Free-Motion Quilting the Louisiana Quilts

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been working hard to finish the quilts that I blogged about in September for our family members hit by the flooding in Louisiana.I have had so much fun seeing how these quilts look with different free-motion quilting designs.  I wouldn’t say they change the look of the quilts drastically, but they do make a difference.  Here’s a little visual recap, courtesy of my newly-discovered ability to embed IG posts on the blog.  How cool is that?


Loving this quilting design- flower power, from a tutorial on @theinboxjaunt . One quilt down, five to go. . . . #freemotionquilting

A photo posted by Emily Breclaw (@thecaffeinatedquilter) on

Flower Power quilting!  Check out this tutorial on the Inbox Jaunt for a step-by-step explanation of how to use this free-motion quilting design.

 Paisley flower free-motion quilting design inspired by a video from Amy’s Free Motion Quilting adventures.

And this one is just a simple hook and loop swirl.  I’m pretty sure I picked up this design from one of Jamie Wallen’s tutorials on youtube.

I had so much fun with the paisley flowers that I used that motif on two quilts.  Now I’m working on binding, and quilting the boys’ quilts.

Hopefully all of these will be finished and off to their new homes by the end of the month. And then I can get back to normal quilting routines, like finishing up a couple of new patterns.

I’ve also been working behind-the-scenes on some exciting new partnerships. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some big announcements!!

Happy Stitching!


Three Little Birds QAL- Applique

Welcome to month two of the Three Little Birds Quilt-a-long! Have I mentioned that we’ll be working through this project at a leisurely pace?

For this month, we’ll be focusing on the applique pocket of the pouch.  It’s not the first step in the pattern, but it was what I wanted to do first because, well, hand applique intimidates me. I figured if I did this first, I’d be more motivated to finish knowing the hardest part was over.


There are loads of applique tutorials online. For this size and scope of project, I picked this one from Suppose Create Delight.  The prep work is time-consuming, but well worth it in my opinion.  I loved that all the pieces were glued into place so I could take the applique with me and sew.  I stitched down my three little birds while sitting in the car waiting for my kids to get out of school.

As I mentioned before, I’m making a second pouch using the cherry blossom motifs from another Yoko Saito pattern.  The pictures below are some of my in-progress steps of prepping the blossoms.


So, how about you? What’s your favorite applique method?  Have you started stitching your Three Little Birds?  I can’t wait to see!! Please link up your in-progress photos below.  (Your pictures can be from a blog, Facebook page, Flickr stream, or Instagram.)

Speaking of IG– did you know Yoko Saito herself is on Instagram now? Check it out @yokosaito_quiltparty.

Happy Stitching!









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Quilting up a Storm

This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter and I spent a LOT of quality time in the studio. The recent flooding in Louisiana has hit three families of our extended family hard. While I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer, I really wanted to be DOING something to help as well. And, well, yeah- the natural progression of that thought process is make quilts! (Shocking, I know).

So we started rummaging through our stashes, and pulled out every scrap of cheerful bright pink in the house, to make 4 coordinating girls quilts. We decided to use a fun pattern from Me and My Sister designs called Simply Cakes 1,2,3. My daughter ironed fabric, I cut pieces and pinned, she sewed them together, and soon we had quilt tops all over the place!

We also needed fabric for two boy quilts, but our stash didn’t yield much in the way of good choices there. So we went shopping for superhero fabric.  We’re using the same pattern for these two quilts, but they’re going to look very different!

boy quilt2

Now I’m starting to play with quilting designs.  I was going to keep life simple and snuggly and meander quilt all 6 of these quilts. But I’m a longtime follower of Lori Kennedy’s blog, and it seems like she’s been reading my mind lately.  As I was basting quilts, she was writing a blog post about “meander no more.” To top it off, she then suggested  alternate free motion designs, one perfect for girly quilts, and one suitable for boys. So, I guess I’m going to learn some new designs on these.  Here’s one of the girl quilts with my sketchbook attempt at Lori’s “Flower Power” design.

girl quilt

I foresee quite a bit of quilting in my future, but it’s going to be a great opportunity to practice!  Does your weekend forecast include quilting?




Happy Stitching!



Three Little Birds Quilt-A-Long

I’m so excited to finally launch my first Quilt-A-Long!  We’re going to be working with a gorgeous Yoko Saito pattern, the Three Little Birds Pouch.

Three little birds pattern

Each month, I’ll share progress on my pouch (or pouches. . . .I’m seriously thinking of making several of these), along with tips and hints for construction. At the end of each post, you’ll have the opportunity to link up your progress as well.  If you choose not to make the pouch, then please link up your progress on any Japanese style quilting project.  You can also share pictures of Japanese quilting books or tools.

