Category Archives: free motion quilting

3 things we should stop doing

Hello all, Mary Ellen here. Although Angela Walters says these are things that machine quilters should stop doing, I think they apply to all quilters–not just machine quilters. If you always send your tops out to be quilted by someone else, the main ideas in Angela’s piece apply to those who are piecers as well. The rest I’ll leave up to Angela: Click here. (p.s. Blog candy coming soon. I’m almost to a milestone in my blogging at this site. Stay tuned!)

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Filed under "modern" quilting, free motion quilting, hand quilting, Meeting Show and Tell, scrap quilting

Buried? In Quilts?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I hope you are safe and warm and buried only in quilts. What a storm some of us have been through! It’s not bad here in my neighborhood, but one doesn’t need to go far from here to either find an other-worldly scape, or to be turned back by driving bans.

What have you been doing to keep busy these past few days? I hope you got to sit at your machine or in your favorite chair for at least a bit of stitching time . I got a wall hanging cut and pieced and have begun the layering and pinning process. It’s a modern take on the old favorite drunkard’s path block. Love it. There are blocks of bright colors in the midst of white sashings. Not sure what color of thread to use in machine quilting it. I recently finished an online machine quilting class taught by Jacquie Gehring and want to use one of her ideas for the stitch pattern.

I also have been getting some knitting of Christmas presents done while I listen to the reports about our weather on the television. Fingerless gloves are going to be given to a few on my gift list.

What have you accomplished? I hope if you were stuck, it was stuck at home!


Filed under free motion quilting, knitting

Don’t hurt yourself!

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’m sure if you’re more than a rank beginner to quilting, you know that quilting does use a lot of muscles. It’s not difficult to make your body tired and sometimes sore after an extended period of any of the processes involved in producing a quilt. We had a speaker at a guild meeting not long ago who gave some tips, but perhaps you weren’t at that meeting or you would like a review.

Check out this video. Tips are given for finding more comfort or less strain in each step along the way, starting from cutting the fabric all the way to the hand stitching of the binding. If you are an embroiderer the hand stitching tips and the stretches suggested would be helpful for you as well.

Have you got your project ready to work on in between tomorrow night’s trick or treaters?

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Filed under applique, free motion quilting, stitchery, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

Double disappearing 9 patch

Good morning! Mary Ellen here.

I thought I was in New Orleans this morning. It’s so darn humid out-even with the actual temp at 67º I ended up all “dewy” from the humidity. Thank goodness for central air.

If you’re a fan of the disappearing 9 patch method, you’re going to like this one-the double disappearing 9 patch. It results in a very graphic, interesting block and it’s quite easy. Give this a look! click here

While you’re there have a look at some of her tutorials for free motion quilting. I like her all over patterns with no marking needed!

Just came back to add this bit. While exploring the blog above, I found this tidbit. Just yesterday I was puzzling over what to do with the bag full of batting scraps that keeps tipping over in the quilt closet. I like this idea! click here.

Have you got a mountain of batting scraps too?



Filed under "modern" quilting, free motion quilting, tutorials

Just a quick note…

Hi everyone,

hope you still believe this is summer? Brrrr…a bit chilly I have to say, although I am really not complaining!! Some rain is always good for my sewing and cool nights are just wonderful to snuggle under the quilt and sleep well – nothing to complain about! 🙂

Today I am just popping my head in here during the lunch break to share few quick finds that I liked:

Here is a lovely quilty quote for you – maybe framed and up on the sewing room wall? 

Quilty quote


And as long as you are in your sewing room, how about busting that scrap basket by making a … SCRAP BASKET?? 



You will find a complete free pattern HERE.

Did you notice how this year all the flowers in the garden kinda just “rush through”? They open to bloom, lovely for few days and – boom! – all gone! At least that is my impression and I kinda miss my roses this year… Well, here is a bit of a cure – stitch a lovely rose! Either as a paper-pieced pattern or as a quilting motif – Lori Kennedy has a lovely set of tutorials for all of these HERE! I just love her blog…

I am sure many of you love sewing for your little ones (kids, grand kids, friend’s kids…), right? Well, this new grandma is completely in love with it all !! Here is the one I just did:



Besides quilts, I just love, love love making other little things and internet is so full of wonderful patterns, tutorials, ideas…I am in BIG trouble! 🙂 But I so don’t care either, ha ha! 

