The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting a Big Quilt with Concentric Squares

Monday, February 5, 2018

Quilting a Big Quilt with Concentric Squares

I'm so excited to see all the beautiful Rainbow Log Cabin quilts taking shape and so many quilters quilting this big quilt on their home machines. Remember, you can join the Machine Quilting Party anytime and begin quilting along with us!

This week the machine quilting process should feel easier as we stitch the middle section of our log cabin quilt with Concentric Squares. See how this works quilting on a small home machine in this video:

Click Here to find the Rainbow Log Cabin quilt pattern in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

*New! We've just released this book on Kindle! Click Here to check it out now.

Explore Walking Foot Quilting is more than just a book of pretty quilt pictures. I filled this book with all the steps to quilt making from piecing your quilt tops accurately to binding the edges of your finished quilts. You'll find 30 beautiful walking foot designs as well as seven skill-building quilt patterns that will guide you through the piecing and quilting process step by step.

This is the book you need if you'd like to join in the fun of the Machine Quilting Party! It includes the patterns for the Rainbow Log Cabin, Marvelous Mosaic, and Prism Path baby quilt we're making together this year.

Quilting Big Squares in a Big Quilt

This week our goal is to machine quilt both the yellow and green sections of the Rainbow Log Cabin quilt with Concentric Squares. This should feel much easier and faster to quilt because we're further from the center so there will be less bulk quilt in the arm of your machine.

To get started, I first taped two squares, using the piecing points on the quilt as a guide. This is something we're going to do a lot this year - use the piecing as a guide to the quilting. It's an very easy way to plan your quilting design and always enhances the piecing design nicely.

I also used a guide bar on my machine to space extra lines off the tape. Is this perfectly accurate? No. If you want absolutely perfect lines, use a ruler and mark them with a marking pencil.

But in a quilt like this where it's not a big deal if the lines aren't perfect, masking tape will work just fine!

I quilted Concentric Squares using Isacord Thread in Orange Peel, a bright yellowish orange color that contrasted nicely with the yellow and green sections I quilted over. Click Here to find a thread set of all the colors we will use this year.

Always Quilt Clockwise

When quilting Concentric Squares, the most important step is the direction you're quilting when you begin. Please double check that you are quilting clockwise, so the quilt is inserted into the machine with the least amount of bulk in the arm.

If you begin quilting counter clockwise, you will end up with the entire quilt, past the center in the arm. Talk about a wrestling match!

But if it still feels like a wrestling match even when you're quilting clockwise, you might want to look at your quilting tables and see if you can arrange things to support your quilt better. Click Here to find a video on setting up your machine for quilting.

And I highly recommend using quilting gloves to grip the quilt and a Queen Supreme Slider to make moving it over the table easier. Click Here to find both tools in a money saving kit!

Rise to the Challenge

Another thing I keep in mind when quilting a big quilt is that it's not going to be easy.

What?! A quilting teacher just dared to say this wasn't fast or easy? Burn her! Burn her!

Watch the pitchforks! LOL! Look at it this way, if it was easy, we'd all have all of our quilt tops quilted none of us would have any unfinished, un-quilted projects lying around. If quilting on a home machine was fast or simple, longarm quilting machines would never have been invented. They were created to meet a demand.

This is hard. Accept it.

I'm not trying to be discouraging. Quite the opposite. I find mentally accepting and inviting the challenge of quilting this big quilt can make a big difference. Go into this understanding it's going to make your shoulders a bit sore, it's going to take time, and you may end up looking like you just got out of a ring with a wrestler twice your size.

But go into it also knowing you're going to WIN! You're going to quilt this quilt and show it who's boss and then you'll have a beautifully finished quilt to enjoy in your home.

So here's to accepting the challenge and rising to meet it! Next week we'll be quilting the corners of the Rainbow Log Cabin, and trust me, it definitely gets much easier from here.

Click Here to find all the videos we've shared so far to this project. Remember, you can join in any time and the videos will remain online to guide you.

Click Here to find the quilt pattern in the book Explore Walking Foot Quilting with Leah Day.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

1 comment:

  1. well i've done it thanks to your last weeks pod caste, i don't know what it was but you totally gave me to courage to try and i have now almost completed quilting my transparency quilt with my walking foot, and it looks fantastic!!!! i don't know why, but i had a block to using it for anything but binding and minky, but this has just opened up a whole new vista for me. thank you thank you thank you


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