Dritz Leaderboard_2019_Visit Dritz_new logo

Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Creative People We Love: Angela Walters, Free Motion Quilter

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

Click to Enlarge


I was first introduced to Angela Walters at Spring Quilt Market last year, but not before the person I was with started pointing wildly in all directions to quilts Angela had done. Her amazing free-motion quilting work seemed to be proudly on display in every booth in the near vicinity. I was bowled over. In fact, I think my mouth literally dropped open. Then, up walked Angela. How did this cute young woman standing in front of me finish all these different quilts?! She shrugged and smiled, as if not understanding that the speed, skill and style of her free-motion work was keeping my mouth hanging open. Once I regained my composure, we stayed in touch, and I was thrilled to hear she has a book coming out soon, Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters. It was the perfect time to introduce our Sew4Home friends to her, so you can learn a little more about that signature speed, skill and style, pick up a few tips in a free-motion mini-tutorial from Angela herself and enter to win a fun Kona Cotton giveaway from Angela and her pals at Robert Kaufman (Angela does all the quilting for Kaufman's quilt samples and used their beautiful solids for many of the samples in her book).

Angela's book, Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can follow Angela on her blog, Quilting is My Therapy.

Angela - the real story of speed, skill and style

S4H: The quilts we have done on Sew4Home have been very simple, both in their piecing and quilting techniques. Our goal is to give someone who has never even tired quilting, a project with which he/she can have success. We have a lot of visitors who are young and energetic - just like you, but many of them simply can't envision themselves as quilters. Especially if they haven't grown up around it. What can you tell us about your journey into creative quilting that would help inspire someone to give it a try?

Click to Enlarge

Picnic: Designed and pieced by Angela Walters

AW: Oh, it just saddens me when I hear people say they could never learn to sew or quilt. A quote I use repeatedly in my classes and lectures is, "If it can be done, it can be learned." What that means is, if someone out there is doing it, then you can learn to do it too! I'm not saying everyone can throw a football like a pro quarterback, but with enough practice, almost anyone can learn to throw a nicely spiraling football pass. The same thing goes for quilting and sewing. I didn't start quilting until my early twenties. My husband's grandparents quilted, and when I asked them to show me how to make quilts, I had never even used a sewing machine. Those first quilts weren't stellar, but I was practicing and trying my best. The same goes for my long-arm quilting machine; it took awhile to get the hang of it. I think quilters are too hard on themselves. You need to enjoy the process and just keep quilting!

S4H: As you just mentioned, you do your beautiful free-motion quilting on a long arm machine. Could you describe for our visitors what these contraptions are and tell us what it's like to work on one of these versus a home machine. Also, because the majority of our audience doesn't have access to a long arm, can you give them some hope they could do beautiful FMQ on their existing home machines? I think a lot of folks are scared to try it, possibly because they think their machines can't handle it and/or they see it as such a BIG job.

Click to Enlarge

AW: When my husband's grandpa mentioned he thought I should get a quilting machine, I didn't even know what he was talking about. I purchased a used quilting machine over the phone without even trying it! (By the way, I would not suggest doing this!) When it was delivered, I was shocked by how big it was. Just goes to show how much I knew. The best way I can describe it is that it is like an industrial sewing machine, but instead of moving the fabric through the machine (like a sewing machine) you move the machine over the fabric. The layers of the quilt (the top, backing and batting) are pinned to the rollers on the frame, similar to a large hand-quilting frame.

Long arm machines are just like sewing machines in that there are several different levels from which to choose. They range from a the basic machine (that's what I use), without a stitch regulator or add ons, to computerized machines that cost a lot more and do more! Using a long arm does make the machine quilting process easier, but there are limitations as well.

There are MANY people who quilt fantastic designs using their home sewing machines, so you should never feel like you have to have a long arm to quilt. There are things that you can do on a traditional sewing machine that you can't do on a long arm.

S4H: I've heard people describe FMQ as "drawing with thread" and I certainly think your gorgeous designs fit that description. Your new book has some tips about practicing drawing, but oh-my-goodness, I can envision a lot of time spent staring at a blank square. What are some idea starters you use? Do you have formal training in art? Do you REALLY use a MagnaDoodle to design, because if that's the case, there may still be hope for me!

