The Free Motion Quilting Project: Three Easy Longarm Quilting Designs

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Three Easy Longarm Quilting Designs

What are the three easiest designs to learn how to free motion quilt? I'm sure if you asked three different quilting teachers you'll get three different answers! Here's my take on the easiest machine quilting designs to start with:


Click here to find my review of the Grace Qnique 14+. Remember if you're interested in this machine to call the company and mention Leah Day said Hello my quilting friends to get a discount on your order.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Last week I started quilting on this Building Blocks cheater cloth quilt. It includes all the skill-building quilt blocks we quilted together in 2014 printed with the quilting designs included! Click here to find this cheater cloth fabric.

For best results, pick the Kona Cotton Ultra Fabric. If you want all 42 blocks for the Building Blocks Quilt, you'll need to purchase 3 yards. If you only want to make a baby quilt 1 yard should be plenty.

Now let's learn more about these three easy quilting designs: The design I always teach first in any quilting class is Wiggly U Shapes. It's a super simple design that most people naturally draw and doodle without even thinking about it. Even if you don't draw or doodle, you'll probably still find this an easy shape to create because the movement is so similar to writing the letter U or N in cursive.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Quilting this design is a good first step and usually the first thing I stitch when testing out a new machine or a new table setup. It'll get you started moving the quilt under your needle and quilting curves. Come to think of it, I'm tired of calling this essential quilting design such a clunky name. Hence forth, Wiggly U's will now be Noodles!

Noodles is more than just a simple line of curves, it's a terrific first step to quilting Stippling. When I was first starting to free motion quilt, I quilted rows and rows of Noodles until I was bored to tears.

Then one day I was quilting in a particularly tricky space and finally realized I could branch out and make the design more interesting by adding bends and deeper curves. Sometimes it takes that level of repetition, to the point that you're beating your head against the wall, to see and understand how design works and how you can manipulate it to achieve the look you're after.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Stippling itself can be a bit challenging because the rule for this design is a bit tricky. Stitch a curving line without crossing over it. But if you think in terms of Noodles and learn how to quilt the design in rows, it's much easier to master.

The last easy design to try is really two designs in one. Cursive letters are extremely easy to machine quilt because the shapes are formed in one continuous line. Rows of cursive letters like the E and L are the easiest because it's a continuous line and repetitive movement. Plus, rows of cursive L shapes are pretty and quickly add a lacy effect in quilt sashing or borders.

three easy longarm quilting designs

Even better, quilting cursive words directly on your quilt is a wonderful way to give it personality and a special message to future generations. I created this mini quilt as a fun experiment with a new quilting ruler and these three designs.

I marked the cursive words on the quilt so they would be evenly spaced and so I wouldn't forget essential words or letters. Yes, I could easily forget or space the words badly so marking the designs is the best way to go about it!

I mark fabrics like this with the Ceramic Marking Pencil which I've used for years because it shows up bright with a thin line that's easy to follow, but erases completely after I've quilted over the marks.

three easy longarm quilting designs

We all have to get started machine quilting somewhere, and I think these three designs are a great place to start. However, they're not the ONLY place to start so please don't get frustrated if you hate quilting Noodles, Stippling, or Cursive Letters.

three easy longarm quilting designs
Machine quilting is a skill building process and I believe the most important aspect is your enthusiasm to master a design. If these three seem too basic to you, check out our Quilting Design Gallery and pick a design that looks fun to you.

It doesn't matter where you begin with quilting. It just matters that you quilt daily and never give up!

What do you think of these three skill building designs? Remember, these are not just for longarm quilting, but can also be quilted on a home sewing machine too. Here are some older tutorials featuring each of these blocks and Josh, my wonderful husband giving them a try:

Josh Quilting Noodles in a Pinwheel Block

How to Quilt Stippling in a Spinning Square Block.

Josh's cursive words in a Rail Fence Block.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

2 comments:

  1. What type of pen are you marking the lettering with? I want to try this. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question! That's the Ceramic Marking pencil which you can find here: https://leahday.com/products/ceramic-fabric-pencil

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