Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane
Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane

Today we’re celebrating talented Designer Molly Hanson and the kickoff of her new book.. Free Motion Quilting for Beginners! (and those who think they can’t)

Not only are we fortunate to have Molly work along with us…we can tell you..she is just as talented as she is sweet!!

Here’s a bit about the book…

You can do it! Learn to free-motion quilt on a home sewing machine. Yes, you can! Encouraging you step-by-step along the way, Molly Hanson teaches how to quilt like a pro. You’ll begin by quilting your name, because soon you’ll be signing unique works of art!

Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane
Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane

Master the fundamentals of free-motion quilting on manageable fat-quarter-sized fabric pieces—and turn the pieces into projects
Try 10 different quilting designs, including stippling variations, pebbles, square meander, and swirls
Confidently quilt 15 practical projects, such as a tote bag, weekender bag, and laptop sleeve

Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane
Image courtesy of Martingale Books Photography by Brent Kane


We invited our designers to participate and try our Molly’s new’s what three of our talented gals came up with..

christmas half square triangle quilt 9
christmas half square triangle quilt 11

Hi!  It’s Amanda from Jedi Craft Girl.  I recently finished pouring over Molly Hanson’s book, Free-Motion for Beginners.  While I don’t consider myself a beginner (I’ve been FMQing for 16+ years) I found that reading this book gave me courage to break out of my quilting comfort zone – you all know what that is!  Mine is sitippling and loop-de-loos!  I decided to try something new and try “pebble” style.  Beginning a free motion quilt pattern is like curling your hair – once you start you have to finish the job weather you like it or not!!  I am super happy with the way it turned out and my family was in awe at my creation!  Here are the details of the project:

Finished Size 39″ square

The wall hanging consists of half square triangles (HST) and solid squares.  To make the HST cut 5″ squares, or charm squares, in various colors of dusty aqua, grey, and off white.


off white (16) 5″ squares, (16) 4.5″ squares, (4) 4.5″ x WOF strips for boarder
Light print (8) 5″ squres
Dark print (8) 5″ squares

christmas half square triangle quilt 1Draw a diagonal line on the back of half the squares.
christmas half square triangle quilt 2Then match up the squares in sets, right sides together and pin.

This is how to match up the square sets:

8 light/dark print sets
16 print/cream sets

christmas half square triangle quilt 3


Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the pencil line.

christmas half square triangle quilt 5Cut along the pencil line after sewing.
christmas half square triangle quilt 4Press toward the dark.  Each square set yields (2) HST units.

Once the HST blocks are pressed, you will need to “square them up”.  Line the block up on your cutting mat and align the 45 degree angle of the block with that of the mat.  The block should finish 4.5″ and should only need to be trimmed off slightly.  This allows the blocks to be perfect and makes for a quilt that goes together nicely.

Arrange the HST units as shown in the picture.  You may need to play around with it – I didn’t plan out my colors ahead of time – I just went for it!

Once you have your quilt laid out, sew each row together, block to block, pressing the seams of each row opposite.  I always press away from the odd row and toward the even row, if that makes any sense.

Add the off-white boarders and press, squaring off excess.

now on to the quilting…..

christmas half square triangle quilt 6
I followed Molly’s instructions for spray basting and I don’t think I would “pebble” quilt if I had pin basted.  I taped the backing fabric to the floor, used Spray n Bond® basting spray and coated the back in sections.  I laid the batting on the top and smoothed out any wrinkles.  I then sprayed the batting and placed the top on.  It worked PERFECTLY!  No shifting or puckers whatsoever.

I first did a freehand triangle inside each triangle – giving it a little curve to hide the imperfections.  I could really use some practice on this technique – from a distance it looks good 🙂  I quilted the prints in a light grey.

For the pebbles, I switched to white thread – I like the effect the white thread on off-white fabric gave.  I started in with the defined center spaces to build my confidence.  I should mention that I did practice drawing the pebbles first and I re-read Molly’s section on Pebbles.  I love how it turned out.  My pebbles are not perfect – probably from so many years of loop-de-loos – it was hard to break the habit.  This technique used a lot of thread and was tiring – If you were to do a large quilt, you would need to schedule breaks.  I kept stopping to look at my work and I was pretty excited with the result!  Once it was quilted, I added the binding and hung it on my wall.

christmas half square triangle quilt 7
christmas half square triangle quilt 8

christmas half square triangle quilt 10


Nicole Daksiewicz’s Turn:

When I first heard about Molly’s new book I was a little uncertain…I am a hard core straight line quilter. Look at any of my projects and you will notice that they may be going in all sorts of directions but every line is straight as can be. I tried free motion quilting several months ago and there was more cussing involved than stitching so I put it to rest and decided that it was one of two things…my machine wouldn’t cooperate or my hands and brain couldn’t work together (I was probably a little bit of both).


