quilting designs Archives - Handi Quilter

More Filled Grid Variations – Swirl

Last week we filled grids with straight lines, curves and S-shapes. That leaves two more of the 5 basic shapes to create even more filled grid variations, swirl and loop.


The swirl is a fun one to quilt because it flows so easily. If you are not proficient at quilting swirls, remember to practice this shape every day. Your skill will improve and before you know it you’ll be loving to quilt swirls too!

Let’s start with a little larger grid this time. A 5 across by 4 down will work well for this example.

Pro-tip: You can fill any size grid with these shapes! you might be filling a border that’s 4″ x 60″.  Just use the same paths. It will work.


Start (as usual) in the upper left corner. Stitch a swirl. I chose to do a simple spiral into the center and use the diagonal line trick to get to the upper right corner of my grid box. Just like we did last week with the square spiral design.


I also chose to make that line from the center to the upper right a curve. If I had chosen a straight line, I’d get a different look. But, I don’t need to pull out my straight line ruler to quilt the curve. It will be faster and easier this way.

Next travel along the grid line to skip the next box and get to the third box.

Since I practiced this design before I quilted it on a real quilt, I realized some thing that would help me finish this grid work faster. Remember the S-shape design from last week? It looked much better when the grid was also stitched. Because the swirls do not fill the entire grid box, this one will look much better with the grid lines quilted as well. As I practiced, I discovered if I quilted across the top of the 2nd and the 3rd grid boxes. Then started my swirl from the upper right corner of the 3rd box (rather than the upper left). I would complete stitching the horizontal grid lines as I worked the swirls. This saves a lot of time!

Pro- tip: As you practice your design, try to think of ways to make it easier or faster to stitch. Try variations to see what works and what doesn’t.


Don’t worry!  I will stitch the top of that 1st grid box a little later.

By stitching the top of 2 boxes I need to start my spiral from the upper right. No biggie!

Then stitch that diagonal line to the upper right corner of the box.

Rinse and repeat

Continue across the top row of the grid in the same manner till you reach the right side of your grid.


The next row will get worked right to left. Stitch down the right side of the grid to the top of row 2. Remember you are filling alternate grid boxes. So stitch across to the top right of the box you want to fill next.


Stitch the swirl and end in the upper right corner of the box.

Use the trick of putting marks in the boxes you want to fill so you don’t make a mistake. It’s easy to do!

Pro-tip: Use all the tricks you have up your sleeve to help make the quilting easy!

If you have followed along with this Free Motion Quilting for Beginners series you have quite a few tricks you can apply to whatever the job. If you’re new here, start with this post. It has links to many of the first posts in the series. Then you can continue on from there.

Travel across the top of the box you just filled and the next box that will remain empty.


Fill the next one. Then travel across and down and back across to the right. This will set you up to fill the next box.

Rinse and repeat til you have filled all the alternating boxes.



All that is left to do is to finish stitching the grid. Most of the horizontal lines are already stitched! Just finish the last part of the line you are working.


Then choose a path to complete the vertical grid lines. I chose to stitch up the left side to get started. You can finger trace your path to figure out which way will work the best in your situation, before you start stitching.


Now I can finish that open top!


As you come to a vertical line, stitch it. So I stitched down that first vertical line I came to.


Rinse and repeat.


I ended up at the bottom right corner working my vertical lines. So all I needed to do was to go across the bottom and up the one grid box that was still open. And my design is finished!


Next week: Loops and more ideas.

BTW, the basic examples I am showing you are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to filling up a grid and creating texture on your quilts. I hope you’re imagining other ways to use the shapes! That’s the fun of free motion quilting. The sky’s the limit when it comes to more filled grid variations!


Quilt every day!


by Mary Beth Krapil

Filled Grid Variations

Now that you’ve got the basics of filled grids from our last post, it’s time to kick it up a notch and explore some filled grid variations.

If you’ve been following along with this Free Motion Quilting for Beginners series, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say next. IYKYK.  If you’re new here, then go to this post. It is a list (with links) of the first posts in the series. Then you can continue on from there.

