FMQ The Hilary Florence Way–A Guest Post


It’s your lucky week!  We have two FREE free motion quilt tutorials for you!  Yesterday, we worked on The Maypop Leaf HERE.

Today, we are honored to have Hilary Florence from Quilting Workshop present a tutorial of her original designs. Hilary is a fiber artist and quilter based in the UK.  Her work is beautiful!   Be sure to pop over to her blog  HERE.and see her work, especially her fabulous surface designs.  Perhaps she could give us a little tutorial on that, too?  hint, hint…


Hello Quilters. I am Hilary Florence and I am really thrilled and excited that Lori has agreed to let me do a guest post on her blog. Although our quilting styles are very different, like Lori, I love to create new free motion quilting patterns. So, what better topic than how to start with a simple idea and by playing here and tweaking there, changing it to create:

Theme and Variation

I am going to start with a very simple, elegant design which lets you get into a lovely rhythm on a swinging cross over curve.



Start with a simple downward curve out to the left.

Stitch up  the middle stopping just short of the starting point

Now do a mirror image of the curve – out to the right this time, cross over and do another curve to the left – making and inverted S shape.


Go straight up the center, stopping short of the cross over line. You are now ready to begin the motif again with your inverted S – and that’s it. Keep going as long as you want.

So – that’s the theme, on to the variations

If you have a curve, alter the depth of it.


My first curve was pretty shallow. Here I have made it much deeper, into semi – circles. You can do anything in between or even push it even further and make the motif wider than it is long.

If you have a curve, turn it into a V


Instead of soft curves you now have sharp angles, giving the motif quite a different character. The central line is now enclosed in a box. Think of going across from right to left at 45 degrees, making the exterior angles 90 degrees.

 If you have sharp angles, round them.


The change here is more subtle. Still Vs rather than curves, but this has a softer look.

If you have straight lines, put a kink in them.



This again is not a great change but it gives another feel. Each side of the box should kink slightly towards the centre. Put the kink in the outer lines only, not the central line. The cross right to left cross-over line is now a little more complicated as it has to first kink upwards towards the upper box and then downwards towards the lower box.

Now come the real fun!

If you have a central line, embellish it!




Anything goes here and there are lots of possibilities. Here are just some examples.

I’ve taken the semi-circle version, started my upward line and then inserted a (more-or-less) symmetrical meander. You could also think of this as a very squashed S.


Next I’ve gone back to my original flat-curve shape and filled it almost meanders. Just enter and exit with a short bit of straight line. This is one of my favourites and it usually finds a place somewhere in my quilts

The sharp cornered square version deserves a couple of sharp thorns.


And here is the same motif with all the corners smoothed out!

This ‘squiggle’ also makes a good centre line. Start curving upwards to the left, change direction and curve gently upwards, change direction again and curve upwards to reach the top of the inverted ‘S’.

If you have a nearly close point, open it up.



In all the samples up until now, the middle line has nearly but not quite met the upper line giving the illusion of a square or circle. Now, I have only gone about two-thirds of the way up (with the embellishing circle placed about one-third of the way up)and dropped the next cross-over line opening the motive up more.


And finally, if you have been there, done that, go back and do it all again!


This one is taken from the current piece I am working on, hence the enclosing ‘tram lines’. It is a combination of two of the above variations. Firstly, I have done the rounded square version without central embellishment. I have then gone back stitching over with the circular version and the central squiggle – and I do mean gone back. Of course you could start at the top again, but I suppose I am too lazy to deal with all the threads involved in stopping and starting. When ever possible, I will stitch down a row and then back up. This is also excellent practise for when dealing with items that are too bulky to turn round.

So there we are – from one idea to many versions. All of the above samples are about 1 inch wide with the exception of the last which is one and a half inches. One inch is a good width to start with, but you can also vary the density by varying the size.

Finally, a word about marking. I often say that I mark as little as possible and advocate learning to love your wobbles! I am in awe of the skill of FMQ quilters who produce absolutely identical motifs, but I like the organic look of everything a bit wonky and each repeated motif having its own individuality. I admit to being anxious about this when I considered Lori’s wonderful tidy accurate quilting and wondered if I should make an exception. In the end, I decided to be true to my philosophy and stay a bit messy! To start off with I advise marking guide lines 1 inch apart until you can feel the motif. You can chose whether to be neat and tidy and do this with a ruler, or free and easy and mark the lines free hand!  I would be interested to hear where you find easier/better for you. I personally also feel it helps to draw the motif first, or at least to trace it with your finger.

It remains to thank Lori for allowing me to do a guest spot on her blog. I feel very honoured. At the time of writing this, she has just revealed that she has been asked to do a bimonthly column for the  American Quilter  magazine and I want to add my voice to the congratulations. It is richly deserved.

If you would like to see more of my work and fmq designs, please visit my blog at

Thanks for reading,


PS…This tutorial including all images and directions are the property of Hilary Florence at The Quilt Workshop and are intended for personal use.  Feel free to blog and Pin with attribution to Hilary.

27 thoughts on “FMQ The Hilary Florence Way–A Guest Post

  1. Yea!!! Another wonderful FMQ to follow and learn from. I just looked at your blog and loved it. I can’t wait to start following you. Between you and Lori I should have no excuses to not get started. You both are so inspirational. Don’t ever stop.

  2. There are some wonderful shapes in the tutorial. I will be trying many of them out over the next couple of weeks. Thank you for sharing them,

  3. I’m learning by leaps and bounds since I’ve been following your blog! Most importantly, to relax while practicing the wonderful tutorials. My FMQ has improved greatly ~ thank you so much!!

  4. Woohoo, another lovely quilter to follow! Hilary’s designs, just like Lori’s, translate quite well to my longarm! These designs would be fabulous for sashing! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  5. This post offers a variety of options and is sure to offer inspiration as we piece our quilts and watch for a FMQ design to emerge. Thank you!

  6. I LOVE the variety! It’s always good to have just that little tweak that makes all the difference! Thanks for the extra FMQ posting this week!

  7. Thanks Lori for all you do and a big thanks to Hilary for her unique and beautiful designs in this tutorial. I tried leaving a comment on your blog, but I do not think it went through as I do not have any of those accounts from which to claim my comments from…Google? TypePad? OpenID, etc. At any rate, I am a follower of your blog now too.

  8. Thanks for the great tutorial, Hillary. I never can envision how to change things around, so I appreciate you doing the work for me! Thanks to you, too, Lori, for bringing Hillary to our attention. Aren’t quilters the best?! I love all of your designs, Lori, and feel empowered to try them because of your easy to understand tutorials.

  9. Thanks so much for the tutorial! Just today I used the circle design one in the border of a kids quilt! Wonderful ideas that were shared and I am grateful for the photos and instructions.

  10. Me encanto el aporte de Hilary. Seguramente yo estaré usando en algún momento estos tips. Yo he dado el enlace de tu blog a mis alumnas, me gustaría que ellas se relajen y motiven con tus enseñanzas y logren más seguridad con el free motion. Muchas gracias.
    (English by Google Traductor)
    I loved the support of Hilary. Surely I will be using these tips sometime. I have given the link of your blog to my students, I would like to relax and motivate them with your lessons and achieve more security with free motion. Thank you very much.

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  12. Thanks for showing us another FMQing style, Hilary does beautiful work. It is so wonderful to learn from you. I loved your coverage for FMQing on patterned fabric and loved reading all the comments. Now I can’t wait to start quilting again to try it out.

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