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Quilting Motif 3 - Squiggles

Happy Monday friends! Today is the day we start learning a free motion quilting design! We are starting with the Squiggle and YES that is the technical name for this design!! (LOL)

Personally, I think this design is slightly easier to start with than a meander, but if you know what a meander is or how to do it, you're in good shape for this one. A squiggle is a curvy line that has loops in it when you change direction. The goal is to try to keep your line smooth and curvy. It takes practice and don't worry if it is wobbly or you have pointy curves at first. Free motion quilting takes practice and you get better over time.

The Squiggle can be done all over your block or within different elements.

You can have a large squiggle or small squiggle (smaller is more difficult).

And you can make it fit your shape whether that be a heart or a border (rectangle).

Onward to the stitching

First things first - change your presser foot to the free-motion foot or hopping foot and make any needed adjustments to your machine (like lowering the feed dogs, add a bigger quilting deck if needed, increasing your stitch length, etc). I also like to use a slider sheet on my quilting surface and use quilting gloves to help me grip the fabric better.

**Lowering the feed dogs means you can now move side to side and backward!

3 Important Things to Know about Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

  1. Your feed dogs are NOT guiding your fabric or holding it still.

  2. Always start and stop stitching with your needle DOWN.

  3. Make a FRAME with your hands to hold your fabric smooth and taut while you quilt.

Get Ready:

  • To practice and get your hands in the mood to move this squiggly way, get a pen and paper. Start doodling squiggles on the paper until you like how they are looking. You can even draw a box and then fill it with a squiggly uninterrupted line. Remember it will look great with a little or a lot of waves and loops, so doodle until you find what you like best.

  • If you are worried about how your stitches will look, choose thread in the same color as your fabric. *Note this can make it hard to see your thread while you squiggle.

  • If you want to practice on some of your leftover batting and fabric before you quilt your block, then make a practice sandwich.

  • You can also doodle on your block with your water or heat sensitive pens and then stitch on top of your drawing.

Get Set:

  • Make sure you have basted your quilt sandwich in some way - a stitch around the edge, basting spray and iron, or pins. This is because there will be alot of movement and you don't want your fabrics to move or get pulled.

  • For a quilt-as-you-go project (like Nothing but Love QAL), you almost always start off the block (in the batting). If not, then start by a seam line.

  • Put your needle down and hold the tail of your top thread, then bring your needle back up.

  • Then pull that tail up through your sandwich and it should bring your bobbin thread up with it.

  • Pull out enough length to hold tight with your finger (and for tying a knot if you start in the middle of the quilt),

  • Then put your needle back down in the same spot where your threads came up.

Here is a little demo video (just ignore my little difficulty grabbing the bobbin thread - haha!)


  • Sit up straight.

  • Try to have your elbows close to 90 degrees and hands framing your quilting area.

  • You are moving your arms together (as one) to move your quilt block around.

  • You press your foot on the pedal at the same speed you are going to move your hands, so start slow and then speed up as you like.

  • When you need to adjust your hands - stop - both your hands and your foot. Adjust and then restart slowly.

  • Try to look slightly ahead of your needle not directly at it - it can be mesmerizing.

Take a deep breath and go for it! Have fun - it's just quilting!!

*I did speed this video up double time - I do not quilt this fast! I also do not recommend letting your hands get too close to your needle unless you want to sew your hand to the quilt.

Share your quilting here or on social media (Instagram or Facebook) with the tags @polkadotpeepquiltsetc or #nothingbutloveQAL or #quiltingsquiggles - I'd love to see what you make!

Next week will release Block #4 - ADORATION and another fun quilting motif the following Monday!

'Til next time, be blessed my friends,



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