Free Motion Quilting on the Mariner’s Compass Quilt


I feel so blessed to know that you are all
enjoying my skills and drills of free motion. But the one overlying question that I always
get is Rob, how do you know what to quilt and where to quilt and when to quilt what
you’re going to quilt. Well today I hope we have some of those answers for you. Let’s
get started. I thought this would be a really fun way for
you to see me finishing up a quilt that I’ll make another tutorial for on the construction.
But today we’re just focusing on how we’re going to do the free motion machine quilting.
Now often when I’m doing free motion, the first question is what do you quilt and where.
Well let’s take this quilt and set it aside for a moment. When I’m doing applique projects
I always start by quilting around the applique. But on this project it’s all patchwork,
it’s all pieced. So my intention in the machine quilting is to do different things
to the quilt itself. So for example this is called a Mariner’s Compass quilt. And these
are the large cardinal points you see here. So the first thing I want to do when this
quilt is completely finished and hanging on the wall is I want to make sure these large
points are jumping out at you as the viewer in the quilt. What does that mean in machine
quilting. It means less quilting as a matter of fact. As contrast I want the background,
these green and these blue circles to lay down flat so I’ve over heavily quilted them
but doing some different fun motifs. So in today’s video I’m going to walk you through
each of the different motifs I did and discuss why I put them where I put them. Now when I first started I went all the way
around from the center on the cardinal points themselves. And I just did with a red thread
to make it more obvious to our eye. And I stitched basically straight line style but
I was doing free motion machine quilting. So I have now anchored all four of the cardinal
points, the yellows and the oranges. Those are completely done, there’s no more quilting.
But what I also want to do to the smaller cardinal points is I want to crush these down
so that they lay behind this visually. And in order to do this I’m going to do just
a nice back and forth easy motion with that. And so I’m going to start with my orange
thread. And I already have that on the machine. And I’m going to show you that motion here
quickly. Now if you’ve never seen any of my other free motion videos let’s quickly
point out. I have the sew slip mat on the bed of the machine already which is a teflon
coating that makes everything move nice and smoothly. And I’m going to put the Machinger’s
gloves on right now while we’re talking because this gives me a little bit of grip
for my fingers. One of the things we work towards is long-term management in our free
motion. What does that mean Rob? What I’m trying to tell you is you can only quilt until
your body gets fatigued. If you get fatigued you need to stop because we want to make sure
we’re only doing our best quilting so good body mechanics and good tools like the Machinger’s
gloves and the sew slip mats are wonderful to eliminate some of the friction that happens
in our machine quilting.So I’m back kind of towards the center of the quilt. And I’m
going to try to get this out of the way so the cameras can see what we’re doing as
well. I’m not sure if that’s going to work or not. I’m just going to wrestle for
it for a moment. Now what I’ve done is I’ve gone already
¾ of the way around this. So I’m going to pick up where I’m leaving off with the
orange thread. And so for this I’m going to take a single stitch. I’m going to bring
it up to the top and then I’m going to bring that bobbin thread up with me. Oh common now,
bobbin thread. There we go. So that I have all of my stitching secured on the top. I’m
going to take a couple of stitches in place so I can anchor that nice. And now I’m just
going to begin my side to side motion starting across the top this way. And then I’m just
going to keep this rounded motion kind of in parallel lines so that those angles keep
working for me. And then I’m just rounding the corner and filling them in about the width
of the presser foot. I”m not sure if you can see but now I’m watching the back edge
of the presser foot come along that stitch. Nice easy motion just like yay. As the cardinal
point gets a little narrower I also want my stitching to get a little narrower so I’m
starting to reduce the distance between those parallel lines as I come around. And another
good thing for me to do right now would be to go ahead and stop because my hands are
starting to push away. And I’m losing a good grip on the quilt. So I’m just going
to do that here and then I’m going to pick it back up. Finish out this stitching. And
I’m going to do the exact same thing on the side with the yellow but I’m going to
switch to my yellow threads. Everything I’m doing on the process or on this project I’m
using threads that match the colors of the fabrics I’m working on. And I didn’t mention
earlier but I am using polyester today because I wanted the sheen with the batiks. But I
also want the strength of the thread because I’m quilting through an interfacing as well
that was used for construction. Let’s quickly finish this out and then we’ll show you
the yellow here. Once we get that orange worked all the way up to the tip, I’m going to
take a couple of stitches to secure it.I’m going to bring this thread to the top. Slide
this out of the way here. Pull up and see if I can’t get this knot cut which will
free the bobbin thread as well. And now I’m going to load the yellow thread and do the
exact same thing motif. Check this out. Now that I have the yellow and the orange
done on all of the cardinal points, it’s time to start working on the inner rings.
