Quilting on Wednesday: Using Alternative Stencils and Templates for FMQ

Free motion quilting (or FMQ) is my favorite type of quilting. It’s like drawing on fabric! Very often, I like to create my own templates and stencils. Leaves, flowers, drawings, and internet images are all great sources of inspiration. Recently I finished a quilt for a young couple that had attended the same college and participated on the rowing team. They are now engaged and the girl’s mother had me make a quilt for them using their rowing team tees.I put a lot of effort and time into this quilt, adding things like half square rectangles and half herringbone borders. I also had to figure two different dimensions – one side using her tees and the other side using his. Of course, none of the tees were the same size and most of his had small images for the chest or pocket. I also bound the edges using long strips of blue and orange. This is what happened:

Her Side
His Side

The sun was shining full on that day, so I got show through, but I did use a nice cotton batting between the layers. The quilting on this didn’t settle in my mind until the very last minute. I couldn’t do stitch in the ditch because it wouldn’t look right on the other side. I also didn’t want to do a basic lattice design because I’d done that on the last 3 quilts and was sick of it.

I wanted to do something that represented the waves or ripples in the water when rowing. I also needed a stencil but didn’t want to go to the store to get one, being disappointed when they didn’t have one. I was two days from deadline, so ordering one was out of the question. Printing one out, tracing it, marking with the pounce – all took too long. So I started looking around the house for something to use. I was thinking something like a birthday banner.
Going into my kids’ room, I found an old paddle ball paddle that the ball was detached from. That was it! I traced it out, matching top to top and bottom to bottom, turning it back and forth to get a wave. I spaced it a couple of inches apart, and repeated the marking.
I think it turned out very well and my customer was extremely pleased. There are so many possibilities for making quilting stencils our of everyday household items. I hope this inspires you to come up with some too!
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