Freehand Loop Quilting

A friend called recently to ask me if I would do a charity quilt she volunteered to do.  Someone else had made the top, but wasn’t able to quilt it due to health reasons.  So, my friend volunteers after no one else in the club she attends would do it.  She wasn’t feeling well either and didn’t want to delay it getting done, so she asked me to help, and of course I said sure.  She brought it over without taking it out of the bag, and boy did I get a surprise.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

It was pinned with an abundance of safety pins.  Presumably, the maker intended to quilt it herself.  So, I got to work removing all those pins.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I thought I was done, but when I tried to separate the top from the backing, it wouldn’t come apart.  Closer examination revealed a few of these plastic tab things.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

And then another one, and still more!

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Finally, I got a bit smarter, and flipped the quilt over where the orange beasties stood out against the white backing.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Then I had to remove the basting along the edge.  This would catch a longarm foot in a hurry and mess up the edge.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Laying it out on the floor, it was apparent this one was going to have little mountains at the center of all the stack and whack wheels.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Thankfully, as you can see with my fold-up trick, the borders were put on correctly.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I ran a line of stay stitching across the top, then did the Best Press and steam trick to flatten out the piecing as much as possible.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I decided to do a free hand loop quilting treatment on this one.  A pantograph would be too hard to manage with all the fullness.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Plus, doing the quilting from the front where I could watch where the stitches were going meant I could avoid the really full center seam convergence areas.  You can see here how I made a loop go around the points.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I don’t do this type of pattern in rows, rather I work on an angle, trying to leave areas for the next pass to come up between the previous pass in some parts so that it seems more random.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

The bad news is when you have a thread break with light thread on black, it takes special care to tie off and bury threads so this isn’t obvious.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

The good news is when you quilt with light thread on black, you see right away if the bobbin thread jumps out of the tension spring.  This was fast and easy to take out, but would have been much longer if it had happened with a pantograph, because I likely wouldn’t have noticed until the end of the row.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Anyway, all fixed and moving on.  The rows go roughly from the bottom left to the top right.  A big advantage to this is I can quilt a huge path across, as the machine doesn’t even realize when it is moving against its preferred direction because of the loops.  So it continues to sew nicely, whereas moving against the natural path usually results in some thread breaks.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I could continue to circle around big heavy points where multiple pieces came together.  Some of the puckering was unavoidable due to the excess amount of fabric in the middle, but this won’t be a problem once the quilt is washed.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I could quilt from the top all the way to the bottom of each pass in a 20-inch path.  This is by far the fastest way I can turn out a quilt as I can use up every inch of quilting space available on each pass.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Just a little practice and the loops are more or less the same size.  A bit bigger or smaller here and there really doesn’t make a difference.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Almost done, it took less than 2 hours on this throw size quilt.  It actually took longer to get all the pins and tabs out and load it than it did to quilt it!

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Quilting finished, it is a pretty quilt.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

I am sure a charity will be happy to have it.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

Most of the fullness did flatten out, with only a few puckers here and there.

Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home

What are you working on this week?

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Freehand Loop Quilting at From My Carolina Home


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21 thoughts on “Freehand Loop Quilting

  1. Hi Carole,
    You are a good egg! How nice of you to help both the volunteers and charity. I love reading the details about how you quilt things as I don’t have a long arm. I sure think the quilting looks great and from the distance shot you can barely see the lighter thread. It’s a really nice finish. ~smile~ Roseanne

  2. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    I’m finishing three Swing Bags…your pattern….for my daughters and granddaughter. They loved mine with the flamingos. Spring is slow coming this year. My tomato seeds (from you) are about 10 inches tall, but the night’s are chilly, so I’m hesitant to set them out. Heavy rain expected Thursday, so maybe they will get in the ground Friday or Saturday. Love your quilting experiences and how you solve “problems”.

  3. Elaine Nemeth

    Thank you for your patience…love what I call loop de jiggers quilting. Thanks for your loving spirit towards all.

  4. Those loops look great on the black, love the thread color choice! This week I have this little project called Scrap Dance Square Dance to work on, I finished starching Saturday, so will cut this week, then there’s the never ending Hardanger and Butterflies and Roses quilt to work on a bit each day. I have two shirts to sew, one for me and one for Girl #2’s birthday, but they are not on deadline, so they may sit awhile.I hope to get some more done on my second mitten, the garden and iris bed need lots of attention this week, so maybe not!

  5. Sharon Schipper

    Fab fix: how do you avoid the pucker in those radiant stars like that? Is it a poor piecing issue or just the nature of bringing together so many in the middle like that? I’ve done Dresden’s that don’t do that, but of course they are left open in the center with an appliqued circle to cover the space. I have some vintage blocks with the same issue, and have been hesitant to play with them… I was going to do a bedrunner or table runner with them but the issue of the little volcano in the middle is daunting!

  6. It’s great that you were able to jump in and help finish that lovely donation quilt. The loop design worked out great on it.

  7. Sandi

    It was wonderful of you to finish the quilt and you did it beautiful. It’s really a pretty quilt. Hugs,

  8. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole; I enjoyed reading as you explained how you were quilting this quilt. Quite a long while ago, I had dreamed of owning a long arm. After reading your posts and the variety of difficulties and triumphs that you encounter, I now know for certain that my disability could never learn to do all that is required. So, thank you so much for always being totally honest with your posts about your long arm quilting experiences. So many bloggers only reveal the final project not the whole journey. This is a beautiful quilt. I know that I pin a lot, but not with two different methods (LOL) and I am sorry that you had to do all of the unpinning and so forth to get this quilt ready for your set up. I am looking forward to trying out my new set up on the quilt rack. Well, if I ever get the Leaders finished. LOL. I have just had so much going on, it is difficult at times to fit everything into the day. I continue to work on the quilt blocks I told you about yesterday or well sometime. Have a great day!

  9. dezertsuz

    It really is a pretty quilt, and a washing will eliminate the puffs, as you predicted. So nice of you to do it, and get it done quickly for your friend. I’m guessing a lot of people might have been intimidated by the puffy spots. Yay on getting the pattern out there pretty fast!

  10. I love all your tips for long arm quilting and how you get past what could cause you troubles! The loops are perfect! All those seams coming together is the nature of the stack & whack. I hope they were at least “pressed” open. Thanks for sharing your tips and techniques. 🙂

  11. BJ

    You put a LOT into this venture, but you turned it into a good teaching experience, too. I always like seeing how you handle those less-than-perfect tops. Funny how the piecer made puffy blocks but good-fitting borders. The loops worked really well around the bulky spots and look great! I often intentionally vary the size of my loops so I don’t have to fret about consistent size. Sometimes I even throw in a random star ☺. This week I’m trying to finish hand-tying a queen-sized flannel quilt I made for DH’s camper. It’s been “aging” while I finished a few time-critical pieces. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  12. Phyllis Smith

    Hi Carole,

    This reminds me of folded ted bags, I bought a book on doing it but thought about using pretty gift wrapping paper instead of the tea bags.


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