Open Line Friday Questions and Answers…


Free motion quilted Bumble Bees

Happy Friday, Everyone!  It’s Open Line Friday…everyone asks…everyone answers…so buzz right in…we want to hear from YOU!

First, I had a question about connecting several Bumblebees from Tuesday’s free motion quilting tutorial…. Instead of starting from the head, start between the wings.

Everything is the same, just the order is changed.

Stitching order:

  1. Left set of wings
  2. Head and antenna
  3. Right set of wings
  4. Body
  5. Triangle Tail
  6. Twisted flight path.

NOTE-The Twister Tweed thread from Robison-Anton is perfect for these little bees!

Free motion quilted Bumble Bees



To get the bees humming…I have a question for YOU-

I often get notes saying “I love this motif—I think I’m going to try free motion quilting one of these days…”


What is stopping YOU from trying free motion quilting TODAY?

Is it fear?     Is the process overwhelming?     Are you unsure of your sewing machine?

Can you break it down for us…so we can get YOU to join all of us in the FUN?

Free motion quilted Bumble Bees


As you all know, my favorite part of quilting is Free Motion Quilting…I really want ALL OF YOU to enjoy it, too.  That is my goal….

How can I get YOU there???

From my hive to yours,

The Queen Bee,


PS…all tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Please share, pin and re-blog with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!



41 thoughts on “Open Line Friday Questions and Answers…

  1. I love free motion quilting too and you have so many good ideas. I’d really like them all together though. Are you published?

  2. With football season in full swing, I’m quilting a TShirt quilt and would love to do something along that line. Have you any suggestions?

  3. My greatest obstacle in FMQ is determining WHAT to quilt WHERE. How does one gain the ability to ‘read’ a quilt and know what it ‘needs’? Once I finally decide on a design I can usually execute with enough practice, it’s just figuring it out.

    • Ditto on the What to quilt Where. I was also intimidated by wasting fabric and batting on practice (even if it was scraps) until I came across and idea to FMQ on paper with an old needle until I was comfortable with the design and THEN do it on scraps before putting it on a quilt.

  4. You asked what is stopping me. I have perfectionistic tendencies and I feel what I do is never good enough. I know if I had been FMQ as long as sewing, I would be fine. I purposed to practice this year and I haven’t even touched my sewing machine until a few days ago. I just cannot seem to get motivated to do it because of fear of doing well enough. My quilt guild makes quilts for needy children and they always need folks to quilt them. They say they don’t care what it looks like; they are interested in holding it together. Still I can’t even conquer the fear to do it for a worthy cause.

    • Make some mugmat or pot holders and then practise on them. I did my first quilt and showed my friend the mistakes I made. She said to stand back 5 feet and if I could see the mistake then, then I better fix it. I couldn’t and have been happily FMQing ever since. Following Lori has made my enjoyment even richer.

    • I have a fat quarter sandwich which I use to practice on ..over sew often one sees it! I started with large vermicelli ..then what I call mussels! Even did a small quilt made of charn squares with vermicelli pattern as first attempt for real.

    • I think that we all are our own worst critics. Usually the mistakes are so tiny as to be unnoticeable, and they even add to the “hand-made” look. It you want perfection, you can use an embroidery machine or a computerized quilting machine! My other piece of advice, that I follow, is “Quilt Scarred”. Just accept that it’s scary and go ahead anyway. You will be surprised to find out how quickly the fear goes away.

    • TIME is a problem! But I also have those pesky perfectionistic tendencies. I doodled and used practice quilt sandwiches for quite a while. Finally decided that I just had to jump in and quilt on a quilt! My son loves to have seasonal quilts and he doesn’t care what the quilting looks like. I make him simple and quick quilts using 10″ squares and then have a great time trying different quilting motifs on his quilts. Lori posted the directions for a spider web with spider motif at the very moment I was quilting his Halloween quilt! I added it to his quilt – it’s not perfect but it’s adorable! My son gets quilts that he absolutely loves, and I get to practice on something more rewarding than practice sandwiches. I can see improvement from the beginning of his quilts to the end.

