Are You Modern or Traditional in Your Free Motion Quilting style?

Welcome to The Quilt Journal! Today I am hosting Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday.

My question to you today is : Are you modern or  traditional in your free motion quilting style?
My initial knee jerk reaction, being the feather girl that I am 🙂 , was that I am a traditional quilter..…but maybe not?!
Back in November I did a blog post that showed the first of two quilts that I made while taking the Judi Madsen online iQuilt Class Quilting Makes a Difference.

a picture ofMy traditional free motion quilting style quilt
My traditional free motion quilting style quilt

The class exercise was to piece two projects exactly the same, but free motion quilt each one in 2 different styles.  I am not going to define what exactly  modern quilting vs. a traditional free motion quilting style  is, as that is a subject that is way open to interpretation and somewhat subjective. But in general I think it is safe to say that some modern quilting involves more straight lines or geometry in the design (the modern example here had a lot more ruler work) and the quilting doesn’t necessarily  respect the  piecing in the same way that a traditionally quilted quilt does ( this is a way over simplified explanation- but the difference could be a post onto itself! )

a picture of myModern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen's class
Modern free motion quilted quilt from Judi Madsen’s class

Initially, I felt the traditionally quilted one had more movement and just felt a bit more graceful to me. But now that I have finished the modern style of the two quilts (my first finish of 2016-woohoo!!)….I like that one too! I think it brings a lot of interest to a otherwise very simple quilt. In this case the quilting takes center stage. I think this was a wonderful exercise that pushed me to try something I may not have otherwise tried . Also because it was a planned, marked out quilt top, not a “practice sandwich”,  you are more likely finish it and really get a feel for the two free motion quilting styles.
I will say also, you do spent a lot more time marking your quilt in the modern version. Judi’s quilts reflect her perfectionism and attention to detail- she leaves nothing to chance. I found the massive marking a bit distracting at my stage of the game. I know Judi is awesome ,confident in her skill set and can see past the marking- me on the other hand, felt a little more comfortable spritzing a finished area with a little water so I could be sure I was happy with the effort I made FMQ.

you can see where I spritzed some areas with water to be able to see if I was okay my stitching
note the water marks where my blue marker bled a bit after spritzing with water to the right of the picture

It didn’t help that I ran out of the fine tipped blue marking pens and used one that is a little thicker…. Tip number #1-  if you run out of fine tipped blue water soluble pens…..just wait lol! There is a ton of quilting in this little quilt.  If you weren’t proficient in free motioning fairly even ribbon candy / back and forth line  and circles….you will be better at it by the time you finish (notice I didn’t say great…I said better 🙂 )! I think having a project that was more than a practice scrap pushed me to work the design and that plan from start to finish.

I thought if may be helpful to see the 2 quilt next to each other

Version 2
I thought seeing the 2 quilts next to each other may be helpful. I tried to adjust the lighting to dusk for better detail-


So my take home tips:

  • Use fine tipped marking tools
  • Stitch in the ditch the entire quilt first to stabilize
  • Be aware of the direction you are quilting in for your best possible stitch for your machine
  • This is a small enough project that I don’t think it matters where you start quilting, as long as you have stabilized the quilt well
  • If getting even circles is trying for you, mark out where the center of each circle is to be….approximately…this is a guideline to shoot for. I heard Sharon Schamber recommend doing that once – if you don’t need that – more power to ya!
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing....sometimes helped....sometimes not :)
Dots that I measured out and marked functioned as a guide that  I would shoot for in the center of each circle for spacing ….sometimes helped….sometimes not 🙂
  • The areas that have piano keys that have an angled end (as the piano keys at top right side of photo- start your back and forth line design in the point of the piano key and work out the the squared edge of the quilt. It is easier to get them more even.
  • If you have a change in direction that you are finding awkward- mark it with a purple air-soluble pen so you can see what you are shooting for as you quilt. It’s like driving a car- your hands will follow where your eyes are looking- but having a well defined plan helps
A picture of X's marked to functioned as a reminder that that row was to be quilted with lines....MARK IT!...I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key
The X’s functioned as a reminder – that row was to be quilted with lines….MARK IT!…I promise you at some point you will zone out and stitch the wrong pattern in the wrong piano key- it’s horrible to rip that tiny stitching!

