just wondering....

  16. Very inspiring to look at the zentangle world. As you write Karen there is a lot of quilting-inspiration in this world. Especially this video of how to draw a figure inspired by the artist Alfonso Mucha: Thanks for all your sharing Karen. Pia in Denmak

  17. Very inspiring to look at the zentangle world. As you write Karen there is a lot of quilting-inspiration in this world. Especially this video of how to draw a figure inspired by the artist Alfonso Mucha: Thanks for all your sharing Karen. Pia in Denmak

    1. Hi Pia and thanks for the lovely message. The quilting is very much like the works of Mucha. I do like his work. Sorry I couldn't send you a personal note but you are a no reply blogger! :-(