Fast forward to this past week when I took the knowledge I read in Molly’s new book and started to practice. I first cleaned and oiled my machine and made sure the tension was where it was supposed to be, spray basted my fabric layers with my SpraynBond® Basting Spray from Therm O Web and started. I then fell in love, so much that I just ordered myself a supreme slider and some quilting gloves because I know that I will be free motion quilting quite a bit in the near future.


The design I chose was one of the first in the book, loop de loops and I chose to use it on my Dear Stella project that was on the blog this week. I felt like the loops would look like snowballs and would make for a fun texture. It helps to draw out your design on paper first like Molly states just so you can get a feel for how to actually make the motion.


I am looking forward to doing a wood grain pattern, and pebbles! I have always admired free motion work by so many quilting friends and I love the confidence Molly has given me in my new skill. Thanks Molly!!

Jenifer Cowles turn:
Hi…I loved Molly’s new book.  It is so nicely done with great pictures and clear instructions.  I was completely hooked when I got to the wood grain section.  I have always loved it on quilts but it looked way to hard.  In the book it was so clear and easy to follow I couldn’t resist trying it.

I took two pieces of scrap canvas I had laying on the floor from a recent project and tried it out.  I must confess I did draw it out first with a pen just to make sure I could do it, but I was comfortable enough with the second piece I did it all free motion on the machine.  It was so much fun, I can’t wait to do it again on an actual quilt or bigger project.

Now that I had my perfectly wood grain quilted pieces I had to make them into something so I adhered some HeatnBond® Fusible Fleece to the back and some more scraps for the lining and sewed a fun piece of ribbon around the top edge.
Cut a length of ribbon for a loop to hook on a ring, sew around 3 sides leaving the top open.  Turn.  Done, simple project completed.  Now if I can just keep my daughter from taking it.

Here it is attached to my work bag.  Now it won’t get lost with all of my junk in the bag and it is super cute.  Thank you so much Molly for the wonderful inspiration, I can’t wait to tackle more machine quilting.


Molly’s publisher, Martingale, has generously offered to give an e-book to one lucky reader. Plus we’re going to include some of our Designers favorites..our SpraynBond® Basting Spray and our HeatnBond® Fusible Fleece to help you with your next Free-Motion Quilting project! 

Just take a moment to use the Rafflecopter software to enter to win! You are also welcome to leave a comment and let us know if you are a free motion quilter for a chance to win! The giveaway will be open through Sunday, November 30th! So enter to win!!a Rafflecopter giveaway


And do take a moment to visit the other Designers who joined us in supporting Molly and her new book!


1. Martingale
2. Amanda Jean
3. Amy Friend
4. Angela Walters
5. Juliet van der Heijden The Tartankiwi
6. Lori Kennedy
7. Cindy Weins
8. Thermoweb

26 Comments on Free Motion Quilting for Beginners by Molly Hanson

  1. melissa latter
    November 21, 2014 at 8:33 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks so much for the tutorial and for the encouragement.

  2. Mary
    November 21, 2014 at 8:42 am (8 years ago)

    Darling projects! Everyone did such a great job with their FMQ too.

  3. Karyn Ashley-Smith
    November 21, 2014 at 8:56 am (8 years ago)

    What an awesome post!Thanks for sharing. I’ve entered to win the book & spray baste & have my fingers crossed. I tried FMQ once and I was awful! Thanks for chance!

  4. Quilting Tangent
    November 21, 2014 at 9:15 am (8 years ago)

    I would love to enter,but am not on anything in the Rafflecopter. What happened to a blog comment entry.
    Any way sounds like a wonderful book.

  5. Diane C.
    November 21, 2014 at 10:01 am (8 years ago)

    I love the designs in this book and would love to have a helping hand as I attempt to try free motion quilting. I have only used the parallel lines design and “stitch in the ditch” methods, never building up the courage to just try it, even on a sample piece.

