Swimming Upstream


Another busy week here sewing away. I just finished my Project Quilting Season 9 mini quilt and I’m so happy with how it turned out. This was quite the undertaking for me since it’s a technique I’ve never done before, it includes a lot of free motion quilting, and I only had a week to do it.

My inspiration for my mini quilt was the carousel in my town. I’ve talked about the carousel before but a little back story. I’m not sure how long the town has been fundraising for the carousel but it’s been ever since I moved here about 10 years ago. This was a long journey for those involved and included thousands of volunteers hours spent carving and painting carousel animals. When it finally opened last August it was so fun to see everything come to life.

I chose the Chinook salmon carousel animal because it represents the salmon returning to our local rivers and streams every year for spawning. I used the imagery of the Chinook salmon and then added in some swirls for the river. I decided to go for a collage look because I haven’t done any collage in a while. I really loved doing paper collage in high school and my early 20s but have gotten away from it so time to bring it back in a new medium. I cut the fabric up into small pieces and glued them down with my fabric glue pen.

File Jan 12, 8 50 38 PM

This is not a permanent hold and even with basic quilting there’s still a risk of things not being held down very well. I put a piece of tulle down over top of my mini quilt to make sure everything stayed in place while quilting. Working with tulle wasn’t too bad but I did get some bunching as I quilted it out toward the edges.

For the quilting I used a variegated blue thread for the water and swirls and a variegated red and green thread for the salmon. I quilted in more details try to help the quilt come to life. Quilting is not my forte so this was a real challenge for me. I envisioned what I wanted to do and went for it. And I learned that because I was timid I wasn’t pressing the presser foot hard enough so I got bigger stitches in some places. My fluidity needs some work too but you never know til you try. I believe this could have been executed better with some more experience and time. Maybe this is a mini that will inspire a larger work.

File Jan 13, 12 40 22 AM

This mini quilt finishes at 14″ x 20″. A funny size I know but I was kind of loose-y goose-y with the whole thing and picked a background fabric I liked and just went from there. There was not a lot of planning and I think that’s what I needed. A chance to play, mess up, and learn. Can’t wait for the next challenge!

Happy Quilting!



  1. You certainly learned a lot in this process and that is what it is all about. Letting yourself be free and trying new things. I love your piece and your story. Thanks for your honesty and sharing your techniques.


  2. Wonderful! I have never done something like this, and am sure I would not do it as well as you have. Ditto everything Carla said so eloquently.


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