Quilting Techniques

Free Motion Monday #1

As part of a series about free motion quilting, I’d like to share the designs I selected for my True Blue Quilts banner.image

I made my own stencil for the lettering in the center with a simple computer printout.  I chose my favorite font, sized it to fit in the space and printed it on regular white paper.  Then, I taped the paper to my quilt top and stitched the outline of the letters. The paper easily tore away when I was done stitching.  As a final touch, I colored in the letters with archival quality markers.


In the background I used feathers and a loopy meander as filler designs. Both are common designs in free motion quilting that become like handwriting – unique to the individual.


Feathers are built around the shape of a question mark, or you can think of a comma. I start by stitching the spine with a loop at the top.  I work my way back down the left side adding loops that curve in towards the spine. A tip that helped me master the shape was to approach the spine like a freeway on-ramp, not an intersection.  Think parallel not perpendicular.


At the base of the feather, you have two options for stitching the other side. A) you can stitch back up the spine and create the loops from the top, or B) stitch the loops from bottom to top.


I generally work from bottom to top on the second side, stitching the underside of the loop first. Practice makes perfect! Don’t be too harsh on your first attempts…they will get better over time. This is a great skill to practice by doodling whenever you have blank paper nearby.

For longarm quilters, I recommend buying a pantograph with a feather design.  By guiding the machine along the pattern, you will build muscle memory and you can eventually stitch a similar design free-hand.

I filled in the center area with loopy meander. A meander is a line of stitching that wanders any which way around the quilt. Generally you do not see lines cross in a meandering design, but with loops we break that rule.


The design is stitched with small circles above and below the primary line of stitching. Travel anywhere you like around your design.


Feathers and loops can be independent free motion quilting designs or they can work together to create beautiful texture for any quilt.

The Free Motion Monday series will continue on the FIRST MONDAY of each month. Join me as we Enjoy, Experiment and Excel!

Happy quilting,



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