If you practice enough, there really is a point where FMQ (free motion quilting) suddenly switches from Fear to Fun.   I didn’t really believe it would happen to me, but it has, and the possibilities that open up are quite exciting.  I’d like to share a little bit of my learning journey with you:

What I learned today when doing free motion applique:


I learned that free motion applique can be a lot more forgiving than free motion quilting if you treat it as thread painting and take a more “quick sketch” approach than an “accurate technical drawing” approach. It doesn’t seem to matter how irregular your stitching lines are, or the stitch length is, because it has that hand-drawn look. This of course makes it a nice, low stress way to practice controlling the fabric and stitch before I need to free motion quilt something that needs more precision (like the Mini Quilt I am making for the UKQU winter 2018 mini quilt swap, which I can only give you a tiny peek of because it is a secret swap).


I also learned that:

  • My thread cutter wasn’t blunt – it just didn’t have any sharp bits showing under the big lump of fluff.
yes, all that fluff came from the thread cutter
  • There is an art to getting a slider mat in place under the needle and presser foot, and even more of an art and science to getting the electrostatically sticky thing back out.
  • Bobbin threads that end up under said slider mat are very difficult to free up once you have started sewing
  • If I had pulled the bobbin thread to the top every time I started a new bit, the previous item wouldn’t have been a problem.
  • That lump under the slider mat is the bobbin case cover that I forgot to put back on after the last bobbin change. The machine stitches a whole lot better when the bobbin case cover is on.
  • When you have a lot of different coloured threads to use, there is always one bit of each colour that needs sewing that you don’t spot until after you have re-threaded with a different colour.


  • If your heat bonding product feels like you are sewing through plastic, check the adhering instructions, then try ironing it again at the right heat, for the right length of time. Its amazing how that stuff changes from being a thick hard bit of glue to something that is much softer and easier to sew, once it has had the right amount of heat on it.
  • My belief in machine needle threader magic (the tiny invisible fingers that grab the thread and pull it through the needle) has all but disappeared now that my new glasses mean I can actually see the tiny wire hook. (That probably also means that I now no longer need to rely on a needle threader because I can now see the thread end and the needle eye.)

So what have I been making? 

Remember in my last blog I said I didn’t really do Christmas. I lied. I sometimes do Christmassy things, and when I spotted the pattern for this advent calendar on my last trip to New Zealand, with its really complex construction, little bit of New Zealand in the corners and a huge lot of tiny applique, it did seem like it would be a very interesting challenge.