top of page

Quilting Motif 4 - Loops

Hi friends! Today we continue on our free-motion quilting adventure with making LOOPS. These loops are more linear than last week very much like cursive lowercase Es and Ls.

Hopefully you are having fun working on your free-motion quilting skills. It takes lots of practice to get good at it, but no one ever said, "I can't use this quilt because the quilting isn't perfect!" Small quilting projects like quilt-as-you-go blocks, mug rugs, kitchen hot pads, pillows, and such are great opportunities for practicing FMQ and not wasting fabric. So even if your hands make shaky, wobbly lines and pointy curves - DON'T WORRY you will get better - it's ok for now and you are not ruining your quilt!



Filler Design vs. All-over Design


So the reason I love this style of loops is because it has great possibilities for linear blocks or strip quilts and for filling in shapes. Linear loops is generally considered a "filler" design because:

  • it can be worked in with other designs to fill in spaces that don't work with the other motif,

  • it adds interest and variation to your quilt top,

  • it can be used to travel from one element to another without breaking thread.

I tried to demonstrate both (linear and filling in a shape) on the Adoration block from my Nothing but Love Quilt Along.


An "all over" design is a motif that is used over the entire quilt top, edge-to edge or main part of quilt. Typically these designs will cover a large area easily and quickly and do not have to "fit" the quilt blocks in any way. The squiggles we did last week as well as the grids from week 1 are great all over designs.


The other thing I love about these linear loops is the variations you can do to make it interesting (and also hide the fact that you're a new quilter and/or they're not perfect.) You can make them:

  • Tall like cursive lowercase Ls or short like cursive lowercase Es,

  • Fat or skinny,

  • Close together or spread apart,

  • All the same height, alternate, or gradually increase and decrease to fill shapes,

  • Upside down, right side up, and sideways.


Let's Do This!


To begin using this design I find it VERY helpful to draw (audition) the loops on the quilt with a heat-sensitive (like Frixion) or water-soluble marker. This gives you something to look at while you move your hands and will help you stay on track. Plus you can see if you even like the way they look on your block!




I did this and decided to NOT fill in all the spaces with loops.



I also made sure I had the same number of loops on each side of the tallest center loop on that inner square so that it looked uniform.








This can also be a great way to help with tricky areas like points and turning corners because you have to pivot and alter your shapes a bit. I definitely find it easier to go up into the point instead of down.






You will also want to baste your block (or quilt) well with pins, spray, or stitching. I stitched around the block and through the center to keep my block from shifting.


Draw some practice loops on paper or on your block.


Practice good posture - elbows and knees close to 90 degrees and a straight back - to prevent fatigue and help with your quilting "frame."


And remember the speed of your hand movement has to match with the speed of your needle. The harder you press your foot the faster you can move your hands. I always start out slowly but increase speed once I get into the rhythm. I find that moving my hands a little faster can help my curves look smoother.


However, you don't want to go so fast that you have stitches with obviously different lengths. And you need to check the back of your quilt after a few practice loops to make sure you are not getting "eyelashing" this is a tension issue most common when going around the loop and the top tension doesn't pull the bobbin thread all the way into your quilt sandwich. It can also be caused by your foot and hand speed not matching well and messing up the tension. (Photo courtesy of Superior Threads)


Remember you can always practice in the border of your quilt sandwich or make a separate one for practicing your stitches. You want the back to look just as good (tension-wise) as the front.



Stitching Time!


To start free motion quilting:

  1. Change your foot,

  2. Lower your feed dogs,

  3. And increase your stitch length (so you have more time to move).

If you are starting on the edge of your block just put your needle down, but if you are starting in the middle you need to pull your bobbin thread up for knotting later.


Get in position and start sewing those slow gentle loops. I typically go slightly down and then up and around. Here's a short video (at 4x speed) to watch loops in action:



It's really such a soothing (almost meditative) movement. But please don't meditate and end up stitching your fingers to the quilt!


I'd love to see your quilting! Share your pictures and progress here or on social media with #nothingbutloveqal #quiltingloops or tag me @polkadotpeepquiltsetc on Instagram or Facebook.


If you are new to quilting, I wrote an intro post that you can read to get your blocks set up and machine ready. And if you are just finding this series then you can see all of the other designs, just click on the links below:


January 24 – Affection/GRIDS Quilting Motif 1 - Grids (polkadotpeep.com)

February 7 – Refuge/OUTLINING Quilting Motif 2 - Outlines (polkadotpeep.com)

February 21 – Joyful/SQUIGGLES Quilting Motif 3 - Squiggles (polkadotpeep.com)

I hope you had fun and don't forget to share your progress and quilt pictures here or on social media with any of these tags #nothingbutloveqal #quiltinggrids


We are moving right along on the Nothing but Love Quilt Along if you are joining in the QAYG fun! Next week will be Block #5 - Devotion and the associated quilting design will be Pumpkin Seeds/Continuous Curve!


Be blessed,

Tara


bottom of page