Create Some Graffiti Quilting

Well, I cleaned up my creative mess (See the post here) and resumed getting to know my Janome 3160 again. I used the same project and had some fun just stitching. I decided to incorporate a little of Karlee Porter's graffiti quilting style.

graffiti quilting- a fun free form free motion quilting design

What I did wasn't a whole lot different than what I normally do on one of my quilted word art pieces, since I do a free form mix of my favorite free motion quilting designs. But I used 2 colors, and challenged myself to include some of Karlee's more angular designs. She also orients her designs in a particular direction as she travels out from the center of a piece, and I didn't manage to do that. If you're unfamiliar with her book, Graffiti Quilting: A Simple Guide to Complex Designs , you can see a lot of it on Pinterest these days and she's got an article in the latest edition of Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine. Her quilting is COOL!

adjusting the tension for free motion quilting
The front.

The first thing I had to do was address the tension issue that had me ripping out poorly formed stitches last week.  Using the same fabric, thread, and batting as the project, I started on the low side of the tension dial and stitched. I increased the tension a few times until it looked just right on the back. Since I was using purple on the front and white on the back, and the back wouldn't show, I didn't spend a ton of time trying to get all the purple dots to go away on the back.

tension adjustments for free motion quilting- back
The back.

There's still something not quite right with this machine and I'll have to check it out further. I also think it's due for a good cleaning and lubrication. The back of the piece had some occasional issues and I could hear my machine make some noises that didn't sound right.

Not a pretty back.

But over all, the piece came out ok. I still have to finish up the turquoise stitching and then I'll stretch it over an artist's canvas and it'll be ready to go on the wall, possibly into my Etsy shop.

While this style of stitching isn't what we'd probably use on a pieced bed quilt, being so tiny and dense, it was a lot of fun and good practice. At a larger scale, it would really add interest to a lot of negative space. Plus it will give me a nice encouraging decoration for my wall.

I'll be switching from the open toe FMQ foot to the ruler foot on this machine, both the Janome one and the one from Westalee and doing some ruler work on this machine this week.


  1. This type of stitching is getting an enormous amount of press/interest of late. It is impressive but has a definite use and bed/usable quilts may not be one o them. Stiffness is the primary result, along with areas that are fully flattened and of little or no use in trapping warmth. It is super fun and I try to do this as often as possible and agree that the "Wow!" factor is pretty high!!!!!!!

    1. Well, the point of graffiti style quilting is more about the line and design of stitching, not about utilitarian quilting. You wouldn't use a graffiti painting style to paint your house either, but as an artistic element it sure looks cool!

  2. Do you typically use such dis-similar colors of top and bobbin thread?...I always best match bobbin to top to minimize any visual tension anomalies. Looks like fun!

    1. On these little text-based pieces, I usually match the bobbin thread to the fabric, especially if I’m going to change colors of top thread. Plus, I stretch them over an artist’s canvas when I’m done, so the back doesn’t show. The white Aurifil thread blends perfectly with the white Kona cotton fabric and if I have to rip, as I did with the first attempt, the cotton thread rips out easier than the poly.

      I wouldn’t use contrasting threads like this on a real quilt, unless I had a pretty thick batting. Of course, I wouldn’t quilt this densely on a regular quilt either!

  3. I love Karlee's work. Bought her book but not tried any yet. Your version looks great too!