Machine Quilting with a Serpentine Stitch

This is a slightly expanded version of a post previously published on the Cotton Cuts blog in September 2021.

I’ll say one thing about the global pandemic: I think I’ve done more sewing and quilting in the past year and a half than in the previous 10 years! Seriously, my sewing machine has been a lifeline, and the connections I’ve made through sharing my work – and enjoying everyone else’s work – on Instagram has made this time of isolation also one of creative joy and inspiration.

But one of the things I’m finding is that finishing all these quilt tops I’m making is easier said than done! I love to free-motion quilt, but I find it very taxing on my body (I have a domestic sewing machine – not a mid-arm or long-arm quilting machine); so I like to switch it up with walking foot quilting – which for me, is usually faster, too.

I’ve spent some serious time experimenting with different ways to go beyond “stitch-in-the ditch” and simple straight-line grids and jazz up my machine quilting. (Not that they aren’t perfectly great ways to quilt – I was just ready to play with some new-to-me techniques.)

The serpentine stitch (one of the built-in decorative stitches in my sewing machine) has become one of my very favorite ways to quilt with a walking foot – simple, fast, and lots of lovely texture.

Close-up of samples of machine quilting with a serpentine stitch by Beth Ann Williams

This is what the serpentine stitch setting looks like on my machine:

Continue Reading…

Finishing Spree & My Top 4 Favorite Patterns of Summer 2021

Since I like to work on multiple projects at a time, I occasionally experience a bottleneck of quilts that are all at the same stage. Such has been the case this month, when I ended up sewing bindings on 8 different quilts in a little over a week. Wow! My arms are ready for a break, but it’s so much fun to see each quilt finally completed. And it has given me chance to reflect on my favorite patterns of the summer.

But before I go any further, I’d like to elaborate on what I look for when I buy a commercial pattern rather than designing a quilt myself (which I also like to do).

What I Look for When I Buy a Pattern:

(listed in no particular order, recognizing that no pattern ticks ALL of the boxes – which is just fine!)

–A design that I haven’t seen before, or an clever twist on an old favorite

–A technique I haven’t tried before or don’t use very often

–Multiple size options (this isn’t a deal breaker if it’s only one size – as long as I feel confident that I can change the size if I wish to do so)

–Well-written (and tested) instructions with clear diagrams, cutting charts, and (bonus points) coloring sheets

–An opportunity to use a favorite fabric or collection of fabrics I’ve been saving for “just the right project”

And the most important factor:

Continue Reading…

New Classes for Fall 2021

Registration is now open for my new fall classes!

Stop in or call the Wyoming, Michigan Lakeshore Sewing location at 616-531-5561 to register for these ZOOM classes. Note: Lakeshore Sewing will be closed Saturday – Monday of Labor Day weekend.

And don’t forget – locals can save 10% on class supplies at Lakeshore Sewing!

It’s all About the ThreadZOOM – Tues., 9/21; 6:00 – 8:00 PM EST Update 9/17 – this class has been postponed due to an unforeseen schedule conflict.

Sneak peek at some of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Creative Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot with Beth Ann Williams

Easy & Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking FootZOOM – Sat., 9/25 & 10/2; 10 AM – 1:00 PM

Original Confetti quilt from pattern jacket (from Tied with a Ribbon – pattern purchase required) and ombre baby quilt layout by Beth Ann Williams

Confetti Quilt or Table RunnerZOOM – Thurs., 10/7, 14, & 21; 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Sneak peek at a few of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start 1 with Beth Ann Williams

Free-Motion Quickstart 1 Sat., 10/23; 10 AM – 2 PM

Sneak peek at a one of the samples for the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start 2 with Beth Ann Williams

Free-Motion Quickstart 2: Crescents, Swirls, Flowers & Leaves ZOOM – Sat., 11/6; 10 AM – 2 PM

Hope to see you soon!

Finishing Spree! Quick Bindings That Mimic the Look of Hand-Sewn

I like to have lots of different projects going at different stages at the same time, so I always have something interesting to work on. But sometimes there’s a bottleneck, and I have a bunch of projects that are all at the same step. That’s what has been happening to me lately – a pile-up of quilts just waiting to be bound.

