Free Motion Quilting: Sync & Rhythm with Guest Jenny Doan

For months we’ve been cranking out the free motion quilting tutorials. Many of you have jumped in and given it your best, and we’ve loved the pics you’ve shared of your efforts! But for those of you still sitting on the sidelines, it’s time to bite the bullet and start stitching!

Free Motion Quilt: Start at the Beginning!

Jenny Doan may be the Queen of Quick & Easy Quilting, but when it comes to Free Motion Quilting, she’s a beginner like many of you! So don’t be shy; we’re all learning together!

Click on the button below to watch a true beginner tackle the first hurdles of free motion quilting: sync & rhythm! Then it’s your turn!

Free Motion Quilt: Start at the Beginning!

The Block and Strip Quilt!

Make an Easy Block and Strip Quilt with Rob and Jenny!

I’m pretty pumped to be a special guest on the new Missouri Star Quilt Co’s quilting tutorial today! Watch as I teach Jenny Doan a simple Block and Strip quilt that is prefect for a quick project and can look completely different depending on the fabrics you choose!


Click on the button to watch!

tutorial button

Surf’s Up Retreat

I had so much fun at the Surf’s Up Retreat at Missouri Star Quilt Company! What a blast to spend one on one time with those that traveled to come to my retreat! Because we had a smaller group we were all able to spread out our sewing supplies and use the spacious Sewing Center to our advantage! Let’s just take a minute and talk about this Sewing Center. Nothing is better than a comfortable space with amazing lighting and plenty of space to spread out.  Anyways, here are a few pictures of the Sewing Center!

This town is amazing! Definitely a place to visit at least once! Notice the flag… The local football team is on fire this year and headed to state if they win one more game! The whole town was painted blue and gold for the Hornets!

The whole place was a quilting inspiration. I may have a few new motifs up my sleeve after being in there all weekend!!

On the first night of the retreat we had my trunk show! The trunk show was pretty sweet! I even brought in all of the projects I was filming this last week and previewed those! I love it when I get to spoil those who come to my retreats! Here’s a little shout out to Jenny, Ron and their son, Josh for coming to the trunk show! And another HUGE shout out to Mr. Jenny for holding all my quilts while I spoke! rob, jenny ,josh Here are a few photos from the trunk show! Each of the quilts in my trunk show have a story. Some are funny, others tug on your heart a little but all of the quilts have a place in my heart and have shaped who I am today. You’ll have to come to one of my trunk shows to hear the stories!


Dolphin Dance
That’s Mr. Ron Doan AKA Mr. Jenny! See that surfboard in the background? Mr. Jenny made it! He even went and bought lace and then spray painted over it to give it an awesome pattern! Thanks, Ron!!!


The first Seascapes quilt I ever did, I’ve come a long ways!

When the trunk show was over, Susan (who ran the retreat center) was kind enough to hang up every single quilt! It totally added to the ambiance and put us in caffeinated sewing mode! IMG_6860

These one's were pretty popular this weekend, it's hard not to fall in love with quilts that have animals though, especially when the quilts carry an amazing story!
These one’s were pretty popular this weekend, it’s hard not to fall in love with quilts that have animals though, especially when the quilts carry an amazing story for an amazing cause!


quilts on the walls
I love a wall filled with quilts and a floor filled with sewing machines and fabric! Doesn’t this look like a party to you?!

quilts on wallMore quilts! PS the green one on the back wall is an upcoming tutorial!

Close up of one of my quilts! The Twizzal Orizzinal


dancing dots
Closeup of the Dancing Dots Quilt! I’ve been wanting to experiment more with free motion quilting. I really enjoy it!


I loved the quilts hanging up so much that I did a live video chat showing them all!! You can watch that HERE!

Here are some pictures from my 3 Dudes Class I taught! This one has always been a popular one and the retreaters LOVED this quilt. Almost as much as I loved their own renditions. Most of them had already started sewing strip sets and cutting blocks before the class even started! We were all so excited about this quilt! 3dudes class

It was awesome to see the quilts come together with completely different fabrics! They were all so unique!


sewing strips
These vibrant colors were so refreshing! I’m a lover of all things bright!


