Tag Archives: walking foot quilting

It Began As A Quilt

My last big project of 2022 has been finishing a quilt I called “Happy Accidents” because it was inspired by a piece of woven paper my Roomba had chewed up. You can read about it here and here.

I thought it was done, and started the quilting. I managed to quilt most of what I wanted with a walking foot, and planned to do details with hand stitching. Like many plans, that didn’t go as expected. I found that working needle and thread through four, sometimes five, layers of cloth was challenging. After doing a bit of backstitching, my aching hands told me to give that up.

So, there I was with a partially realized quilt that was probably fine as is, but I wanted more. At this point I left the domain of fabric and thread and entered the painting zone. I ruled out acrylic and fabric paint as too runny for a quilted piece. I considered Inktense briefly, but decided I wanted the flexibility of fuzziness that Neocolor II crayons give.

Of course when you make one change everything is affected, and more changes ensue. That’s why I have expanded the name of this piece to “Happy Accidents/Chaos Theory.” I also think parts of it look chaotic.

Here’s how it looks after several applications of Neocolor II to change the brightness or color of a part, and to emphasize lines that were formerly implicit.

The clipped on black and navy edge strips were to audition binding color. I chose the navy.
The top before quilting and painting.

I managed to spin the quilt many, many times as I quilted the circles and curves.

Finished size is 29 inches wide by 44 inches high. I have only to add binding and hanging sleeve, and I can call it done. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. Maybe someone will hold a chaos theory art exhibit. If so, I have the perfect entry.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Fabric Printing, Techniques

Back To Quilting

I haven’t abandoned quilting amidst my printing and collaging. In fact, I finished “Whitewashed,” sewing straight line arrow heads with off white thread set at varying intervals.

“Whitewashed” 27 by 37.5 inches

After a long time (years?) without buying a quilting book, I bought Jacquie Gering’s latest walking foot quilting opus called “Walk 2.0.”

Of course I had to try out some of the quilting patterns, so I pulled out a top I made for Elizabeth Barton’s “Mod Meets Improv” class for a trial. I hadn’t planned to quilt this piece; in fact, I quilted only one of the four tops I made in the class. However, the top I chose, now upgraded to name status – “Pond”- has lots of negative space.

“Pond” pin basted and ready for first quilting line. I also steam pressed all the layers together to get them to stick.

I read through “Walk 2.0” and decided that I will never put in the amount of marking involved with some designs, but thought I could handle one named Apple Core. It requires one set of quilting lines in each direction for a checkerboard effect, and then another set of curved lines in each direction on top of the first.

The words “simple-to-quilt” caught my eye.

As of Thursday afternoon I’ve quilted about three-fourths of “Pond” and am waiting for cooler temps to finish it up.

“Pond” 32 by 32 inches
“Pond” detail

Now that I’ve come this far I wonder how it would look done diagonally. I also wonder whether two colors of thread would have worked better, possibly sewing the checkerboard with a lighter color thread. Neither will happen with “Pond.” I plan to bind it with a solid green fabric, but haven’t yet chosen which of two under consideration.

Speaking of quilts but totally unrelated to my work, I want to recommend a series of videos Lisa Walton is making called “Quilt Stories.” Each week she talks with a quilt artist about one of their works – its inspiration, techniques, and challenges. The videos are free of highfalutin talk and often humorous. Case in point, Betty Busby offers a pro tip – use a toilet plunger (clean) to wash out dyed cloth.


Filed under Art quilts, Books, In Process, Techniques

Soldiering On With Quilting

My quilt “Fortune and Fate” is now almost ready for a facing. I just need to decide if I want to rip out some stitching around fabric that’s ripply before I seal the deal. How did those ripples happen? User error, of course.

I am using wool batting simply because I had a piece just the right size. With wool you expect more puffiness than with cotton batting. I hadn’t planned to do much machine quilting on this piece. There’s hand stitching in and around each talisman, and in the border. The stitching in individual blocks is only through the top and batting. I wanted to hide my knots. In the borders I was able to hide the knots between layers before the final edge machine stitching.

Now, that puffiness has caused some of my “grout” stitching to be less than perfect but I can live with it. Before I stitched the outer edges I pressed the whole quilt to flatten it a bit. I even adjusted the presser foot to lighten the pressure, as I thought that worked better with a quilt sandwich made with wool.

While watching a Modern Quilt Guild webinar by Jacquie Gering on walking foot quilting, I congratulated myself on using my presser foot adjustment when Jacquie talked about it. She noted that quilting ripples, whiskers, and puckers often result from improper presser foot pressure. My smugness turned to consternation when I realized that apparently I have been misusing the adjustment all the years I’ve owned my machine. The real question was, should the pressure be heavier or lighter for thicker fabrics and quilt sandwiches? My intuition said to apply lighter pressure to a thicker fabric sandwich.

