The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #31 - Get Flowing with Lava Paisley

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quilt Along #31 - Get Flowing with Lava Paisley

It's time for the Free Motion Quilt Along and this week we're moving on with more Pivoting Designs!  Last week we took a look at Paisley, so this week let's take that same tear drop shaped design and make it super wiggly and wobbly like this:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

 I'm calling this design Lava Paisley, but Josh liked the name "Sperm Count" a bit better.  I didn't think that would be something many people would want to stitch on their quilts, though I can admit I can see the resemblance.  Now let's get our minds out of the gutter with the video tutorial!

Here's a little reminder for the settings and tools I use:

1. I don't drop my feed dogs or use any special "free motion" setting on my machine.
2. Instead I dial down the stitch length on my machine to 0.  Note: I sometimes forget to do this but it doesn't hurt anything because my free motion foot sits high enough that the feed dogs don't impact my quilts at all.
3. On my hands I use Machingers Quilting Gloves to grip and move the quilt and maintain more control over my stitches.
4. Under the quilt is a Queen Supreme Slider, a huge slippery sheet that helps the quilt move more easily over the surface of the machine.
5. Inside the bobbin case I have Bobbin Washer which helps the bobbin spin more evenly and results in fewer thread breaks and birds nests.
6. Speaking of thread, I stick with one type, one brand, one color in both the top and bobbin of the machine at all times.  For this video I was using Isacord Silky White.

All of these tools and materials improve the quilting setup in small ways.  Combined together they make an enormous difference!  Even now after years of quilting, I really can't quilt as well without these tools.

Now let's get back to Lava Paisley on the Batik Beauty Quilt.  You can see the different textures these Pivoting designs create:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

When it comes to quilting Lava Paisley, the rules are very simple: stitch super wiggly tear drop shape.  Pivot and echo this shape as many times as you like.  Branch out in another direction with a new wiggly tear drop and surround it with echoes as well.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

The tricky part with quilting pivoting designs is getting them to fit consistently within your quilt.  Often in the video you saw me travel stitch into new areas, or around previous shapes, before branching out with a new tear drop.

Don't worry if you can't visualize the design and how it will best fit in your space right this second.  Just stitch it and play with it wherever you want to use it and understand that the more you use a particular design, the more you will understand how it works and where it will fit best.

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!

Also it's not required, but highly appreciated and super cool to link back the Free Motion Quilt Along so everyone you know can come quilt with us too.  Grab a button to put in your post or on your blog to share the love!

Free Motion Quilt Along

Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Leah, I could not find a web site:
    Everything takes me back to the blog. I am interested in getting the pattern for the quilt top you are working on.

  2. Hey Joni - You can get the pattern by signing up for the newsletter either on the blog or right here



  3. I am really glad you showed us how to do half a paisley. That is SUPER useful! I watched your video twice to make sure I understood the backtracking and how to get into a small space. After working with it a few hours, it is getting easier.

    The first "weird small" space I encountered, I stopped and had to think about it for a minute. Now I usually see two options and pause momentarily to debate between the two, considering where I want to go next.

  4. Hi Leah,

    I love all your teaching of Free Motion quilting.

    I read somewhere on your site that you've made some adjustments on your Janome free motion foot and would like for you to demo that on a video. Also, what do you use the cords and clamps in the background in your sewing studio? Can you explain.


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