The Free Motion Quilting Project: Collaboration: How to Quilt Over Busy Quilts

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Collaboration: How to Quilt Over Busy Quilts

This month I'm collaborating with Kate Colleran from! Kate has sent me a beautiful mini quilt called Two Step Mini which she cut and pieced using her new braid template. I love the way the fabric strips come together to create this unique block:

Click Here to learn how to piece this mini quilt in a tutorial with Kate!

Kate has created a quilt pattern for this mini quilt and bundled it with her braid template so if you'd like to make this too click here to check them both out on her website.

This is kind of a three way collaboration because the batik fabrics were all designed by Jackie Kunkel from Canton Village Quilt Works. It's so fun to work with other quilters and make something beautiful together!

Don't forget to check out my podcast interview with Kate and learn more about her quilting business.'ve probably already spotted a problem with quilting this quilt - it's pretty busy! How do you machine quilt over a quilt like this and not distract from the pretty piecing design or the beautiful fabrics?

That's exactly the question I got stumped on with this little quilt. I didn't want to totally ignore the piecing design because that braid effect is really cool, but I also didn't want to blend in completely with it. I decided to pick my favorite thing in the quilt and build the quilting design around that tiny center square. See what I mean in this new video:

Click Here to check out Kate's tutorial on piecing this mini quilt! Here's how the quilt finished with a combination of marked squares, Flowing Leaves quilting design, and ruler foot quilting lines in the border.

My quilting design did add more complexity to the quilt top, and depending on your quilting style and opinion that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Personally I love it!

Sometimes adding an extra design in the quilting, even on top of a very busy quilt, can be the right choice. For this quilt, there was a lot of symmetry going on with the pieced blocks and center square, but a lot of randomness going on with the most eye-catching colors randomly placed within each block.

By adding the marked squares on top, that centered the focus of the quilt on the center square. When I quilted the first square space with Flowing Leaves, I was honestly worried I'd ruined the quilt because the texture was quite overwhelming on top of the already busy fabrics.

That's when I decided to tone things down in the background with simple straight lines. Straight lines can be dynamic and add lots of movement to your quilt. They can also simplify and calm things down with a flat texture that gives your eyes a place to rest.

And that was exactly what this little quilt needed! The straight lines in the background really set off the busier texture in the center of the quilt and bring the whole thing together. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

Have you ever pieced a busy quilt and not been able to figure out how to quilt it? Have you ever gotten stuck on your quilting design? I hope this quilt will inspire you to take a look at that project and figure out how to move forward with it.

Don't forget to check out Kate's post on how to piece this cute quilt!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Wow! I would have been stumped too, and think your quilting design makes the quilt more brilliant! Looks great!

  2. I was just struggling with how to quilt my rolling rock quilt. I didn't want to do 'stitch in the ditch" but also didn't want to detract from the fabric. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Well done, really like this quilting ! Enhanced the piecing and looks amazing

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiration for quilting this quilt. I will keep this in mind for my next small quilt.

  5. Thank you for all the ideas about quilting and especially this style of quilting. The quilting really complimentes the piecing.

  6. Thanks for all you do for us "non-confident" quilters. I know it takes time, but I appreciate your help.


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