YOUR Questions on Open Line Friday


Silk screen cow, Faye KennedyGood Morning, Quilters!

It’s quilting weather here in Minnesota–the high on Sunday  will be -8 F  (probably -20 with windchill!)

Today’s quilt was silk screened by my daughter, Faye. (Check out her Tumblr photoblog, Color Route Co. HERE)

She created the cow  steer–(Thanks, Karen-my dairy farmer friend– for setting me straight)  and the border textiles.  (She got an A in the class!)

I added a little background texture.  I think this would be a fun framed piece for the kitchen?

Silk screen cow, Faye Kennedy


What are YOUR questions?

What do YOU want to talk about?

What is keeping YOU from free motion quilting/ machine quilting right NOW?

Silk screen cow, Faye Kennedy

Remember–we have more than 8000 people reading every day…

If YOU want to know…it’s likely that someone else has the same question…

AND someone out there has the ANSWER!


Thanks for chiming in!


PS…It’s really fun if you tell us where you’re from...(and the temperature in your city today…)

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

103 thoughts on “YOUR Questions on Open Line Friday

  1. For Christmas I got an HQ Sweet Sixteen sit down longarm. I have been quilting on an older HQ Sixteen stand up and do really well. What a difference it is sitting and moving the fabric and not the machine.

    Here’s the question – My stitches seem very jagged and jumpy and not smooth as on the stand up. I know practice, practice, practice which I have been doing but I’m open to any ideas to help along the way.

    Lori – I LOVE all the ideas you give for FMG – Thank, Vickie

    • Hi Vickie, I have one too! I think the main thing for quilting when moving the fabric instead of the machine is that you never move your hands off the quilt while stitching. Stop, reposition your hands, take a slow 1st stitch and then off you go again. Also, are you using gloves? I like “Machingers” that grip like crazy.

    • I am very much a beginner and I also have a S16. I took a class last May and what “clicked” for me was to slow down. The instructor preferred a cruise control speed of around 10. He explained that at that speed, you know exactly where the needle will go next. And practice, practice, practice some more!

      • Great comments already given. You also should check the threading. Try rethreading making sure that the thread is between the tension discs. Sometimes it appears like it is, but may not be as tight in the discs as it should be. I love mine. You will too!

    • I have a Sweet 16 sit down, and I’ve found that if the eye of the needle is not facing exactly forward the stitches are jagged and jumpy. I have to remember when I change the needle to get that eye turned so it’s in exactly the right place. I wish the needles had the flat side like my Bernina so you know it’s always in the right place!

  2. I love your blog. I am a beginner Fmq and I have looked and I am still baffled where to start my quilting. If I am doing a elaborate pattern I am assuming I start at the middle of the project but if I am doing an overall stipple does it matter if I start at an edge instead of the middle?

    • For overall stipples, I do start at one end and work my way across the quilt in rows up and down. Sure, the layers may move, but I leave a good 4-6″ of batting & backing around mine sometimes.

      • If it’s a quilt of any size, it’s best to visually divide the quilt into 4ths and start in the center of the quilt, stitching one quarter of the quilt moving outwards to the edges. Quilting in that manner helps keep your quilt square. Find an inconspicuous spot to start and no one will ever see it.

  3. I live near Northfield, Mn. Today, I’m putting off putting the last border on a quilt. I used to love every aspect of quilting, but I’m finding I’m liking making tops more, now. Unless I make an interesting border, I’m not liking the “border” process. I have a Janome 6600 and still miss my Viking #1. I love to FMQ, but it went so much better on my Viking. I love this site and go to it every day!

    • I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who loses interest when it gets to the borders. I have two beautiful quilt tops that have been waiting 9 months for me to put on the borders. Piecing them was such fun and I know exactly what quilting design I’m going to use. Guess I’m waiting for the quilt fairy to magically apply the borders for me! By border time my mind is already off and running with the planning of my next project. Too much beautiful fabric and not enough time – maybe I should stop buying more? Whew! I’m glad that thought passed right on by me. Never too much fabric 😉

      • Well…I beg to differ…I’m in the process of swapping my sewing room with my slightly larger guest room, and I’m almost done sorting through and packing up 3 bookcases of fabric that I’ve accumulated over the past 30 years, and I definitely have too much fabric, a good bit of it 80’s calicoes and some “it seemed like a good idea at the time” batiks. I’m 65 and retired but still busy and have way too many UFOs, so I’ll never live long enough to use up my stash and to make all the quilts I keep dreaming up. I’ll use some for backings, make charity quilts (great for FMQ practice) and donate some of my stash to my quilt guild, but I’d welcome suggestions for drastic downsizing of those out of style fabrics! Thanks!

