Longarm Quilting Skill Builder – With Circles
Whole Cloth Quilting Skill Builder
Now with CIRCLES
I recently created a little tutorial for a whole cloth quilting skill builder design. You can find that post here. It was a really fun project where you take a template, which you can download, trace out all the lines onto your fabric, then quilt different fill designs within spaces. Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Well, I decided to develop a second template. (I can see me going down a rabbit hole…. )
With both skill builder designs I wanted to have a small quilt to practice:
- Filling in shapes with different designs
- Consistency in the filling motifs
- Ruler work
- Speed & Confidence
The template is designed in Adobe Illustrator and fits on a 40″ square of fabric. The design itself is 38-1/2″ x 38-1/2″. The plan was to make a quilt that is big enough to practice on and small enough to not have a large financial commitment. Does that make sense? It is 1-1/8 yard of fabric. I used pieced batting scraps inside the design and pieced some scraps for the quilt back.
I also chose this size for my whole cloth because it would be easy enough to trace out four designs to create a much larger bed-size quilt.
That is pretty neat, right? However, there’s no way I wanted to print a bunch of pages, tape them together and have a 38-1/2″ piece of paper. Designing just a quadrant solved the problem. Hooray! It prints on only 6 pages. Click here to download the quadrant pdf for yourself.
Using the whole cloth skill builder design:
Fold your fabric in half lengthwise and width-wise to find the center and mark the exact vertical and horizontal guide lines. Press.
Tape or pin the printed design quadrant to a wall (or use window to act as a light board).
Align the pressed vertical and horizontal lines with the edges of the quadrant. My fabric is light, so I can still see the lines though the weave.
Trace all the design lines onto the fabric using a water soluble marker. I know the picture has a whole lotta blue coming at ya. Sorry about that. Blue fabric. Blue pen. Blue lines. Oh my!
To trace the entire design, remove the fabric. Turn it 90 degrees and trace the quadrant again. Repeat this step to finish out the design. Remember to align the folded centers with each rotation.
For this second skill builder sample, I only traced and stitched one quadrant. (And yeah, probably should have ironed my fabric first.)
Deciding to Quilt
With the small quilt loaded onto my Handi Quilter Avante 18″, I decided to start in the upper left corner. If this was a whole radial design, I would have started in the center and worked my way out.
You can certainly use this template with any quilting style. Domestic machine quilting, hand quilting or longarm quilting.
Using rulers to guide me, stitched directly on a few of the blue marked lines first.
I started by wanting to make some kind of wild feather in the upper left. As it turns out, I didn’t like the feather much and thought I could “save” it by quilting very densely around it, still within my marked lines. That is not my favorite.
I also tried my hand at straight lines converging on a point. Eh. Those are alright, I guess. It is a skill builder, after all.
I used my Creative Memories Circle Cutter, from 10 years ago, (instead of a ruler) to stitch out my circle shapes. The cutting system is the perfect height to use with my machine foot.
Once I had the circles in place, I decided my planned/stitched shapes needed some altering. No problemo- seam ripper to the rescue.
That is the beauty of the no-pressure, no-real-plan whole cloth skill builder. If you don’t like something, don’t stitch it. If you want bigger shapes, make ’em. Easy stuff. Dive in!
Ok. Those fills within the circle look a bit lumpy, but they were really fun to make.
Next, I wanted to try some curved cross-hatch quilting designs. I found a perfect spot for some of those. Each fill is just a few square inches. That is a really comfortable easy approach to making this whole cloth. For me, it certainly beats feeling overwhelmed with an intricate & planned design.
The design is coming together.
Ok. Now I needed to fill in (what would have been) the cool center section. I had stitched feathers and an arrow shape of “C’s,” all based on marked lines.
Oooh- now to do something more with my circle rulers. I needed to practice them more so I decided to “echo” the arch a bit. I filled in with fat 1″ pebbles. Those… well, it is a skill builder…
I moved back to the top and left sides to add in more “C’s” and more feathers.
Ok. so here’s how the whole thing came together:
From way back here, it looks pretty cool. I totally wish I had traced all four quadrants.
Here it is side-by side with the template. It might give you an idea of which lines I opted to use and which lines I bailed on.
And because I love Photoshop & wished I had done the whole quilt design, I went ahead and roughly made myself a virtual quilt.
Ok. Now that I love. I’m going to have to make this one again. (I will not be doing that dense fill around that feather wedge though. That looks a bit crazy to me, but there’s no way I’m pulling out those stitches.)
One of the coolest parts about the skill builder quadrant is it will be different each time anyone makes it. Pick and choose whatever lines you want to follow. Fill with whatever designs you are working on at the time. Go as detailed or as loose as you feel comfortable. I just love it. It is a choose your own adventure book for longarm quilting.
If you give it a go, I’d love to see it!
And lastly, I noticed when I did the first skill builder, I was able to practice a design/fill at least four times (making all four quadrants) and by that last space my fill started looking good. You know, the way practice is supposed to work. I think by only doing one quadrant this time, I didn’t get the full practice in each design. Always learning, right?