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Thursday, November 1, 2012

2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge - November Tutorial, by Sarah Vedeler

I am thrilled to have Sarah Vedeler as our November FMQ Expert, for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge, and delighted to share insights with you today about this very talented woman.

Many of you may already know Sarah. Possibly from  The Quilt Show (TQS), where she is teacher for the Sedona Star - BOM 2012.  All members of TQS get this BOM design for free, as well as the machine embroidery designs that Sarah has created for this beautiful quilt.

Or maybe you know Sarah from episode #904 of The Quilt Show?


It might be that you saw her on QuiltingArts TV Show #505.  You may have seen her beautiful quilts on exhibit at various quilt shows around the world?  Or, you could be one of the lucky ones that have been able to take a free-motion quilting and/or machine embroidery class with Sarah.  But, for those that have not yet been introduced to Sarah, I'm delighted to be able to introduce you to her today.

I can't honestly remember when I first spotted Sarah's quilts, but I do believe that it was instant love and SewCalGal may be her first official stalker!  She is not only a talented designer, exceptional teacher, but she is a very special woman, who truly enjoys creating beauty and inspiring others.

Sarah learned to sew when she was about 6 years old, when her mum taught her to sew, growing up in England.  She started off making doll cloths, craft projects and dabbled in home decorating projects.  Along the way, she pursued college and obtained a PhD in Computer Science and worked for many years as a Software Engineer and Project Manager.  When her two beautiful children came along (Heather and Jasmine), she decided to purchase a new sewing machine and from that point her destiny on Quilting and Machine Embroidery began.  She no longer works for a large Corporation, but earns her living by selling her designs and teaching.

Sarah designed and created  “Life as a Labyrinth”, which was accepted into the 2003 Husqvarna Viking Gallery of Quilt Art: Masterpieces of Spirit and Strength.   This quilt was actually quilted using the embroidery module!

Life as a Labyrinth by Sarah Vedeler 2003

She discovered applique, machine embroidery software and quickly learned to digitize and has created a signature style of stunning machine embroidery designs popular with quilting, sewing and machine embroidery enthusiasts.  And, she no longer uses machine embroidery for the quilting, but spectacular free-motion quilting that enhances her quilts, turning them into award winning quilts with great visual impact!

Sarah Vedeler Designs is her design house, where she has a number of collections of machine embroidery designs, that each include several project designs.

One of her newer design collections, Jazzilicious has a variety of quilt patterns (e.g. quilts, wallhangings, table toppers, etc.).  She will also soon be launching "Sarah Simplified" which will offer designs for those that do not use machine embroidery, but prefer to do hand or machine applique'.   Her "Fresh Ideas" patterns are great projects that offer more ways to use her machine embroidery design collections.  And, as a designer, she has created many beautiful designs that have been license to AccuQuilt, where you can buy dies to easily and accurately cut out fabric for her designs that can be hand, machine, or machine embroidered to your projects. These dies are available from Sarah's online store, as well as AccuQuilt.

Sarah's quilts capture the eye and draw you in to want more.  And, they are all beautifully quilted.   

These cute "Peace Love Joy Pillows"  is a pattern available from Sarah's Fresh Ideas designs.  Of course, SewCalGal thinks this would certainly be a great project to show off your beautiful free-motion quilting for home decorating and gifts for the upcoming holidays.

Sarah has won many awards for her quilts.  But, she probably gained the most awards with her GO! Be Dazzled Quilt.  One of the amazing awards this quilt obtained was a First Place award at IQF Houston in 2010.  

And, many quilters that have made her designs have also won amazing awards.  

{above} Judy Steenblik won the Laurene Sinema Award for Exemplary Workmanship at the AZ Quilter's Guild show in 2011.

{above}  "BeDazzleder!" by Lisa M. Sipes (aka McLisa Tangerine Starfish Sipes) received a lst place ribbon at the 2012 Road to California Quilt Show.   You may also want to follow McLisa on Facebook as she has more photos of her spectacular BeDazzleder quilt and frequently shares photos showing her amazing free-motion quilting and beautiful quilts too!

