The Free Motion Quilting Project: Day 5 - Basic Spiral

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 5 - Basic Spiral

This design is also featured in the ebook From Daisy to Paisley along with many other free motion designs from this project! Click here to learn more about a DVD for this beginner level ebook.

Day 5 is here and I've got an interesting free motion quilting filler for you! Today I created this sample of Basic Spirals:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

free motion quilting | Leah DayThe thing is, I don't particularly like this sample. Yes, the spirals look good, but I don't like the areas between them, particularly when the areas required a boxy shape to fill the space.

This is one of those things that an happen when free motion quilting: your main motif might look great and fill in loads of space, but the area around it doesn't look as good.

In this situation, I liked the places where the line came to a point like here:

free motion quilting | Leah DayBut I really hated those areas where it turned boxy, like here:

free motion quilting | Leah DayThis filler is still a very nice looking stitch and most quilters probably won't be as picky as I am being. I get picky because these areas snag the eye and fillers are meant to be consistent throughout.

This is another reason why I don't like fillers where the lines cross excessively. Your eyes can't process all the lines and it ends up looking like a kid's crayon scribble. Of course, in the right place, crayon scribble might look good, but I certainly haven't found that place yet!

Of course with practice and correct placement of the spirals, I might be able to completely eliminate the areas I don't like. This is definitely one of those free motion stitches that you could practice over the whole surface of a twin sized quilt and by the time you get done, you'd be a master at it.

Inspiration - I have seen this filler in a quilt before and was reminded of it when stitching Swirling Flames. Spirals are so beautiful!

Difficulty Level - Beginner. The spirals themselves are not difficult once you get the hang of them, it's the areas around the spirals that are tricky.

Design Family - Independent.

Directional Texture - All directions! Spirals really grab your eyes and stimulate your mind when you look at them. I love including spirals as motifs in quilts and now they can be added as filler as well!

Suggestions for Use - This is a pretty dominate filler, so you don't want to put it anywhere you want a solid feel. Those places are always better filled with microstippling. Use Spirals around applique to create movement, particularly around flower shapes. It would also work terrifically as waves, wind, or clouds in a landscape quilt.
Back of Basic Spirals
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and send in a picture to show it off!

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


  1. Do you have a video of this filler?

  2. Not right now, but I'll try to get one shot this month. I'm playing catch up with these older designs as well as creating new designs and it's hard to keep it all straight!

    Let's go quilt!

    Leah Day

  3. Day 5,Basic Spiral! Ai-yi-yi! This one is awful. I quit trying to stitch it and am spending time doing it over and over with a pencil. I'll come back to it later.

  4. Day Two and ALL of my free motion looks like kids scribble! argh! - Karen -

  5. Linda and Karen, its basic hand eye co-ordination. Think of your needle as a pencil and you are doodling with it.

    Start by doing one section of the design only. Repeat and repeat until you get the movement required. Then build it up into the completed square.

    Neatness will come in time. Concentrate on the movement of the fabric to get the shape you want.

    Its not something that you can do straight away. Your brain needs a bit of rewiring to get get the idea that the pencil is still but the paper is moving.

    Try drawing the design on paper and stitching without a thread. start with bigger shapes and work down to smaller ones.

  6. Leah, I've watched a bunch of the low numbered videos, so I can not talk to the upper numbered ones. A suggestion I have is to show the finished product for longer than a half blink of the eye. We kind of need to study it. Thanks for everything you do for us.

  7. YarnCrafter - Thanks for the suggestion! One thing to remember is you are watching a video, so you can always hit the Pause button and look at the finished image as long as you like!



  8. Thank you so much for all you do here Leah- I am constantly in awe of your beautiful work and fantastic teaching skills. I'm on my second year of a textiles course at the moment. Although the course is great, it's nice to get some outside inspiration and learning so I don't feel pulled too much in the direction of just my tutor's style and can maintain my own.


  9. It's not about perfection. Practice on a blank quilt square with colored thread making the curls larger. If you don't get it, try using a matching thread and see how much it shows on the border. And if you're still not happy, use a patterned fabric border and a color thread that will not show as much, until you have done this enough times to improve. I use stippling a lot. It's like jigsaw puzzle pieces. As long as the lines don't cross it's just curly around and back and forth edge to edge. Quilting is not supposed to be perfect. If you want it to be, buy a machine that is computerized and can do it for you. I considered this but practiced until I can do a fairly good job. If people are examining my quilts rather than the spirit in which they are given, it's their loss. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh.


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