Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 8

This week is the chapter called  U Turns in the book “The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting” by Angela Walters and Christa Watson. HollyAnne, Kristin and Jen are joining me in this journey. The four of us are blogging our way through the book and each week that goes by we are practicing more and gaining confidence with each exercise. I am a long armer and the other ladies are using their domestic sewing machines. The patterns for the quilts in the book are amazing but we are focusing on the free motion quilting for the blog hop. Links to the previous weeks are on the side bar tab for the Machine Quilting Blog hop. Join the party at Instagram using hashtag #machinequiltingbloghop


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This weeks big challenge is something that takes lots of practice. Corners. How to turn them is always something longarmers need to think about because you move the machine not the quilt. Several options were given, number 1 do something else in the corner such as a spiral square and the border is ribbon candy.

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This block shows a continuous pattern with the greek keys in the green. Then the blue corners were a flow of ribbon loops. Then I became really adventurous… doing loops of e’s that transition to e’s and l’s around the corner. I also used wavy lines and added a sprial in the lower right. So doing corners can be really fun and the possibilities are endless on what to do when turning a corner! machine quilting blog hop week !

This is the block from the first week. You can see a spiral in the corner and a weird square thing in the rest of the outer block. Then the rest you can see how I turned the corner in the inner rows using the flow of the stitch used. The outer border is visible with my corner with the switchbacks.

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And here is my next attempt at hook swirls. It is coming along but not quite right. Time, it takes time. When I change direction my brain cannot translate the change… yet.

This morning’s hooked swirls are even better! 

Here is the video on how I quilted these blocks

Quilt on!


Games, planes, boats and quilts

2017-06-14 16.51.21I had a busy week this week. I had a bit of time off from work so I was able to spend time with family and friends. I was able to see the Wednesday night Air Show featuring the Snowbirds from Canada, parachute demo, biplane and F16. It was great fun to watch. My husband was in the Air Force and worked on F16s so it was pretty nostalgic. At the end of the post my Dad’s pictures are shared and he has some wonderful pics of the WWII era planes  and the more modern jets that flew over our heads!

Then I went to the Soo Locks and saw an unprecedented amount of freighters. I also went  on the Soo Lock boat tour. I have to say it was great and very educational. I learned there are 13 freighters that are over 1000 feet long sailing the Great Lakes. We saw 3 that day and 7 overall. We went into the locks that raise or lower the vessels 21 feet between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. We then saw the steel factory in Canada and went through the Canadian locks. Gorgeous views.

Then I went to a quilt show. I loved the ideas generated. I will share a two pictures and plan to write a full blog post later on in the week.

Then we had pregame dinner for the home town Highland games.

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Saturday was the game and the weather cooperated! Here is a little video of my husband’s day.

My dad took tons of fabulous pictures and here is the album:

2017 Photos by Carl Dennis feel free to share, like and download! He tried to get a photo of everyone and apologizes in advance in you were missed!

Posted by Vicki Holloway on Sunday, June 18, 2017

Now it is back to the work a day routine. Adventures will have to wait for a week or two.





Swim suits and pools

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I read an article shared on social media for the second time last month. Here is the link and I found it to be a really important assertion. The article is about, my paraphrase, just put the damn swimsuit on. It was about being a mom and not jumping in the pool or getting off the beach while your kids are experiencing the moment because one thing holds you back: Getting into a swimsuit and going in the water with it on. Being exposed with a mom bod and not making the memories to the fullest with your kids by just sitting on the sidelines watching them play is a huge part of the article.

What I also take away from this article is two things that are really metaphorical not literal. One: doing things that  make us uncomfortably vulnerable with other human beings holds us back. I am at an age where I am going beyond wearing a swim suit right now in the literal sense. But the metaphor is too big not to ponder. What is stopping me from going and doing the one thing with other people because I don’t want to share my venerability. Swim suit wearing is about as close to bearing it all out in the open as you can get publicly. It leaves you open to hearing the critics, the snarky meanies over top of your own voice saying “who said this was a good idea.” It is making the decision that you are not going just sit there and watch any more. You want to be part of it all. Nearly naked , just the way you are right now.

