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Free Motion Butterfly

A Fine "Feathered" Friend

On my current "to do" list is a new bed quilt for my husband and myself. When I design a quilt I try to choose symbols and motifs that have significance to the recipient, in this case, my husband and me.

This ceramic butterfly has been with us since before we were married. It's image, in one form or another, will be the focal point of the quilt. The quilt will be whole cloth and free motion machine stitched. Right now I am auditioning different design concepts, and experimenting with different fabrics, threads and battings.

The first sample shows my stitched interpretation of this butterfly using cotton sateen fabric on the top and bottom, with Heirloom Hobbs cotton batting.

For all of these samples, I used a variety of very fine threads (#100). In all cases, the bobbin thread is "Superior Bottom Line". Here the top thread is a rayon machine embroidery thread .

The next sample shows the same design using silk dupioni fabric on the quilt top and bottom, with a wool batting, and stitched with YLI silk thread #100. What a revelation! Having used neither silk cloth or wool batting for a quilt before, I really did not understand what a difference it could make. The difference in the loft is amazing, and because it is significantly lighter in weight, it is much easier to work with. I am sold on both the wool batting and the silk fabric for future whole cloth quilts. It's a good thing!

The light, fluffy, crinkly feel of the silk and wool reminded me of the "poofy" taffeta dresses with crinolines that I used to wear to birthday parties when I was a kid.  (I have always thought that quilting is a party!!!)

Side by side comparison; silk on the left, cotton on the right. Note the difference in the relief.

In this last sample I'm playing with the design of a gardenia, which was the flower in my wedding bouquet.

For future reference,  I keep track of details such as thread type, needle size and tensions right on the sampler.

The design will evolve and change many times before I am ready to commit actual stitches to the real thing next autumn, when we will have been to and from France again. Until then, I will continue to have fun experimenting and playing with ideas.


  1. Oh my goodness, these designs are incredible. My mind is completely boggled as to how you achieved such complicated designs on your machine. Your quilt is going to be amazing, truly an heirloom to be passed down to the next generation.

  2. I am impressed with the difference between the two test pieces. The wool and silk look so much better!

    It will be fun to see this develop. :)

  3. Thanks Michelle.Working on a small sample like I did with these butterflies, it's not as difficult to control the fabric under the needle. It gets to be a lot more "interesting" when it becomes a queen size bedspread. Yikes! I'm looking forward to the challenge though.

  4. HI Monica. I like the wool and silk sample better as well, and for a whole cloth quilt, it will be much easier to work with. I'm excited to be working with these two "new for me" materials. (It's also fun just to allow myself some time to "play"!)


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