The Free Motion Quilting Project: How to Machine Quilt Undulating Oil, Design #473

Friday, May 12, 2017

How to Machine Quilt Undulating Oil, Design #473

Let's learn a new quilting design today! I've been looking back through my quilting design notebooks and found a special variation of the design Trapped Ripples. This new quilting design changes only one thing and creates this beautiful new quilting design called Undulating Oil:

Does this design look intimidating to you? Don't worry! Machine quilting Undulating Oil is pretty easy because we quilt the design in two parts. First you break up your quilting space with wiggly triangle spaces, then you fill the spaces with bouncy echoes.

Learn how to quilt it on your home machine in this new quilting tutorial:

Are you looking for more machine quilting inspiration? Click Here to find 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs, a book packed with designs to inspire you as you quilt.

Now let's learn more about quilting Undulating Oil and where it will work best in our quilts:

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Because this design is quilted in two parts it's a bit tricky to rate the difficulty level. On the one hand the curvy triangle foundation is easy enough to quilt. 

Just quilt gently curving lines and try to quilt from a corner to the middle of a line or from the middle of a line to a corner. Weirdly enough, this will almost always break a space into triangle shapes. You can bet I was a really happy quilter the day I figured that out!

This design does involve a lot of precision stitching and the ability to hit lines exactly, bounce, and echo evenly. It will be a great skill builder for bouncy echoes as well. So don't be put off if it looks a bit intense. Give it a try on a practice square and see how it goes!

Filler Design Type - Foundational. For this family of designs, you begin with a base, then fill the open spaces with shapes. This foundation is simple curving lines that break the space into triangle shapes. If you'd like to see more designs with this foundation, check out Foundation Puzzle and Crack Maze.

If you'd like to try this with straight lines, Trapped Ripples, Garden Mazeand Modern Weave are also great designs to try.

Suggestions for Use - Quilting designs like Undulating Oil can be quilted anywhere so long as you can break up the space with the foundational curving triangle shapes. If you wanted to quilt this all over a bed quilt, the first step would be to quilt the wiggly foundation working from the center of the quilt to the outer edges.

If you break down the space into large sections then it won't become too dense as you fill in each triangle with bouncy echoes. You can also experiment with where you begin the echoes. If you begin all in the same spot, you'll create these pretty flower designs!

What do you think of Undulating Oil? Do you have questions about quilting it on your home machine? Make sure to post your questions in the comments below!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I really like how this design looks. What a cool design! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I'm so glad you like it! Thank you!

  2. The "flower" version looks very dimensional! (Not like oil at all.) Very cool. I want to try it.

    1. I agree! It really stands out when you put multiple starts in the same place.

  3. Love it. What kind of thread do you typically use? I like how the thread really shows up.

    1. I usually use Isacord thread for quilting. I love the way it stands out, plus it's thin, strong, and affordable. You can read more about it here:


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at