I can’t tell you how much I LOVE batiks! These ones were awesome!


I think the best part of the whole retreat was watching these quilts come together! I was in awe!
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I spy a Man Sewing t-shirt and lots of awesome fabric!! We had so much space to spread out and get comfy!


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I’m glad my wife wasn’t with me at this retreat, she might have been stealing this fabric for her stash!!! 🙂 Such a fun print!


Busy, busy, busy!


These fabrics were right up my alley!


And you can never go wrong with a Moda Grunge!


orange and red

I’m so in love with this quilt! The colors were fun and her smile makes it that much better! We love happy sewers!!

After hours of sewing it was time to take a field trip to the shops! With a smaller group it’s easy to do that! We walked through some of the shops, I showed them my favorite products and we even got to practice our Free Motion Quilting on a Crown Jewel in the new Machine Shed! What an awesome store!

Machine Shed

machine shed
The window displays were pretty slick! Such a cool idea!


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Doesn’t she look like she’s glowing??! That’s because she was in the quilting destination of the world, at an awesome retreat of course! 😉


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Mid sentence photos are always the most attractive I think… Notice that I have my french press traveling coffee kit in my hands. I needed the caffeine!


Rob fixing the crown jewel
Being a sewing machine technician has it’s perks. Like when the bobbin runs out after 10 seconds of quilting and the entire group is bummed out. Rob to the rescue!!! (Thankfully it was an easy fix and we were on our way quilting again!)


macine shed
She was a natural!!


machine quilting
I’ll give you 2 guesses who quilted these flames… Not my best but hey, not bad for my first time on this machine!

On Saturday we had our Reverse Applique Class! I’m amazed at what this group created!! Here are a few pictures of the fun!

Can you tell what it’s going to be??


I think she had the best spot in the house! With the sun resting on her back all weekend, what a relaxing way to sew!!


What an awesome idea!! I’ll have to make more of these bad boys when I get home! I feel so inspired after spending the weekend sewing with this group!


This dragon is so slick! Crazy intricate design!


This is a sample that I brought along with me!


Phillip's design
Phillip’s creation was so cool! So much talent at this retreat!!

Look at this good looking group!!!  

Here are some of the Reverse Appliqué creations from today’s class!! #mansewing #surfsup #quiltretreat #appliqué   A photo posted by Man Sewing with Rob Appell (@mansewing) on

All in all the Surf’s Up Retreat was awesome! We made new friendships, bonded over our love of fabric, made a few quilts and most importantly… had fun!!! We hope to make this a tradition and do a Surf’s Up Retreat every year! I’ll be sure to let you all know when we have the dates set in stone!

3 Dudes Quilt

Rob had a special guest on Man Sewing!  Rob shows Jenny Doan a new cool version of the 3 Dudes Quilt, originally tutorialed by Jenny!

3 Dudes Quilt 2

Find all the details here:

Video Transcript:

