The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #14: Stippling Review

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quilt Along #14: Stippling Review

It's Quilt Along time!  This week we're going to finish up with Stippling once and for all with a final review of this design.

Many quilters have requested a video where you can HEAR my machine running to know what speed it's stitching at any given time.  This worked out very conveniently as I've just lost my voice today thanks to a spring cold!

So let's watch this video to review Stippling and hopefully clarify how fast the machine is running while quilting it:

At the end of this video I mention using the Supreme Slider, Machingers Gloves, and Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers.  Save money on these three tools with the Ultimate Quilting Kit.

Now to review Stippling, you might want to take a look back at Quilt Along #1 when we started with super simple wiggly shapes and stitched them in rows across a practice quilt.

I firmly believe that the best way to start Stippling is with simple U shapes.  This will allow you to focus on moving the quilt with your hands and operating the speed of the machine with your foot.

It's hard to focus on both of these tasks PLUS stitch a complex design in the beginning, so stick with simpler designs in the beginning until you get a handle on your machine and quilt movement.

Next, review Quilt Along #3 and play with stippling on different scales.  Find a steady speed while stitching this design big, then shrink the design down and find the right speed for a smaller scale.

The machine speed always needs to adjust to how fast you're moving the quilt with your hands.

The smaller and tighter the design, the slower you will move the quilt and the slower the machine should run.  Once you get the hang of this balanced ratio, you should be able to smoothly stitch from a big scale, down to a tiny scale, adjusting your speed for each size of the design so the stitches remain roughly the same size throughout.

Finally, take a minute to review Quilt Along #4 and Quilt Along #11 and practice stitching on a marked line.

Play with your speed while quilting on a line and see if stitching very slowly gives you more control over this task.  You might feel more comfortable stitching faster than I demonstrated in this video so play around with your speed a bit and see what helps you stay in the right place consistently.

As always, if you stitch off the line, don't rip it out and don't obsess about every mistake.  Just keep on stitching because the more you do this, the better you will get at it, and the more natural it will feel.

So this week let's practice Stippling on a practice quilt or small UFO project you have laying around.  If you have an applique to quilt, consider quilting around the edges in free motion, then filling the inside with stippling to see how that feels.

Now let's link up all your posts and see what your beautiful Heart and Feather Wholecloth quilts look like!

Instructions for Linking Up Your Blog:

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.

2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post:

3. Click the blue link up button above and paste your link into the box.

Keep in mind that you're posting your progress from LAST week on THIS week's post. This way you have time to watch the lesson, play with the ideas, then post your progress to the next quilt along. I hope that makes sense!

As always, any questions you have, please post them in the comments below or on your blog and I'll answer 5 tomorrow on Question Thursday.

Time for me to shut up and quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Dear Leah,
    Thank you so much for your tutorials and detailed explanations.
    I am a Saudi quilter who is still taking small steps and learning free motion quilting with the help of your blog. I get many requests from Arabic speaking women who follow your blog, asking me to translate and explain words and steps of your videos. You are a big help to us, teaching this beautiful art.
    Thank you so much..

  2. I noticed in the video that your machingers look delightfully white and mine are getting pretty dingy. I no longer have the packaging and so I thought you might know - how do you clean them? Can they be thrown in the wash? Thanks! Wish I could be doing more than just reading your posts. Hopefully I'm absorbing something just from that :)

  3. Leah, thank you so much for the wonderful tutorials. You are a a great teacher! You inspired me to start machine stippling and I love it. I actually just dived right in with a big quilt and loved the results.

  4. Muchisimas gracias por el tiempo que dedicas a enseñarnos las técnicas de acolchado a máquina. Qué fácil parece cuando lo haces tú, y que complicado es cuando lo hago yo, pero supongo que todo es cuestión de práctica. Una pregunta...¿le pones algo a la máquina de coser para que la tela resbale más?, creo haber visto en el video que tu máquina tiene pegado un plástico?

  5. QUESTION: When you fill in an appliqued shape such as this...doesn't it look weird on the BACK of the quilt??? This is what always stumps me...the color of thread and how what you stitch on the front will look on the back. Thank you!

  6. I have a question, would it matter if you round the corners or scallop the edges? I don't think I have seen anyone do that yet on this project. And, would it cause any issues?
    Donna F

  7. Thank you so much Leah - I know I can't be the only person to have requested a video with sound, but it definitely felt like a fabulous present just for me! Your machine makes the healthiest, smoothest sound imaginable - I just wish my poor ancient Pfaff could be made to sound so good, but I'll just have to accept it for what it is... As always, the details you pay attention to when giving advice are wonderful to know about!

  8. Thank you for providing this video so we could hear the sound of the machine. I realize now that I didn't slow down enough when I was trying to reduce the size of my stippling in the wholecloth exercise.

    Thank you for all your guidance!

  9. Esta semana voy un poco más tarde, he tenido otras cosas entre manos pero ya presenté mi wholecloth terminado. Gracias Leah por tu propuesta y las lecciones que cada semana nos haces llegar.
    ¡A por otro!


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