Sarah does travel to teach, but is trying to prioritize time on designing.  While this amazing woman never seems to run out of ideas, SewCalGal is interested in hearing your feedback on what designs you'd like to see Sarah create for her "Sarah Simplified" collection, which does not require you to do machine embroidery.

I hope you see why I'm so delighted to have Sarah as our FMQ Expert this month.  I hope you enjoy the great tutorial she has shared with us too!

If you would like to learn more about Sarah and her designs, you can find her at::

October Free-Motion Quilting Tutorial
by Sarah Vedeler: 

Spirals are one of my favorite quilting designs and they look good just about anywhere!
By far the best way to improve your quilted spirals (at least that I have found!) is to quilt
them in straight lines, one after the other. There is a simple formula to follow and that
formula is what I am going to teach you here. Once you have gotten the hang of the
basic spiral, there are several variations that can be applied to change the look of the
spiral. You will find one of those variations in this tutorial also.

To get the most out of this tutorial, this is how I suggest you use these materials:

• Print one or more copies of each of the printed template pages. Trace over the lines of the spiral with a pen or pencil, endeavoring to keep your pen on the page from the start to the end of each line of spirals.

{click here to download a pdf copy of this template}

• Print lots of copies of the blank template page! Now draw each of the spiral variations free hand. You are after hand-eye coordination here, so the more time you spend practicing, the better your quilting will be, even if the practicing is drawing on a piece of paper!
{click here to download a PDF of this template}

• Now mark up a fat quarter sandwich - mark half of it with a 1” grid, and the other half of it with a 2” grid. Go to your sewing machine and actually quilt the spirals! A good goal would be to fill 4 fat quarter sandwiches, two for the basic spirals in a straight line and two for the variation.

• If you were to devote 15 minutes a day for 30 days to Free Motion Quilting practice, your free motion quilting skills will improve dramatically. Even if the only thing you quilt is spirals in a straight line!

• If you are a “doodler”, doodle spirals in a straight line. Do it while you are watching TV. Do it while you are talking on the phone. Do it while you are sitting in a waiting room. Do it if you can’t sleep!

Now... let’s get started!

Basic Sprials in a Straight Line

Basic spirals in a straight line are best practiced on a grid. The grid can be any size that you like, but I am going to recommend you practice two different sizes, a 1” grid and a 2” grid.  When you put these spirals onto a quilt, they are great in borders and sashing. The width of the spiral will be marked by the seam lines. The length of each spiral can be marked by placing a dash at the required interval, using your favorite  marking pen or pencil. My favorite is the Sewline Fabric Pencil, with either a pink or a white ceramic lead (the color of the fabric I am drawing on determines which color lead I use).

To create a basic spiral in a straight line:

1. Start at the top in the center and go counter clockwise.

2. Touch the left side.

3.  Leave a gap at the bottom (this is your escape route - whenever you go into a spiral, you have to come out again).

4.  Leave a gap on the right (part of your escape route).

5.  Continue into the center of the spiral.

6.  Now come out of the spiral, making a path between the existing lines.

7.  Touch on the right side.

8.  Touch on the bottom. This is the start of the next spiral, so you are now back at
step 1, starting at the top in the center.

Some good things to remember!

• Breathing is good when you are quilting! So is being relaxed. Put on some soothing music to quilt along to, to help you stay relaxed. And remember to move! It’s really easy to sit in one position for way too long when you get into the groove of free motion quilting, so set a timer if you need a reminder to get up and move about every 20 minutes or so. If you stay in one position for too long, you’ll end up with really sore shoulders.

• You’re going to need to move your hands as you’re going along. It’s best to do this when you are at a “good” stopping place. For spirals in a straight line, a “good” stopping place is in the center of the spiral. So... when you start out, the first thing to quilt is into the center of the first spiral. This is a good place to stop, breathe and adjust your hands if you need to. Then stitch from the center of this spiral into the center of the next spiral. And then the center of that spiral to the center of the next one.