Click to Enlarge

Quilt Back, quilt front pieced by Heather Bostic

AW: When I first started quilting, I drew on anything that would lay still. Church bulletins, junk mail, even receipts weren't safe from me and my doodling ways. Drawing the designs helped my brain remember the sequence and definitely lead to less stress when quilting. If you find doodling too hard, you are probably over-thinking it! I start to draw when I am inspired by something I see in my everyday life, like a carpet design or a wallpaper pattern. Sometimes I see a quilting design on another quilt that I like and want to try to emulate. First, I try to get down the basic shape, then, once I have the individual element figured out, I fill in boxes. I draw randomly sized boxes on the paper and practice filling them in completely. The reason I do this, is that half of the battle of machine quilting is knowing what to do when you get close to the edge of your quilting area or trapped in a corner.

Yes! I do use a MagnaDoodle! It's not mine, I have to "borrow" it from my kids. It saves paper, and if you don't like what you have drawn, move that bar and it's gone in a flash.

No! I don't have any training in art or anything like that. So get your pencils ready and start drawing. If I can do it, you can do it.

S4H: You like very dense quilting, and your quilts always look perfectly balanced. Is there a point where "enough is enough"? How do you balance quilted space with open space; is it like "white space" in graphic design?

Click to Enlarge

Handyman: Designed and pleced by Jenifer Dick

AW: Quilting, like piecing, is very subjective. One person may love a lot of quilting, while another might find less dense quilting more attractive. There is a point of "enough is enough" but that point is going to be different for every quilter. Instead of trying to create a balance of white space, I find myself trying to balance the density of the quilting. For instance, if I use really dense quilting in one portion of a quilt, I try to keep it consistent throughout the quilt - the same with open spaces; if I use more open spaces in one area, I will balance that with the same technique in other areas. I like symmetry in my quilting. But I am always very, very careful to make sure the quilting doesn't overwhelm the quilt top!

S4H: Talk to us a little bit about color. The majority of the time, your chosen thread matches the fabric you are quilting, and I believe this is the traditional "quilting rule." However, FMQ is so beautiful, when should it stand on its own in a contrasting color or should the piecing always be the star? As you mention in your book, the back of the quilt usually shows off your FMQ work, but what about the front?

Click to Enlarge

Designed and pieced by Jenifer Dick

AW: I love that you bring this up! When I am trying to decide how to quilt a quilt top, I always ask myself, "What is the most important thing about this quilt?" The answer might be the fabric, the pattern, the recipient or even the quilting. If the most important thing about the quilt is the quilting, then, by all means, make it the star of the quilt. I love to see quilts that have brightly colored thread and bold designs. A whole-cloth quilt ( a quilt without piecing, whose only design comes from the intricate quilting) comes to mind when I think about making quilting the star.

In my business, I do a lot of quilting for pattern designers and fabric designers, so I want to make sure the fabric and the design is the part of the quilt that shines. By using thread that blends, I make sure my quilting doesn't steal the show. I love to say, "I want the quilt to be the first thing you see, then a split second later, the quilting." Great quilting pulls you in closer to appreciate all the nuances of the quilt's design.

S4H: You do a lot of quilting of Modern and other non-traditional designs. What draws you to these and inspires you about them?

Click to Enlarge

Designed and pieced by Angela Walters

AW: The thing that I love most about quilting modern quilts has to be the fact that the quilting shows up so well on the graphic designs and solid fabrics that some modern quilters use. I also love trying out new things and constantly pushing myself to think more conceptually about the quilting. But even though I love quilting modern quilts, it doesn't end there. I love machine quilting period. I never know what is going to come my way. One day I will work on a modern quilt made completely of solids and the next, I will work on a appliqued Dear Jane quilt. It definitely keeps me from getting bored!


Pieced by Scott Hansen


Field Study: designed by Tula Pink, pieced by Georgieanna Martin

Click to Enlarge

Neptune Strips: Designed by Angela Walters, pieed by Jane Bromberg

Angela Walter's Free-Motion Quilting Mini-Tutorial

I like to think my book is one part motivation, one part instruction and one part inspiration. I want someone to feel like they can do it... that they can learn how to quilt a design and then see that same design used in actual quilts. This is what I hope to accomplish with today's mini-tutorial.

I'm going to show you a really simple quilting design and then demonstrate how to add a little more to it, a step at a time. We are going to learn about wavy lines and why they are a great design for beginning quilters: easy and stress-free.

