Football and Free-Motion Quilting Together? Arghh!

Being a Minnesota gal, and a Vikings fan for many decades, the U.S. National Football League Playoffs last weekend posed a true dilemma for me. Who do I cheer for? Do I care who wins? When your home team’s two strongest rivals are the choices, it is a tough call.

Football and Free Motion Quilting - Kickoff, drop your feed dogs and stitch

Is quilting while watching the playoffs a good idea? Perhaps not!

Not feeling particularly vested in the outcome, I decided to turn one UFO into a finish, and do the quilting and binding on a small wall hanging. I also choose to do this while I watched the game. How involved in the game would I be, with no concern for who won? I figured it would be great background sound, and I could stop and peek at the game when it sounded interesting.

I can see some of you rolling your eyes. Yeah. I was wrong on all fronts. Where do I start?

The UFO I selected was none other than the delightful Cardinals in Aspens wall hanging that I made for the Fusible Appliqué Demonstration here earlier this month. Doing tutorials of a particular process can be a great way to create UFO’s. I get very focused on the process and the photographs, trying to be sure it is very clear. Sometimes I make something over to get better shots. By the time I was done assembling it, and giving birth to a tutorial as well, I could have cared less about finishing it.

Anyway, I chose to sew this project because it is small, easy to manipulate, and I figured it would be something I could quilt and bind during the first game. I poured my soda pop, wound my bobbins, watched the pregame shows, and was ready for game time.

Kickoff! Drop your feed dogs!

Football and Free Motion Quilting - Aspen Leaf Detail

Football kickoff time found me working an aspen leaf into my quilting.

I was off and stitching on the leaf detail I had planned for one corner. The Packers and Bears were butting heads and other body parts on the TV, and I was serenely putting veins on an aspen leaf. It struck me as appropriate, since aspen trees grow where the Vikings, Packers, and Bears live.


The leaf was done, not as perfect as it had been imagined in my mind, but there. Time to growl at the game, as I discovered I actually DID seem to care who won, and it was not going my way. I started the small meander in one corner of the quilt, and kept one eye on the game.

My sons will tell you that I talk out loud a lot. I was talking to the sewing project, encouraging it to glide smoothly under my fingers and not “cross the lines” with a fervor that reminded one son of watching the movie “Ghostbusters.” I also talked to the TV, to the game announcers, to the players, and the coaches. Usually I spoke politely, but not always. OK, sometimes I got a little loud.

Football and Free Motion Quilting detail- bad loop, sacked QB

Free motion sewing while watching a QB get sacked left a loop as squashed as the players.

There was a basic conflict there. It is hard to smoothly glide your free motion quilting along while gritting your teeth trying not to yell at a player for dropping the ball. Trust me, do not try it. Groaning as the un-chosen team scored again, my stitches were tight, too close, and decidedly jerky. Breathe, Mary, breathe.


The second half of the game brought some hope, as by now I was openly admitting that I was cheering for the Bears, and they were scoring. My stitches got long, too long, they were loose and easy, and loopy too. Oops. Well, what are a few happy loops in a meander? Just proof of my humanity.

Football and Free Motion Quilting - play diagrams as quilting guides

Can football play diagrams guide your quilting? Look out, they cross lines often!

As the score became closer, I watched more intently. The announcers reviewed plays, drawing them out on the screen. When one said “the receiver circled back here” I duly stitched a loop and a circle to match his diagram. Watching a replay of a particularly hard hit, I created a sharp set of peaks. Looking at my work later, I suspect I could read back the play-by-play of the third quarter in my wandering stitches.


In the end, the Packers won, but I had a finish. A UFO had been wrestled into submission, and I was glad. The fact that it looks like I have never done free-motion quilting before does not thrill me. Do not get me wrong—I am not a perfectionist. On a good day I am only a so-so quilter to begin with, but I love the process. That said, though, it may be a good thing that football season only has a couple more weekends to go. I still have several UFO’s to finish.

Football and Free Motion Quilting, a finish

Free motion quilting while watching football may be hazardous to your stitching. But I finished a UFO!

©2011, The Curious Quilter,,


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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6 Responses to Football and Free-Motion Quilting Together? Arghh!

  1. Pingback: Fusible Appliqué Techniques: A Demonstration | The Curious Quilter

  2. tisha says:

    I’m glad you can sew while football is on. It’s a whole day thing at our house with 10 people. Hard to sneak off into the sewing room.

  3. Martin says:

    Congrats on a finish! Hey, I have seen worse, but I love the football plays in quilting idea…

  4. Peggi says:

    What is the definition of a so-so quilter? (And how did you resist the temptation to type sew-sew quilter?) 🙂

  5. Loretta says:

    Love your story about quilting and football. I like your piece and didn’t see the imperfections. I am a Packers fan and am so excited we are in the Superbowl. The hubs is rooting for the Steelers so it could be interesting.
    Thanks for the entertaining story and again…I like the cardinals.

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