IYKYK = If you know, you know.

The Five Basic Shapes.

We used straight lines to fill every other grid box last week. That created fabulous texture!


This is another example:

There were squares pieced in this quilt, and I could have used those piecing lines as my grid, but I chose to divide those pieced squares even further, to make a smaller grid. I used a removable marking tool, the Handi Iron-Off Pencil, to do that. They work great on dark fabrics, iron off, and leave no residue. Just what you want in a quilt marking tool.



Straight Line Variations

We can change up the way we use straight lines in the grid boxes:


I started by going around the perimeter of the grid box and then spiraled in towards the center. When I got to the middle, I just angled back out to the perimeter.

That makes me think of another variation! Use angled straight lines to fill alternating grid boxes. Can you picture that?

How about the other shapes?


We can fill the alternating grid boxes with a simple small stipple.

Using the method of doing 2 rows at a time, like we did in the last post, works great for stipple as well. You do need to think ahead and end in the corner that connects to the next box you want to fill.


Using the S-shape to fill the grid lends movement to the quilt.

Once again, I want to make the design as continuous as possible. Using the alternating rows trick doesn’t work for the S-shape variation. But working on a diagonal and alternating the direction of the S-shape works really well!


Start in the upper left. Fill the grid box with S-shapes ending in the lower right corner of the box.


Fill the next grid box on the diagonal but this time rotate the S-shapes by 90 degrees. End in the bottom right corner of the box.

Fill the next box on the diagonal, rotating your S-shapes by 90 degrees again. Continue along the diagonal as far as you can within the quiltable space of your machine, or the end of your grid, whichever comes first.


Work the other diagonal rows that you can reach in your frame space. This example is a small 9-box grid so I just need to fill in the corners.

Pro-Tip: remember to keep the alternating direction of the S-shapes when moving on to new diagonal rows.


Sometimes, when shapes do not fill the whole grid box, the design can lose the crispness of the grid. If I erase the grid lines for this S-shape variation, I’m not too happy with the look of the design. This often happens with curved variations.



This is totally personal preference. Always remember, it’s your quilt, so make it look the way YOU want.

When I lose the crisp lines of the grid, I opt to stitch the grid as well as the design. If the design does the job of defining the grid, I don’t need to stitch the grid. In the case of the S-shape design, I think the grid needs to be stitched.

To me, this looks much better. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Next week we’ll dive into some more variations.

Till then……quilt every day!


by Mary Beth Krapil





Filled Grids

We are back this week to our discussion of grid-work. Next up are filled grids. When you want maximum texture on your quilts, filled grids are the way to go. Whenever parts of the grid framework are stitched and other parts are left un-stitched the result is texture.


Stitching tamps down the batting and creates low places. Leaving parts with no stitching allows the batting to pouf (Isn’t that a great word? I love words that sound like their meaning. Pouf!). The batting poufs up and creates a high place. The contrast between the low place next to the high place is Texture.

Fill every other grid box

Just like always, we start with the grid. I use filled grids more for background quilting, so my grids tend to be small. The grid squares in the photo are 1/2 inch.

Decide whether you want to stitch the grid or simply mark it as a guide.

Pro-Tip: Stitching the grid is a bit more forgiving when filling the grid. When it is not stitched you must be careful to fill right to the grid line. Not beyond it, and not shy of it, but right-to-the-line. That will keep the shape of the grid “boxes” and you will achieve even texture. When the grid is stitched it helps define the grid boxes and you can get away with a small amount of deviance. 

Let’s start with using the straight line for our fill, just like in the photo above.

Pro-tip: mark the grid boxes you want to fill with a removable mark to help you keep going right.

Mark every other box alternating rows, like this:


Stitch back and forth in each of the marked grid boxes to fill the box. Make a choice whether you will make the ends of your lines straight or curved. Straight is easier to keep the grid lines nice and crisp. Curved is easier to quilt, because it flows.






As usual I start in the upper left corner. If you are not quilting the grid lines, the first line you quilt should follow the grid line.