  6. Debby E
    November 21, 2014 at 10:20 am (8 years ago)

    Thanks so much for the chances to win! Love your samples and love your Spray & Bond! 😉

  7. Molly
    November 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm (8 years ago)

    Such fantastic work girls, I couldn’t be more proud of your efforts and so pleased that my book was helpful to you all~

  8. Pam
    November 21, 2014 at 6:18 pm (8 years ago)

    I love the pebble quilting! And I can see that it would be so much easier with the spray basting rather than pin basting. Thanks for the tutorial and thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Susan Potts
    November 21, 2014 at 10:11 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow! This would be the kick in the pants I need to build my confidence to really have a go at quilting my own sewing!

  10. Veronika
    November 21, 2014 at 11:36 pm (8 years ago)

    I just tested the waters of FMQ this past week on a test swatch…still too nervous to try it on a “real” project yet 🙂

  11. Fran
    November 22, 2014 at 7:09 am (8 years ago)

    I would love to try your products and learn to free-motion quilt. I’ve tried in the past but was so disappointed with the results.

  12. BevM
    November 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm (8 years ago)

    I am putting this book on my Xmas list right now. I love the look of the pebble quilting but I’m not brave enough to start quilting it on one of my projects.

  13. Diane Beavers
    November 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm (8 years ago)

    Tryng to teach myself FMQ, it’s me getting my rhythm down thsts slowing me down…which might be a good thing. Regardless I would love Molly’s book and all the tutorials for those projects I can practice til I’m proficient:) Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. Cecilia
    November 22, 2014 at 3:23 pm (7 years ago)

    I love FMQ! That is my favorite part of quilting. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this great book.

  15. Barbara Fox
    November 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm (7 years ago)

    spray is better than pins when you are quilting small

  16. Karen Thurn
    November 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm (7 years ago)

    I took a class on FMQ and didn’t get very far as my FM foot didn’t fit on my machine. Oh, dear. so I need to get a copy of this book so I can learn it.

  17. Kkathy E.
    November 22, 2014 at 9:00 pm (7 years ago)

    I am very new to FMQ, and want to learn more to perfect my skills. I know I need to practice, practice, practice! I love so many designs.

  18. Sarah
    November 22, 2014 at 9:01 pm (7 years ago)

    I do not know how to FMQ but I’d love to learn.

  19. Phazereyes
    November 23, 2014 at 12:48 am (7 years ago)

    I’ve tried FMQ a few times and not really liking the results nor the frustration. Someday I’ll get the courage to FMQ on an actual quilt. I need lots more practice and I think I need this book after seeing these projects and results!!

  20. Celeste
    November 24, 2014 at 11:05 am (7 years ago)

    I’ve been doing a little more free motion quilting on small projects. It is true that the more you do it, the easier it becomes and it does start to look better, too! I plan to work my way up to larger quilts. I’m sure the book would be a big help to me. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

  21. Debbie H
    November 24, 2014 at 2:32 pm (7 years ago)

    I haven’t tried free motion quilting yet, but I want to learn. Thanks!

  22. Annmarie
    November 25, 2014 at 8:28 am (7 years ago)

    I free motion quilt my smaller projects but send out big quilts to a long arm expert!

  23. Brenda Carles
    October 22, 2017 at 1:46 pm (5 years ago)

    Can you share the brand or where you got the fabric for the wall hanging pictures?

    • admin
      October 25, 2017 at 9:25 am (5 years ago)

      Hi Brenda…these were just fabric scraps Amanda had in her collection. Not a particular brand. Many thanks for asking..Julia


2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Free Motion Quilting for Beginners by Molly Hanson

  1. […] I recently read Molly Hanson’s Free Motion Quilting for Beginners.   While I don’t consider myself a beginner (I’ve been FMQing for 16+ years) I found that reading this book gave me courage to break out of my quilting comfort zone – you all know what that is!  Mine is stippling and loop-de-loos!  I decided to try something new and try “pebble” style.  Beginning a free motion quilt pattern is like curling your hair – once you start you have to finish the job weather you like it or not!!  I am super happy with the way it turned out and my family was in awe at my creation!  You can check out the tutorial for this wall hanging over at the Therm O Web Blog! […]