I want to work from the center out like a good quilter would. And I really want to crush
down this green. So I’m going to use this little micro-pebble style with a green thread.
So let’s go ahead and do that together now. So I’m going to bring this part in. And
I”m going to start down in the bottom corner. And if you remember from our skills and drills
videos, one of the keys to a good circle is to do a complete circle. And so we’re always
going to be looking to get our 360 degrees in. And then we can keep traveling away from
the circle to get to the next area we need to. Small little movements so a little smaller
stitches possibly. So I’m going to come around here. I’m going to complete that
circle and I’m going to fill in a little ways. I’m going to start another circle
here. Come back. I’m going to start another circle. And then once I get out of the way
here I really want to get this thread out of my eye. It drives me nuts so I do take
the time to take and cut those out. Should have done it a little sooner so that I don’t
have it everywhere. There we go. Now I can go ahead and just finish out those micro circles.
And of course I’m using a fun variety of different sizes to fill in the gaps. And the
job of this motif is to really crush it down. So the smaller your circles the better it’s
going to make the yellow and orange cardinal points loft up next to it. And then once our
micro circles are filled in I’m just going to go ahead and bring that thread up to the
top because I’m going to switch to a blue to get into this blue ring next. Now with my blue ring what I want to do is
a little bit more of a fun, open, airy design. This is going to crush it down really tight
with the little micro circles so this can be a little bit more open weave. And I don’t
want it to be completely symmetrical over and over again just to bring some character
in. So I’m just going to start down there in a bottom corner. But as I switch my threads
out here is a fun trick. If you’re using any of these kinds of machines that are kind
of a semi-industrial machine or if you like to have your gloves on a lot of times what
I’ll do is I’ll just take my threads and I’ll just kind of tie them together like
this because on my machine I don’t have a lot of thread clips. Most of mine are actual
eyelets so it makes it faster for the re-threading. I grab my thread above the eye of the needle
so that I can pull that through and not have the knot. And then right now I’m just fingers
crossed and my eyes also are crossed so that I can try to slide that bad boy through there.
And I nailed it. And I’m ready for my blue stitching. So now again I’m going to kind
of start in the middle working from where I have been working before. I’m going to
drop a stitch. Bring that thread back up to start each and every time. That’s a great
way to get started. A little harder to see which thread is which now that the blue is
the same color I’m using in my bobbin. There it is. Here we go. So we’re just going to
lock that down. And again as I get away from the starting point I can come back in here
and get these threads cut out nice and early. And now we’re just going to have a little
bit of fun and play with some of our swirly style designs. One of the things we talk about
is using motifs to help accent the story in our project. So the reason I’m doing swirls
and airy motion it’s a mariner’s compass so I just want to think natural or ocean motif,
organic motif. Waves and swirls. That’s why the bubbles. That’s why the wave motions.
So a lot of times I’m letting the quilt tell me the what to quilt. And then I let
the structure of the quilt tell me the where to quilt or the why to quilt it that way.
Let me focus on this design and I”ll be back in moment for some more info. Ok now we are going to cut this thread out
of the way. And let’s talk about the next section. Make sure my bobbin thread is free
as well. The next section in the mariner’s compass is what they call the rums and the
rum’s points. Let’s see if I can hold that still. It’s this section here. And
again I’ve quilted everything else so let me show you what I have done. Now what I want
again, like my cardinal points, is I want these red triangles to really lift out of
the quilt to bring some more visual texture. So just like I did before I want minimal amounts
of quilting in the red and tons and tons of quilting back in this purple here. So what
I’ve done actually is I’ve quilted down the purple first to trap the batting. So look
at this. As I come over here, as I machine quilt in this area and this area, that’s
going to push the batting into that center triangle more. So when I’m working I’m
trying to get as much of the batting trapped in here as possible. So the next thing I”m
going to do is I’m going to load some purple thread in and I’m going to start following
the motif around in my little micro swirl there kind of like my micro circles earlier.
