Free Motion Monday: August Week 4

The slacker edition....

Week four of August, my "off" month for our linky and I'm busy working on finding my new groove of two kids in school and a ton of quilty projects that I can't show you. (In part because several are just in my head.)

Somebody on Facebook asked how I choose quilting designs. That's a long answer for FB, so I'll use it here!

Choosing Quilting Designs

I am certain that there are as many ways to choose quilting designs as there are quilters. So I will do what I do best and tell you what I do and try to give some insight into my process.

how to choose designs for your quilt

First I think you need to know what designs you do best. If you are new to free motion quilting, your choices might be a little limited. Don't let this hamper you much. We increase our skill level when we stretch beyond our comfort zone! I tell my students to also note what motions or shapes of stitching lines do they gravitate towards. Some quilters like spiral-type designs, some go for more straight line shapes.

Then you need to look at the piece you want to quilt. Sometimes you want to quilt according to the piecing (continuous curves, etc.), sometimes you want to mimic the lines of the top's design (circular designs in a quilt with many circles), other times you want to balance the top's design by quilting something different (Maybe something curvy to break up a spiky piecing design or subdividing open areas to give the quilt some extra pizzazz). Are there some issues in the piecing that need to be taken into consideration? Typically, if there is some fullness in a block or border, you don't want to quilt it very densely or there may be puckers or rippling. Some borders can be helped with lines going out to the edges to take up fullness or keep from stretching bias edges (piano keys, beadboard, etc.).

Then, if nothing's coming to mind---and with time the process gets more intuitive---it's time to look at sources of quilting designs. Look at your past quilting, books, blogs, Pinterest (set a timer if you need to!), magazines, etc.

Now you should have a few ideas. Take a look at my post on a Quilting Plan for a few more tips on how to audition designs. Try the designs out on a picture of the quilt, mock it up digitally, use plexiglass or clear vinyl, etc.

Don't forget to practice the designs! Draw them out and even give them a test stitching if they are new to you. You might find you don't like them. Better now than ripping them out later. There may be tricks to moving in and out of the different areas of the quilt too. Drawing the designs helps form muscle memory, making the designs flow more naturally.

Once you've started to quilt on your project, don't be afraid to change it if you don't like it! Some very neat effects are created from using a variety of designs together. There's always the seam ripper if things go horribly wrong. It seems that free motion quilting goes hand in hand with the seam ripper. But don't be too hard on yourself either, chances are good that once the quilted project is out from under the machine and your eyes are farther than 12-20 inches from it, the slight imperfections become, if not unnoticeable, at least part of the handmade charm!

Here are the link up guidelines:
  • Keep your post relevant to this quilt along please. (This month is unspecified, so anything dealing with free motion quilting is fine!) Spammy posts will be deleted.
  • Make sure you link up to the individual post, not your home page as nobody wants to have to search around for the post if they're a little late to the party.
  • Reciprocate! Link back to this post somewhere in your post or use the clickable blog button in your sidebar. You've got to dance with the one who took you to the party, so make sure you link back.
  • Don't be a wall-flower. (Talking to myself here too. In person I am so stinking shy!) Visit the other links, be sociable, and leave comments.
  • Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are a no-reply blogger, especially if you ask a question.


  1. An interesting post Amy. It is a fuzzy area for me trying to decide what will enhance the quilt the best... Thank you for your wise words :-)

  2. Great post Amy. I'm struggling with choosing designs on 2 different quilt tops. One is a sampler so I can get really creative but I'm still rather new to FMQ (a little under 2 years). The other quilt is made up of half square triangles with sashing in between. For that one I'd really like to do something with feathers but I'm not sure what/where. I suppose there's always the option of doing an allover design - something I've never done before! Leave it to me to completely bypass the basic meander for something more complex...

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