The Free Motion Quilting Project: 8. Quilt a 9 Patch with Wiggly Pasta

Monday, February 24, 2014

8. Quilt a 9 Patch with Wiggly Pasta

Last week we learned a new design called Wiggly Pasta, which is basically two sets of Wiggly U shapes overlapping one another. Today we're going to learn how to quilt this funky design into our last 9 patch block:
free motion quilting | Leah Day
free motion quilting | Leah Day

NEW! This block design is now available in a quilting stencil from Quilting Creations International. Use the stencil to easily mark the design on plain fabric, your block, or another fun quilt you're working on! Click here to find the 8 inch stencil compatible with the Building Blocks Quilt.

Are you wondering why my block looks slightly different from the printed quilting guide in the Building Blocks Quilt Pattern?

For this particular block I marked only the outer border area from my quilting guide. The inside Wiggly Pasta area was free hand quilted without any marking at all.

This year I really want you to experiment with both forms of quilting - marked and unmarked free hand quilting. Both methods are super important to learn and master because almost every quilt you free motion quilt will benefit from a combination of the two.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Just as an example - here's Duchess Reigns, a wholecloth quilt I've been working on for more than a year now. The major motifs in this quilt (goddess, wing shape, woven inner border) were all planned and marked first because they needed to be placed exactly within the quilt.

But not everything needed to be planned to such a degree - the feathers within the wings were free hand quilted so they appear more random and fluid.

Also all the dense filler stitching (everything that is white is thread) was entirely free hand quilted. Mark all the filler designs would be time consuming and tedious, and rather pointless as they're intended just to fill the space randomly.

The same is true for the Wiggly Pasta within our 9 patch block - it doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to FILL the space, so there's no right or wrong, perfect or imperfect way to do this!

Of course, there are many ways to flow through this section of the block, so let me show you how I knocked it out with the least amount of travel stitching:

Wiggly Pasta is an Overlapping Design that is super forgiving of mistakes and can be easily quilted into any area of your quilts. Check out the entire collection of Overlapping Designs right here.

In the video I also discussed how much, or how little quilting you have to put in a quilt. You may have noticed we left the black squares (B fabric) in this block open and free of quilting:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

How much or how little quilting you put in a quilt is entirely up to your design choices and the rating of your batting.

The example I explained in the video was this - if you had a 12 inch block and a batting with a rating of quilting up to 10 inches apart, then you could stitch straight lines 9.5 inches apart and that would be plenty of quilting!

So if you're out to finish a quilt as quickly as possible, pick a batting with a high rating (8 inches or greater) and buzz across it with straight or slightly wiggly lines a little less than that distance apart.

Do understand that it's perfectly fine to leave spots open on your quilts. If you can't think of what you'd like to go in an area, or if you want to keep a spot open so the quilting doesn't conflict with a pretty pieced shape, that's perfectly fine.

The key here is to start looking at your quilts and developing an opinion about what you want to see. They first step to quilting your own quilts is answering the question - How do I want to quilt this? - and it all starts with having basic opinions about what designs you like and don't like.

So far we've experimented with Wiggly U's, Gridlines, Spirals, Circles, and now Wiggly Pasta. You can find videos for all of these blocks right here. Out of all of the 6 blocks we've quilted so far, which one was your favorite?

free motion quilting | Leah Day

If you'd like to get a little more bang for your Building Blocks buck, and finish a UFO project, AND get lots more practice quilting, consider taking your favorite design from the 6 we've learned so far and marking or free hand quilting it over an unfinished quilt in your stash.

Remember it's not rocket science, and yes, it will look gorgeous! If it's your favorite design, that automatically makes it the perfect choice for any of your quilts!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. This has definitely been my favorite block so far! I loved the freedom of sewing without marking. In fact, I had a small quilt with a car theme that my 4 year old grandson helped me piece. I quilted the entire quilt with Wiggly Pasta, but changed the name to Crazy Racetrack! I am not a member of Facebook, so I can't post a picture of it there. Is there a way I can post it here? It was lots of fun and great practice...

  2. So if I got a couple of eyelashes in my block, should I resew over it? (So start a new starting point to do this?) Also, what is a good size stitch length that my stitches should be?

    1. You could...or you could leave the eyelashes and see what happens. Chances are they will still be secure and may even balance out after being washed. As for stitch length - take a look at them and if they look too big, then they are too big! I never take a ruler to my stitches, so I don't know what to tell you there. The size really depends on what you like to see on your quilts!


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