The Free Motion Quilting Project: Day 60 - Spiral Tree

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 60 - Spiral Tree

Pull out the balloons, we've made it to day 60! Whohoo!

Of course, we've got to have a way cool, ultrasonically awesome design for a special day like this and I think Spiral Tree definitely fits the bill:

free motion quilting | Leah DayOkay, TIME OUT!!! Houston, we have a problem.

There's a prevailing notion swirling around in the heads of many a quilter in the cybernetic world that this blog and all of these designs are only for ART quilters.

That only an ART quilter will be creative, talented, or weird enough to use them.

Allow me to state in all caps (yes - I'm shouting at you):


Ha! Let that sink in for a minute.

Even if your a beginner. Even if you've never free motion quilted before. Even if you suck at quilting, you can use these designs.

No, not everyone is going to want to stitch them as densely as I've shown in my examples, but the designs stay the same whether you stitch them big or small.

All you have to do is expand the design and then stitch it on your quilt. Just like you expand stippling to cover a big area, then shrink it back down to microstipple, the same holds true for ALL of the designs on this project.

And to prove my point I'll reveal a little secret I've been sitting on for awhile: Large scale stencils of certain designs are currently in the works! These will be specifically designed for beginners who want to see and follow a marked line.

So, the next time you watch a video (as I'm sure you're about to watch Spiral Tree), and you say to yourself "I could never do that, it's for ART quilters" I hope you will hear my voice yelling at you that YES, YOU CAN!

All you have to do is TRY.

Inspiration - I love making variations of beginner designs because the design stays simple, but the texture and movement changes with each design!

In this situation, Spiral Tree is actually how I originally envisioned Cartoon Tree to look. They are created in the same core way, only Spiral tree has spiral branches. How cool is that?

Design Family - Edge to Edge. This design is stitched from edge to edge, but in a zig zaggy pattern. This means that it will be very easy to use in open areas, but probably not the best choice for tight areas.

Difficulty Level - Beginner. Yep, it looks hard, but it stitches up pretty easy. The best thing about this design is it doesn't have to look perfect. These tree, ziggy zaggy variations are very forgiving.

Directional Texture - All Directions. Technically this is a two direction design because it's stitched from edge to edge, but because there is so much movement with the spirals, your eye picks up much more than just horizontal or vertical texture.

Suggestions for Use - Take this design and blow it up, literally. Expand the design to have 1" between all the stitching lines and then stitch this over the surface of your whole quilt. Just try it and see what you think! 

Back of Spiral Tree
free motion quilting | Leah Day
Feel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day


  1. You are so inspiring, and when I saw you've made it to day 60, well- you go, girl!!! We talk about your blog in my quilt class, and I just wanted you to know several of us are rootin' for ya! I would've run out of ideas on day 3, or 2, maybe. I hope you keep going, I love the challenge. Like this one, spiral tree. neat! :-}pokey

  2. My 3-year-old loves to color on a white board, which is the perfect practice space for quilting designs! I tried the trilobyte this afternoon...I can't wait to put it in a border. Thanks so much for sharing your creativity.

  3. You are totally amazing! Just found your blog recently and I think you are doing a wonderful job! I am inspired!!!!

  4. HAHA The beauty of being so new to quilting is that I didn't know that I "had to be an art quilter to try these". LOL I didn't know a lot of things, so I just jumped in head first and I'm the better for it. Gotta love not knowing any better for the freedom to be the best renegade quilter you can be!!!

  5. Congrats on your ribbons! I love all the inspiration and teaching that you are giving through this blog and look forward to developing my machine quilting skills. How do you decide which design to quilt where on a quilt top (perhaps on a traditional bed quilt) Do you have any instructions for helping to work it out anywhere? Thanks and keep up the great work!

  6. Thanks for sharing that info. I, myself, never thought the quilting was for art quilters. I am enjoying seeing the different designs and I appreciate the labels as to it being for beginners, intermediate, etc. I am definitely a beginner and need lots of practice but reading your blog has given me the incentive to try it on my own. Thanks!

  7. I've been checking out your designs for several weeks - thank you SOOOOOO much. I do my own quilting on a DSM (Janome 6500), no stitch regulator and am quite pleased with it. Many viewers wonder who my long-arm quilter is??? 8-))) LOVE all your ideas - thank you so much for posting them.

  8. Your designs are beautiful. You have inspired me to do more than just stipple. I tried a cobblestone variation on a runner and love it. Thanks a ton for this wonderful site and for all your hard work.

  9. You are so AWEsome! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with the world. You have helped me out with filling my quilts - thanks for your enthusiasm!
    Meanwhile, cast on, stitch on and sew on.

  10. I totally agree with your post today, and every day, of course. I haven't done any FMQ before. I have made a sampler for myself of Wood Grain, Double Pebble, Double Paisley, Striated Earth, Chevron, McTavishing, the Square version of pebbling, Fern and Stem, a feathered vine, checkerboard, and a free form flower. It's not perfect, but it got me doing SOMETHING. I learned that I do like making the designs larger because I want a little more puffiness. But it's my quilt and, like Tim Gunn says, I'll "make it work"! I'm itching to get more projects pin basted and on the machine. You know, you started it all. Thanks.

  11. Okay, yeah, that was me. CORRECTION NOTED!!

    Forgive me, sweetie - I'm so new to all this :-)

  12. Ha! Megan you're just fine. You'll catch up quick, don't worry.


  13. Thanks for the pep talk, Leah! I've been thinking that your designs could be enlarged, but just haven't been brave enough to try it yet.


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