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Quilting Motif 13 - Pearls on a String

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

Grab your free-motion foot and get ready to stitch - today we are making PEARLS ON A STRING! This design is a combination of lines and circles (and of course I'm going to show you some variations) which can fill up alot space with minimal repeats of quilting.

Some of our more recent designs have been somewhat dense and labor-intensive like oyster shells and pebbles. This is because there are no gaps in the design - one shape touches another shape. With this week's design choice, i went the other direction - there can be alot of space between each repeat if you like - I have demonstrated several options. You may also have noticed that some of my "strings" are going vertical and some are going horizontal - the choice is yours. I hope that you will find one or several variations that interest and challenge you. Quilt your block with any one or more of the options or come up with your own!

I usually use this design in a linear quilt like a strip quilt or in the borders, but it can make a nice allover design as well.

Don't forget to set up your machine for free-motion quilting - change your foot, lower your feed dogs, lengthen your stitch, change your threads and tension if needed, and have your quilting gloves ready.

The Basic String of Pearls

In this section, I have the basic pearls on a string. That is a straight-ish line with circles intermittently spaced on the line. Typically, the pearls should be the same size, but that is another opportunity for customization.

You can have one pearl at a time or multiple. In this example, when I put one or more pearl close to each other I left a small section of straight line to connect them. You can choose to have them touching each other if you like. I will point this example out elsewhere and detail the process in a moment.

I left about an inch between lines to give plenty of room for the pearls.

If you are concerned about the straightness of your line, roundness of your circles, or anything else, then draw them with your favorite disappearing pen and a ruler, tape roll, coin, or whatever helpers you choose. Stitch over the drawing.

The mechanics of making these strings is really focused on your hand movement, so go slowly. Also, since the pearls start at a midpoint and end on the opposite midpoint to continue the string, you must trace or stitch over the first half your pearl.

Go Wavy

If you are concerned about your hands shaking or wobbling, then make your lines wavy to help take the pressure off and also hide any wobbles.

In this block sample, I chose to show a wavy line AND also that you can change the spacing of your pearls on the string. You can see that the strings on the roof have about an inch or so between them while the bottom 3 rows are more like every half-inch.

Change your Pearls

As mentioned previously, you can add multiple pearls on your string. They can have a small space in between, be touching, or be within a larger pearl.

I personally really like the bottom rows with the pearl within a pearl. it seems a little more modern with the off-center look. This is easy to accomplish by making the smaller circle first, and then making a second larger circle around it. It will be the second larger circle that you must go around 1.5 times in order to continue your string.

When I make the pearls touch (like in the roof of this patch), I move my hands like making a figure eight. I make the first pearl going counter-clockwise and then when it comes to the closing point, I make another circle going in the opposite direction. The key thing to remember is to make your pearls round and close to the same size to keep it from looking like an 8.

You could also make your pearls on your string different sizes to add interest.

One other thing I did with some of my strings is that I varied the placement of the pearls so that they nestled together - the pearls on one string filled in the gaps of the previous string.

Ready, Set, Sew

Now you've seen all of the options and it's time to get stitchin'!

Make your choices (if you like):

  • direction of strings

  • straight or wavy lines

  • number of pearls

  • size of pearls

  • multiple pearls touching or not touching

  • pearl within a pearl

  • nestle your pearls or not

  • strings close together or far apart

  • pearls close together or not

If you don't feel like deciding beforehand, you can always start stitching and decide as you go. Do what feels comfortable with your hands and machine and is pleasing to your eye.

If you need a little warm-up, use a practice quilt sandwich or practice on the edges of your block where it is just batting and backing.

Make sure that you have basted the edges and the center seams of your block or you could make your seams less straight.

When you are ready, put your needle down manually at the edge of the block preferably (so you don't have to tie a knot) and start making your strings, You do not have to break thread between strings just scoot over once you go off the edge of your block. Slow and steady will help you get nice smooth shapes.

Have fun making your own pearls on a string!

Quilt As You Go Quilt-Along Details

If you are reading this and following along with the Nothing but Love Quilt-Along see below for more details.

If you are just joining in, here are the links to all the quilting designs we've covered so far in the Nothing but Love Quilt Along:

January 24 – Affection/GRIDS Quilting Motif 1 - Grids (

February 7 – Refuge/OUTLINING Quilting Motif 2 - Outlines (

February 21 – Joyful/SQUIGGLES Quilting Motif 3 - Squiggles (

March 21 – Devotion/PUMPKIN SEEDS Quilting Motif 5 - Pumpkin Seeds (

April 4 – Inspiration/WAVY LINES Quilting Motif #6 - Wavy Lines (

May 2 – Admiration/FRACTURED SPIRAL Quilting Motif 8 - Fractured Spiral (

May 16 – Admiration/SCALLOPS Quilting Motif 9 - Scallops (

I hope you're learning some new stitches and having a good time doing it! Don't forget to share your progress and quilt pictures here or on social media with any of these tags #nothingbutloveqal #quiltingpearlsonastring or tag me @polkadotpeepquiltsetc on Facebook or Instagram.

Have questions or comments? Please leave them below.

Until next time, I'm wishing you fun times in your sewing area and I'll see you next week with a new block!

Be blessed,


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Hi Tara, I’m so glad I decided to check out your blog. I have piles and piles of mug rugs, table runners and quilt tops that need to be quilted and I’ve been wanting to do something different. I’ve done straight line, organic line and meandering forever, it’s really time for a change. I’m going start with string of pearls on a mug rug. Thanks so much!

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Yay - I'm so glad you joined us! I can't wait to see all of your beautiful things!

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