Butterfly Bouquet quilt (pattern by Simone Quilts), made by Beth Ann Williams and quilted by Terri Watson of ThreadTales Quiltworks

For years and years, I bound all of my quilts with a double-fold binding machine-sewn first to the front of the quilt, and then wrapped around and hand-sewn to the back of the quilt. I love the beautiful, clean finish this method provides, but it does take time! Over the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with alternatives. (I know I could always just straight-stitch the binding; but I find it can be tricky to keep absolutely perfectly lined up with the edge of the binding, and I’m not especially crazy about how it looks.)

One of my favorite alternatives has been a Flange Binding (or faux piped binding) – I even wrote a tutorial here on the blog.

Church Window quilt made and quilted by Beth Ann Williams (pattern by Lo & Behold Stitchery), finished with a flange binding.

But not every quilt needs a piped binding (faux or otherwise), and my collection of quilts waiting for bindings was piling up. So I returned to another technique I’ve experimented with before – sewing the double-fold binding first to the BACK of the quilt, and then wrapping the binding around the the front, and stitching it down with my favorite “invisible” machine applique technique.

Continue Reading…

Finishing Spree! Finish with a Facing

A quick note before we dive into facings – I have 3 more Zoom classes coming up soon:

Easy & Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot – Sat., April 17 & 24, 2021; 10 am – 1 pm

It’s All About the Thread – Thurs., April 29, 2021; 6 – 8 pm

Color Tools & Color Confidence – Thurs., May 6 & 13, 2021; 6 – 8 pm

Registration is through the Wyoming, Michigan Lakeshore Sewing store – 616-531-5561.

And now back to Facings. 🙂

My sewing machine has been getting a workout! I’ve been in full-on production mode with even more projects than usual in-progress at the same time. As I’ve been working, one of the techniques I’ve been exploring is different ways to finish the outer edges of my quilts.

My Sea Breeze table runner, finished with a facing. I also tweaked this foundation pieced pattern by Sharon Holland to better fit the dimensions of my table. I machine quilted it with variable channel quilting to add subtle texture without taking away from the elegant simplicity of the design. The wonderful batik fabrics are Java Batiks from Cotton Cuts. 🙂

I always finish my utility quilts (bed quilts, cuddle quilts, throws, etc.) with a sturdy French Fold Binding, as the binding is often the first area to start to show wear on a quilt that is getting lots of use.

But when it comes to art quilts, wall hangings, table runners, or other smaller items, there are other options. One of these is a facing. Facings are a great alternative when you don’t want to cut off or confine the design with a binding. There are lots of different ways to approach facings for a quilt; but after quite a bit of experimentation, I have found what works best for me. And even better – there’s a link to free printable instructions near the end of this post!

Continue Reading…

NEW Free-Motion Quick-Start

I’m working on a bunch of new non-class-related info for the blog; but meanwhile, I do want to let those of you who may be interested that I’ve added another brand-new Zoom class. 🙂

Free-Motion Quilting Quick-Start – NEW

Sneak peak at a few of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start with Beth Ann Williams

Are you interested in free-motion quilting, but need a boost to get going? Join Beth Ann for a brand-new hands-on introductory class designed to do just that.
We’ll start with a few basic patterning styles that you can use right away, and then explore how you can build on them as your confidence grows. This Zoom class will feature video clips and up-close photography, along with live instruction and Q&A.
Sat., March 13, 2021; 10 AM – 2 PM
Confident Beginner $30
Download the supply list here.
Please call the Wyoming, MI Lakeshore Sewing store at 616-531-5561 to register for this online Zoom class.

More classes are in the works – you can see the current list here. 🙂

The New Zoom Class Schedule is Up!

The new January and February Zoom class schedule has finally been published!
I’m excited about the mix of classes I have coming up – some brand-new offerings you’ve asked for, plus a few repeats of popular classes.

You can see the full list (and download supply lists) on the Upcoming Zoom Classes page on my website, or at www.lakeshoresewing.com.

All my classes are being offered through Lakeshore Sewing in Wyoming, Michigan, so you’ll need to call the store at 616-531-5561 to register. 

