Fear of Freemotion – Quilting the Leaf Panel

I’ve been wanting to do one of these digital panels for some time, and found a leaf one a few weeks ago. I thought this would be a great panel to do for the season.  But with Autumn Jubilee starting, it wasn’t time to tackle that project.  I promised we’d get to it in November.  So, here we are.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I loaded it on the longarm, but the leaves are arranged in such a way that you could do this on a domestic machine without a lot of trouble.  It is only 46-inches square.  I used wool batting for the nice loft and definition it will give the project.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Yep, there it sat for several days while I went down the rabbit hole of youtube and Pinterest.  I was looking for more than just what pattern to put in each leaf, I needed some advice.  Should I quilt from top to bottom, or from center out?  Should I outline each leaf as I went, or outline them all at once, or just outline all the ones I can reach before advancing the quilt?  As usual, there are no right answers, only what works for a particular quilter.  So I sent an email to my longarm buddy Sherry, and asked her how she did hers. She was kind enough to not only answer my questions, but sent me some pattern ideas too.  This sheet was designed for the flower panel, but it gave me some inspiration.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

OK, now to get over the fear of free motion.  I stood in front of the machine, and worked on moving it without turning it on or doing any actual stitching.  I wanted to loosen up a bit, and get used to the motions while building a bit of muscle memory.  I’m using Glide thread on top and Bottom Line in the bobbin, my favorite combination. I decided to simply go over the leaf veins on the outermost ones.  Deep breath, turn the machine on and just do some outlining to get started.  Following a line wasn’t too hard.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

This isn’t a great photo, but it does show the definition that wool batting gives a project.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Some of the leaves will have ruler work, so I tried to get comfortable with that before starting in on those lines.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I chose a different pattern for each leaf, with the idea of doing the same one on the same leaf all the way around.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

One design was supposed to be fan shape, but it came out looking like a feather.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I did want to do some feathers, but not on every leaf.  I chose the long thin leaves for that design.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The ruler design gave me a chance to quilt in curves, not one of my strong suits.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Wavy lines were quick to do in the large leaf shapes.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I kept working around the quilt, outlining the leaves as I went, then filling.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Moving around the leaves, I switched from ruler work to free motion waves and spirals.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

On the leaves close to the center, I did outlining of the veins, again having some backtracking practice.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The center section was perfect for feathers, plus it gave me some practice in quilting in all directions.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

The center section went fairly quickly, then I worked on the veins on the next row.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Once I got going, it only took two sewing days to get it all done.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I like the textures and the designs but there are lots of things I would do differently beginning with the thread color.  I wish I had matched the colors rather than doing the whole thing in taupe.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

I’ll finish it with binding and use it on tablescapes or as a wall hanging.

Free Motion Quilting at FromMyCarolinaHome.com

Hoffman is making these panels in all kinds of motifs now, from nature inspired to more complex scenes.  Find them at Fat Quarter Shop, and on Amazon.  Get Glide Thread at FQS, too.  Bluprint has a class that might help too, see Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine, try Bluprint for free with a free trial.  Thank you for using my affiliate links when you can.

Have you done one of these panels, or do you plan to?

30 thoughts on “Fear of Freemotion – Quilting the Leaf Panel

  1. Linda B

    What a great way to practice/experiment FMQ! Seems like working on a design like that is less intimidating than starting on a quilt top that took a year to applique or piece. I am going to look at some panels I have and think about that! Thanks!

  2. Rita C.

    I love seeing your hand at work, Carole. It amazes me. I can sew, but not quilt, and the sheer thought of messing that up would immobilize me!

  3. Yours turned out beautiful. I know what you mean about going down the Pinterest rabbit hole! LOL I haven’t tried one of those panels yet. They are a little intimidating. I guess I will just have to do it! Thanks for sharing the journey!

  4. Marianne Piatz Barta

    Thank You for your suggestions on doing this panel. I have not done one yet — but would love to try it. Your panel turned out very beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving to you

  5. I think that looks beautiful, Carole! I’ve seen many of the flower panels, but this is the first leaf one, and I love the colors. I can see how it would be a great way to experiment and practice different quilting designs. Great finish!