You can find the Three  Little Birds Pouch pattern at Willow Lane Quilting Company and One World Fabrics.  Both sites also have lovely collections of Japanese fabrics to make your pouch.  The pouch is tiny, so you will probably be fine with 4 fat quarters and some assorted scraps.

So, let’s get this linky started!  For this month, link up with your Japanese fabric collection, or whatever fabrics you plan to use for your pouch.  Next month, we’ll be cutting into these beautiful fabrics and prepping the pieces for applique.

patterns and fabric

Here’s my pattern, and a bundle of taupes I plan to use with it.  And a Yoko Saito pattern I’ve admired for years.  I’m not sure I have the skill to tackle this one yet, but I’m going to make a second pouch, using the cherry blossom appliques from the wallhanging pattern in place of the birds on the pouch.


I can’t wait to see what you’re creating!!










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Making Place Mats!!

Earlier this summer, we bought a new kitchen table.  It has a lovely solid wood top, and my husband immediately suggested we get some place mats to protect it from the kiddos during mealtime.  I thought it would be far more fun to make place mats, and a great way to use up some batting and scraps in the process.  Turns out, this was pretty economical. .. .place mats sell for more than $12 apiece!!

I found some cute tutorials online, and created a pinterest board with ideas. I decided to start with this tutorial from Alissa Haight Carlton– it’s fantastic!! Here’s how they turned out:

stack of mats







It was a great chance to practice my ruler work.  And my oldest daughter quilted all the horizontal lines on the teal stripe using the walking foot on my domestic machine. I love these-all my favorite colors, and with the scrappiness, each one is a tiny bit different. But they all still work together.  Here’s the table all set:

on the table







It wasn’t long before these needed washing (before I’d finished the set, in fact.  Kids.) We all got a chuckle out of how much they shrank in the wash.  In this picture, the washed one is lined up with the bottom left corner of an unwashed one. Yikes!  Guess they’re all getting tossed in the wash now for consistency’s sake.  I do love the crinkly after-effect, though.








Even though these took longer than expected to make, I am planning on making more sets.  It’s just such a fantastic way to use up batting and create something useful and pretty.  Do you have any favorite place mat tutorials or patterns?  I’d love to know. . . my pinterest board needs more pins!!


Happy Stitching!



Another Mini-Quilt Finished!

If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen some progress pictures and the first finished picture of this mini-quilt.

It’s Mini Prism Parkway from Sassafras Lane Designs, one of my purchases from the May is for Makers Campaign.

Here it is, all happy teal and turquoise in my studio.








I just love this mini-quilt.  It makes me smile when I walk into the room.










It also makes me smile, because I know two little secrets about it.

Secret #1- I was in such a hurry to finish that I accidentally sewed the hanging triangles on the bottom of the quilt.  Now all the little faces in the backing are upside down.  OOPS. Secret #2- this quilt hangs proudly in my studio by a chopstick, because I had no dowels in the house when I went to hang it. Whatever works, right?








Now, I want to turn some of my own patterns into mini-quilt patterns, because these are just so much fun to make. Would you mind popping over to my Craftsy store, and letting me know in the comments which pattern(s) you’d like to see as mini-quilts? Feel free to also share your experiences with mini-quilts, I’d love to know!

Happy Stitching!!



Rebel Mini-Quilt Finished

I love my job. Creating designs, working with fabric companies, writing patterns. . . it’s all a dream come true.  But sometimes, just sometimes, it is absolutely delightful to work through a design where someone else crunched all the numbers, double-checked all the fabric requirements, and worked long hours to make the explanations crystal clear.

And to be able to hang a mini-quilt in my studio, just for me, no secret sewing, no waiting to finish the instructions– I was giddy as I hung this up!

Without further ado, here is my Rebel Mini-Quilt all finished up and bringing a spot of bright cheery color to my studio.  Fabrics are all Alison Glass for Andover. All piecing and quilting by me.  And shout out to Jaybird Quilts for her fabulous mini-quilt binding tutorial!!  I almost took a picture of those schnazzy corners from the backside, just to show that they came out right, but I thought that might be misconstrued as bragging 🙂

Rebel finishedRebel close-upquilting



















Happy Stitching!!


You Gotta Sew When the Spirit Says Sew

I hope your summer is off to a lovely start! As always, when all my kidlets are out of school, my own goals of blogging and sewing get a bit derailed. But I wouldn’t trade the crazy fun time of summer for anything.

I did want to share one quick finish this week.  If you’re a super-observant and loyal TCQ follower, you may recognize this quilt.  I posted about it a couple summers ago (yikes! how has it been that long?!?) when the Downton Abbey Sews issue was released. The pattern is my Legacy design, George variation.