Rob:  Hey everybody! It’s Rob from Man Sewing, and I’ve got an incredibly special guest today.  It’s Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Jenny: Hi everybody! Well, you know, I like to travel… Rob: Yes. Jenny: …so I thought I would walk all the way up the stairs and meet you today. Rob: Well, I certainly hope it didn’t take long to get here or anything, or you didn’t have any  problem with your luggage on the way. Jenny: I’m a little out of breath at the top of the stairs, I’ve got to admit. Rob: Only because she was singing all of the way up. Jenny: Well, that’s true. Rob: It’s a true story. Jenny: That is true ­­ I do sing all the time. Rob: Oh, we’re going to have so much fun today. Our tutorial is basically a modification of our  Strip Surprise from the 3 Dudes Quilt Company and, this is a true story:  when I first got hired to  do the Man Sewing gig, I was studying what Jenny was doing on her YouTube channel, right?  And so I fell in love with the way she was modifying this pattern early on. Jenny: Seriously? Rob: I did. I did. Jenny: Oh, awesome! Rob: And I thought, “You know what? I’m into strip piecing right now. I want to try this.” Jenny: Yeah. Rob: And so… Jenny: It’s such a cool idea. Rob: Oh my goodness.  It was so much fun! Jenny: Those guys are brilliant ­­ brilliant! Rob: Yeah, yeah. I would like to meet them some day. Jenny: Yeah. We love the 3 Dudes. Rob: You’ve actually met them? Jenny: I have not. Rob: No! They have great stuff. Jenny: I know! Yeah! Rob: We should take a road trip together out there. Jenny: We should. That would be awesome! Rob: A surprise…like a knock on the door. A surprise, “Hey we’re here! Oh, fantastic!” Well, we  could goof off all day and we probably will, but let me run you down through a couple of supplies  real quick. Jenny: Don’t you want to show them this quilt? Rob: This quilt here? Jenny: Yeah! Rob: I just assumed they can see it, but, yes. Let me see if I can get this right. Look at this  lovely quilt I have behind me. Jenny: Take a look at this quilt behind us! Rob: Yes! No, this is actually radical and I love the quilting and everything in, in the way it came  out. Jenny: Oh, it’s gorgeous! I think, it’s gorgeous, really! Rob: Yeah, but… Jenny: You got it from me. Rob: I did. I did, but do you think it’s going to be hard to make? Jenny: Oh, no! Oh, everything we do is easy and quick. Rob: It is. And I was blown away with the secondary design elements that came out of it just by  one of the little swaps that I did. So now I’m going to run through this. Jenny: Ok. Go ahead. Rob: We’re ready for that. Ok, so you need only one of your roll ups, like a 2 ½ inch set. This  happens to be an Artisan Batik from Robert Kaufman, and this one, I think, is called Sparkling  Water, or something like that. But, isn’t that gorgeous? It looks just like the ocean to me. Jenny: Yes. Rob: Ok. And then I used, oh, this is a real treat ­­ not having to cut all my 1 inch strips. Jenny: Oh, isn’t that a treat? Yeah. Rob: Yep. So, I got this. It’s just the Kona Black, but it’s all pre­cut and ready to go, so I just  basically unpack them. Jenny: I love that. I know. This was so hard! Rob: So, you ready to unpack? Jenny: I’m ready. Rob: Cool! If you’ll take that one apart and I’ll take this one apart; we’re going to need them  both. Jenny: Oh my goodness. Rob: I know. Jenny: Craziness. You know, a lot of people buy jelly rolls but they don’t always open them, and  they don’t really make it easy. First thing, you’ve got the label and they’ve got the rubber band… Rob: Right? Jenny: …but they’re so cute all wrapped up. Rob: Yeah. Jenny: Alright, here we go. Rob: Ready? Jenny: Yeah. Oh no, no! Don’t! You’re nuts! Rob: A little bit. Just a little bit. So, what I found as I was unpacking my, my strips here of the  batiks is, I wanted to try to focus on getting my light colors into my kind of centers of the, of the  strip sets we’re going to build, so we build these X’s in the back of the quilt that you see. Jenny: Ok. Rob: And I also found that there were a lot of colors that had three strips and a lot of colors that  had two strips. So we only need two of each. The third one we’re going to use for our borders  later on. Jenny: Oh, ok. Rob: So, as I was unpacking this, I would be like, “One for me, the borders, and two for you, the  quilt. Jenny: Ok. Rob: Ok? So, two more for you. One for me. Jenny: Well, and this is not true for every, every roll up strip. Rob:  Of course not. Jenny: I mean, some of them, each, there’s a different, each one, every color is different in  some of them, is what I’m trying to say. Rob: Oh yeah. Jenny: