I’ve quilted tons of quilts with Janoris, my longarm quilting machine and have never used a pantograph, template, ruler, computerize program or stitch regulator.  I am very content with just using my hands to guide Janoris around.  It’s a lot more fun that way!

I’ve seen very pretty quilting work done by a computerized machine but it’s just not the same.  You can usually tell when it’s a computerized pattern and I tend to like the little imperfections in the artist’s hand when it’s done free-motion.  It’s been a while since I practiced some new and different design.  Today, after finishing this customer quilt…

(If you’re wondering about the random pair of scissors on the handle… that is where I keep them for clipping threads.  It’s held up by a magnet. )

I decided to throw a white muslin practice quilt on the frame and try my hand at a few new filler designs.  Filler designs are usually smaller in scale and are used to fill in specific areas on a quilt.

Here’s what I did:
I took a 6.5″ x 6.5″ ruler and traced around it to create some boxes.  This was to help me practice focusing on two things: 1) quilting on a very small scale, and 2) staying inside a designated area.

Then I started trying to make that little bubble looking design I see quilters use often… I think they call it Pebbles or something.  Ummm, yea… not so good. I have to see if I find a tutorial on how to do properly stitch them out because I know I’ve seen them done in a way that no line crosses inside the circles and even when I was super careful it still happened so, it’s very clear I will NOT be attempting this on a real quilt anytime soon.  Need a lot more practice there.

(You can see some of the pebble design on the left below.  Don’t look too close, please!)

This next design I kinda like.   Just started making some curves with sharp points.  I don’t know where or why I would use this this design but I was practicing… that’s all that matters. My third design  attempt was… yup, FEATHERS!  What in the world was I thinking? And just straight free-handing them without first tracing a sample. HA!  Don’t look for them because I purposely did not take any pics of that hot mess.  They really were terrible.

I experimented in another small block and overall it was okay.  But I don’t like how you can see the dark spots in the center of those corners.  Is there a way around that? I wonder.  It’s because I stitch over already stitched areas so the thread builds up.  Not cute.  But it was good practice and more importantly… fun!

7 replies on “Practice makes perfect.

  • AnneMarie

    Go to Leah Day’s 365 Days of Filler Designs…she even has videos for you to watch. I know she doesn’t use a long arm, but it would definitely give you the right idea. I am SO jealous!!! Want a long arm!!

  • cropperbea

    sound like you have fun, I might “steal” your scissors idea, how did you get a magnet up there? I just have a little thread basket on the quilt with scissors in it, where I move the basket to the front where the stitching can’t reach anyways….
    ( I know you know about Leah Day, there’s others out there too, and I prefer the free motion designs too)

  • Crafty Gemini

    The handles are metal so the magnet just sticks to it. :o) It’s the best way for me to keep them close instead of hanging them off my neck and having to bend down and grab them… and sometime the poke my stomach like that so the magnet definitely solved that issue!

    yea.. I haven’t looked at Leah’s site in months but I’ll have to go check it out again.


  • Crafty Gemini

    Yea! I know all about Leah’s 365 days.. just haven’t looked it in months! Gotta go back there.. look into the longarm I have.. its a lot more affordable than the others out there!

  • icemaiden316

    You have done well with the FM Vanessa. The design you did with the curves and sharp points, would look good on Christmas Trees. Ok, so you can’t get the bubbles/pebbles right, but that will come with practice. I have never done any FM, but I bet mine will be worse than yours when I do, lol.

    Keep it up hun, love seeing what you are up to.

  • Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts

    Hey ladies, I have a sissors idea that you might appreciate: I stuck a piece of hook and loop tape to the front of my machine and its mate to one of the handles of my sissors. They just hang there velcroed to the machine. I liked it so much that I added a piece of the tape to my tweezers. Now the sissors and tweezers are both wherever the head of the machine happens to be. Oh, since the tape gave me trouble about staying stuck to the sissors, I clamped it down overnight with a butterfly clamp (used for papers).

  • kim taylor - - - the sassy crafter

    Once I FINALLY finish the quilt top I’m working on, I ought to hire you to do the quilting for me! I think it would be a fun one. The top is a little evocative of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” though in a block-y sort of way. I’ll let you know when I’m done.

    P.S. I like the pebbles!


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