John Paul quilt

Last week, that quilt jumped to the top of my to-do list. I found out that one of the families in our church/school community was going through an ordeal.  Their five-year-old son is in intensive care, battling a heart inflammation.



close-upI hope that this little prayer quilt will comfort him and bring a little cheer to his family. Many of the patterned fabrics in this quilt are leftovers from our school’s yearly service project, so I love that this quilt is full of fabric chosen by kiddos in the community.


Would you keep John Paul and his family in your prayers?  Thank you so much!!

Happy Stitching!



May is for Makers Week 4

We are in the home stretch of getting kiddos finished with school for the year, and after this week, it will officially be summer around here.  I’m looking forward to the less-structured routines.  Can’t honestly say it will be calmer though, with all 5 of my kiddos home full-time 🙂 But it will be wonderful.

I’ve really been enjoying this May is for Makers campaign.  Usually, I can only justify buying a pattern if it’s for something I’m making to give away.  Most of these purchases are turning into quilts I want to keep, and today’s buy is no different.

Prism ParkwaySassafras Lane designs always catch my eye.  I have the full-size Prism Parkway from an old Quiltmaker issue, which I fully intend to make. . .someday.  When they published a mini-version, it was just too cute to resist.  Plus, it will help thin my overflowing turquoise and white scrap bins.  These paper pieced blocks are so tiny, I figured I could use them as leaders and enders for two bigger paper pieced projects in my near future.




rebeltopMy Rebel mini-quilt from two weeks ago is progressing well.  All it needs now is a rockin’ quilt job, and it will be ready to hang in my studio.  This was a FUN project to work on.  I didn’t stress overmuch about perfect piecing, but these little 2” blocks still turned out pretty evenly, if I do say so myself.


SpinAnd the Spin! quilt from my first purchase is still moving along, albeit slowly.  12 blocks done (shown), and the remaining 24 are nearly halfway done.

That’s it for me this week!  So glad I’m just doing fun stitching for now, and not on any big deadlines, because the time in the studio has been sparse these past couple of weeks.  How about you? Are you kicking the summer off with fun new projects, or wrapping up older stuff?

Happy Stitching!!




Winding Bobbins for the Janome Artistic Quilter SD


Ahhh, bobbins.  I never gave them much thought until I bought my Janome Artistic SD. The saleslady assured me that the built-in bobbin winder was fantastic– even threaded your bobbin as you stitched!

So how exactly does that work in truth?  For me, abysmally.  For one thing, winding a bobbin as you stitch means you need two spools of thread- one for quilting and one for bobbin winding.  And I typically do not have that.  For another thing, free-motion quilting demands my whole attention.  Evidently, bobbin winding does too.  It is no fun to pause in your stitching, and look up to see that the thread didn’t catch on the bobbin.

So for me, the bobbin winder on the Artistic is just not a valid option.  Even when I focus entirely on bobbin winding, I can’t get a good, smooth wind on that machine to save my life. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I’ve watched the Tin Lizzie videos on bobbin winding a dozen times- my thread just won’t stay put like theirs does.

For a while, I gave up on bobbin winding, and started buying Magna Glide prewound bobbins.  They are fantastic, and work wonderfully.  See my previous post here about taking out your anti-backlash spring so these bobbins work correctly.  And if your LQS doesn’t sell prewound bobbins, you can buy them online here.


prewound bobbins


However, those prewound bobbins can be pricey, and it limits me to just using Glide. So I started searching for separate bobbin winders.



Several people online recommended the Side Winder, even for the large class M bobbins.  You can buy one at JoAnn’s with your 40% coupon.  But it doesn’t work with M bobbins.  (See the pink bobbin in the top picture?) Evidently there’s a deluxe version out there somewhere that will wind M ones, but this basic one does not do well with that.  Fortunately, my daughters love pink, so this bobbin winder found a lovely new home on the girls’ side of the studio, and I kept searching.








I found this Easy Winder online, and decided to give it a go.  Here’s a picture of it straight out of the box. I was impressed that they included a wound bobbin to show you the thread path.

Universal winder1






Now I’m all set up and ready to roll.


The first bobbin wound was a disappointment.  Then I read through their instructions again, and saw they had a different thread path for slippery threads, so I tried that with the glide.

Glide wound successfully



And we have success!!! Some other features of this winder that I really, really like are it’s small size and how quietly it runs.  I can wind bobbins during naptime, and no little heads come peeking out to see what’s causing all the commotion.

Now I need to get some other thread types to try out.  What’s your favorite quilting thread?

Happy Stitching!