    • Try thinking about the border as another beautiful block on the quilt. Recently I just wanted to be done with a beautiful wedding quilt, slap a quick border on and be done. I made myself step back, take another look, took the time to learn how to add a coordinating piping and intricate quilting design…and I’m sure those finishing touches helped to make it an award winner. While the book “Quilting Makes the Quilt” helped me step into the quilting stage with gusto, maybe we need to work on a phrase to bring borders into their rightful place in our hearts 🙂

    • Gerry, one thing you could try is to cut your borders before you begin piecing the top. Then, all you have to do is stitch them on when you’ve finished the piecing. I also like to make pieced borders, and I work on them as “leaders and enders” if you know what that means. If not, check out Bonnie K Hunter’s website at By the time the center is pieced, most if not all of the border is pieced as well. Good luck with your borders!

      • If I don’t know what my borders are going to be when I get done with the top, it goes on my design wall and I let it age and talk to me. I usually figure it out after a few days of aging and auditioning different fabrics. My family usually chimes in with their opinion as another set of eyes is always helpful.

      • Barb, since most of my quilts are made from my stash, I don’t dare cut the borders first. I usually don’t have enough! 🙂 I DO like borders that have interest…. busy fabric, pieced, etc. I have a tendency to just “go for it”. I usually don’t plan ahead… makes life exciting! Hah! I’ll get the outer border on today, sandwich it, and start quilting. Then on to the next project.

      • I live in New Bern NC and it is 52 degrees but feeling colder and really raining. Someone mentioned cutting your border first but I agree with the person who leaves that to the end. The size of your quilt top could change as well as your ideas. Let it sit and think about it. Put it on a design wall if you can.

  4. Austin, Texas and it’s a sunny 55 degrees at 9:28 a.m. I’m still a beginner quilter and all the quilts I’ve done so far have had sashing or cornerstones with clear blocks to break up the quilting elements. I just finished my first quilt that is an all over busy pattern with no sashing. It’s a Bonnie Hunter quilt design. I’m struggling with how to quilt it without having sashing to guide me in breaking up the quilt. Is this the type of quilt you do the all over design for?

    • Bonnie’s quilts are usually so busy that an all over design is the best option. I tried to do feathers on one and the design got lost in all the pieces.

      Schertz, TX. Sunny 58

      • Thank you Beth. I’ve been thinking this but I needed someone to actually say that my thought process made sense.

  5. HI everyone, I quilt on a sit down (stationary?) quilting machine. I still have problems with nesting on the underside. I always pull up the bobbin thread, but I can’t seem to get a nice look on the back. What do I need to work now?

    Lori in Woodbury, MN-but snow birding in Tucson AZ. This morning it’s 45 degrees but warming to mid 60’s by noon.

    • Pulling up the bobbin thread is key, but I find hanging on to both top and bottom threads when I start stitching helps too it keeps the bobbin thread fron being pulled back into the machine.

    • I recently read a post dealing with machine quilting on Leah Day’s web site. She suggested adjusting the stitch length to as tiny as you could get it when FMQ rather than lowering the feed dogs to eliminate bird’s nests. I tried that and it worked for me.

      • I get better stitches when I just turn the stitch length to zero and don’t lower the feed dogs, too. Might also try using a less slippery thread in the bobbin, although I usually use a fine polyester.
        I also find a thread net for my top thread really helps. I think sometimes the bobbin thread gets yanked if the top thread doesn’t feed evenly, and then there is loose bobbin thread to tangle.

    • If you are FMQ with polyester thread I have two things I use that have virtually eliminated thread nests on the back side. The first is the Little Genie bobbin washer, and the second is to use a thread net over my polyester thread cones when they are on a thread stand.

  6. On a tiny island in the Pacific, nearest city being Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, it’s 6 degrees Celsius or 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Daylight is just starting to appear.