That’s what I’m trying to say. Rob: Or every color is the same! Jenny: So, you just basically want to use two­thirds for your strip set and one­third for your  border. Rob: Exactly. I didn’t quite know what to do with the leftover stuff or that one third portion of it… Jenny: Yeah. Rob: …and then I got in and thought, “Oh the borders will be good,” and we’ll show you how to  do that. Jenny: Plus those piano key borders are really cool. Rob: So, basically, I just did that with this particular roll. I just unpacked it and these became my  first set of colors, and we’re making three different colorways. And once we get this all stitched  together, I’ll have you show them all the colorways we’ve built in here today. So, with this, let me  show you how I kind of organized, and then I’m going to let you build it, if you don’t mind. Jenny: Ok, sure. Rob: Ok, so I wanted to focus on kind of keeping the light fabrics in the center. So, when I was  looking at this, I was trying to modify it so that I would always have black on the outside edge. Jenny: Ok, that makes sense. Rob: So, where you’ve got your black there, here, and then there’s one more strip I’ve hidden  underneath here, like this. Ok? So, basically, these are going to be built in this order: so you’re  going to have a skinny strip, a colored strip, skinny, three colored strips, and I, like I said, I like  to keep the light in the center. And then the skinny, a colored, and a skinny again, just like that. Jenny: Ok. Rob: Alright, Jenny. Thanks for getting this all stitched together for me. Jenny: You are welcome. Rob: Now, let me just point out again: focused on the light colors in the center, then we have the  skinnier, the black strips, then our colored strips, then a skinny of the black strips. Jenny: Ok. Rob: Now, our next step is to make sure this is all pressed nice, one last time. Jenny: One of the things, when I’m pressing, I tell people to always make sure there’s no little  folds in your seams because that changes the size of the block… Rob: Absolutely. Jenny: …or the strip set. And that will change the size of the block and that can be crazy. Rob: You know what I’ve also seen change the size of the block is sewing parts of one block on  one machine and sewing part on another machine. Jenny: Oh ya, there’s so much. It’s that whole­­start a project on one machine and finish on one  machine. Rob: I really agree with that. Jenny: It’s, it’s important. Rob: So, for this step, what we need to do, and I’ve already cleaned this edge off a little bit, is I  want to measure how tall our block, our strip sets are so we can make it into a perfect square,  ok? So, for this I’m just going to hold my ruler this way. Jenny: So, however tall they are, that’s how wide we’re going to cut them. Rob: Correct. Jenny: Because we’re making blocks, we’re making squares. Rob: Yes, and so I’m just at 14 ¼ here. Jenny: Perfect. Rob: Ok, so now what I want to do is, I want to measure over 14 ¼ from this edge, and I’m  going to slice here. Jenny: Perfect. Rob: And one strip set row will yield three of these blocks. Jenny: Ok. Rob: Ok? So I’m going to make one of them, ok? Jenny: There’s one. Rob: I’ll let you grab that and set up for… Jenny: They’re so pretty, aren’t they? Rob: I love the colors. Jenny: I do. I love…I’m like Rob, you know. Actually, where Rob lives, I was actually born there  and love the ocean as well. Rob: Now, why don’t you walk our friends and family at home through how we’re going to piece  these back together, please. Jenny: Ok, so the cool thing about this is now they’re squares so can do anything you want to  because they’re even on all sides. And so, so we’re going to have one square horizontally, one  square vertically, like this, we’re going to put them right sides together, and we’re going to sew  them all the way around the outside edge. And it’s just really cool how this works. So, I’m going  to go ahead and do that. Rob: And you’re just starting on one corner and going all the way around the square. Jenny: Yes, that’s what I do. Rob: Fabulous! I played with both ways of sewing: one side, the other, the top and bottom, It  didn’t make any difference. So…and while she’s sewing around that real quick, I want to show  you the other colorways that you could build out of that same batik roll. So, this was kind of the  medium family. You’re seeing the brighter of the families. So, here’s my fun medium family.  