The next part is actually doing something. The action, the jumping in the pool and just doing it. I have to say that all the prep of shopping for the appropriate swim suit is just as an important part of the adventure as the ending splash in the pool. It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and resources to find that swim suit that fits you perfectly. It cannot be an impulsive thing when you are looking for something that is not easily found off the rack. It may cost you more. In the end, it is totally worth all the prep. You have put in the research, the time and work to make yourself the most confident you, that you can be. Then the next part will be easier when putting the suit on and making your journey to the edge of the pool with all eyes seeing you, as you are. But with a great suit on. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, as you walk to edge of the water.

Now you have to decide. Will you just jump in fully immersing your self in the water or will this be a slower more gentle transition to the water? Having a plan helps but sometimes the water tells you what to do. There is an opening in the pool, or the ocean is presenting the best waves to jump into at the moment and you need to just do it.


I feel that way about my creative life. I have a plan on what my quilting will look like as a business now, as well in 5 years. I have big plans that will need to be worked every day: writing a book, publishing patterns and making a show quilt. I want to continue to long arm for other people, too. But I am not letting things hold me back. I am actively working on each step of the plan. I am putting the suit on and jumping in the deep end of the pool. It has been a time, over the past couple of years, that I have been sitting on the chairs of the pool patio cheering others on while I work and dream. But now is the time I need to experience it fully for myself.

So, are you gonna just go put on the swim suit and jump in the pool ? I am because I just don’t wanna sit and watch everyone else at the pool party fully immersing themselves because I am afraid of exposing myself to the world. White legs and jiggly middle and all.

Here is step one. I made a YouTube channel. I videoed my 51 year old, overweight self for all to see as it currently is. I decided that real life and everyday people are more interesting. Maybe others will think my daily adventures, quilting and travel are too.

Step two: Keep working on being a healthy me so I can keep doing what I want to do. Exercise, diet and sleep right. Follow Doctors orders and keep on keeping on.

Step three: PUT ON THE SUIT and JUMP IN. The slowly immersing myself has been what the last few years were about and not fully immersing myself in my creativity. I submitted a quilt to a show but didn’t make it this year. I convinced my quilting friends to submit a collaborative project that I long armed and helped piece. It DID make it ! I submitted a book proposal. I have been rejected before but I keep trying. I have another company to try if this one says no. I have lots of options for printing my patterns.

It is really that simple. Put in the work every day. Buy the suit, put it on already. Now, you are ready to jump in.

Here is my latest video from my adventure last weekend:

Hope to see you at the beach wearing your  swimsuit and getting in to the water.


Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 6

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Practice Piece this week

This week is the chapter called Cornered in the book “The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting” by Angela Walters and Christa Watson. HollyAnne, Kristin and Jen are joining me in this journey. The four of us are blogging our way through the book and each week that goes by we are practicing more and gaining confidence with each exercise. I am a long armer and the other ladies are using their domestic sewing machines. The patterns for the quilts in the book are amazing but we are focusing on the free motion quilting for the blog hop. Links to the previous weeks are on the side bar tab for the Machine Quilting Blog hop. Join the party at Instagram using hashtag #machinequiltingbloghop

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Tried hooked swirls in the star , not quite but still looked great QOV

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This week is the chapter entitled Cornered. There are many strips in the blocks and I chose to do another wonky log cabin using many of the designs. It is so cool to have all the texture in each strip . Makes the block very interesting.

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This week I spent hours trying to master this hooked swirls. I don’t have it completely but I feel like I am making progress. I am realizing that I need to stop and change direction more often. When I don’t it takes on a leaf shape. Like in the star in the previous picture of the Quilt of Valor I was working on. I did hooked swirls in the center of the wonky log block if you look closely.

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Hooked swirls in the center

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Hooked swirls practice

The next stitch that was in the chapter that I practiced was Pearls and swirls. After I spoke to Christa on my Podcast it made so much more sense and here are my results. Listen to the pod cast by clicking here!

