As we start to head into winter and the festive season, I think it’s fun to do some “themed” quilting motifs to match some of your seasonal projects. I’ve got a few different ideas for hand quilting, walking foot quilting and free motion quilting to share with you, with quick tutorials on how to achieve each one.
Theming your quilting to coordinate with the project can be a great way to really emphasise the theme or to help show the theme if you have chosen subtle prints or colours. But I would treat themed quilting with caution too. Creating an clear theme can make motifs a little more ” in your face” and if you overuse them the whole project might start to look a bit over the top…of course, if you love that sort of look then go for it! To tone it down you could either chose a more subtle motif (I think both of my walking foot quilting motifs below fit into this category) or use the busier motifs in smaller amounts.
Seasonal Hand Quilting Ideas
These hand quilted holly leaves would look great in a patchwork block’s corner or around borders. You could vary the sizes, place the leaves individually or in clusters, and even add some hand quilted berries.
Draw the holly leaf outline with a fabric pen/pencil and hand quilt as usual following the drawn guidelines.
These hand quilted stars create a lovely texture to your project when they are used the fill background space. They also look good overlapping across two patchwork blocks or across the block piecing. Quilting that ignores the boundaries created by pieced blocks is a great way to add an extra pop of interest.
Draw the star outline with a fabric pen/pencil and hand quilt as usual following the drawn guidelines. I find the quicker you draw this style of star, and don’t overthink the exact sizing etc, the better they look.
Seasonal Walking Foot Quilting Ideas
Instead of regular straight line machine quilting, choose a wave stitch to create straight line quilting with a little extra wow-factor. This motif is almost as easy to sew as regular straight line quilting; it can mess with your eyes a little so take your time and take a break if you need it. A wavy line gives fabulous all-over texture to a project, and you can use it vertically, horizontally and diagonally…or any combination of those!
Mark your project in the same way you would for straight line quilting (I like to use a Hera marker to create guide creases to follow).
I think this is a great motif to use across a square patchwork block. To avoid having to break thread too often, you can mark all your blocks first and then sew the vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines across multiple blocks at once without breaking thread.
Mark a vertical line down the centre of the block, a horizontal line across the centre of the block, then two 45o diagonal lines from the block’s corner that cross in the centre of the block.
Then mark the centre point on the block edge between the lines you have already marked. Use these marked points to mark two sides of a square in each corner of the block.
Seasonal Free Motion Quilting Ideas
Free motion quilting motifs like this, that are sewn in a straight line, look great in borders and joining strips. But they can also work really well on backgrounds when the overall project design has one main focus (e.g. an appliqué project or a pieced quilt top that creates one large centre design).
I don’t mark when FMQing but you could mark the long central lines of this motif if you wanted a guide to help keep the chain straight.
To create this motif (I’ll describe it as if you are creating a vertical chain, from the top of the project working down), firstly sew vertically down a little for the start of the chain then pause, sew the top right diagonal line back and forth, then the right horizontal line back and forth, then the bottom right diagonal line back and forth but continue through the centre of the star to then create the top left line back and forth, then the left horizontal and bottom left diagonal lines in the same way. Your needle will now be back at the centre of the star but at the bottom edge ready to create the next part of the vertical chain.
Double Loop Meander
This is a great all-over free motion quilting motif, but it works really well when placed purposefully too. I’ve mentioned this as a “seasonal” motif because I think it looks like a string of festive lights!
Free motion quilt a loose meander and every so often add a small loop and then a large loop round it, then continue with the meander.
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