    • Susan, I too have those very same fears. I can sit at my sewing desk all day trying to make myself give it ago but still no. I want to, I really do. I am never happy with anything that I make as I Know its imperfections. Sometimes I give a quilted gift to some one and I say to them, its okay if you don’t like it you can throw it in the bin.
      Goodluck Janet

    • Don’t fear. Just start. There are very few perfect fmq out there if any. The only way our stitch length gets better iis with practice. Do a simple loop design. If you get stuck stop ,tie off, and start again in another area of the quilt. You will have bobbled but when the over quilt is finished you won’t see them honest. Fear is your enemy. Every quilter started with bobbles and non perfect stitch lengh.

  5. I love your tutorials. So much fun. I’m fairly new at quilting and after I make my quilt top I’m usually stuck with how to quilt it. So I was just thinking wouldn’t it be nice if I could take a pic of my quilt and send it to someone (like you) and they could then make suggestions on how it should be quilted. I think this type of guidance would actually help me develop myself. I would be more motivated to complete the quilt instead of just making another quilt top and stacking them up. Do you know of anyone who would do this. I know I’m can’t be the only one who needs this help.

    • Try sending it to me and I’ll try my hand and post it on Lori’s site. I’m not sure how it would work, but like FMQ, we’ll just dig in and see what happens.

    • the only drawback to “farming” out your design work is that you’ll never learn to do it yourself and if that’s your goal, you need to bite the bullet and try stuff. I don’t like all my ideas but I’m gradually weeding them out and getting to the ideas I do like!!

  6. What is stopping me from playing with FMQ? TIME!! I wish I had more of it! But, I will continue to read and be inspired by your blog and one day do more playing and feel comfortable with FMQ!

  7. For those hesitant to try FMQ. I took a class from one of our guild members, Jean Lohmar. Some of you may have heard of her. She’s won at national shows, and some of her quilts were featured in one of Harriet Hargraves’ books on heirloom machine applique. Jean is a fabulous quilter and great teacher. But her advice on getting started quilting was to do a set of placemats. You’re doing the same steps–cutting, piecing, quilting binding–4 times. It’s a great way to hone those skills. If you don’t want to practice piecing, then just cut rectangles, make a quilt sandwich and PLAY! Bind them up and you’ve still got a great set of placemats. They could be donated to a community kitchen. A bit larger than a pot holder, but still small enough to maneuver pretty easily through your domestic machine. Everyone starts somewhere. Just do something. you’ll get better each time. And doodling DOES help!

  8. I thought for a long time I needed a newer machine than my 50 yr old mechanical. Maybe even one with a BSR. Then I borrowed a friend’s new machine for a week. Due to an intervening snow storm I kept it for 3 weeks. I quilted madly during that time and learned I didn’t need a newer machine, I just needed to jump in. I did need a large surround table.. that was easily fixed. Charity quilts are great practice. Like any sort of exercise you need to do it very frequently otherwise you are back to anxiety and “stiffness”.

  9. FMQ on charity quilts has been a huge help for me and my friends. We get together every other week for an afternoon and I believe there is an important encouragement factor is working that way. Gals who sent all their quilts out to be quilted are now doing their own and winning ribbons — wouldn’t have happened without all that FMQ for charity!!

    Recently, I’ve also realized I needed to stop comparing my work to professional longarm quilters — I need to compare my work to where I was a couple years ago and pay attention to the progress I’ve made!

  10. My fee of FMQ has to do with the size of the throat of the sewing machine, and having to squish a large quilt in while you’re trying to quilt. This is why I forego quilting of bed sized quilts. Anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions?

