The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting Bright Star in the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt

Monday, January 29, 2018

Quilting Bright Star in the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt

Welcome back to the Machine Quilting Party where we are learning how to machine quilt with walking foot style quilting. So far we've pieced the big Rainbow Log Cabin quilt together, stitched it in the ditch, and learned how to quilt four walking foot quilting designs.

Today it's time to start quilting our first design, Bright Star into the center of the Rainbow Log Cabin quilt. Learn how to do this step-by-step in this new video:


Click Here to find the Rainbow Log Cabin Pattern in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

walking foot quilting | log cabin quilt

Just in case you've missed a few videos, here's a list of links you should check out:






Each of these quilting tutorials share a wealth of detail about the quilting process so please don't skip watching the videos. That's where all I share all my tips and tricks for creating this beautiful rainbow quilt.

Now let's walk through the process:

The first step is to tape your Bright Star design in the center of the log cabin quilt. I used 1/2 inch blue painters tape to tape 1/4 of the design at a time.

walking foot quilting | log cabin quilt

Yes, after stitching in the ditch, you can remove a lot of your pins and pinmoors basting the quilt together. I like to remove the pins over the area I'm taping because I know I'll be quilting that space very soon.

One important note: don't tape more than 1/4 section of the center at a time. Otherwise the tape will overlap and make it challenging to quilt from the center. Also the tape can make the quilt difficult to move in the arm of the machine so 1/4 of the space tapped seems the best amount at a time.

Also don't leave tape on your quilt for more than 1 day. If you can't get back on the machine immediately, just pull off the tape so it doesn't leave a residue on your quilt.

Quilting from the Center

The process of quilting from the center of the quilt is challenging. I'm not going to sugar coat it. Most of the bulk of the quilt will be in the arm of your sewing machine or behind the machine as you can see in this photo:


My best advice is to quilt this in batches. Tape 1/4 of the design and quilt it today. Time yourself so you know roughly how long it will take. Then tomorrow tape another 1/4 of bright star on your quilt and quilt it.

I always give myself some sort of reward when I finish a section like this. I'll make a cup of tea, stretch out my shoulders, and pat myself on the back for quilting through that whole section.

Keep breaking it up into chunks of time so it doesn't feel so overwhelming. And yes, it really does help if your machine is set up properly for machine quilting. If it feels like you're trying to stuff a dead body into a freezer, something needs to change! Click Here to find a tip video on setting up your machine.


I'm using Isacord polyester thread in Passion Fruit to quilt Bright Star in the center of the quilt. I like to contrast my thread color with the quilt top at least a little bit. I figure if I'm bothering to quilt these designs, I want you to see it!

Yes, I use the same color thread on the front and back of the quilt. Yes, this means my bobbin thread contrasts with the back of the quilt. Mismatching threads is a great way to give yourself constant headaches and thread issues balancing the tension on the top and bottom of your machine. 

I prefer to save time and hide those subtle tension issues that can pop up on all machines by matching the same color thread in the top and bobbin of the sewing machine at all times.


I was asked a lot when I shared the Bright Star tutorial in a smaller square why I kept breaking thread with each line of quilting. I hope you can see how impossible it would be to quilt this design on a real quilt any other way!

Don't forget to tie off and bury your thread tails in the middle layer of your quilt. This secures the thread ends so they don't unravel when you wash your quilt. Click Here to find cheater needles and a pin place to keep it handy next to your machine.

Take your time quilting Bright Star through the center of your Rainbow Log Cabin quilt. I promise it will get easier from here!

If you're just finding this quilting project, yes, you can still join in the fun! All the videos will remain online so you can watch and follow along at your own pace. Click Here to find the quilt pattern in my book Explore Walking Foot Quilting.

And just in case you've missed some tutorials, click here to find all the videos we've shared so far. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can always find it.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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