26 October 2017


One of the boy quilts I hope to finish by Thanksgiving or Christmas will require confidence and a steady hand. I'm planning to draw theme characters on each block, then free-motion quilt them.

I've had this idea three times before, but I chickened out each time because my free-motion quilting skills are so weak. Especially with the super lightweight and cheap small-arm domestic sewing machine I'm using right now!

I've always been intimidated by my grandiose FMQ design ideas because not only am I my own worst critic, but I am terrified the recipient will look too closely at the stitching and value the quilt less because it's not perfect.

All year long, I've been attempting to defeat that attitude. Finished is more important than perfect. I chant it like a mantra sometimes while I'm free-motion quilting!

One of the benefits of trying to finish so many quilts by a specific deadline this year is forcing myself to free-motion quilt even when I know I can't be perfect.

Today's quilt was the perfect practice canvas to force my ostrich head out of the sand!

The quilt top was created with blue texture leftovers from other projects, including other quilts upon which I'd intended to draw and FMQ characters. When this quarter's Ravelry challenge began on October 1, I was still one block shy of being able to piece the top, so that's what I called the project. One Block Shy.

When I began striping and swirling the individual blocks, I thought I could call the quilt FMQ Sampler. That's what many other quilters call such a project.

After I finished quilting the border, which effort was a better workout on my arms than all the combined physical therapy exercises and stretches I've learned and performed this year to combat mouse elbow, I decided the best name for this quilt is Brave. I think that's a more kid-friendly name, too.

Although the next two quilts I work on may be simple line quilting just to finish them up in a hurry, I think I'm a little bit better prepared now for Lava Beds, for which I've got some pretty wild ideas. I will probably end up saving that one for last so I can spend a little more time on it. At the rate I'm going, I think I'll be able to finish four of the remaining five boy quilts in one week each. That puts me solidly at one week before Thanksgiving. The Lizard will have to work almost every day of the four-day break I get, so I can finish up the BIG project that long weekend.

And then I get to make a dress for me to reward myself for finishing 15 quilts before Christmas!!! (And then a quilt from the leftovers!!!!!!)

Back to today's charming finish, the free-motion quilting most definitely is not perfect, but I do have a couple of favorite blocks in this one of which I'm extremely proud. I also just love the blue textures.

I cut up 12-inch blocks for this one, and I have enough 12-inch blocks left to create another quilt at some point, perhaps incorporating a blue Moda Grunge as the unifying fabric in a double disappearing nine patch. The idea causes my quilt yearning to drool!

Once I finished piecing the dozen blocks in this top, it wasn't quite big enough, so I cut three-inch strips and crafted yet another striped fabric that may have been suitable for boy quilt top, but instead, I cut three-inch block stripes for a pieced border. I deliberately used three-inch strips in this project in the hopes I'd have enough solid strip leftovers to create the binding. And it worked! I had to cut only two more three-inch strips!

I also still have a 26x40 block of the striped fabric I can use in a future project. Oh, will that be fun!!! Ideas are percolating!

This quilt made me very thankful blue is my favorite color. All four of the finished boy quilts for my 15 Quilts for Christmas project are blues. I'm ready for some rainbow colors, but five more boy quilts come first. One of the unfinished quilts is blue...

I used a single piece of bluish gray swirl on the back instead of piecing all my blue leftovers just to save time. Now that it's done, I really like the way the free-motion quilting looks on the back.

When I began binding this quilt, I could see I was cutting it really close on bobbin thread. I took a HUGE chance I'd have enough to finish without having to wind one more bobbin.

The thread ran out eight inches from the finish. It also left a nasty rat's nest on the back that took nearly half an hour to unravel.

I began winding another bobbin, and the spool ran out!!!

I searched all my thread spools for another dark blue. Nothing. Not even close. It was nearly 11 o'clock at night, so there would be no trips to the fabric store. Actually, that's a good thing because I hate going there. I always spend more than I intend, and the checkout line has been up to an hour long in the past. Lizard and I had decided from now on we're just going to order thread online.

But I wanted to finish this baby without having to wait a week for a spool of thread!!!

On a lark, I went through The Lizard's bobbin box, and I found a 1/3rd full bobbin of dark blue!

I reached the finish line without shopping!!!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Good the Lizard's box had you covered. We can sure be our own worst critics indeed, but have to push through and let it take seed.

    1. Everything you say is true,
      All I can say is Happy Boo! :)

  2. I love the finish. I cringed when you talked about running out of thread with only eight inches left. Sadly, I have had the same thing happen multiple times. But in the end, the beautiful finish makes it all worthwhile.

    1. Thank you, and so good to know I'm not the only one, although I'd never wish that on anyone!!!

  3. Beautiful work. Glad you got the thread worked out.

  4. First: your FMQ is AMAZING! Wow! Love those block closeups near the end of the post.

    Second: I too tend to run out of thread (and not pre-wind bobbins). And I hate thread shopping. Sistah!

    Third: The only FMQ I've done much of is just meandering stitch, and for me it always went smoother if I took my mind off it, tried not to concentrate too hard, and just let my hands go. I wonder if you sketch your characters several times to get some muscle memory going, if that would make it flow better when the time comes?

    Fourth: I don't think the lucky recipients are going to be eagle-eyedly critical. I think they'll love their quilts for the sheer awesomeness of them!

    Fifth: Your husband has a bobbin box?!? Go Lizard! :D

    (I know he's done some quilting. Just never figured he had his own sewing kit.)

    1. Yes, Sue! Lizard has his own fabric AND thread stash! Sometimes it's better than shopping!!!

  5. What fun you had with the quilting!! Nicely done.


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