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Swirls and pearls

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This Chapter had several takeaways. First of all it is very important to use free motion quilting to emphasize your blocks with texture contrasts. Secondly, Angela talks about motif quilting like in the black section of this block. Dividing a block into sections and doing the same arches or stitching will make a motif. I did this whole block using another takeaway –not breaking thread for each area. I planned out my quilting so I could do this with not cutting the thread. Watch the video to see how I did it!

Lastly, I learned that echoing is a good way to add texture and importance to the stitching you just did. Plus it allows you to travel in different directions as you go. Practicing it the only way you get this down. I thought I practiced enough and then I realized I still didn’t have hooked swirls down. I have lots of drawing practice to do in my future!

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Here is how I did the stitches plus a chat about my takeaways from this chaper:

Quilt on !


Did I mention there will be a giveaway on the blog??? Stay tuned for more information!!!


Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 4

boomerang free motion quilting



Boomerangs on the frame

This week is the chapter called Fractured Squares in the book “The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting” by Angela Walters and Christa Watson. HollyAnne, Kristin and Jen are joining me in this journey. The four of us are blogging our way through the book and each week that goes by we are practicing more and gaining confidence with each exercise. I am a long armer and the other ladies are using their domestic sewing machines. The patterns for the quilts in the book are amazing but we are focusing on the free motion quilting for the blog hop. Links to the previous weeks are on the side bar tab for the Machine Quilting Blog hop. Join the party at Instagram using hashtag #machinequiltingbloghop

ultimate machine quilting blog hop sampler

sampler quilt with all of the stitches

I used this quilt,  that was a block exchange, to practice on.I believe there are benefits of quilting for practice on a real quilt! I have done sandwich practice pieces but don’t find them to be as effective practice for me. I like seeing how this works on a real quilt.  Each week I chose a block and the second row, first block is the boomerangs. I will show how I quilted it in the video at the end of the blog post.

greek keys

Greek keys

greek keys

greek keys

Greek keys are also used in this chapter. They are easy to draw and free motion quilt. You make a box on three sides then on the fourth side, turn to the inside about 3/4 of the way through. Then you make 2 sides then echo the shape all the way out and continue the next greek key!

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Greek Keys drawing

I am sharing a video I made where I talk about making the boomerangs.

Join us next week! Quilt on!




Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 3

machine quilting blog hop

The Book!

Welcome to week 3 of the blog hop. We are blogging our way through the book The Ultimate Guide to Machine quilting and three of my friends are joining me. You can go to HollyAnne , Kristin and Jen pages to read what their insights and takeaways are from the chapter. I am long arming and working from Angela’s perspective and they are using a domestic machine and from Christa’s perspective.

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Continuous Curve on my Granny Square Quilt


This week is a lesson of continuous curve.  This Means  quilting by traveling through out a block without breaking the thread. I did orange peel curves throughout the little squares in this block and did it row by row. I didn’t cut the threads and quilted an arc on three side of the square across the row of squares then worked my way back.

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Continuous curve in the triangle and a little more fmq

Here are more curves in the triangles. I then added free motion quilting around the triangle as I went.

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Christa Watson’s Improve block with continuous curve

Continuous curves in the points of the stars. Christa Watson designed this block for the Aurifil Designers of the Month last year. Here is the pattern link.

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the back of this weeks practice piece

Here is my  practice piece from this week. I did a continuous curve in the corners. A flower motif in between , a teardrop motif and then a stipple in the middle. I echoed the curve in the corners too, made a outline statement  and embellished it all with little ribbon candy and tried some pebbles. All individually are ok, not really sold on the floral motif. It is so large I had to mirror the shape when I rolled up the mini quilt. You have to learn to quit in all directions on a long arm. The take away from the chapter is that you have to practice some things over and over. I like the floral motif better when each petal overlaps  on this larger scale another takeaway from practicing. I also don’t like thread that contrasts with the fabric, that is on the other side. Next time, I may try marking some registration lines.  If you want to see how I quilted it watch the video below!