Again, I’ve got my lighter fabrics in the middle, kind of gradiating my way out, ok? And then the  other one I have, it’s a little bit darker read on this and technically, yes, my lightest of my fabrics  is this gray, but I really wanted the blue in the middle because I wanted the blue to kind of  coordinate with the rest of the quilt. And you can see those way out here in these squares as  well. So, I was kind of trying to play, kind of get that variegated color effect as well. So, these  are the other kinds of strip sets that I made, and, again, just as a reminder, I made two of them  each colorway. Did I stall almost long enough? Jenny: That makes the quilt look so beautiful. I love how the lights are in the center and then  you kind of framed them up. It’s so pretty. Start down. I’ve just got one more side to go. Rob: And when you finish sewing this, there’s no real way to press anything, so we go right into  disassembling it all over again. Jenny: Yep. This is where the amazement happens to me. I mean, you see this and you’re just  like, “Oh! So cool.” Rob: Yeah, the first time I opened up that first little new square we’re about to create, I was  very, very happy. Jenny: It feels like Christmas. .Rob: Yep, it does. Do you want to cut this one? Or do you want me to? Jenny: Oh, you can. Rob: Alright. She lets me do all the fun stuff. So, for this cut, I’m going to go ahead and cut  through the corners of my seam allowances. So, right where my quarter inch seams met up,  correct? Jenny: Directly diagonal. Diagonal one. Rob: So, I’m going to do a diagonal here. Jenny: On both sides, yep. Rob: And a diagonal here. So, if you’ve got one of those cool lazy susan mats at home would be  fantastic because you really don’t want them to move. Jenny: Make sure this is right in the corner. Rob: You got ‘er? Jenny: Oh there you go, yep! Rob: So, we really don’t want to move the fabric, and remember, I’ve got those grip strips on so  I’m lifting the ruler up and I’m dropping it back down. I’m going to go to this side. Jenny: Oh, you right hander! Rob: I know. See, we would be really good if I did all the right­handed cuts and you did all the  left­handed cuts. Jenny: We’d just trade off. Rob: Straight through. So again, I didn’t move the fabric so that I have my diagonals there. And  here comes the magic. You do it, you do it. Jenny: Here, look at this. Oop, we need a little cut right here. Rob: Oh! Jenny: There we go. Rob: I get them all? Jenny: Yeah, so now we get these four blocks, like this. Rob: Fantastic. Ok, let’s do it. So we open them up… Jenny: And because we laid them vertically and horizontally, you now have strip sets that are  going opposite directions. Rob: Isn’t that cool? Jenny: Isn’t that so cool? So, you can do this. Rob: Uh­huh! Just like that? Jenny: Or you can do this. So, how did you lay them out for your quilt? Rob: Well, I tell you what, last… Jenny: I love these two different…. Rob: I did it a couple of different ways. Let me press these so we can see them a little bit better.  I’m going to ask you. We’ve got another one here. Jenny: Oh, sure. Rob: We want to cut that open. Jenny: Because we want to see, to see how the, we’re going to lay these together. Rob: Correct. And I hid the ruler and I hid the cutter. Jenny: That’s alright. Rob: A little Easter egg hunt going on in here. Jenny: I’m pretty good at finding those. Rob:  Good. You’ve got to beat all those grandkids to the goodies. Is that what it is? Jenny: Yeah, but they don’t touch my rotary cutter, though. Rob: No? Good. Now as I’m pressing these open, I’m trying to press it so that that skinny strip,  that’s the border strip, is being pressed too so that I don’t have to worry about folding the seam  allowances. So, to answer your question, I first started…and maybe I can have you start building  these. I started in the very middle square, as I was building, and I actually looked for my  opposite colors here, which brought in the opposite colors here, like that. So, I built this one first,  and then I started to gradiate my way out, that way. Jenny: I love it. Rob: And then I brought in the other colors and I tried to keep my brightest squares toward the  center, moving my darker squares toward the exterior, and there was a point where I had all of  the squares laid out, and it certainly seemed like I had made only one incorrect, so I went  around and double checked and double checked. And as soon as I have these ones ironed,  we’ll point out what everybody can look for at home and then we’ll talk about borders. Jenny: Alright, I’ve got, I’ve got these four and I’ll let you iron that before we get onto the rest. Rob: Fantastic. So then as I was building the next series of rows I thought, “Well, wouldn’t this  be terrific if I could have these different colors come together?” But