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Quilting Motif 9 - Scallops

Updated: May 30, 2022

Hello quilters from novice to seasoned! Today's motif is another adventure in curvy free-motion quilting - we are making SCALLOPS. This motif may look daunting, but I'm going to show you how mastery can be obtained for a quilter at any level.

The scallop is a basic semi-circle shape that bounces around either in straight lines or it can curve. It also plays well with other designs we have learned like straight line echoes, grids, and wavy lines. You may be noticing that the quilting designs look more complicated and harder to do, but fear not, I am here to help! You CAN learn how to make simple scallops, embellished scallops, or a flower (scallops in a circle) with some marking, following the steps provided, and practice!

As usual, my purple Infatuation block (shown above) is a small sample of different scallop-y options for you to get ideas. I hope it gives you confidence and inspiration for fun ways to use scallops in your quilting.

As you can see the scallop shape is the same in each quadrant, but the width and height vary, there are echoes and details added, and even a change in shape to make a flower.

This is not a motif that I use very often, but it adds a lovely all-over texture and interest to your quilt.

Are you ready to give it a go??

Don't forget to set up your machine for free-motion quilting - change your foot, lower your feed dogs, lengthen your stitch, put your slider on your machine deck if you have one, and have your quilting gloves ready.

The Simple Scallop

Aside from your prepped block sandwich you will need:

  • 2 marking pens in different colors (you know I like heat-sensitive varieties, but water-sensitive are good too),

  • a quilting ruler (a 6" or 12" square or long ruler will work), and

  • an iron/water bottle for "erasing".

The basic scallop shape is actually quite precise (which is probably why I don't use it often), but it is exactly that reason that makes it easy to duplicate for a quilter of any level!

In my sample I quilted the simple scallop in one 6 inch patch, but you can use this same method to quilt the entire block with the same scallop design. Here is the process:

Step 1) Mark out a 2 inch grid in one color of your desired marking pen. If you don't have 2 colors, then use 2 methods like hera marker and heat-sensitive pen. Also I use the center seam as my starting line, but don't actually mark it with pen. So you should have 2 lines going up from your center line, and possibly 2 lines going down. If you make a third line out that would indicate your 1/4 inch seam allowance; I chose to baste my block on that line. You will also mark the lines from your center vertical seam, 2 lines on each side as desired. In the photo below, my Step 1 lines are blue.

Step 2) Then using a different color (or method/utensil) mark out a second grid that divides the original in half. So mark your lines 1 inch from the center seam and your original lines. My Step 2 lines are red in the photo below.

Step 3) Draw your first row of scallops. Starting at the lowest left corner draw your first quarter circle UP to the first grid intersection and then DOWN to the second. Now you can visualize your scallop hump - it is 1 inch tall and 2 inches wide. Complete the first row by making 2 more scallop humps. (You will make 5 more if you are doing the entire 12" block)

Step 4) Draw the rest of your rows of scallops. This next row is the key to the whole process! For your second row, starting at the left edge of the second marked gridline, draw your quarter circle going DOWN to the next intersection to make half a scallop. This should be landing in the center of the first row's first scallop hump. Then continue to make two full scallop humps using the grid marks, and then a final half hump going UPWARD. Row 3 starts at the same starting point as Row 2. Row 3 is made with all full scallops identical to Row 1, Row 4 starts and ends with a half scallop like Row 2, and so on and so forth. See the completed DRAWN scallops in the photo below.

Now you are ready to sew!

If you need a little warm-up use a practice quilt sandwich or practice on the edges of your block.

When you are ready, put your needle down manually at the starting point for Row 1. Put your hands in a nice frame and hold your fabric taut, start to stitch slowly, and just trace your drawn scallops. It really IS that easy! When you're at the end "travel" or sew your way up to the next starting point for the next row of scallops.

If you don't feel comfortable sewing in the opposite direction (like Right to Left) then run the stitches off the edge of your block and cut them. You can then start over on the left side of your block to sew the next row. HOWEVER if you are starting in the middle of the block as I did, you will need to knot your starting stitches and bury them for each row. I do not prefer this way as it is more work, but it can be done, just leave yourself long starting tails to tie and then run through the eye of the needle to bury within your quilt sandwich.

Here is a video showing me doing exactly this in double time (so you're not bored). Don't worry if you're lines are a little wobbly or off your drawing. The overall texture is the goal, and it will turn out perfectly fine when you are done! As I have said before going at a medium speed works well for smoother curves with no tension issues, but make sure your foot and hands are moving at the same speed.

When you're done stitching iron or mist your lines away and admire your stitching. It looks awesome I can tell!!

Fun Twists on Scallop Quilting

If lots of measuring is not your thing you can draw just the horizontal lines - either straight or curvy - or no lines at all and wing it. Just sew the scallops however you want wide and flattish, tall and thinner, or mix it up.

Another fun scallop version is circles of them which means making a flower or cloud shape. If you feel like upping your game from straight rows then have some fun with flower-y shapes.

You see here I made a scalloped circle, and then used the same principle of starting the next scallop row in the center of the humps to continue each next circle. It does get tricky to do this after more than a couple circles. So keep the flowers small or don't worry about that aspect of the scallop process when making flowers. If you make just one scallop-y circle than that's a cloud.

You can also echo your scallops (or "make rainbows") by making additional rows very close to the first. Or if you want to make a triple echo, you can make your first hump, then make the second hump by going back to the starting point, and then make the third hump going back to where you left off (like a jumping back and forth).

Lastly you can add embellishments in between the humps if you like or even more into the middle of the humps. Here is a picture of a few versions I did. If this is what you would like to do then I expect you have a little bit of quilting experience, and I will not be going into instructions here because I feel like I've talked too much already. LOL

If you would like to see further instructions on embellished scallops then please leave me a comment, and I will write a future post about it.

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 (

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 #quiltingscallops or tag me @polkadotpeepquiltsetc on Facebook or Instagram.

Have questions or comments? Please leave them below.

Until next time, I am high-fiving you all the way! Have fun stitching and see you next week for a new block!

Be blessed,



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