With time and practice we will see progress! Tips : on continuous curves and mirroring images go slower than you think you need to for accuracy. Picking thread that matches the background colors in the fabrics is more forgiving. Takeaway: Big blocks need to be well planned so when you advance the row you can mirror the quilting . Take pictures so you remember what you did!

And finally, if you are not feeling well, don’t try to learn new things and expect that it will be outstanding. Sometimes we should just wait a day when we are on our best thinking to try. Don’t rush and force it.

Remember the book is on sale at the publishers here, get yours to follow along!



Ultimate Guide To Machine Quilting Blog Hop Week 1

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May 1 is here and that means we (HollyAnne, Jen, and Kristin)  are kicking off the blog hop for Angela Walters and Christa Waston’s book pictured -The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting!!! We will be posting once a week on Mondays for 10 weeks !!! This wonderful resource is written from the point of view of both a long armer and a sit down quilter. Bonus there are quilt patterns for each chapter, too!

Click on each name and it will take you to their blog of the people participating in the hop ! This blog hop is designed for you to have the book for reference and I will talk about my takeaways each chapter. I will also show pictures and some video of my progress. I want to share what I learned to make me a better free motion quilter. Here is our directory page for future reference.



squares on a string

A little about me. I am a long arm quilter and the only long armer in the blog hop. I have been free motion quilting for 6 years on a Baby Lock Jewel with a 16 inch throat space on a 10 foot frame that is set up at the end of my bed. Yep, the only room in the house big enough! I have a few stitches that I considered mastered in my tool box-swirls, circles, echos, loops and curls. I am still learning straight lines! The tool box is those ‘go to’ stitches that you use often and , then get good at them so you can use their variations, too. I have to say that free motion quilting takes lots of practice to see results. I must agree with the authors of the book who say that practicing is really important. It really is not much different to compare it to when I was a kid and  I took lessons on playing the violin. I practiced every day for the eye/hand coordination for the basics and then practice continued for more advanced lessons as I mastered beginning skills.


Little switchbacks and curls

The book starts out by  talking about how to improve quilting. My take away was practice often but practice different things, too, to enhance your skills and make your tool box bigger. Also, we need to learn the limitations of our machines. There are limitations on long arms and we must approach things differently vs a table top machine where the quilt is being pushed through.

Chapter 1 Plumb Lines

This chapter emphasizes stitching straight lines! Oh no, something that I am not very good at and this is the perfect time to practice. I am just learning to use a ruler and my channel lock after all this time. However, I did  decide to quilt a whole quilt with the channel lock to practice those lines. Horizontal lines are easier to do vs vertical lines on a long arm.

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Tip: load the quilt horizontally to minimize start and stops of the lines.

Also read the section carefully about letting go of perfection. We are quilting free motion stitches…. it will not look the same as stitches created by computers. That is the beauty of it!

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Quilt I am using for the blog hop

I had several blocks from a block swap and I added a few I made myself that turned into a top for this blog hop. I used some of the stitches talked about in the chapter and then spent my time quilting between spaces and then outlined areas for emphasis. This was the lesson in the chapter. I chose to quilt between the Logs on a modern log cabin block in the upper left of the quilt. I did incorporate some lines to practice more!

Click on each photo to see more detail.

Below is a video and talk of the process used to quilt the first block.

I did do some toolbox quilt videos and you can see them in previous blog posts or on my You Tube channel for ease to look them up here. The tool box videos have videos on swirls, circles, echos, loops and curls

Take away:

There are many stitches that work well together in a quilt. Emphasize areas of a quilt by outlining the area by stitching in the ditch.

Until next week, Quilt On!

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Add your free motion quilt process based on this first chapter by clicking on the link box with the frog below!!!

We are also posting to Instagram using the hashtag #machinequiltingbloghop. If you want to get to the directory of bloggers and info about the blog hop click on the chalkboard on the sidebar.