Growing up, I loved to draw and doodle. I think it’s always been a part of my life. Four years ago, when I started thinking about purchasing a longarm, it was primarily my love of art that drew me to my new machine. I loved the idea that I could take a quilt and put my “signature” on it by free-motion quilting designs that come from my two hands and from my own imagination.
At the time I purchased my machine, however, I had no idea I would soon be helping other quilters wake up their inner artist and play with free-motion quilting through doodling.
Together with the amazing Dara Tomasson, I’ve just released the book, “Doodle School: A Daily Design Challenge to Up Your Free-Motion Quilting Game,” and it’s companion notebook, “Doodle Notebook for Free-Motion Quilting: 150+ Inspirational Motifs.” We’re thrilled to be able to share our expertise with you.
Dara and I met in 2018 when she taught at the Utah Quilting and Sewing Marketplace in Salt Lake City. After the conference, I hired her as my business coach. During coaching, she invited me to participate in her online “31-Day Free-Motion Doodle Challenge” she hosted in the fall of 2019.
Check out some of the doodles I drew for Dara’s challenge!
Since taking Dara’s challenge, I continue to be amazed by my gains. I definitely see a difference in my quilting. I hesitate less and my stitching lines are smoother because I am already familiar with the traveling path I want to take and with all the steps of the designs. On top of that, I now have a notebook full of dozens of continuous-line designs that I created from my own imagination. I refer to my notebook often and I’ve used many of those designs in my quilting for myself and for customers.
Now, thanks to C&T, this same opportunity to improve your quilting is available to you, too. The entire 31 Day Free-Motion Doodle Challenge” is laid out for you in our new books. “Doodle School...” includes technical tips and instructions for creating 50+ doodles , color photos for inspiration, coaching, and even a quilt project that you can quilt your doodles onto. “Doodle Notebook...” includes even more doodles that Dara and I have created and lots of space for creating your own doodles. You can purchase the books and take the challenge on your own or, even better, you can join us online for group support.
From November 1st through December 2nd, 2021, Dara and I will be hosting the “31 Day Free-Motion Doodle Challenge” online. We will continue to host the challenge periodically, after that. Follow us on Instagram at @dappledthingsbyamy and @daratomasson for information about this and future challenges and how to get yourself signed up. You don’t have to purchase the books to sign up but we highly recommend it.
Once you’ve signed up, here’s how to get the most out of the challenge:
- Mark the days on your calendar and be sure to set aside time for doodling each day.
- We will give you a new prompt at the beginning of each day of the challenge. Think about all the ways you could interpret the prompt. Brainstorm and write down all the words you associate with it.
- Search the internet for images related to the prompt and the words you wrote down. Look for inspiration in photos of other quilters’ free-motion work.
- As you scan the images, think about how you could create them with a continuous-line design. Let your mind go wherever it wants. Sometimes, you might want to interpret an image literally and try to recreate what you see. Other times, the images could be a jumping off point. (You might look at an image of a musical scale, for example, and think about how you could reinterpret that in a background meander.)
- Take the design prompt and see how you could use it in the spaces that you encounter most commonly in a quilt. Experiment with putting the design into a triangle or a square or a hexagon or even a swirl or a mandala. Think of creative ways to use it in borders or sashing. Make it into a background fill.
When you challenge yourself to think in these ways, I think you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll create unique designs and you will come up with ideas you’ve never even considered before. It’s incredibly exciting and rewarding to look at a finished quilt and see a beautiful design that you’ve created yourself.
We’ll see you in the 31 Day Free Motion Doodle Challenge!