The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #15: Sharp Stippling

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quilt Along #15: Sharp Stippling

It's Wednesday, which means it's Quilt Along Time!  Last week we finished up with Stippling, the Mother of all Independent Designs.

So now it's time to meet the whole family!  For the next few weeks we're going to learn and experiment with designs I call the Sisters of Stippling.

These designs work ALMOST the same way, but with some small difference that make them an entirely different design, with a different texture, and a different effect on the surface of your quilt.

So the very first Sister of Stippling we're going to meet is called Sharp Stippling.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
This design was originally published to the project back on Day 215.  Click here to find the original post and video for this design.

Some of the Independent Designs we'll work on this year will be reviews of older designs, like Sharp Stippling.  The nice thing about reviewing these design is we'll finally get the chance to see them in real quilts!

Try to think of a project you'd like to see Sharp Stippling in, and make sure to share your opinion in the comments below.

Now let's learn how to quilt Sharp Stippling on a large scale and medium scale in a real quilt:

Just like with Stippling, start Sharp Stippling by quilting a row of very simple wiggly V shapes:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Gradually add bends and extra wiggles to add more complexity with the next row:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Now work on blending several rows together to create a random, sharp stippling texture:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Notice that this works exactly the same as Stippling!  Work a row from left to right, then from right to left, and see how easy it can be to bend and wiggle this design over your quilt.

The very nice thing about the sharp points of Sharp Stippling is they give you a great place to stop and reposition your hands and your quilt.  Just stop in a point, make sure the needle is in the down position, move your hands or reposition your quilt as needed, then begin quilting again, smoothly transitioning from a slow speed to higher speed as your hands return to their normal movement.

But also be mindful as you stitch these points that it's very easy to create little knots in these area.

This happens when you stop moving your hands, but continue to run the machine, stitching 2-3 times in the exact same place.

This is actually surprisingly easy to do, so much so that it can be habit forming.  If you have to, come to a point, then stop - take your foot off the pedal, then start stitching again to avoid resting for too long in one point.

Now a bit about the quilt I was working on in this video.  This is Batik Beauty:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
You can get this quilt pattern for free by signing up for our Weekly Newsletter right here.

If you want to create this quilt top to follow along with me the next few weeks, you can, or you can work on any UFO quilt you have laying around the house.

For me, Batik Beauty is such a UFO!  It's been laying around pieced and basted for so long I had to question whether James had been born when I pieced it.  Luckily, I remembered him drooling on the ground when I organized the blocks, so at least it's not been floating around the sewing room for more than 5 years unfinished.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I realized last week that creating brand new projects for this quilt along, on top of projects for myself and family was just plain silly.  From here on out, you're going to get videos of what I'm actually working on - real projects that are being quilted, or having more quilting added to them.

So this week I quilted that center green block and hopefully demonstrated that it's really not that hard to squish a full sized quilt into your machine.  The block had already been stitched in the ditch, which meant the pins could be taken out, and the only thing left to do was fill it with 3 rows of Sharp Stippling.

If you happen to have a quilt like this ready, this would be a great project to work on simply because each block can be filled with a different design, on a large scale, so they quilt up quite easily and quickly.

Please don't feel pressure to create this exact quilt if you don't want to.  Practice on a small quilt sandwich of plain fabric, a charity quilt, or any project you have in progress!

Now it's time to link up and share any last questions or issues with Stippling!

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. A. love this design - nice to have a 'rest stop' at the points!
    B. Aren't we spoiled to have 11" of space for that quilt on the Horizon!
    C. Your hair looks very pretty down! :)

  2. I did a design very simalir to this on my last quilt for work I really loved it once I got the hang of it.

  3. Thank you Leah,
    a fantastic tutorial and it looks so nice!
    Liebe Grüße

  4. My question is actually about drawing out your designs on the computer (like for example, your hearts and feather wholecloth). What program do you use for that?

    I've been playing around with EQ7 for making quilt designs and patterns for awhile but have not been satisfied when trying to design original free form stuff.

    I'm trying to make the leap from drawing with a pencil on graph paper to computerized drawing and am trying to find out what professional quilters actually use for that. (Adobe Illustrator??)


  5. You always are improving our standars

  6. I only have a tumbler quilt that is ready for basting - everything else is in pieces or being done QAYG. I"ll get fabric together to make the quilt so I can follow along. Will be nice to end up with a quilt at the end! Thanks Leah!

  7. Leah I see that you are using a Janome Horizon machine. Do you lower the feed dogs or leave them up? Also do you set the stitch length to 0?

  8. I Love your tutorials. You have sure given me alot of inspiration when it comes to deciding how to quilt a quilt. Thank you so much.

  9. Leah,
    Thanks so much for you videos and encouragement to machine quilt . I have been a hand quilter because I was afraid to try. You have remove my fear. My hardest part is the list of things do before I start ...gloves, thread, right needle, slider, stitch length etc but I am getting there.
    Thanks again.

  10. Leah, Thank you sooo much for including manuvering the full sized quilt while showing us how to sharp stipple. Watching you gave me the confidence to squish and bunch up my quilt to machine quilt any pattern. It was also helpful to listen to the commentary about tackling a small section at a time and taking a break from the physical position. I can't wait to get home from school and quilt!

  11. Really one of the prettiest stippling designs I've seen...flames are one of my favorite designs anyway. The more I watched and the more I tried this though, the more I saw whale tails...those beautiful tail fins. I think that's even prettier than flames.


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