FMQ – Free Form Style

FMQ Grafitti Mini Whole Cloth Quilt

For a while now I have wanted to try my hand at free motion quilting a whole cloth quilt, letting the stitching be the design element. I have been hesitant to try it. I don’t consider myself creative enough to produce something that I would be happy with, or that others would consider pretty.

But, since I was testing out the stencils and chalk on Sunday I thought ‘why not?’ And so I tried.

FMQ whole cloth mini quilt

The thought of just letting the quilting free flow, without a pieced block to lead the way, was a bit intimidating.  I started with the echoed clamshells you see in the top of this picture. Then I was stumped. What to add?

I added the wavy lines and immediately didn’t like them.  To be honest, I didn’t even like the clamshells much. I kept going and added the swirly, feathery flower on the left which I didn’t like either. Huh.  So then I stopped and thought about what I needed to do.

Whole Cloth Mini Quilt FMQ

Looking at the center medallion, everything is all curves and rounded shapes. It hit me then I should keep the design curvy to work with the medallion. I added the whimsical feather on the left and filled in with pebbles. This seemed to work so I kept going, adding a swirl, flower, and pointy leaves. I liked this design much better.

I added that wonky flower on the bottom (no, it’s not suppose to be wonky) and then another feather. Looking at it now I wish the flower wasn’t there and that the feather was more symmetrical with the one on the other side. But since this is a practice piece to see if I even like doing this kind of quilting I’m not beating myself up over it.

Full View Whole Cloth Quilt

This is what the whole piece looks like. I totally dislike the top with the wavy lines and clamshells. And I really like the background of pebbles. Here are some of the lessons I learned:

1. Even though this is a “go with the flow” type of quilting, I still need to have a design plan before starting to stitch.

2. I need to make sure the designs I use work together.  To me, those wavy lines are really out of place.

3. Scale is important. The clamshells are too big for the area they are in.

4. When I do this again, I can stitch in design elements (like the feathers, leaves, flowers) first and then fill around them.

Overall, I consider this mini quilt a success.  I found that I like quilting free form and that yes, with a little planning I CAN do it. My husband even commented that “there are a few nice things in there.” 🙂 I am going to bind this mini and keep it. I hope I will be able to compare it to others I make in the future to see how much my free motion quilting skills have improved.

How about you? Have you tried quilting different designs in negative space or whole cloth quilts? If so, what has your experience been like?

I also want to remind you to hop over to Amy’s Creative Side and look through all the entries in the Bloggers Quilt Festival. There are 11 categories and really beautiful quilts entered. You can nominate three quilts to the Viewers Choice category now, and voting will begin May 22nd.

Have a great quilty week!


About Beth

I’m a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get “licking the spoon” mixed up with “licking the fabric”!!

This entry was posted in Free Motion Quilting, Mini Quilts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to FMQ – Free Form Style

  1. Cindy says:

    I like the clamshells, they might be a tad big. The feathers look great and I don’t think they need to be symmetrical. What a great practice piece. I may need to do something like this too.

  2. soma1773 says:

    I would call it a success. You learned so much from it. I am glad to hear that you are going to finish it and keep it. It would be so wonderful to look back. I have been thinking about making a quilted bathmat, but I am dragging my feet. May be it’s time to jump in 🙂


  3. Its so cute!! I love your creativity and skills!! I had to giggle at your husbands comment! That sounds like something mine would say – ha!

  4. Jasmine says:

    What a great project for your practice. I really like how the second half looks. The off set feathers look so pretty and don’t really need to be symmetrical, because they are balanced. I keep doodling like this and will be trying it someday soon. 🙂

  5. fancyfootfarm says:

    What a great review of your own work. Be sure to date this piece. It would be fun to do one of the same size once a month or so and see your progress. I’ve always admired whole cloth quilts, but haven’t been brave enough to try one yet.

  6. Judy says:

    I agree with Yvonne, this was a huge success!! Congratulations on stepping outside of your comfort zone 🙂 I have recently been bitten by the whole cloth quilt bug. . . Took a class in person with Cindy Needham – her Craftsy class on whole cloth is invaluable! I can’t wait to see what you make next!! 🙂

  7. I think this is a huge success, Beth, and way to go stepping outside your comfort zone to give it a try. I actually like the clamshells a lot, but perhaps as you mention they are just big in scale compared to the rest of what you quilted. How awesome to learn from this piece. Do you plan to finish and keep it or… ?

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