HERE is a wonderful compilation of tutorials and patterns for all kinds of fun, beautiful and creative BIBS!! Sent to me by our own Karen G. – thank you so much Karen!! This will be fun!


OK, lunch over, back to work for me!! 

Wishing you a wonderful Thursday and weekend ahead and don’t worry about rain – it gives you wonderful little “jewels” to look at after! 🙂 (I saw these just this morning on my way to work!)


IMG_2497 IMG_2499 IMG_2500

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Filed under foundation paper piecing, free motion quilting, scrap quilting, sewing with/for kids, tutorials

What to write about today?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

How do I find something to write about nearly everyday? Strange how the mind works. Usually I’m just commenting on something I got in my e-mail or that has recently happened in “life”. For example…

In today’s e-mail I got my blurb from “The Quilt Show”, the Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims adventure. When they first put the show up to the web, I paid for a subscription so I could watch the videos like I used to enjoy Alex’s Simply Quilts show on HGTV. Now though I just do the free stuff, since there are so many free videos available all over the web. Today in the e-mail there is a slideshow of free patterns from Bonnie Hunter. In it you’ll see 2 of the blocks Bonnie will be teaching at the fall seminar for us: Boxy Stars and Pineapple Blossom. Also shown is the block I demoed at our recent quilt show: easy delectable mountains. Bonnie calls it scrappy Mountain Majesty. click here for the slideshow

Last night we had the Jim(?) and Wally show at guild meeting–two machine mechanics from a local quilt store talking about machine maintenance. I was amazed at how many of our members own featherweights! When Jim called  ladies up to show how to free motion quilt on a featherweight, nearly the entire audience went up! They took questions from the audience on a variety of machine care concerns. One member asked about having magnets near our machines. Both fellows said to keep the magnets away! Interesting because I had just read information to the contrary in the past day or two. This exact question came up on the message board at The Quilting and all of those who had chimed in said magnets today are not a problem. This is the link that one of the responders included to support her claim. click here for the opposing view  Just goes to show that even the “experts” don’t always agree. I keep the magnets in my sewing room (pin dishes mostly) away from the machine. Better safe than sorry I’m thinking. Another question of note: how often to change the needle? The answer boiled down to: more often than most of us do. You can usually hear it when the needle needs changing. Popping sounds as it pierces the fabric. Or you can see it when it needs to be changed. Poor stitch formation or skipped stitches.

Well the question for today–sewing or gardening? Gardening in light rain is not a bad thing. The transplants love it–no need for me to water them. The weeds come right out without a fight. Anybody else find that all of your garden edging heaved up this past winter and had to be completely redone this spring? I’m about 3/4 of the way around the yard and I must say the edges are looking better. I’m thinking though that it’s time to find a permanent sort of edging–river rocks or something. Of course if it rains as hard today as it has the past few days, the sewing machine will win. Actually I’m working on a second wreath sample for my seminar class, and it requires more hot glue than stitches. Tangled with some hot glue yesterday and have a blister to prove it. Maybe I’ll find some stitching to do instead. There’s always another project in the queue.

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Filed under antique machines, free motion quilting, free patterns, gardening, scrap quilting, Uncategorized

For the love of…

Hello my quilty Valentines!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

EHartman-ValentineRight from the start – how about this cool Valentine? Isn’t it just beautiful!? Even better, you can have a pattern for it – this is the newest creation from Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! blog – one very talented modern quilter! I just love how this is patchwork, multicolored, has depth, interest…just fun!

Speaking of fun – did I had some last Friday! I went to a lecture/trunk show/demo by amazing sisters, Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson, of Sew Kind of Woderful designs. They are long time quilters, have been professional long-arm quilters and now they are just playing and creating new, beautiful designs, using their new Quick Curve ruler.

I saw this ruler a while ago and of course had to buy it asap, but – of course AGAIN – did not have a chance to play with it yet! So this came as such a treat and so timely! Sisters are just wonderful, passionate and inspiring and here is some of the photos I took:

2014-02-07 06.50.55 2014-02-07 06.52.06 2014-02-07 06.53.33 2014-02-07 07.07.59 2014-02-07 07.41.05 2014-02-07 07.43.22 2014-02-07 07.43.32You would think these are really not so easy to make, but they are all made with the ruler, and very few basic blocks! I am so itching to try it now!!

Oh and did I mention both sisters are amazing quilters? Just look:

2014-02-07 07.36.25 2014-02-07 07.36.49 2014-02-07 07.37.17 2014-02-07 08.33.54 2014-02-07 08.34.21And as a “cherry on the top” here is the face of Grinch!!

