The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Machine Quilt Clouds, Design #475

Friday, May 26, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Clouds, Design #475

You know the most searched keyword for quilting designs on my website? Clouds! Who would have thought so many quilters are searching for this simple shape? I decided to give it a try and came up with this new design:

This is my first run at free motion quilting Clouds and I think it turned out pretty good! I realized immediately while quilting it that there are several ways you can alter the design which will change the way the Clouds look on your quilt. Let's check out the quilting tutorial and then I'll show you the variations of this design:

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I was aiming for the stereotypical fluffy cartoon cloud shape while quilting this design and I'm really pleased on how it turned out. It's very simple and fast to quilt too which is always a bonus. Let's learn more about it:

Difficulty Level - Beginner. Clouds turned out to be a very easy design! If you can quilt a slightly curving line and manage a bit of travel stitching, you can definitely quilt Clouds.

The hardest part is dealing with the different angles of the clouds as you quilt from right to left and then from left to right. I found it felt more natural to quilt from left to right and my clouds tended to look weird when quilted from right to left, but that might just be me being picky.

Design Family - Stacking. The cloud shapes stack on top of one another to form the design. You can change the look by making the clouds taller and fluffier. You can also change it by having the clouds dip down into the row before less often.

If you wanted a sky of ominous low hanging clouds you could quilt a thinner line of small arches running almost parallel with the top edge of your quilt. I'll have to think on variations with echoes to create storm clouds! Lol!

I decided to quilt Clouds again and try three different versions of the design to see how it would look if I changed the travel stitching within the Cloud shapes.

This first version has no travel stitching. You stitch 3-4 bouncy arch shapes chained together without doing any travel stitching. This makes the clouds look less cloud-like and a bit more like popcorn:

Here I added back the travel stitching, but kept it very short - only 1/8 inch of travel quilting back along the arches before branching out with the next:

Personally I liked this look best and with the minimal traveling, it also felt the easiest to machine quilt. But I had to try one more change this time with 1/4 inch of traveling and much bigger arch shapes:

Which version of Clouds do you like best? Do you see how the change in travel stitching makes all the difference with this design? I'm sure there are even more ways to change it up so if you have any ideas to test let me know in the comments below!

Where do we quilt Clouds? - As you can see this design is easy to machine quilt big with large fluffy shapes. I think it would make a great bed quilting design!

That's good because I don't think this works as well on a small scale. Even when I tried shrinking down the cloud shapes, it tends to go fluffy a good bit of open space between the shapes.

I do think there's a lot of possibilities for combining Clouds with straight lines and curves and that might work better on a smaller scale. One thing is for sure, I've definitely got my head in the clouds now! Lol. Sorry, I couldn't resist!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I like the second sample best. I think the first doesn't really look cloudlike, the third looks more like fists or butts to me. :*) Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Lol! I think this is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Lots of quilters on YouTube said this looked like Cat's Paws. Definitely lots of room to play with Clouds!

  2. Hi Leah, your clouds are fabulous. Have you ever machine quilted snowflakes? A Frozen quilt panel of Olaf the snowman that would look wonderful with snowflakes.

    1. Yes, definitely! I actually quilted that Olaf panel with some snowflake stencils. You can find the video here:

  3. Its so sweet, was just wondering how to quilt the new one for a new baby and there it was, your lovely design, thank you Leah, you are the best!!!!!


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