The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilt Along #41 - Invasion of the Pods

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Quilt Along #41 - Invasion of the Pods

It's Quilt Along time and this month we're busting through quilts quickly with big designs or techniques to blast through loads of space with every pass.

This week I've taken a look at the Zen Breaks we learned during the summer while working on our modern quilt top. I really like Zen Breaks and I think it's a great way to break down and secure all the areas of a quilt and have nice spacing for multiple designs.

However, stitching across the quilt with all those long lines of quilting to break it up can be a bit of a pain. I began thinking of ways to break up the quilt and use multiple designs, but be able to move from the center in more of a clustering fashion.

I also really liked Angela Walter's method of breaking up a quilt with tiles that she shared right here in Sew Cal Gal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge.

I like this idea, but straight lines and sharp angles are harder to produce on a domestic sewing machine without marking. If I used this, I'd want those straight lines to be perfectly straight and probably end up marking each one as I worked through a quilt.

But what if that design could be bent into a free form arrangement more like Zen Breaks? And what if it could be quilted free form through a quilt from the center using Quadrant Quilting?

All these questions had to be answered, and as luck would have it, they worked out into a great new design / filling technique - PODS!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Basically you start with a cluster of a design. Stitch until you are bored with filling it, then surround it with a few rows of echo quilting. You've just formed a pod of a design!

Now branch off one side with a new design. Quilt until you're border and surround it with echoes. Wash and repeat and watch this video to see how it works in real life:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate.

Design Family - Foundational.

In truth, the photo isn't very clear when this design is stitched over the Batik Beauty Quilt because there's so many wiggly lines of quilting with this design. So here's a break down of how it's stitched. First start with a small cluster of any design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Next, surround it with echoing:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Then branch out with another cluster of another design:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Then surround it with echoing:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

To fill up a whole quilt, just apply this formula in rows using Quadrant Quilting. Not only is it extremely entertaining to quilt so many different designs, it also moves quickly because those repeated lines of echoing eat up loads of space with every pass!

So with one more quilt buster under your belt, what are you going to blast through this week?

I don't know about you, but the only thing I'll likely be busting through is a very yummy turkey tomorrow on Thanksgiving.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I'm confused by your pivoting your quilt around and around; I thought FMQ was to learn to go in all directions without all the pivoting.
    Love your videos, I'm learning lots and inspired to do it. thanks

  2. Great post Leah. Love this idea. I work so slowly that I have nothing to quilt but am working on another quilt top. this could be the answer to the next go-round of FMQ for me :)

  3. Hi Laceflower - It's just how this particular design works. When you put a design very large on a quilt, you will need to shift and move it around, sometimes quite dramatically. If you don't like an aspect of how this particular method works, feel free to change it! This is just a filling idea and certainly not the only way to do it.

  4. Love it! You are such an inspiration and I have really progressed in my own FMQ. If it weren't for your wonderful instructions, I would still have a bunch of quilt tops waiting for the money to send them out for quilting by a long arm. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and know that you are one of the things I am thankful for!

  5. Dear Leah,
    I wanted to thank to so much for sharing this wonderful art of quilting with us. You have been instrumental in improving my FMQ skills. I am really thankful to have you as my Guru.

    You ROCK!


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