Are you ready to move on beyond stippling in your freestyle quilting? Although the meandering style of stippling is fast, fun and relatively easy to do, sometimes you're ready to broaden your horizons—maybe to make a special quilt or to give yourself a new challenge. Explore new ways to combine freestyle quilting designs here!
Freestyle quilting is also known as free-motion quilting, and it involves machine stitching different designs with your needle and thread as though you were using a pencil or brush. Usually the designs aren't marked ahead of time, but are stitched freely onto the quilt. A good way to become comfortable with a new freestyle design is to practice drawing it with a pencil on a piece of paper. With practice, if you can draw a design with a pencil, you can stitch it onto your quilt! Start with a few simple designs, and then practice combining them into a unique whole.
Quilting spirals: three types
Many freestyle quilters have favorite motifs that they come back to time and again: spirals, for instance. We'll look at three simple spiral designs and ways to combine them to make your next project sing!
Spirals are incredibly versatile. They can be open—where you stitch the spiral and then cross over your lines to get out of the center and start again. Of course, you have to release yourself from the “rule” that lines must never cross in order to enjoy success with this one!
Or the spiral can be closed, where you stitch the circle with enough room to stitch back out again. This design is easily adaptable to your space. It can be very closely stitched so that the spirals nest beside each other or it can have a more open feeling.
Spirals don’t have to be round. A square spiral requires a bit more control, since you have to make corners, but with a little practice can be very effective. Square spirals can be stacked up evenly so that the edges align, or they can be irregular and fill the space like cobblestones. Square spirals are a good choice for dense texture, since the stitching lines tend to end up very close together.
Creative ways to combine spirals
Bring together spirals and stippling
Once you are comfortable with a single motif like spirals, you're ready to try combining motifs in the same space. An easy way to get the hang of this is to combine closed spirals with stippling. Stitch a closed spiral, then echo the circular shape with a row of stipples, before stitching another spiral. This design results in great texture either for an allover design or to enhance a background area.
Combine square and circle spirals
Another idea is to combine circular and square spirals in the same space. You can mix one with the other in a row, or use one row of circles and alternate with a row of squares. Use your imagination!
It can be more fun to stitch a quilt that includes several different freestyle designs, and the results will more interesting to look at once it's finished as well. Pueblo, above, uses a combination of six different motifs, even though it's a wall hanging only 12" square.