  7. Loved the steer! Talent in art apparently runs in the family. I looked at your daughter’s blog- the clocks are just the cutest!
    I live in Southwest Minnesota on an acreage. I’m in my sewing room with the sun flooding through the windows, the snow reflecting even more light. One gets used to cold weather with the help of down coats of various lengths, woolen scarves, hats, warm gloves- I even have gloves that can be heated in the microwave. Oh, and thanks to our Aussie friends- lamb shearling lined boots and shoes! Oh, my car has seat warmers. I’m so blessed.
    Actually, I didn’t have to wear the warmest things last year. The Winter was relatively mild.
    Today, I’m getting fabric together to take to our local school. The sewing class there are making the “Little Dresses For Africa”. I love seeing my stash go down. I’m joining some pieces with solids to make a yard. As I serge them together, I picture the sweet little girls and pray for each one as I go along.
    Finally, I just want to thank you for your sharing your talent, Lori. FMQ is definitely on my schedule. I have all kinds of media that you suggested. Love the old book idea. Thank you again!

    • Our guild just finished a donation project of dresses for Kenya – we did not make the dresses, but we received a photo recently of the little girls in their new, bright dresses with huge smiles! Great cause for excess stash (as if any of us has that, right?)

      • The e-mail address is
        For now, I’m just donating fabric, trims, etc. to the high school girls who will be sewing the dresses.
        If it’s cold where you’re at, your heart will be warmed by looking at this website. It will make you smile.There are pictures on Pintrest as well. Lots of ideas.
        Nancy’s Notions- has a free downloadable pattern- she will send on completed dresses from sewers to their destination. Click on Sewing For Charity on the bottom left of the page.
        I got my serger out- perfect for little dresses.
        What a great way to use up my “fabric collection”, (also known as “stash”).

  8. My current issue is trying to pick thread color for quilting. I have a white spaced background on a quilt with brightly colored feathers. I wanted to do some swirly/pebbly quilting. My past freemotion quilting I picked thread that was very close color to the fabric, because I didn’t want my mistakes to show. Now I’m a bit bolder, but am afraid I’ve picked a thread color that will overwhelm the actual quilting. So – what goes into picking thread for the type of freemotion quilting you’re going to do?

    I used to live in New Brighton, MN. I’m currently in MA. I forget how darned COLD it used to get in the winter back in MN (although I swear it never soaked into my bones like it does in MA). It’s currently a balmy 38F. 🙂


  9. I just finished a herringbone quilt top with 3 plain borders. Do you have any ideas for the FMQ? I not sure if I should do an all over pattern, or find a way to highlight the design.

    • I’d do something on the modern side, I think, and use the herringbone shapes to guide the quilting. You could do something easier or overall in the borders, but I think of Angela Walters’ “wild feathers” for borders. It is a lot easier than it looks if you can do any other type of feather. The feathers run off the edges of the border–hard to describe, but it is shown in her book Shape by Shape, and you could probably Google Wild Feathers quilting motif and find a picture. I hate spending money, but that book is good, and her older Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters is a book I use constantly. You just have to choose the right FMQ design that YOU are comfortable with for a project like this. Practice less familiar designs first on smaller projects.

  10. Also, here on the east coast of canada, it is clear sunny blue skies, a foot of snow on the ground … and 20 F, with a wind chill of 6F. (-7C, wind chill -14C)

    PERFECT for staying in and quilting!

  11. I am in Ocala, Florida and at 1:20 P.M. it is 70 degrees. We had a storm with
    33 MPH winds and lots of rain go through about 9:20 A.M. All is well here now, but quilting took a backseat today.

  12. Central Florida, poured rain all morning… Lots of time to FMQ. Today I joined a bunch of my practice pieces into a large rectangle. It will become a bed for an animal filled with all the bits and scraps that I save.
    I’ve been practicing the echo stitching… And did a whole bunch of writing , printing capitals etc. I tried different threads, don’t like rayon, it seems thin and “tight”.
    Suns coming out, so I have to ride by bike, such is the life of this snowbird!

    • If you like the sheen of rayon but not how it behaves, try trilobal polyester–Floriani is my fave–has a beautiful sheen and much easier to use than rayon for me.

      • Yes, I’ve lowered the top tension. Cotton in the bobbin does help. Still, in my machine the rayon just seems a little more difficult, at least for me. Is there a specific brand of rayon thread you use? Maybe I need to try a different brand.

  13. I’m checking emails again to procrastinate on quilting. I have 3 queen sized quilts that require quilting, and I’m worried that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. One is a Radiant Star (Eleanor Burns version) which I need to do some FMQ feathers. My plan is to do each point of the star in a large feather, and then intertwining ropes of feathers in a 13 inch border all the way around. I’m scared to death to start.
    I need to do some mock ups to practice on, I think. It takes an hour to remove 30 seconds worth of quilting…

    • You can try drawing with a Sharpie marker on Press-N-Seal pushed to adhere to the quilt top, just be careful not to go off the plastic or poke a hole in it.. I think you can also try out a design with your tension set way off (?? I think very low, but I can’t find the reference now) so the stitches are easy to remove. After you think you know what you want, just jump in. Remember this is the quilting you can do now–later you might improve, but you will have more quilts to do when your skill improves.

