The Free Motion Quilting Project: Josh Quilts Spirals in a Four Patch Block

Monday, January 27, 2014

Josh Quilts Spirals in a Four Patch Block

It's Josh here a little early this week, and it's spiral time:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

This can be super tricky for beginners. It certainly has been a real pain for me. This one will really test your mettle. But don't let it get you down, even if you make some ridiculously bad stitching. Just finish through and take comfort in the fact that the end result at least has a spiral shape.

Once again, the key here is rotate, rotate, rotate.

This is easily the most advanced and trying design I've attempted yet. This called for a lot more maneuvering of the block and at least for me I found mistakes were a lot easier to make and a lot easier to spiral out of control, so to speak.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Do not be afraid to totally readjust where you lay your fingers when you're working with large circular shapes like this. I found this one to be a completely different beast from the past fillers I've made.

Stitching spirals, especially on Spoonflower cheater fabric, reminded me of a lesson a college basketball coach imparted on me about individual sports like tennis or racquetball:
Always try to maintain an equal routine where you practice with someone who's below your skill, practice with someone at your skill, and practice with someone above your skill. 
Spirals were clearly above my skill and kicked my ass.

Still, it made for an interesting video and Leah shared a lot of additional technical info about what thread issues to rip, especially toe catchers. At least I didn't make any of those in this block!

See you next week,



  1. Josh. I think you did an amazing job. I am still trying to be able to follow markings. Its hard. Sometimes I think its easier to not have the markings. Thanks for sharing your experience. Leah thanks for that great tip about reversing the wheel. Did not know that. Wish I had known. I sure messed up a few times enough to have to break thread, do some frogging and start again.

  2. Spirals are my nemesis. I can't seem to get the spacing even. I tent to avoid them. So, have you caught the quilting bug yet?

  3. Wow, I'm impressed. Both of you are so much fun to watch. This is truly a labor of love and I applaud both of you for the teamwork.

    1. I agree with u Ms MoonMist. Happy to see both for teamwork.

  4. First of all: great job Josh!It is really useful to see how a beginner learns to quilt,even for me who quilts for some years by now.But one thing I notice every time you quilt: you take away your hands BEFORE the needle stops.And the funny thing is that my sister, who is a beginner as well, is doing the same thing^^ Some years ago I worked as a juggling teacher and I always told the kids not to pick up any ball or club before the last one has fallen to the ground, because when you do it while juggling something will hit you on your head.Maybe this picture of a club falling on your head avoids you to take your hands away too fast ;)And again: great job both of you, I love your vids, they are an inspiration for all of us.
    (sorry for my english,I am from Germany)

  5. I'm with you Josh, about this design. While it isn't so much that I dislike spirals, it is that I dislike the size and scale of these. I tend to like to do tiny designs so much better.

    I have to say once again though, that I really admire and appreciate you jumping into this quilting process. A lesser man would be too intimidated to attempt this. So keep up the good work. I know you are making Leah proud.

  6. Well done Josh. You are doing an amazing job.

  7. Josh, you did a great job! Congrats!

  8. Hi Leah! Hi Josh!
    I love your teaching style and follow you here from Craftsy where I have watched many of your classes! I am brand new to quilting and I am trying to make a small wall quilt that is more f an art piece. I have finally realized that instead of learning to fingerpaint, I decided to try to just jump in and make a Picaso! Hahaha! I need to go back a few steps and learn some basics. I want to follow this blog, and I did go to to try to get the patterns to use to mark these 4 piece blocks, but I can't find them. Would you please add the link on your blogs to make it an easier find? Thanks!

  9. Hi Gemma - You can find all the quilting guides and diagrams for this project in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern. We now have a download and print version available so you have full size diagrams to mark your pieced blocks. Check it out at

  10. Love this post and can't wait to show my hubby! He comes to my sewing room often and I can tell he would love to try... but every time I ask him... he always says, he doesn't want to ruin my project. :) I am going to show and encourage him to do a few of these blocks for himself!

  11. Hi Leah and Josh, Josh you are so hard on yourself. I think you are brilliant and yes I too love the team work! Just hink of the future Josh you will be as good as Leah one day then think of the rewards you will be reaping!!!!!! Love just simply bloody brilliant!!!! Excuse the aussie slang. Happy quilting Julie Beard.

  12. Hi Leah....I realize I am a little bit behind but on this video you mention a couple of different times about having to "break your threads and have to tie them off between ( the quilt block?). This may be a newbie question but can you please explain what you mean by this..... I'm sure it's to keep the quilting from coming apart. Thank you so much for being an awesome instructor! I really enjoy the quilt along but not the spirals..... :)

  13. Hi CocoLo - You can find a special article on hiding threads right here:


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