  6. Sylvia Anderson

    Carole, this Digital Print is so beautiful and would make a great statement piece on one of your walls. I went and looked on Hoffman’s website, since I had never heard of them before, and was surprised at how many different ones they had. At first glance, I initially thought the center was a poinsettia, until I looked more closely and saw all the leaf shapes. It definitely looks like a fall piece and will make a statement however you choose to use it.

  7. Brenda @ Songbird Designs

    Great job, Carole! I think choosing the designs is the hardest! I have several of the flower panels and am looking forward to one day trying them out! Pinterest can definitely be a rabbit hole for me!!

  8. Joan Sheppard

    IT’S FABULOUS! I tried to say it in a couple languages but it’s wonderful any way you say it. I’ve not done a big piece but practice on mats for the dog’s bowls. She seldom complains. I also hide some patterns of bears or fish ’cause they are simple, in the baby quilts. You give us strength to try this. Changing the thread sounds fun. Any tips on thread like the metallic? I always have so much breakage.
    Thanks again and again for sharing.

  9. Joy B

    That’s beautiful! I might have to look for one of those to try some free motion quilting with my Bernina machine. (although I’ll probably try something like mug rugs first).

  10. Mary

    I have never and probably would never quilt anything like this. Not to say I wouldn’t like to have a go. But one knows their limitations! 🙂

    I think you have made a lovely job of this panel and I like the thought of matching the threads. I wonder how much it would have changed the piece in the end.

    For years I have had in my stash a huge flower which I was going to quilt but the courage to do it has escaped me so far. Maybe next year!!

    Yours looks so good!! Please give us a photo when you have bound it. Would love to see it all finished.

  11. Brenda Ackerman

    Hello Carole, You did a fabulous free motion quilting job on this panel! I am so glad that you shared it with us, it is absolutely beautiful! I have totally given up on free motion quilting, my brain just will not adjust to everything that needs to be going on at the same time and at the correct speed. LOL. My top side looks really nice and then when I turn it over it is a nightmare! LOL. Therefore, I truly enjoy seeing what other quilters do with their skills, just like you! Thank you so much for sharing! Have a fantastic day!

  12. kathyinozarks

    wow this turned out really nice. I agree with you-that changing the colors of the threads to match the leaves would have been really nice in the end-but that sounds like a really big hassle too. a great way to learn free motion quilting.

  13. Rebecca Burch

    Wow! Wow! Wow! I’ve been looking at (OK, lusting over) those leaf panels for a while ( got one of their flower ones earlier in the year) but wasn’t sure what to do with it. I LOVE YOURS! It’s spectacular! Do you happen to remember what “colorway” that particular one was? I also wish they;d make a holiday wreath panel… wouldn’t that be neat? If I get a leaf panel, I may make Maple Leaf blocks to add on the ends to make the quilt a rectangle. But, I sure am inspired by yours! The quilting is superb! WTG! Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Melanie

    Beautiful work, Carole. FMQ is something that makes me scared to do, although I’ve done a little. Need more practice and lots of “guts.” LOL Where do you find Glide thread? I’ve not heard of it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. Debra Gutenson

    What a fabulous post! I have a new longarm, and am trying to learn how to use it! (Rather than just looking at it and sighing:) Showing each step was so helpful and informative. And the end result is just beautiful!

  16. farmquilter

    I have several of the Dream Big panels to turn into quilts and quilt when I get home. I like them better than the leaves because the quilting shows more on them. I think it will take 3-4 different threads to do the Dream Big panel, and I will definitely be doing that. I may even throw in some metallic thread!! Each one will be a learning experience and improve the next!!

    1. Joan

      The avatars are very small and I don’t usually look truth be told but your really caught my eye! It’s wonderful. Did you do this in fabric or paint or…..

  17. thedarlingdogwood

    This is beautiful, Carole! I have decided that I don’t enjoy FMQ, so I’ve stopped forcing myself to do it. I do various things with straight lines & my walking foot. But I love seeing what others can do!

  18. Susan Nixon

    Freehand quilting on the longarm is one of my favorite things to do. In fact, it’s what I did the most during my ten years of business. Yours looks lovely, and it is wonderful to have rulers to help now. Those curves are dreamy!

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