2014-02-07 08.34.46So, are you intrigued yet? Will you try this new ruler? Or have you used it already? Do share if you did! I promise to share my trials soon!

Speaking of trials – I am always trying new quilting motifs. Lately I find a lot of inspiration, great tutorials and ideas with Lori Kennedy, of The Inbox Jaunt – a great blog to follow!

Sew…who is ready for the February meeting? Me – your humble program speaker…well, almost! 🙂 I will be talking about how I go from inspiration to a new quilt design. What tools do I use, what computer programs, what are my experiences when writing instructions for others.

It occurred to me that we can use this forum, our blog, to have questions ahead of time! So – is there anything you are particularly interested in hearing? Do you have a specific question? Is there an area you would like me to try and cover? Post your questions in comments and I will do my best to answer and incorporate it all into my presentation. Thank you!!

Leaving you with one of my “doodles” inspired by Valentine’s Day, love, the “melting” of two hearts together…red one and blue one becoming a purple one… I call it “Stitched Together”. 🙂

SMS-Stitched together2Wishing you love today and always,


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Filed under "modern" quilting, eye candy, free motion quilting, gadgets

Wednesday’s Wanderings

Hi everyone,

how are you keeping warm?

I find that these days I need that extra 20 minutes after coming in from the cold to just sit under the quilt, with hot tea or coffee – just to warm-up and bring myself to normal – and only THEN I can function properly! Of course all this winter stuff is nothing new for us here, but sometimes just listening to all the media talk makes me feel apprehensive and nervous, then Marley and I go out and I realize – oh it’s not that bad, just normal Buffalo stuff… 🙂 Granted, even our walks are shorter a bit and I even saw my snow-dog lift his paws few times during the walk, when it starts being a little uncomfortable… but just look at his face after the walk! I swear he is smiling every time!


This was just the other morning. With that face, how can one NOT be happy to go out and have a good walk? Marley is really my best health plan, I tell you.

For the emotional and mental health – well, quilting is there of course! I am feverishly working to fulfill my January plan and that means few late nights too since, of course all other life is going on. I will make it, I will make it…:)

Speaking of all other life – I am teaching not one, but two beginners quilting classes these days and it is just so much fun! Total of 13 new addicts in the making my friends, ha ha!! What I love THE MOST is the fact that I am seeing more and more young women wanting to learn and do quilting – pure thrill!! For example, among current 13 students I have, at least 7 are under or around their thirties! As I said – thrilling! This is one of my newer class samples:IMG_0963

Simple half-square triangles and all different types of quilting, binding etc. Have to say I haven’t made a quilt in just TWO colors in a long time…but really like this one!

Speaking of young quilters – do I have one to show you! Marilee Hatzenbuhler is not only so extremely talented and amazing young woman and quilter – she is our Martha Eddy’s niece and our Marjorie’s Hatzenbuhler daughter too!! She used to be our member also but she lives in Boston now. Thanks to this amazing technology we have now, you can still enjoy Marilee’s amazing work, right here ON HER BLOG . But of course I am going to entice and inspire you with some of this amazing young quilter’s work right now – just take a look! (shared with Marilee’s permission)

MHatz-4 MHatz-5and some amazing quilting:

MHatz-1 MHatz-3MHatz-2

These were some of Marilee’s first trials on feathers. One word comes to mind here – spectacular!

She is also a new quilt pattern designer and you will soon be able to buy her patterns! If you are on Facebook, you can follow Marilee’s inspirations and work on her page HERE .

Hmmmm…me thinks, this talented young lady should come to visit family and give us a trunk show at the guild sometime this year – don’t you think? :)

Of course with mom and aunt both amazing quilter’s Marilee has such a good foundation and inspiration, but what I think is so spectacular is that because of her, so many more YOUNG women, who maybe didn’t have that exposure in their family, will be inspired and encouraged to try it. Did I mention how thrilling this is? Maybe I did a few times… he he.

I can’t wait to share with you all the creations all my young ladies in classes will do in coming weeks. Teaching others is truly such an inspiration – share your stories, I am sure you all shared your love of quilting (or any other hand work) with people in your life.