When you are coming to the end of one spiral and about to begin the next spiral you want to aim for the cross-over to be horizontal.  You will ultimately need to be able to quilt spirals in all directions, so remember to practice the “other” (clockwise) direction as well! For the clockwise direction, you will still start in the center at the top. You will then touch on the right side (instead of the left side, step 2), leave a gap at the bottom (same, step 3), leave a gap on the left side (instead of the right sidestep 4) and wind into the center (step 5). On the way out you will touch on the left side (instead of the right, step 7) and end up in the center of the bottom ready to begin the next spiral (step 8).

Spiral Variation

For basic spirals in a straight line, all of the spirals go in the same direction. For the spirals shown in the diagrams above, that direction is always counter clockwise into the center of the spiral, and then clockwise out of the spiral. When you are coming to the end of a spiral, you will be going clockwise. Then you touch the bottom and move into the next spiral, you change direction so now you are going counter clockwise.

For this spiral variation, the direction of the spirals alternates.  The first spiral will go counter clockwise into the center, and  clockwise out of the spiral. The second spiral will go clockwise  into the spiral, and counter clockwise out of the spiral. This is possible because of the addition of a little “tail”on the end of each spiral.

To create the spiral variation
1.Start in the same way as for the Basic Spiral in a Straight Line and go counter clockwise into the center of the spiral. touching on the left and leaving a gap at the bottom.

2.  Come out of the spiral, making a path between the existing lines, touching on the
right and at the bottom.

3.  When you get to the bottom, instead of moving into the next spiral, continue going
around the current spiral until you hit the boundary line on the left.

4.  When you hit the boundary line, change direction and echo the spiral back to the

5.  Now you will go into the center of the next spiral in the opposite direction - clockwise, touching on the right and leaving a gap at the bottom.

Note: The addition of the “tail” to the end of the spiral pushes these spirals out of
the grid so you are now dealing with an imaginary bottom to your grid.

6. Come out of the spiral, making a path between the existing lines, touching on the left
and the bottom (at least it would be the bottom if the grid had a space for the tail!).
Keep going around the spiral until you hit the boundary line on the right hand side.

7. When you hit the boundary line, change direction and echo the spiral back to the
center. You’re now at the start of the next spiral, which will go counter clockwise
into the center.

For both the basic spiral in a straight line and for the spiral variation, try this: Instead of coming out of the spiral “between the lines”, come out of the spiral “on the line”. This will give your spirals a completely different look! One thing to note - since you are coming out of the spiral “on the line” there is no need for an escape route, so on the way into the center of the spiral you will touch on both sides and the bottom.

Happy Quilting!


Thank you Sarah for providing us with the above tutorial!


While this challenge is focused on learning and/or improving our free-motion quilting skills, you also have the opportunity to win prizes. To be eligible to win a monthly prize, simply complete the current months' tutorial in the month it is released and get your entry submitted via the linky tool, at the bottom of this page, no later than November 30th. But do remember this challenge is more about learning and improving your FMQ skills, so don't rush thru the exercise just to enter. Take time to practice and embed this design to your muscle memory, before you enter. To clarify, DO NOT just add a link to your blog, but to your post that shows that you have completed this tutorial. You get one link, so keep practicing until you feel you are finished with this tutorial.

For bloggers:

Please post your entry on your blog. To clarify, you can include as many photos of this tutorial exercise in your post, but you can only add one link to the linky tool below. You may also want to include insights in your post about your past FMQ experience and thoughts about this tutorial. Totally, optional, but you may also want to let everyone know that you have taken the Pledge and you did this exercise to enter the the challenge this month, where randomly selected winners will win a prize. You may inspire others to want to join this challenge too!

