Free Motion Monday – Words on Quilts

Last week, I shared some of the filler designs on my Arizona Flag quilt.

imageSince I was inspired to make this quilt for Arizona’s statehood centennial, I wanted to include some of my state’s history.  Schoolchildren in Arizona learn the 5 C’s that were key to local industry: cotton, copper, climate, citrus and cattle so I quilted those terms right into the quilt in the lower blue portion.

image (Shown from the back to enhance visibility)

I used the letters E and M as a filler design.  Three bumps up, then 3 bumps sideways and you can stitch quickly across your quilt.


I also stitched “Arizona 1912 – 2012” centered below the star.  Unfortunately, this did not stand out very clearly.  Perhaps I should try adding crystals to the surface to emphasize that detail!


As a final touch, I quilted the names of all Arizona’s governors in the border of the quilt.  I marked a writing line in chalk, then just wrote carefully in cursive as if I were holding a pencil.


Have you written on any quilts?

Free Motion Monday – Arizona’s Flag

Making a postage stamp quilt, with thousands of tiny pieces, was on my bucket list when buzz started about Arizona’s Centennial anniversary of statehood celebration. The resulting quilt had 2,012 pieces in honor of our state birthday in 2012.  I will tell the whole story … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday – From sketchbook to finished quilt

Last week I shared the plan for several border designs.  I finished the quilt and I’d like to explain the designs in more detail. The quilt is for a school raffle and each child made a hand and footprint angel.  … Continue reading

Free Motion Midweek- More from Blue River

Don’t forget to enter the Early Bird RSVP contest for the #SpringBreakSewingDay! Details on this post. Let’s look at a few more designs from the open spaces on my Blue River quilt:  (pattern available in Monochromatic Quilts:Amazing Variety) I used … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday (Mid-week) – In the water

(OOPS… just noticed I didn’t hit publish, sorry!) In my quilt Blue River, I used several water-themed free motion quilting designs in the open blocks. In fact I even quilted some fish! I started on the right edge and stitched … Continue reading

Free Motion Monday -Flame Variations

Let’s take a look at the quilting designs I used on my quilt “Blue River.”


This is the first quilt in the book I co-authored, titled “Monochromatic Quilts: Amazing Variety.”  As the name implies, I was inspired by water, so the rail fence blocks have parallel wavy lines to represent the movement of a river.


The alternate blocks gave me lots of room for free motion quilting.  I used a flame shape to create a central design that was stitched from the center of the block and echoed.


I have learned a lot about free motion quilt designs by following Leah Day’s blog.  Check out her extensive gallery here.

I repeated the flame motif on a smaller scale by stitching three flame clusters connected by a single line, then I echoed around all of them to fill the block.


Here is the design step by step.  A flame is an important basic shape to have in your free motion toolkit because it can stand alone or combine with other elements to become flowers and leaves too.


Once you have mastered the slight curve of the flame, echo it a few times, then stitch in a new direction.  An echoed flame can be a quick all-over design on a masculine quilt.

Work in a circle to stitch a flower with flame-shaped petals.


You can add stems to a row of flowers, or echo a cluster of blossoms as I have done in my Blue River quilt.

What are your go-to free motion quilting designs?

Free Motion Monday – Filler Designs for a Jewel Box Quilt

I have a customer quilt loaded on my longarm.  It is a Jewel Box pattern done in beautiful batiks.


I chose a design for each space in the quilt…the central squares, the colorful chain and the background area.  The chains are filled with the coffee bean design while I stitched a single curved feather in the central square.  The background is filled with parallel wavy lines.


I stitch in the ditch around all the colored squares which gives me places to travel from section to section, and I can stitch across the whole quilt without breaking my thread.  I consider this “light custom” quilting since I am not changing thread color or using a huge variety of block designs.

This quilt pattern two borders, so I am using a feather in the background section and a mix of orange peels and stars in the single squares.image

The four patch repeats the coffee bean and some squiggles.

I am using a sandy colored thread, King Tut Sahara Desert, from Superior Threads.


Free Motion Monday – My “graffiti” style

There is a style of free motion quilting where you move from design to design as the spirit leads you.  Karlee Porter published a book called “Graffiti Quilting” that explains this style.


Sariditty calls it “sketchbook” quilting and QuiltingJetGirl refers to “flow” quilting. Whatever you call it, it is a great way to fill the space. I used a variety of designs in the lower border of my True Blue Quilts banner.

In my sample, I started with the row of pebbles in dark blue thread, then balanced it by quilting the upper part in white.

Here is a whiteboard sketch of the designs I free motion quilted:


Take a closer look at some of these free motion quilting designs.

Hills and Valleys

I have used this design by itself in border and it gives great texture to the quilt.


Start by defining a small section of your quilt with a gentle curve (1) . Echo this curve until you run out of room (2).  Travel along the edge of the space and the first line of stitching, then make a new space with a gentle curve in a different direction (3). Fill in the new section with echo lines of stitching (4).


This free motion quilting design is named for quilter Karen McTavish. The pivot point is what sets this design apart. image

Start with a gentle curve (1).  When you echo this line of stitching, end with a single pivot point (2). Travel partway along the last curve before starting a new curve and return to this new pivot point.

Echo Loops

Many filler designs are built by echoing around a central design, in this case a simple loop.


Echo as many times as you want, then start a new loop.  The free motion quilting will organically grow to fill the space.

Spiral Feather

Combining free motion quilting shapes of spirals and feather bumps, or daisy petals, will create a simple Spiral Feather.image The base of the design is a small spiral (1).  Build on the curve by adding petals (2). Grow your design with echoes around the petals (3) before branching off into a new spiral.


Get in the “flow” and create your own “graffiti” style of free motion quilting!

Enjoy, experiment and excel with your stitching.