I didn’t want my same  fabrics to touch, so then I brought this one over to this side so that I was looking for my  opposites. Jenny: Two different colors, yeah. Rob:  Correct. And my opposite’s there and so that’s going to give me opposites. Jenny: Opposites. Rob: Excuse my reach there. And opposites, like that. Jenny: That’s so cool. So then how many, how many blocks, what do we have across here? Rob: I believe it was 36 if I remember correctly. Jenny: Six across and six down. Rob:  Yep. Jenny: And, you know, they’ll have to refer to this picture for that color placement. Rob: Right. Jenny: With those beautiful, dark ones come in the corners. Rob: Right. Rob: And, at my retreat, as I was just bragging about, (one quick option and then we’ll move  onto borders) one of the ladies took some of the lights from the center and actually moved them  into the outer corners and then brought some of the mediums into the center, and then had the  darks on the outer portion. Jenny: I imagine you could do anything. Rob: It was like pulsing. Jenny: Oh! Rob: It was really cool. Jenny: Beautiful! Rob: I’ll make sure there’s a… when this tutorial comes live, I’ll make sure there’s an alternative  photograph from my friend who made hers at the retreat. It’s really stunning as well. Jenny: That’s great. Rob: Ok, so… Jenny: So, we’re going to sew six across, six rows of six and it makes a quilt that is what size? Rob: I don’t know. It’s sixty squares when I was all done.  Actually, I do know because, in  building the borders, I had to measure, because…let me walk us through that, real quick, if  you’re ready. Jenny: Yeah. I think so. Rob:  We don’t need anymore of this, ok? I just want to go home and make the quilt back up.  Thank you, my dear. Jenny: It’s beautiful. It is just gorgeous. Rob: So, as I said, I had those leftover strips, the ones that were, that I had three of in this  particular pack, and so then I did a strip set row without any of the skinny black strips, just color  and similar in colorway, starting with my light and kind of gradiating out in both directions, now,  try to go slow with this, I figured the distance along the outer edge, right? The outer edge of my  quilt. So, the first step was, I put in one more black, skinny strip all the way around. Jenny: Ok. Rob: So, I needed to sew two strips for the bottom, two strips for the top, two each for the sides.  So, I used eight strips there. Jenny: Uh­huh. For that first border? Rob: Correct. The inner border. Then I measured the math all the way around, and then, I think,  at that point, it was sitting at about 56 or so. Jenny: Uh­huh. Rob: I stitched this together, I figured out how much I would need to go all the way around the  quilt, figured out how much I needed here, and divided it until I could evenly get enough strips.  Now, I know that sounds crazy. So, here’s your answer: three inches. Jenny: Three inches. Thank you. Whew! Rob: But that’s how I did it because I do everything on the fly. I literally measured, and I said,  “This is what I’ve got and this what I need, divide it in,” and that’s how I found out. Jenny: Perfect. Rob: But at the end of the answer, it’s three inches. Jenny: Ok. Rob: Three inch cut. Jenny: Whew, that was a lot of work for that. Rob: So, when I got done with all those three inches, I had enough for the label along the back. Jenny: Oh, very cool. Rob: That was all that was left with my math. So, if I had gone to 3 ½,  I would not have made  enough for all those strips I needed. Jenny: So 3 ½ inch strips. Rob: Correct. Jenny: And then sewed them together, end to end. Rob: I did, and I also continued the color order as it went. So, basically, it’s probably easier to  show here, I stitched this color to this color. Jenny: Ok, so like right here. Rob:  Exactly. So that way it kinda goes all the way around. Jenny: Yep, beautiful. Rob: And then, for me, as I got to the corners, there was just one, you know, piece that was a  little bit shy, and it’s such a large, all over quilt, nobody cares. Jenny: Nobody cares. Rob: …will even see it. Jenny: Awesome. It’s beautiful. Rob: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming and doing this with me. Jenny: Oh, you’re welcome. I love it. Rob:  I’ve really been blessed to be part of your crew here and your family. Jenny: Oh, we love it. We love having you. Rob: Ok, enough sappiness. Ok, so we want to know what you’re going to use for your first  colorway when you build your variation of the 3 Dudes Quilt and the 3 Dudes that are watching  along, thank you again for fantastic patterns. And until we see you next time, this is Man  Sewing.