For non-Bloggers:

1) You will need to have a Flickr account (www.flickr.com). 
2) Upload your photos for this month's challenge to Flickr, batch organize, send your photos to groups, select "2012 FMQ Challenge". While Flickr, limits the amount of text you can share in your description, feel free to share your perspective on this exercise and/or your past FMQ experience, if you wish.
3) After your photos have successfully been loaded to the "2012 FMQ Challenge" group, click on your best photo in that group, ideally one that shows the stencil and how you quilted using that stencil. Copy the URL link to your particular photo entry. Add that link to the linky tool above, to officially enter this show.

Remember only one link (entry) per person that has taken the pledge to learn and/or improve their Free Motion Quilting Skills, on a home sewing machine, in 2012.

For those that may need help to link up the link to their tutorial project, to the linky for this challenge, Dana (Stormy Days) has also written an excellent tutorial for using linkies, so please take time to read her tutorial if you are not familiar with linkys or have any questions about linkys, in general. Please read the rules above, before you enter by way of adding a link below.   And, Only add one link after you have practiced the tutorial to master the design. No rush, you have all month to practice and enter. Please follow the rules on this tutorial post, before you add a link.

Participants of SewCalGal's 2012 FMQ Challenge can link here, during October, to enter to win a monthly prize bundle!

To officially be entered in the 2012 FMQ Challenge please take time to fill out the Pledge Form" . Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out an easy way to get the email addresses collected in the Pledge Form to automatically load to my MailChimp mailing list, as originally planned. While I apologies, I do ask, if you want to receive email reminders when new FMQ tutorials are released each month, please also sign up via the special mailing list for this activity. And, don't forget that the page labeled "2012 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge" is the main page for the FMQ challenge and will be updated throughout the year, to provide a summary of current info and appropriate links. There are two "optional" groups that you may also want to join to network with others participating in this challenge:
Those on Facebook, may also want to join the 2012 Free Motion Quilting group.
There is also a free forum hosted by AQS that has been setup for participants in this challenge.   Simply visitMy Quilt Place, create an account or log in, click on groups and join the group "Free Motion Quilting on a Domestic Sewing Machine".

If you have not yet completed the previous tutorials, here are the links:

"Bonus" tutorials will be released, this summer, that will also be options for those needing to complete 12 FMQ tutorials anytime in 2012 to be eligible to enter to win a Grand Prize. 

And, don't forget you can find Sarah at:

Copyright Reminder:  This site is copyright protected.  You are certainly authorized to print and use this tutorial for your own use. Please DO NOT print and share any part of this tutorial post, nor share electronically, without written permission from Sarah Vedeler and SewCalGal.

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Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Oh so much fun ahead!! This is going to be a great practice for me...I need the control that this should bring. Thanks SewCalGal and Sarah....appreciate all the time you are giving us.

Quilting Babcia said...

Oh, this is the perfect tutorial for me right now! I'm so spatially challenged and can never figure out how to keep my spirals going. This tutorial explains everything in such super detail, can't wait to get started! Thank you Sarah!

Debbie said...

Yippee!!! This one is just for me. I love doing spirals, just have never done them in a straight line, so I looking forward to trying this. Thanks so much for the very clear directions and templates. Yes!

Anonymous said...

I, too, love spirals but mine never come out looking so even and beautiful. Thanks, Sarah, for a great tutorial! I'm looking forward to doing this one so that I can change that. lol

Barb said...

Excellent post...I love it and love how she explains the spirals. Just inspirational.

Carrie P. said...

this looks like a fun challenge this month. can't wait to start practicing.

Lori said...

Oh this is wonderful. I really love this tutorial. I love these type of tutorials. I have never FMQ before and this makes it look easy and fun. Thanks again. Im off to give it a try.

Newbie Jen said...

Hooray! Spirals are my favorite!

Editfolt said...

enjoyable work, but it is very difficult.

Sue Halter said...

Thanks, Sarah, for the great tutorial. Spirals are difficult for me, but I can only get better....or so I hope!!

Anonymous said...

I love spirals, and this tutorial was great! One of the things that I learned was that when I used to do them, I was coming out of the center incorrectly, and that was causing problems. I still need more practice, but I think as time goes on and I use them more, they'll smooth and even out more. Thanks Sara!