  11. I too do not know how to read a quilt–other than the clue that curvy pieces need straight quilting and straight sets need curvy stitching. I also have difficulty moving from one section to another. I get myself boxed in. I also think I try to go too fast so get ahead of myself. I am now very comfortable with straight line motifs and that works for me. I also agree with those who said big quilts don’t fit and are a pain to hassle with. Just easier to send out larger things.

  12. I started practicing on 10″ sandwiches, made lots of pot holders and hot pads, and now am practicing on placemat sized samples, some pieced, some whole cloth. When I collect enough, I will donated them to Meals on Wheels, where they will be loved and appreciated despite the mistakes! I’ve practiced on a few donor quilts and a couple as gifts for friends, and altho’ I’m still intimidated, I just go for it. Being able to read the quilt is very important to me, too, and sometimes it takes me awhile of pondering and exploring different motifs on the internet to make decisions. It’s hard, but it’s lots of fun. Especially when you see yourself improving little by little.

  13. Mary Huey, even professional quilters of the highest order make “mistakes”!! I’ve seen a quilt that had been quilted by K* M* that had a small tuck in the back, A* W* doesn’t always hit the mark on back tracking, J* F* has made an art of feathers with lines that go over each other! They are all AWESOME quilters, but they are human, not perfect! Even computerized quilting can have mistakes where the quilter didn’t get the boundaries perfect when delineating a section. I absolutely cannot quilt on my sewing machine, so I bought a longarm…I didn’t know of any limitations so I set none and had a customer quilt on the frame a week after I set it up! I have a really hard time seeing an overall pattern, I always see custom quilting patterns!!! As one who quilts for a living, I appreciate those who “quilt by check”, but I am in awe of those who can quilt on a DSM, like Leah Day or even use a walking foot to quilt a crosshatch!

  14. I have been free motion quilting only a few months. Although I practice on fabric sandwiches, I have found that just biting the bullet and quilting my recent projects has advanced my abilities so much faster. It’s as if knowing that the quilt is “for real” makes the quilting better. My issue continues to be the uniformity of my stitches. How do I improve!!?

  15. This discussion reminds me of Winston Churchill’s description of his own great difficulty in beginning painting during a period of dark moods after he was “let go” from the British Admiralty in 1915 :

    “Having bought the colours, an easel, and a canvas, the next step was to begin. But what a step to take! The palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto. But after all the sky on this occasion was unquestionably blue, and a pale blue at that. There could be no doubt that blue paint mixed with white should be put on the top part of the canvas. One really does not need to have had an artist’s training to see that. It is a starting-point open to all. So very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a bean upon the affronted snow-white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge; but so subdued, so halting, indeed so cataleptic, that it deserved no response. At that moment the loud approaching sound of a motor-car was heard in the drive. From this chariot there stepped swiftly and lightly none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery. “Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush – the big one.” Splash into the turpentine, wallop into the blue and the white, frantic flourish on the palette – clean no longer – and then several large, fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. Anyone could see that it could not hit back. No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvas grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.” Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime

    Photo of Churchill painting:

    • LOVE that suggestion about FMQing on paper before trying it on fabric. I do, however have a sandwiched piece, about 1 yd sq that I practice new designs on as well as testing tension. Some of the pieces have looked good enough to finish off with a binding.

    • Rosemary here:
      I love this. Winston Churchill is someone I admire greatly.
      We should envision Winston Churchill as we sit at our machines, ready to ….uh,…splash, wallop and make flourishes with flash!

    • What a delightful, and so appropriate, quotation! I feel exactly like that when I’m staring at a blank quilt top. Should I echo, all over quilt, go geometric? It’s impossible to get started, and then suddenly, there’s an idea and voilà, I just get moving. Love it!

  16. My husband and I go to the fitness club three mornings a week. We walk the track for a half hour and then work out on the weight machines for 20 minutes. As much as I’d rather be quilting during that time, I am actually glad to have that mentally idle time because I find myself thinking about WIPs. I have solved many a quilting dilemma, thought up names for my quilts, noodled on quilting designs, planning new projects, etc., while working out.

