The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #39: Quilt Busting with Matrix

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Quilt Along #39: Quilt Busting with Matrix

It's Quilt Along time and it's also November and I know what that means! How many quilts are you suddenly feeling the pressure to have finished, bound, and ready to wrap up under the tree?

I ways feel the pressure too, but unfortunately never get started early enough in the season to make quilt-giving a possibility. But then I got to thinking...(always a dangerous thing)....

What if we focused an entire month just on Quilt Busting Tactics? These would be methods to knock out quilt tops quickly with beautiful quilting that also happens to be very SPEEDY quilting.

So that is what we're going to work on for the 4 weeks of November - busting through large sections of a quilt with quick, pretty designs.

Now all of these designs can be quilted in multiple ways. Keep this in mind as you learn them. They don't HAVE to be used to bust the stuffing out of a quilt, but they CAN be used this way and they're all going to be very different and give a unique look and finish to your quilt tops.

The first we're starting with is Matrix:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I've used Matrix on dozens of quilts and it's one of the most variation-rich designs on the project because it inspired Matrix Rays, Blackhole Matrix, Matrix Maze, and Matrix Flow (something to try if you're still craving variations of Flowing Lines).

This design is technically edge to edge and would work great in sashing and borders like all the Edge to Edge Designs we learned last month.

But what about using this design over a whole quilt?  How will that work? Quite beautifully actually!

Matrix was one of the first designs created for the original Free Motion Quilting Project. Find photos of all these designs in the easy to flip through book 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs available right here on

Now let's break down how this worked over Batik Beauty.  My goal in using this design was to knock out a corner section solidly with one design covering a large space:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
So I started in the corner against a block that had been quilted, started a new line of quilting and wiggled my way to the opposite corner, off the edge of the quilt top and into the batting.

This is the one time I use the thread cutter on the Janome Horizon because if you quilt off into the batting, you can easily trim and bind that edge.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Make sure to stitch at least 1 inch beyond the edge of the quilt top into the batting area
 Sliding the quilt back into the machine, I started a new line of quilting back next to the first start, but this time around 1 inch away.

Once you finish the first set of lines, just quilt a set perpendicular to form the wiggly grid. You could also change it up a bit and leave some lines out to make it even more interesting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Yes, this Matrix is on a 1 inch scale, you can easily space the lines very wide apart in order to finish your quilt that much faster.

How wide can you go? As wide as your batting will allow. Most Quilter's Dream Poly will allow quilting up to 10 inches. If that's the case for your quilt, just make sure to keep the lines of wiggly Matrix about 8 inches apart so it's sure to stabilize the batting enough that it doesn't shift within the quilt.

Here's another quilt I've quilted this design over:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This older log cabin was very creatively (imperfectly) pieced and quilting different designs over the surface just seemed like a big waste of time and thread. Nothing much was going to show up over the light fabric colors.

So I just used a 5 inch matrix to cover the whole quilt! It's stable, the piecing issues have never been a problem, and it's one of the softest, cushiest quilts in the house.

That's the real key with this design - let it go open and wide apart lines and you'll finish your quilt very quickly. The scale I used for Batik Beauty was actually pretty tight in comparison, but I did this to stay consistent with the rest of the designs used within the quilt.

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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!

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Free Motion Quilt Along
Let's go quilt!

Leah Day


  1. Leah - can't thank you enough for the FREE MOTION QUILTING PROJECT!!
    I've been quilting since 1988 and the only part that still intimidates me is the machine quilting. Thanks to you, I'm doing it with more confidence and actually think I'm getting better.
    I look forward to all your emails and visit your site often.
    You are a treasure to the quilting world!

  2. I LOVE that older log cabin quilt! :)

  3. Beautiful quilt design. Would be great on any modern quilt.

    Can't wait to try it on a real quilt.

  4. I have been trying to think about a design for my next quilt of random HST'S for my son. This may very well be it. Sort of a graphic on graphic:) and if it's fast, hey, that's a plus!

  5. Leah, your Quilt Buster series is so timely! I getting ready to quilt a 90 x 90 quilt, in QAYG sections. I have 6 square and rectangular sections and you gave me the idea that I could use one design for each section. I also have to keep in mind that these are complex paper pieced stars with many areas with seam allowance build up. The smallest section is 24" x 24" and the largest is 36" x 36". If I use Matrix in one of them, I would theoretically have to start in a corner, and I know we always like to start in the center and work out. Would you quilt the first two diagonal lines starting from the center?



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