Stay warm and stitch on,


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Filed under eye candy, free motion quilting

hunting for Bonnie

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Did you get your latest copy of Quiltmaker magazine? I think it might be my favorite of all the quilt magazines I subscribe to. Our next seminar national teacher, Bonnie Hunter, is a regular contributor to Quiltmaker. I like the scrap ideas she submits-see page 62 “addicted to scraps”. This month that’s all she’s got, but some months she has additional articles in the magazine. Bonnie just finished up a 3 part mystery quilt through the last 3 issues. Start watching for her in your issue, and in other magazines to get a feel for her style. At seminar one of our members told me that her sister and a friend are making a special trip to seminar next year from out-of-state because they love Bonnie so much. And she says that Bonnie is like a stand up comedienne–so funny! Looking forward to the lecture if it’s going to be a laugh riot! Here’s a link to Bonnie’s blog as well. Click here.

Just came upon this site by accident this morning. She has a collection of free motion quilting tutorials for some nice motifs. They are different in style than those you get from Leah Day–both ladies have great ideas, just different. The one that drew me there today is an oak leaf “chain”, and I found some other lovelies that I’ll try in her archives. If you are a free motion quilter–newbie or long timer–give these a look. Click here.

This morning I raided the brush pile that my neighbors have out at the curb. It’s been there for 2 weeks now–the town of Amherst is sticking to its rule about bundling your branches, god forbid that the workers might pick up a branch or two to toss into the truck.  I’m working on some stuffed pumpkins for a fall demo and need some stems to stick into the top of the pumpkin. The pattern shows antique thread spools and bobbins–not something I have on hand! So I went out to the curb and chopped off a few chunks of stem for my pumpkins. I wonder what the neighbors thought I was up to!

Off the sewing machine to make a few more pumpkins!


Filed under free motion quilting, seminar

in a rut?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Happy National Quilting Day! Go buy a layer cake or a jelly roll (not the edible kind, silly) and celebrate!

I have a quilt to “fix” up. I thought I was done, but whenever I looked at it I kept thinking “something isn’t right”. Friends who’ve seen it say it looks great. I think it needs more quilting. But I’m stumped as to what to add. Ever been in this predicament? I think maybe this is how many UFO’s come into our world. We get to a point in a project where something about it just isn’t right. The gorgeous colors we began with aren’t looking so great. Or the directions are unclear or even worse, incorrect! (I’m amazed at how many math mistakes in patterns go out into the publishing world.) Or we didn’t choose the value differences carefully enough. The quilting isn’t right.  There are all sorts of reasons for losing our “mojo” about a project. How do we get it back so we can finish things up? Leah Day, of the Free Motion Quilting Project, deals with this from her perspective in this video. See what you think about her advice.

I sometimes get myself out of a quilting rut by looking at other people’s quilts-going to a quilt show perhaps, or picking up a new quilt book or magazine. If the quilt show view does it for you, you may enjoy seeing these winning quilts from the Lancaster AQS show. I must say that what they call bed quilts, and what I call bed quilts, are very different. They must be talking about the size of the project, because I surely can’t envision any of these on someone’s bed. At least not in a house like mine where the kids and the dogs get up on the bed to nap and play!

Another thing I do sometimes to try to get my “mojo” back is to put ongoing projects aside and try something I haven’t done in a while, or perhaps have never tried before. I have started a project in really bright new fabrics with that old standby block The Drunkard’s Path. (Actually that’s a setting name, not a block name, but splitting hairs a bit!) It’s quite different looking in the blacks, lime green, magenta, turquoise, and yellow that I’ve started with. And today at the Big J store I was perusing the new quilting magazines, one of my favorite things to do while in line, and spotted the newest issue of Quilty. What’s on the cover? A traditional two color Drunkard’s Path quilt! I’m going to raid my stash and make another small piece in red and white-but use several reds and several creams and whites. (Thank you again, Helen, for that old Drunkard’s Path book you gave me. It’s getting a workout these days! I’ll bring the pieces to show and tell soon.)

Today I’m going to play in my fabric room, making fabric poseys instead of sewing. Really fast results via hot glue and Heat and Bond are another way to get some excitement for the project going again. Sometimes what causes me to bog down is the slowness of the process, or the length of time and amount of effort it will take to “fix” a quilt project I’m unhappy with. For this one-neither is an issue. The flowers are fast to make, and if I’m not pleased they go into the garbage. Small amounts of fabric are used for each-not worth trying to salvage the petals, leaves or whatever. Just make a new one!

What do you do when you get in a rut or lose your enthusiasm for a project?

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Filed under antique quilts, free motion quilting, tips and tricks, Uncategorized