The Free Motion Quilting Project: Josh's Stippling

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Josh's Stippling

Josh here, and today I'm tackling stippling on my Spoonflower cheater cloth.

This was really my first go at extended stippling. I found it imperative to have practiced the wiggly U filler shapes and gotten comfortable with them before trying my hand at proper stippling. Looking at the completed block below, ultimately my best work was done over the 1/4" scale stippling, in the square blue corner. This scale came very naturally to me. The larger I found it harder to stay on line, and the 1/8" scale... well, if you watched the whole video, I wasn't shy on sharing my opinion.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

And now for the flip side:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

You can see how things went off the rails at the 1/8" level. Frankly, I just wasn't ready for that scale and tight stitching. Turning the block over and working freehand was helpful, in the end, but looking at the finished block now, I wish I'd continued with the 1/4" scale over the smaller stippling. I think that would have made a cool effect.

You can also see all the "bird's beaks" (the sharp edges on the tiny stippling) on the 1/8" scale. I just didn't have enough control to make the curves, regardless of what I tried.

This was still an excellent learning experience. If you're a beginner like I am, I would absolutely suggest practicing on a scrap block.

Did you have trouble with this one? Was the 1/8" scale a bane of your free motion existence as it was for me? Comment below!

Until next week,

Let's go... stipple!


Leah's note: Josh was fiddling a lot with his speed slider. This can be very distracting and can inhibit learning proper speed control by working the pedal. If you have a speed slider, it's best to pick a speed and leave it alone while you learn the basics of free motion quilting.

All of the slower speeds you need for the denser quilting can be found in your foot pedal. You just have to figure out how to adjust your ankle and foot to find those slower, steady speeds. Fiddling with a speed slider is just going to become a distraction and something you're continually adjusting for every line of quilting you do. 


  1. WOW! Very well done, Josh! After having practiced yesterday I some stippling, and nowhere near the micro ... realy is difficult to me! But you did a great job! Congratulations!

  2. Stippling is hard so well done Josh. I always get fingers in my stippling. Just had a look at Leah's first video so may have to go and play!

  3. That's really good! I think that stippling is actually one of the harder designs to learn but for some reason seems to be usually flagged as a beginner design. I nearly stopped quilting when I tried to FMQ it for the first time...not that easy at all.
    I am enjoying looking at the QAL...this is coming together nicely.

  4. I really enjoy watching Josh FMQ. It is nice to see a beginner. It is easier to learn from a beginner instead of an advanced FMQ.

  5. Josh - the funny thing is that I found the largest stippling the hardest to visualize and maintain since I didn't do any marking with this block.
    Your willingness to stick with a project that you find challenging is a good example to us all.

  6. Seeing the tight stippling gives me hope. I have been trying free motion quilting for the first time and I almost gave up. The darning foot that came with my machine was wobbly and I kept breaking needles. Then, when I got a new darning foot it was skipping stitches! Ugh.... I have decided it is time for a new machine - I have not completed a project on mine that has NOT given me fits.

  7. This was a really interesting video to watch, and see a beginner tackle this. I think that the spoonflower fabric might be a real challenge for stippling- since Josh needed to follow lines that weren't going to wash out, rather than find his own organic stippling motion. Even if he had marked lines that wash out, it probably wouldn't have been quite as intimidating, since they don't have to be followed closely.

    I've never marked lines for stippling before- I plan to mark the two larger scales, because they aren't scales I quilt on much (especially on such a small block) but I think the other two are likely to be freehanded for me.

    Great job Josh! Thanks for letting us all watch you learn.

  8. Thank you Josh. I am a total beginner and I find your videos soooooo helpful!
    Great job! I haven't done this block yet so I will be pleased if I do half as good as you dud.


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