Start by quilting a wavy line... just a gentle, relaxed line. Don't focus too much on making it perfect. You can try drawing it first to get the hang of it, or just go ahead and quilt it!

Click to Enlarge

Using wavy lines adds so much movement to a quilt.

Click to Enlarge

Once you feel comfortable with this basic design, try different variations to make completely different patterns.

You could quilt a wavy line that has a more consistent curve. The trick here is to let your body get into a rhythm without over-thinking it. It seems like the second I start thinking about what I am doing, I start messing up. Once you feel like you can get the curves consistent, then you can make the lines echo each other. This adds a little more repetitiveness to the quilting.

Click to Enlarge

Or you can try quilting lines with alternating curves so that it creates a totally different look. I drew this concept for you. See how easy doodling is?!

Click to Enlarge

You could also add circles in between some of the wavy lines to add a different texture to the quilt.

Click to Enlarge

As you progress with your quilting, you'll find that wavy lines look great as a filler behind other designs, as I've done here behind the large spirals.


The trick to great quilting isn't just the designs, it's using the designs that you know in different ways. Quilting wavy lines are an easy design that you can start with and it progresses with you as you become more comfortable with machine quilting.

Remember, Angela's book, Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters is available for preorder on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, you can follow Angela on her blog, Quilting is My Therapy .

Enter win a bundle of FIVE Kona® Cotton Charm Packs courtesy of Angela and Robert Kaufman Fabrics


Click to Enlarge


Our thanks to Angela for coordinating with the fine folks at Robert Kaufman Fabrics to provide FIVE charm packs of their wonderful Kona® Cotton Solids for our Great Giveaway. Each pack contains 41-46 5" x 5" squares. These are perfect for projects like our Charm Pack Baby Quilt. You get the five most popular palettes: Pastel, Bright, Classic, Dusty and Dark.

To enter to win, simply sign up for our Sew4Home mail list or like us on Facebook, and you are automatically entered to win. If you've already done one or both  (we hope) of these, your work is done.

We will draw one person at random as of midnight PT March 02, 2012 from the combined names of our Facebook fans plus everyone on our eNewsletter mail list.

No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited.

We will contact the random winner by email to confirm your shipping address, and will ship the gift package directly to you.

NOTE: Due to complex contest legal restrictions and customs requirements that differ from country to country, we are currently able to send prizes to a USA postal address only (cannot be a P.O. Box). Good luck to everyone!


Comments (60)

Emelote said:
Emelote's picture
I will soon have a bunch of quilt tops without a full quilt. I would love to learn how to machine quilt properly and without stress on my machine at home! Thanks for the giveaway!
rosanneduk said:
rosanneduk's picture
I love Angie and her work. It is amazing! Love the interview and have the book on my wishlist.
Alice Howe said:
Alice Howe's picture
I am a hand quilter ready to take the plunge into machine quilting!!!!!!
janmacwill said:
janmacwill's picture
I am totally impressed by Angela's skill and precision! REALLY!
I have a friend who has a long-arm and she does beautiful work, but Angela's work is pretty close to perfection. I have been tempted to give up on finishing my quilts myself, as I feel I wreck them with my amature-ish quilting, but Angela gives me a little hope. Maybe I will keep trying. I really would like my finished pieces to be all my own.
Thanks for this great piece!
pam said:
pam's picture
thank for the help on machine quilting. I'm newly retired and have been exploring
the idea of learning how to put a quilt togethersmilies/cry.gif I'm really green at this
and searching for all info i can get.smilies/cheesy.gif Thanks again!smilies/cheesy.gif
Sewinbear said:
Sewinbear's picture
Wow!! Such Awesome quilting!! Was fun reading about you, and seeing the quilts & quilting!! Beautiful & Amazing don't even begin to explain! Just WOWIE!!!

