The Free Motion Quilting Project: Walking Foot Quilting: How to Quilt Concentric Squares

Friday, January 26, 2018

Walking Foot Quilting: How to Quilt Concentric Squares

I'm seeing squares! It's time to learn our 5th walking foot quilting design and it's all about quilting squares within squares within squares. Yes, there are a lot of thread breaks, and YES you can do it! Learn how in this new video:

Click Here to find the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day and join us for this walking foot quilting adventure!

Concentric Squares and last week's design Bright Star could win awards for thread breaks! Yes, both of these designs involve breaking your thread multiple times in order to create the designs.

Just to review, here's how I tie off and bury my thread tails in the middle of the quilt:

Click Here to find cheater needles, my favorite needles for quickly hiding the threads in the middle of the quilt.

Less to Mark, Less to Erase

While quilting Concentric Squares in my Marvelous Mosaic quilt square, I wanted to stitch it with the least amount of marking possible I got started marking only the center square and some diagonal lines radiating out from the center:

I marked these lines using a Ceramic Marking Pencil, my favorite pencil for marking medium to dark fabrics. It shows up great for as long as it takes to quilt the design, then erases off easily with the eraser on the end of the pencil.

Easy Quilting Makes Quick Quilting

The easier it is to move your quilt block on your sewing machine, the faster you will stitch the lines and be able to finish your quilt. Click Here to find tips on setting up your sewing machine so it's fast and easy to quilt.

Why do you break threads so much?

I received a lot of questions last week about Bright Star, the walking foot quilting design we learned and why I quilted the lines only from the center. Why didn't I just quilt around the outer edges of the block and back through the center across the whole quilt square?

That will certainly work on smaller squares. It won't work on my square because I'm using very thick Quilters Dream Puff batting and have minky fabric on the back. This combination makes the quilt square super pleat-happy so stitching all the way across the square, on the diagonal especially, is a bad idea.

Another reason why I'm quilting from the center - this is the way we will be quilting the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt. On a real quilt, especially a bigger quilt, there is no way you can rotate and keep quilting the straight lines of Bright Star without ending up with the entire quilt in the arm of the sewing machine.

So please understand all of these designs are open to interpretation and you can absolutely quilt them any way you want into your Marvelous Mosaic squares. But when it comes time to quilt a big quilt - you'll want to focus on quilting a path that doesn't feel like an arm wrestling match.

Yes, that might mean more thread breaks. Thread breaks won't kill you! As you can see in the videos, I tie off and bury my threads very quickly because I've built this into a natural habit. I don't even think about it, I just do it quickly and get back to quilting.

Please keep in mind that you can always leave more space between your lines of quilting. You can also start your first square much bigger. Here's how mine looked in the original Marvelous Mosaic Quilt in the book:

That's it for this week! I hope you enjoy learning how to quilt Concentric Squares and you're excited to try this design in the Rainbow Log Cabin Quilt!

Remember, it's never too late to join in this project and quilt along with me. Click Here to find the book with all the patterns so you can follow along.

And you can Click Here to find all the videos we've shared so far!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I notice that it looks like you have used a stabilizer on the Minky backing. Is that French Fuse or a different stabilizer to limit the stretch that is natural in Minky? Does it make the quilt stiffer?

    1. Great question! Yes, that is French fuse and it's very lightweight so no, it doesn't change the feel of the quilt at all, just helps to control the stretch of the Minky fabric.


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