I quilted this quilt on my APQS George (a sit down quilter) using So Fine #50 wt thread from Superior Threads on top , Filtec Magna-Glide Classic in the bobbin. My batting is Hobbs 80/20.

Now that I have done both quilts, I would have to call my self an eclectic quilter….( I think that is a kind way of saying I don’t have a style lol). But in all honesty, I don’t know that I want to be defined one way or another. Both have their place depending on the quilt.
So what do you prefer….the traditional or the modern version?
Now onto our TGIFF Linky Party. Please show a little love to others that are sharing their creativity by clicking through, visiting their sites and leaving a few warm and friendly comments to let them know you appreciated their fabulous finish! This is what makes this so awesome….sharing what we do with others around the world! Don’t forget  to link back to TGIFF or grab a button to display on your site!!!

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Thank you for stopping by and being a part of my world! I really appreciate it!
Happy Quilting!

20 thoughts on “Are You Modern or Traditional in Your Free Motion Quilting style?

  1. Admire them both and can certainly see Judi’s influence in the modern quilt. I’m booked to take three of her classes this Spring in Toronto; can’t wait,

  2. As you say somewhere in your post, the choice for the quilting depends predominantly on the quilt itself and the maker/owner/situation where it’s going to return to. Each of the two quilting versions determine different perceptions of the same quilt, give each of them a different atmosphere. If it would have been my quilt, I would have gone for a “modern” quilting choice. But in this case of just one single on point square, the more “traditional” version really works well too.

  3. Wow! Both versions are absolutely stunning! I’d have to say I fall somewhere in the middle between traditional and modern, both for my fmq and my quilting overall. It’s a fun place to be because I can make quilts that land anywhere on that spectrum, and they all suit my style 🙂 Thanks for hosting TGIFF this week.

  4. I couldn’t pick a favorite if I had too!!! Both are so beautiful! I dabble in FMQ and wouldn’t call myself anything but a beginner (I’ve been a beginner for years!!)

  5. Your FMQ is envy-worthy, and I love your down-to-earth tips.
    The pingback from Molli Sparkles certainly caught my eye (as well as the interesting quilt). 🙂
    Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    1. LOL me too…I was sitting there, sipping my coffee, checking on my blog when I saw the ping-back….It scared me for a minute bc for the world of me I couldn’t think how he could be mad at me! Then I actually read his associated post and actually got a good chuckle out of it!

  6. These are both gorgeous! I am about to buy Judi’s book; did not know she had an online class out there…I like both your quilts, so I think, like you, I am eclectic! A little bit of both, not really any one style. Love feathers too!

  7. No matter which category you consider your quilting style to be…. I think it’s simply gorgeous! Wow! It is very interesting to see the same quilt done in two different styles, but I wouldn’t be able to say which was better because they are both equally beautiful!

  8. Like many of you, I like both quilts/ styles. Both have their own merrits and beauty. If you ever have the chance to take one of Judi’s classes DO NOT HESSITATE!!! And when I have a few moments I would love to take her on-line class. I saw her at the Quilting Bee store in southern Ontario Canada last spring. She is to be just East of Toronto in the spring. Her class was “mind boggling”. Thank you for this post, it has given me all sorts of inspiration. Our guild is having an 18″ “Create your Own Block” BOM, in Jan., with the intension that the winners would recieve four blocks that they would join with sashing and boarder(s), and now have a mini quilt on which to practise machine quilting -be it domestic, mid or long arm. Sandwiches can become so boaring. If I have the luck to be one of the winners, based on this post- each block will now become a medallion. Four times the quilting practise. I will reference this post at the meeting. Thank you Debbie so much for sharing!!!!!
    TTFN Betsey Ryan

  9. Both quilts are gorgeous! What a terrific way to practice your quilting while also exploring quilt patterns and designs. To answer your question, I don’t really favor modern or traditional quilting, but instead choose a quilting design that compliments the quilt top. For that reason, I’m leaning more towards the modern quilting design for this one because the top to me seems modern. But the flowy lines of the traditional quilting calls to me as well. Sigh. Do I have to decide?

  10. I’m not sure which category I fall into, and I hope to be proficient at both someday, though I plan to do more modern type FMQ. Both of your examples are extraordinary but again I like the modern one best. The idea of marking seems daunting…but maybe I should give it a go.

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