Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

From Chennai, India

Leaf it up


  • A freehand drawing of some leaves with the veins showing
  • Scraps not smaller than 5”x6”. Scraps can be in leaf colours as they appear in nature. Or not. Feel free to go as whimsical as you wish.
  • Picture frame of any size
  • 2 pieces of fabric for the background. Fabrics should be 1” larger than the frame on all sides.
  • Batting scraps
  • Threads to match/contrast
  • Velcro cut into 1” pieces
  • Fabric glue
  • Quilting pins for basting


Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal


1. Transfer the leaf pattern on to a variety of fabrics and prepare a sandwich with batting and backing. The leaves will be 3 dimensional, so remember to use a slightly darker fabric for the back like they appear in nature. Or not.

Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

2. I like to sew around the sandwich and anchor down the edges of the fabric so I can work without the pins begging for my attention. Or scratching me when I am not looking ! Now it’s time to play with the BSR. Stitch along the veins and the leaf shape and then fill in each section of the leaf with a pattern . Experiment. Go wild. Think of how you used to love colouring as a child. If doing FMQ intimidates you, start with straight(ish) lines, then slowly move on to waves, curves, swirls and then circles.
Trust me, whatever you do, it will look beautiful. The stitches will be even thanks to the BSR and you can instead concentrate on the direction of your stitching and the patterns to be created.

Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

3. Once the leaf shape is filled in with FMQ, go over the veins with another line of stitching. This will give the veins more definition as well as cover up any irregular ‘turns’ in the stitching.

4. Similarly, go over the outline too once. Or twice.

Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

Now stand back and admire your handiwork. And know why you looove the BSR so.

5. Cut out the leaf shapes about one eights of an inch from the outline.

6.Switch to an open toe foot and sew along the outines with a fine satin stitch to bind the edges and your leaves are ready.


1. Prepare a sandwich with the background fabrics and grab the BSR for another round of playtime. Use this opportunity to practice your hand at a new FMQ pattern.  I tried McTavishing for the first time here and it was surprisingly easy. You could make the background as simple or as complicated as you like.

Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

2. Cut the quilted background to size and mount it on the picture frame. (Remove the glass if any) Now play with various arrangements of the leaves till you find something that appeals to you.

You arrangement could be be symmetrical or asymmetrical, planned or random, in clusters or singly. Once you like what you see, mark the spot on the backgroud as well as centre of the leaf back. Using fabric glue, stick velcro squares  on the marked spots. Make multiple leaves in various colours and you are ready to change the décor in an instant with a quick change in the leaves in the frame !
Just think of the fun you could have by changing the leaves every once in a while. They don’t even HAVE to be leaves. Try birds or trucks or pretty much anything else. Here’s a cheat I used since I couldn’t decide which arrangement I liked best. I used pins to hold the leaves on the background and that way I can change not just the leaves but the entire arrangement as well!

What I love about BSR

‘Leaf it up’ is a fun beginner project I put together for those taking their first steps with free motion quilting. It is easy and small enough to attempt and experiment with the BSR for first-timers too. The BSR is much like an invisible hand on a bicycle which keeps you from losing your balance and instead of worrying about falling, you can let go and feel free to enjoy your riding experience and improve your performance. With the BSR, I find the strain does not build up any more in my neck and shoulders even after long hours of free motion quilting. So apart from beautiful and consistently even stitches, the use of the BSR does result in a drastic reduction in the usage of swear words !

Picture: 10 Years BSR - Tina Katwal

Tina Katwal - Chennai India

At first the BSR seemed a “fancy schmancy thingummy” today it is my most trusted partner in freemotion quilting.