A Janome sewing machine blog says, “We recommend setting the pressure to maximum for light weight fabric such as organza and voile, medium for fabrics such as cotton and polyester, and minimum for heavy weight fabric such as canvas and denim.”

That brought me back to my Janome machine manual. Here’s what it says.

My manual says to sew normal fabric at a 3 setting, which is the last setting on my machine, and to set the dial at 1 for extra fine fabrics, which reduces the pressure. This contradicts the instructions given on the Janome blog, which I quoted above – maximum pressure for light fabrics and light pressure for heavy fabrics.

Ack! So, which is it? By the way, I decided to give my quilt a good press with steam and ignore the ripples. It won’t be in any show where such details might matter.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

“Walk: Master Machine Quilting With Your Walking Foot” Review

I have always been a fan of the clunky looking walking foot attachment for my sewing machines. I began to use it for sewing long seams to prevent the top fabric from being pushed ahead of the bottom one. Then, I found it helpful for lines of machine quilting. Jacquie Gering has elevated this humble accessory to front row status for fairly complex machine quilting in her Craftsy classes and now her book, “Walk: Master Machine Quilting With Your Walking Foot.”

Many of the quilting designs Gering lays out are simple to accomplish. Her chapters on lines, gentle curves, and decorative stitches show what you can do with no or minimal marking. You do need to pay attention to the distances between your lines and the distances on your walking foot. She helps you figure out the latter in her Walking Foot 101 chapter.

Then, if you want to get fancy, Gering walks you through (ha, ha) marked curves, using the reverse button, and turning designs.  Some of these designs require stitch counting and careful marking.  She tackles designs like orange peel, clamshell, braided curves, and nested diamonds. For such designs I think you’ll need to keep your wits about you, so you can’t do what I often do – zone out and sew. This link to a post written by Kathie Kerler, one of Gering’s workshop students, shows some class samples.

Gering covers much of the same material in her Craftsy class, Next Steps With Your Walking Foot. I’ve taken that class and find the book a useful companion to it. The book includes more designs, especially straight line point to point ones. It has lots of photos of stitched samples (easy to see white stitches on black cloth) and stitching diagrams. However, the class shows how Gering deals with marking, sewing the designs, and handling quilt bulk. It includes some curved designs not found in the book.

Gering’s complex quilting design below involves lots of marking and patience. As Gering says frequently, it’s a walking foot, not a running one. I don’t know if I’d tackle a big quilt like this one; maybe a pillow.

Helpful takeaways from the book:

-After you layer but before you pin your quilt sandwich press it on both sides to make sure there are no wrinkles. Pressing also encourages the layers to stick to each other. Gering presses her cotton batting before use to get rid of wrinkles. I spray my batting with water and run it through my dryer on low heat to relax it.

-Play with the setting on your pressure foot to eliminate puckering where quilting lines intersect. Lighter pressure may eliminate those tucks.

-As you stitch, look at where you’re heading, not at your needle.

-Use textured painters or masking tape whenever possible to mark your stitching lines.

-Even utility stitches on your sewing machine can make interesting quilting lines. Gering uses the blind hem stitch on some of her quilts. Try out those stitches on your machine at different widths and lengths, and keep notes of the results.

Whether this book will resonate with you will depend in part on the style of quilts you make. Gering’s quilting designs have a modern sensibility and work well for the large spaces and angles of such designs. I don’t know how well these designs would work on a traditional quilt pattern. I’ve used Gering’s approach on several quilts such as “Winter.”

Other quilters have also addressed walking foot quilting designs. Leah Day has videos on walking foot quilting. Melissa Marginet has a book on walking foot quilting that promises dozens of designs. Of course you can find several free videos online as well. If you’ve tried these or other walking foot quilting resources I’d love to get your feedback. I go to great lengths to avoid free motion quilting.


Filed under Books

The Year in Four Quilts

With a determined push I sewed down the facings to my four seasonal quilts this past week.  They have been hanging over my second floor balcony railing for many months and the guilt finally got to me.

A Craftsy class on quilting with a walking foot by Jacquie Gering gave me the impetus to quilt gently curving lines over each.  I had been trying to develop a leaf-based free motion quilting design for them, so I was happy to have an alternative to that.  My to-be-quilted pile is heavily weighted with pieces in need of free motion quilting.

SpringSummerFallwinterAs I’m sure you’ve figured out, these are shown in order from spring to winter. The inner lozenges feature hand dyed fabric from Vicki Welsh.  These were part of a giveaway she hosted on her blog, Field Trips in Fiber. The outer fabrics are a mix of commercial and hand dyed.  I dyed the summer fabric, while the fall fabric is a damask I bought at a long ago NQA show.  As I recall, the other quilters on the bus we took to the show were extremely puzzled why anyone would pay good money for fabric like that.

Each is about 21 by 32 inches, and could be used as a table runner or wall hanging. My favorite is winter as I love the Lonni Rossi outer fabric. The grayish purple jagged lines remind me of winter sunsets and ice glazed puddles.


Filed under Completed Projects