    I’m a perfectionist, too, and a procrasinator, and a deadline is usually my most effective motivator. My quilt guild’s show is **yikes!!** 3 weeks away and I still have a lap quilt and wallhanging to quilt and bind! I’m going to bite the bullet, jump in with both feet and FMQ! Wish me luck!

  17. Hi Lori!
    I am an avid fan of yours! I just started quilting about a year and a half ago after I had my 1st baby and became a stay at home mom. After being a teacher for 5 years I wanted something creative to put my energy into besides my little boy. I love piecing and I quilt all of my own quilts, but mostly do straight line quilting. I practice free motion, but I too let the perfectionist in me get the better of free motioning my quilts. I get frustrated that my stitches don’t always come out consistent or that my shapes don’t look how I would like. If I do something that is not straight lined I usually stencil it out. I also give most of my quilts away as gifts and get hung up on wanting to give something that looks as close to perfect as I can. After all I took all the time to make a nice gift and don’t want it ruined with not so good quilting. My husband always tells me that things that are handmade should look handmade and that it is the love behind them that is important, but….I still can’t help it. I love all of your tutorials!!, I know I will get there one day and your tutorials are helping me get there!

  18. Being a perfectionist also, I tended to want no one to see my work. For some unknown reason, I began to show my “sample/practice” work to friends who do not sew. They thought the otems were wonderful..HA..The joke was on me..I have relaxed and just do it for fun, not for a compliment from other quilters. My work improved greatly. After all, what are the consequences if another quilter turns up her nose? I can laugh at her lack of kindness and hope she sheds her rudeness and becomes a happier person. In the meantime, I am moving on. Hope she comes too..

  19. I do free-motion quilting, but I don’t like it. I find it so hard to move a large quilt around. Even though I have a Horn cabinet with a leaf that gives me a lot of space behind the machine and a pull-out drawer with a cover to my left, it never seems to be enough. The quilt is always getting caught below the edge of the table, resulting in tiny stitches or huge ones when I start up again. The weight of the large quilt drags it down creating a frustrating situation. I took a modern quilting class at Quilt Expo in Madison recently, but we spent too much time piecing instead of actual quilting. And, again, it was working on a small piece that has no relation to quilting a large quilt.

  20. Lori–I love your tutorials! Like others, I have trouble deciding what design to put where on a quilt. You recommend doodling the patterns to become familiar with them and that does help but when I start trying to “draw” by moving the fabric instead of moving the “pencil” things fall apart.

  21. What is stopping me is…. the basics. I don’t know the most basic of what to do. I know the feed dogs are supposed to be in the down position, but is the foot up or down? I see suggestions for thread, but is there a particular reason for using specific threads? If the feed dogs are down, how do you keep your tension correct? I think I need a really, really basic beginning class, but what I’ve found locally is not really for beginners. I’ve been sewing all my life and didn’t really have an interest in FMQ until recently. Is there a book or video anyone can recommend for someone wanting to start out?

    • Hi Colleen, In November there is a great book coming out that I have had a chance to review: Molly Hanson’s Free Motion Quilting for Beginners (and those who think they can’t) We will be reviewing it on The Inbox Jaunt and doing a giveaway too. I think it might be just the book for you. (You can pre-order it on Amazon.)

  22. “Reading” a quilt it my biggest hurdle. I am not very good at drawing, but if I do have an idea of what I want, I can usually quilt it! When I do need to doodle, I have a 16″ x 20″ cheap picture frame with glass that I can practice on with a dry erase marker. The frame keeps me from going off the edge and marking on the quilt! (Don’t ask how I know that! lol) I also have a tendency to quilt denser as I go along (using a longarm)…I’m a quilt it to death kind of quilter; so doing a more open flowing type of design is hard for me to stick with.

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