I'm sooooo new to making a quilt, am only dreaming of the actual quilting part!
LOL smilies/cheesy.gif

Thanks for chance to win the Charm Packs!! Sooooo exciting!! smilies/smiley.gif
summitbay said:
summitbay's picture
Thanks for the inspiration! Your work flows from your brain to your machine and you are not intimidated by any rules! Anxious to see your book!
matilda116 said:
matilda116's picture
Amazing! These are beautiful, I hope to make such lovely quilts on day!
MarciaFlorida said:
MarciaFlorida's picture
The Quilting Is My Therapy blog is wonderful. Thanks for the great giveaway too.
Scrapperdeb said:
Scrapperdeb's picture
This book is EXACTLY what I need! I have quilt tops I haven't quilted just because I don't know how to go about it!
MereMona said:
MereMona's picture
What a wonderful interview. Thanks for the quick (and very useful) tutorial. And thanks so much for the giveaway. Fabric stashes are inspirational!
sylly said:
The wavy pattern with circles is my favorite. It reminds me of water.
Julie N said:
Julie N's picture
Already put my order in on Amazon. Cannot wait. Have a Tin Lizzie and haven't used it - beginners fear, I guess. Gotta get over it!
Jane Kunstmann said:
Jane Kunstmann's picture
This book looks seems to be really interesting. I should put it on my wishlist I guesssmilies/smiley.gif
charlotteh said:
charlotteh's picture
Very talented! I keep telling myself if others can do this, I can too. Just need more time to practice.
teresamnj said:
teresamnj's picture
Loved reading about Angela's quilt designs. Her work is amazing & inspiring! Can't wait to get her book.
Eva V. said:
Eva V.'s picture
Ahhh! I loved this interview! I am crossing all my fingers and toes! I really would love to get that book! When exactly does it come out? I just got a new machine that has the ability to do FMQ and haven't had time to sign up for a class to learn how to do it. I gave it a go a while ago and was really discouraged and haven't tried it again since. She is my new quilting role model!! Thanks S4H for challenging quilters to reach for higher techniques!!
Alsan Ferderber said:
Alsan Ferderber's picture
I can't think of another way to spell wonderful! Pick me, pick me, please.
vickit said:
vickit's picture
Angela's work is just gorgeous. Wow. That has to be an awesome book to own.
Thank you for the chance to win.
Holly Dallow said:
Holly Dallow's picture
I have been dreaming about development FMQ skills! Every time I see Angela's work, I say to myself - I want to do that!!! Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement. Looking forward to the new book too!

Shayla Sharp said:
Shayla Sharp's picture
Angela's work is amazing--but even more so is her willingness to share her talent with the rest of us. I can't wait for the book!
Marti said:
Marti's picture
I'm a new quilter but tried out longarm machines at Road to California and was hooked!! Trying to figure out how to afford one and whether or not I really need furniture in my livingroom! Thanks for a chance to win the giveaway.smilies/cheesy.gif
Lee Peters said:
Lee Peters's picture
I just recently adopted a large quilting machine and frame so this is such a handy tutorial. I think I will go home and try this tonight!
Cheryl B said:
Cheryl B's picture
Thank you for this FMQ tutorial. I'm inspired to do some practice work today. I'm looking forward to reading more of Angela.

Glad I'm already signed up for your mailing and Like you on FB because I've been realizing I need more solids in my fabric stash.
Lynn M said:
Lynn M's picture
Very inspiring. Time to start doodling more and practice, practice, practice.
icouldbefake said:
icouldbefake's picture
Oh my gosh, her work is GORGEOUS! I'm an "in the ditch" quilter... haha I wish I had the patience to quilt like this though, it is absolutely stunning.
Kathleen Ann said:
Kathleen Ann's picture
She's so young and so accomplished! Beautiful work. I'm just learning how to make different types of quilt blocks (and I'm 50-something). I don't think I will attempt to quilt it when I'm done, but I might try my hand at wavy lines on something smaller.
Barbara M said:
Barbara M's picture
What an amazing gift Angela has! I'm always excited to see anything she has quilted!
Gina S. said:
Gina S.'s picture
Great interview, she makes it look so easy! Think i'm going to give free motion another try. smilies/grin.gif;
gmitchel said:
gmitchel's picture
Great info: start simple and explore as your confidence increases. I have fmq'd some small baby quilts on my home machine and can verify even something that size can be a challenge to handle. I dream of owning a longarm quilter - some day. smilies/cry.gif Right now I have a queen quilt I am hand quilting on a frame. I could really use the Charm Pack solids! I am browsing Fabric.Com right now looking for some solid yardage, and prints and borders and dots - oh, what can I say? I love fabric !smilies/tongue.gifsmilies/tongue.gif