    • Do ONE practice, then jump right in! I do this all the time–turn a project into a mammoth problem in my head. My Mom once said to me, “When you don’t know where to start, JUST START!” It really rings in my ears all of the time. I’m amazed by how much “Just Starting” can help. Also, don’t tear out any quilting until the very end. IFFF you must tear it out-in the context of all the other quilting, then do so…but be kind to yourself!

    • I found a neat tip on U-tube but can not remember her name. Take a 1/4″ bendable ruler and bend it to the way you want for your border of feathers. Then you can mark it and it will all be all the same curve thru out your border. Google feather quilting and also U-tube. Lots of videos there.

  14. Time is probably my biggest stumbling block to fmq. I only do smaller projects with my Bernina. Keeping a rhythm and remembering to relax so I don’t have neck issues later are also factors for me to overcome. I enjoy it once I get in the groove but I keep making more tops instead!!!! I live most of the time in rural northwest Iowa and today it is 16 degrees with a windchill of 8!! Not horrible but a change from yesterday’s high 20’s!!! But the sun is shining…a great day to sew!

    • Maybe it would help to commit to free motion quilting just 30 minutes/day or 30 minutes 4 x per week. If you do it regularly, even for short periods of time, you will see progress. Also, by doing FMQ regularly, you will save time by having things at the ready. In other words, you won’t have to go find the quilt, then find the machine manual, etc. Baby steps each day and you will be amazed at how much you will progress in one year!

  15. I very foolishly agreed to quilt on a very slippery and hard to mark fabric. I need to mark arches for the border area. Any ideas for marking fabrics like this?

    • Have you tried a sliver of soap. Spritzing with water afterwards makes it disappear. Also using a bendable ruler can make your curves consistent.

  16. I have a question stemming from a photo you posted a couple weeks ago of a stack of practice sandwiches. I am wondering how you, Lori, and everyone else, organizes their personal “motif repertoires”? Do you keep the actual practice sandwiches? Photos of them? Do you name them? Index? How do you find one that you’ve done, but can’t quite remember? I just threw away a bunch of older practice sandwiches that were very far from inspirational, but kept some that I thought I might want to repeat at some point.

  17. My Niece is making her first quilt (first sewing project…Center is printed panel 22×42 with very large chrysanthemums. Sewing on two borders 2 ” and 18″. I don’t know how to tell her to quilt the panel. Any suggestions? All we have done so far is sew on the first border. Probably I should have her quilt that much or send the finished top to a long armer?

    • Hi, it’s 36 degrees Celsius here in sunny downtown Perth Western Australia. I started my granddaughter, who is 10, FMQ with a panel. She outlined the main elements of the “picture”, using a matching thread in both the top and bobbin, moving around in the background by stitching wandering loopy loops. She had such fun with it. I was teaching her on a sweet sixteen. She hasn’t yet developed what I call “personal fear of failure” and is up for anything! She will only get better and better.

    • Kids are not afraid to try. And they have no expectations how it should look. I would have her quilt it with wavy lines.

  18. I just want to tell you how in awe I am of your creativity! I still do not do well at planning what to do in an individual block. I have a longarm which I love, but I often put pantographs on quilts or just do freehand loops and feathers, rather than custom style work.

    • Try to add one new motif to each quilt. That way you’ll build up a work basket of motifs over time. Be patient. Baby steps!

  19. Greetings from the beautiful Northwest!! It’s 30 here and we’re expecting below freezing and snow all weekend. Great time to sew 🙂
    Lori I recently found your site and love it. As I’m browsing I found your February 26, 2013 Tuesday tutorial ” the Greek key” your samples are breath taking!! I particularly love the Greek key combined with the “lovely open leaves”. I can’t seem to find the tutorial for the “lovely open leaves” can you help me please.

  20. Cloudy San Diego, CA and 55 degrees and our chance of rain has evaporated for today and apparently all next week too. Currently at work, therefore not quilting. Should be able to quilt a little this weekend, unless spouse has other plans…
    As always, love the blog.

  21. I’ve always quilted by hand so learning FMQ has been a huge undertaking! I’m still practicing. I have a Bernina 150QE which is a great machine. I think my problem is not enough practice. Everything looks like lightning bolts haha

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