The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #34 - Go with the Flowing Lines

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quilt Along #34 - Go with the Flowing Lines

It's a new month and time to change things up on the Free Motion Quilt Along!  Last month we spent 4 weeks stitching through many pivoting designs: Paisley, Lava Paisley, Snake Paisley, and Pointy Paisley.

Make sure to ask any questions that you have about these designs in the comments of this post and I'll try to answer them all on tomorrow's Question Thursday post.

Now this month we're leaving Pivoting Designs completely and tackling Edge to Edge Designs.  These designs all have a simple rule - fill by working from one edge to another, back and forth in a horizontal or vertical fashion.

As for what the "edges" are - it can really be anything.  The edges of a block, the stitched-in-the-ditch lines around sashing, a line you've stitched through an area - any of these lines can become the edges you travel and branch off of to form these designs.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Of all the places you can put them, sashing is probably going to be the best place to play and experiment with this family of designs.

Edge to Edge is the largest family of designs on the project, with the most variety in texture.  You can create almost any texture by wiggling back and forth from edge to edge.  These are also very logical designs because you can usually work straight through the area from left to right or right to left, moving steadily through without any risk of stitching yourself into a corner.

So there are many huge benefits to Edge to Edge designs and this month we have 5 weeks to play with them!  Now let's get started learning how to quilt Flowing Lines:

The Batik Beauty quilt is really a wonderful quilt to be practicing Edge to Edge Designs because it has so much sashing to fill!  You can find instructions on piecing this quilt when you sign up for our free weekly newsletter right here.

When it comes to quilting Flowing Lines, it's really a combination of two types of lines - wiggly echoing line and a gap line.

First a wiggly line from edge to edge.  Travel stitch along one edge and echo that line all the way back to the starting edge.

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Echoing is the act of stitching a line parallel and maintaining that consistent distance away.  It can be challenging in the beginning because it's hard to know where to look when echoing so you can visually estimate the space.

Some quilters look at the edge of their darning foot, some at their hands, some at the space between the lines.  I'm not even sure where my eyes are focusing half the time!  What I do know is this is something that comes with time and practice.  I do remember echoing feeling very weird - like writing with my non-dominant hand or walking backwards upstairs - the first couple times I tried it.

The good news is Flowing Lines is a great design to practice echoing because it's such a fluid, organic texture your mistakes really won't show!

When you've echoed your flowing line a few times, it's time to form a gap line.  This line's purpose is to branch out and form irregular gaps or pockets within the texture.

There's several ways to form gaps.  You can travel along the line, then branch out and reconnect:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Or you can travel along the edge of your quilting space and wiggle back down to reconnect:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Or travel down the line and branch out to hit the edge:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

All of these ways of forming the gaps work great and there's probably many more.  The point is to form a gap space that's big and open and noticeable against the echoing lines.

The wonderful thing about this design is there's absolutely no way to stitch it wrong!  Even if you're echoes are chaotic, even if your travel stitching is imperfect, even if your gaps are too big or too small, the design will still look good.

Why?  Because it's organic!  This is a design that literally "grows" on your quilt because it gets more irregular and lumpy and gapy and wiggly with every line.  The more intensely freeform and wiggly, the better it will look.

Yes, you can keep it as simple as the top drawing:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Or you can make it as wild as the lower drawing.  See how wiggly and organic the lower design looks?  Hard to believe they're stitched in the exact same way and the only difference is the lines are simply more wiggly and wobbly.

So have fun playing with this funky flowing lines design this week.  It'll definitely be a nice design to use in the sashing or borders of your next quilt.
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Free Motion Quilt Along
Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. So excited for this month's lessons. I find that sashing and borders are where I am least imaginative and look forward to being nudged out of my comfort zone.

    Thanks for sharing your designs and your inspiration.

  2. I agree. The blankness of the border is just staring back at me. Is it because it's my last chance to make a statement? Or should it just serve as an echo of the main piece?
    And this is my first!! Like writer's block? (No pun intended)

  3. Hi Leah,
    I think its week34 of QAL :-). Your youtube video has the correct number. I know its not important, since I noticed it and couldn't go without mentioning it to you.


  4. Thanks Malini! It's easy to miss stuff like that, particularly on busy weeks like this.




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