Quilting Motif #6 - Wavy Lines
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Hi quilty friends! Today I'm excited to discuss and demonstrate wavy lines as a quilting design. Wavy lines is a very popular and fairly simple design to execute and can give great texture and movement to your quilt!
My definition of this motif is any undulating line where the changes in direction are rounded. They can do many things like:
mix with straight lines or other wavy lines,
be parallel or intersect or spiral,
have tall/peaked or short/flattish humps,
have short (close together) or long (far apart) wavelength,
exactly mimic each other or shift and change flow.
The first great thing about quilting wavy lines is that it is primarily done with your walking foot. You can make them with your free motion foot of course, but I have never had a situation that required that. And using your walking foot means all of the stitches will be nice and even and the machine holds your fabric in place (so no random humps or points in your stitches where you accidentally moved)!
Also there is a specialty stitch on most modern sewing machines called the serpentine stitch - and it does ALL the waving for you!! You can change the width and length to achieve different looks, but they all add great texture. The only negative thing I can say about it is it is extremely hard to line up all of the waves using this stitch if that is the look you want.
You can see what it looks like on my Babylock Crescendo below:
The wavy lines motif is also a great choice for an allover design as well as to highlight certain areas and can be quick to do if you have a deadline - like a baby shower or holiday gift.
Making it Happen
Once you decide if you are letting the machine do all the work or if you are making the waves yourself then get your walking foot on and your needle threaded!
You can practice on a quilt sandwich or not. If you are doing my Nothing but Love Quilt Along then pick a block to practice on - your next decision is where you are going to "do the wave" and your wave height and length.
If not doing an allover texture, you can use the waves to show movement as well. In my current Spring green version I did both as an example. In the "greenery/leafy" section I did a dense (lines close together) serpentine stitch with the standard (middle) height and length settings.
As with any design, the closer your stitching lines are (denser) the flatter and smushier that area will be on your quilt.
On the other sections of the quilt block, I changed over to making the waves myself. So this is just a regular straight stitch, I lengthen my stitch just a little, but that is a personal choice. I then used the direction, density, and wave design to accentuate the growth and blooming of my lily. This view really lets you see the texture!
To make these kind of waves, you make your frame with your hands and then just guide your fabric through as you sew moving your hands from side to side as fast or slow as you want. When you get to the end you can either run off the edge and cut your thread, or you can see I pivoted and went the other direction until I got to the end/stopping point. It's really just that easy!
Final Style Tips
If you want your waves to be parallel and symmetrical (all the same) then I suggest using a guide with your walking foot or an increment mark on your walking foot as your guide. This will keep your lines evenly spaced. You can see below that I used the 3/8 mark on my foot to guide my spacing and then you just follow the curves of your original line.
If you'd like your wavy lines to shift and billow then my suggestion is to alter the closeness of your lines of stitching each time you pass. Also shift your wave slightly, for example, when the first line dips down, wait 1/4 inch or more before dipping the current stitch line down. This will also make your lines get closer together anyway. You can see below that the change in spacing creates a lovely flowing design like when you gather fabric to make a swag or bunting.
And that's it folks - wavy lines can really accentuate a quilt design and give great texture. It is a quick and easy design that can turn any quilt into a masterpiece AND you can do it on yourself on your domestic machine!
These designs accentuated the motion of water in this Under the Sea Pocket Change quilt (above), and the fluttering ribbons in this spring Streamers Quilt (below).
I hope you learned lot about how the simple wavy line can do SO much for your quilts, and have the confidence to try it yourself!
Quilting is so much fun when you do it with a friend - share pictures and comments here and/or on Facebook or Instagram! Use the hashtags #quiltingwaves #nothingbutloveQAL or tag me at #polkadotpeepquiltsetc so I can find them.
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 by just clicking on the links below:
**Each “between block” Monday there will be a post for quilting the blocks:
Intro to Quilting Quilting Basics - Get Ready to Stitch (polkadotpeep.com)
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)
March 7 – Adoration/LOOPS Quilting Motif 4 - Loops (polkadotpeep.com)
March 21 – Devotion/PUMPKIN SEEDS Quilting Motif 5 - Pumpkin Seeds (polkadotpeep.com)
April 4 – Inspiration/WAVY LINES
And coming up next is:
April 11 – Besotted Block & April 14 - WISHBONE quilt motif
Until next time, happy quilting & be blessed my friends,