And I”m going to show you how to do that but I need to get the machine threaded. I’ll
be right back. Hey thanks for waiting and I got that purple
thread in. And I actually already brought the bobbin thread up and started my stitching
on the micro swirls we’re going to do. And just a reminder I’m starting over here along
these yellow cardinal points because it’s already been stitched. I want to keep pushing
batting towards the red rum’s points as well. So with the micro swirl or what I’ve
called rainbows gone wild in the past, we’re just going to do a series of back and forth
about three different directions or three different times. So I’m finishing this one
right now as it comes around. And then I’m going to come up here to alter directions.
I can do a circle. So one, two, third pass this way and again working from my stitched
areas. I’m just going to go back and forth from here and I can really fill this one in
really dense like I do with the little green dots to help accent the cardinal points and
the rum’s points. So here I am working my way out of the bottom corner now. And so you
saw me traveling down one side. Now as I come up I’m actually going to travel up the other
and then kind of fill in the other center area, the center area is easy to fill in because
you can’t really tell the swirls started and stopped. So watch this as I come around
here I can actually alter my direction because I was saying I wanted three arcs. And if I
keep going the same way it becomes redundant looking. So if I need to change directions
I do a circle.And then that gives me my arc back the other direction I needed it to work.
Isn’t that cool? Ok so I’m going to keep working this from the center both sides up
the other edge of that red point and all the way around until it’s all the way done.
If you ever find yourself stitched into a corner you might have saw I just doubled back
along some stitching. The more the micro stitching the more you can get away with that trick.
So just take your time and work this area slow, crushing down all that batting and working
into those red points. And then the last trick I’d like you to all watch is I’m doing
my purple as I said I”m coming around this outer arc. And the outer edge has already
been stitched down as well. I’m going to bounce around here. And then as I start to
set these on this same side what I do is I’m now pushing this batting back along here.
And I”m kind of holding it as I begin my stitching and start to lay down as much as
I can along the seam between the purple and the red because that’s going to help me
really crush down the purple and loft up the red which gives us a lot of that really terrific
texture that we love so much in quilting. And now hopefully you’re starting to understand
more how to get it and where to get it in your projects. Once all your purple outer ring is all crushed
down the last real thing we need to do for the actual mariner’s compass is we need
to put some little bit of stitching into our red triangles as well. Now it was real easy
for me. I just started on one side over here. And fun enough what I did is I actually went
up, down and then I created an arc. And then I arced back so I could go up, down, arc back,
up, down and arc back. And I did all three points within the same start and stop of thread.
So I didn’t re-knot at each new point. That made it very, very easy. And all of the mariner’s
compass was done. And I thought terrific but then I started to get nervous. Again kind
of the reason I did this video was we often get to the spot where we see so much fabric
we get overwhelmed. Maybe some of you have felt that way before. I was looking at these
big wide open corners and I wanted my quilt to look beautifully symmetrical. And I didn’t
know how to handle these sections. And then I had an idea. What if I go ahead and put
other mariner’s compasses into these sections. Now hopefully you can see this but I will
admit I matched my threads a little bit too well. I used this wonderful variegated blue
and purple. And you really can’t see it on the beautiful batik in the background.
But maybe this will help you understand this a little bit better to keep it symmetrical.
What I really did I took a drawing or I should say a photo copy. The pattern I received had
this little diagram in it. So then I just blew them up to basically 8 ½ inches square
so they would fit an already measured square space. And I knew my 8 ½ inches would be
awesome. So then I just took my circle and you can see here I have stitched all of the
lines of the mariner’s compass again itself. And now what I go ahead and do, and I just
used either a tweezer or a stiletto or something like that. And I just come in here and I poke
at these little pieces. And I just begin removing all of these little sections one at a time.
So it takes a few moments. But I’ll tell you what it certainly gave me a beautiful
finish. And I have a very symmetrical mariner’s compass in each of the four corners. And then
all I had to do was just join in these sections in between with some very easy wide open filigree
or swirly motion. That didn’t have to be symmetrical because I was able to give you
the concept of symmetry by putting those mariner’s compasses right there in the corner. So if you are like me the free motion quilting
is one of your favorite parts of quilting. However I often get to a place where I’m
concerned because I’m not sure exactly what to put where and how to do it. So hopefully
today’s tutorial answered a bunch of those questions by taking this beautiful Mariner’s
Compass and talking about trying to create loft in our center by doing a little bit of
quilting here crushing down either through medium amounts of quilting or lots and lots
of micro quilting to just give some loft in areas of our quilt and then crush in other
areas to continually tell the perfect story in all of the quilts that we do right here
at Man Sewing. Thanks for being a Man Sewing fan. It’s
great to have you out there encouraging me to create fantastic new content. If you’ve
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