Please note that the usual store hours are Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 5:30 PM and Saturday, 9 AM – 4 pm; but with the holidays, there are some changes. 
The store will be closed from Dec. 31, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021; normal hours will resume on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Meanwhile, here is a quick overview:

All Sew Together – Convertible Fleece Blanket/Pillow
Trellis Quilt (Pattern by Cluck, Cluck, Sew)
Dual Compartment Padded Laptop or Tablet Pouch
Sneak peak at some of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Easy and Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot with Beth Ann Williams
Divided Basket (pattern by Noodlehead)
Flanged Bindings by Machine (quilt pattern by Lo & Behold Stitchery)
It’s All About the Thread – a NEW lecture/trunk show

See my Upcoming Zoom Classes page for full descriptions, dates, and supply lists.

Hope to see you soon!
Beth Ann

www.bethannwilliams.com

Wicked Weaver & My New Favorite Product

The October Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts and the Midnight Bite Sew Along (#MidnightBiteSAL) from Lillyella Stitchery offered me a fun opportunity to go outside my comfort zone this month.

Ronan posing with the contents of the October Java Batiks Box from Cotton Cuts.

The Midnight Bite pattern bundle has 3 sizes of each of two different patterns – a bat and a spider. I opted to make the Wicked Weaver, which is also available as an individual pattern. Admittedly, spiders aren’t usually my thing, but I thought it would be a interesting challenge.

Wicked Weaver (pattern from Lillyella Stitchery) in progress.

When I made my fantasy butterfly this summer (from the Take Wing pattern also by Lillyella Stitchery), the only part of the process that I definitely did not enjoy was removing the paper foundations after the stitching was complete. What a pain! Trying to get all the little bits of paper out from underneath the small stitches – without putting too much strain on the stitches – is not my cup of tea. Which was frustrating, because after years of avoiding foundation piecing, I felt like I’d finally hit my groove and figured out a method for foundation piecing that I find straightforward and satisfying.

Continue Reading…

Finishing Spree – Take Wing, Foundation Piecing, & Mixing Quilting Methods

A quick note: my fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all. 🙂

And now to the topic at hand – foundation piecing (also called foundation paper piecing) is a great technique for achieving precise piecing and sharp points even with tiny pieces and fabric edges that are not on-grain. For this method, the pattern is printed (or traced) onto foundation paper. This paper acts as both a stabilizer and a stitching guide while the block is being constructed. When all of the pieced sections of the design have been joined together, the paper is carefully torn away from the underside of the quilt top.

New to foundation piecing? We All Sew has a great FREE foundation pieced block tutorial that provides a good starting point. Don’t worry if you don’t have the same kind of machine used in the tutorial – most any machine with a basic straight stitch should do just fine

LINK LOVE – FREE Foundation Pieced block pattern & tutorial from We All Sew

Although I generally don’t do a lot of foundation paper piecing, I fell in love with the Take Wing pattern by Lillyella Stitchery when I came across it on Instagram. Just beautiful!

Take Wing foundation paper pieced pattern – available in the Lillyella Stitchery shop on Etsy

I purchased the pattern right away, but then had to set it aside for a bit because I already had too many irons in the fire.  But when the August Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts arrived, I knew immediately just what I wanted to make! Continue Reading…

Finishing Spree! Fireworks, Curvy Quilting & “Disappearing” Binding

A quick note: my new fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all.

I haven’t been posting much this summer, but I’ve certainly been sewing up a storm! I’m finding it good therapy. 🙂

Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to enjoy our usual fireworks display downtown this year, but I was inspired by the July Java batiks box from Cotton Cuts to create some fireworks of my own (metaphorically speaking, of course). 😉

Goodies from the July Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts.

I started by cutting out shapes with my Tri-Recs rulers, and created little four-patches for the corner of each block. (This was a design-as-I-go project – I didn’t have a pattern.)

I used the Tri-Recs rulers to cut out the star block, AKA my fireworks burst.

I turned my blocks on point, and added more four-patches to the setting triangles.

Building my design – I decided to extend the expanding “fireworks” by added four-patches to the areas where the setting triangles would be.

Continue Reading…