Stitch down along the grid line. Have a plan for the spacing of your quilting lines. Try for even spacing as best you can but don’t worry too much about it.

Then quilt back to the left.


Continue in this manner to fill the box. Your last quilting line should follow the bottom of the box grid line and end on the right. This will make it possible to stitch continuously using 2 rows at a time.

Keep stitching on that same grid line across the top of the marked box in the next row.


Fill this next box in the same way, BUT end on the LEFT this time. You’ll want to go back to the first row for the next box to fill.


Did you notice it took an extra stitched line within that box to accomplish ending on the left?

Pro-tip: until you get comfortable with this design, you can stop at the end of one box and finger trace your next path to fill the next box. Knowing where you’re going is half the battle!


Follow the grid line to the left and fill the bottom box in row 1. End on the RIGHT.


At this point you can decide to tie off and cut your thread, to go up to the top of row 3 and start again. Or you can choose to travel along the grid line to the bottom of row three and work your way up the grid. I’ll travel.


You guessed it, fill the next box. End on the right.


Since my grid only has 3 rows, I’ll travel up along the outside of the grid to the next box I need to fill.


And fill the last box.


When I finish filling a grid like this, I like to stitch around the entire grid to define it. Often this is stitch-in-the-ditch work.  Do it! It makes the whole quilt look so much better!


Last but not least, remove your marked grid and the marks you used to indicate the boxes you wanted to fill.


This graphic looks a little incomplete but when you are quilting this it comes out looking very nice. Refer to the photo of the filled grid at the beginning of the post. The grid lines were not stitched there and yet you can clearly see the grid.

Have some fun trying out filling a few grids with straight lines. Try both straight edges and curved edges to see which one you like better.

Next week we will look at some different filled grids. After all we have the 5 basic shapes!




Skill Sets

If you have been following along with our Free Motion Quilting for Beginners series, you already know the importance of practice for gaining FMQ skills. I like to think of practice time as play time. It’s stress-free quilting time. Time to bond with your machine. No worries about making mistakes. No worries about getting out the seam ripper. And that practice time just got even better with something new from Handi Quilter. The very first Skill Sets is available exclusively at your local HQ retailer.

The skinny on Skill Sets

It’s a box full of items that will give you some direction for your practice time. And give you some ideas for new designs to use in specific areas on your quilts.

What’s in it?


Practice with Purpose Notebook

First you’ll see a small notebook that contains design ideas and space for drawing practice as well as outlines for the Skill Sets panel. You can plan which designs you will quilt in which spaces on the Skill Sets panel.

Pro tip: Having a plan is one of the skills you should make into a habit!

On the front and back inside cover of the notebook are some great reference guides that are valuable tools to always have in your studio.

HQ Curvy Template


I really like the Curvy with its 2 different curves and angle markings, plus straight edges. You can learn some cool designs using the Curvy by watching the video at this link. This template has a retail value of  $34.95! After you see all the things that are included in the skill sets, you’ll see, it is a really good deal.

Fabric Panels

Two fabric Panels are included.

The smaller one is meant for you to practice the designs. It has areas marked off for practice and it also has two mini quilts for even more practice.

Pro-tip: Use water soluble thread in your bobbin and you can use the panel over and over. A quick dip in some warm water will remove your stitching. After it’s dry, you can try again!

Vanish Lite by Superior Threads is the water soluble thread that I like.


Super Pro-Tip:  Keep this thread in a zip-top bag and LABEL it. You don’t want to accidentally get it wet and you sure don’t want to use it to repair your bathing suit. :O

You will also get a larger panel. It is approximately 2 yards. The idea is for you to practice your designs on the smaller piece. Then, when you feel confident, quilt the larger one to use as a throw or a wall hanging. This is just a little sneak peek:

Official Handi Quilter pencil

And of course you’ll want to do your drawing practice with the official Handi Quilter Pencil! Because it has the FMQ mojo.

Unboxing Video

If you’d like to see an unboxing video, you can watch here.

Where can you get one?

They are ONLY sold by Handi Quilter retailers. You cannot find Skill Sets on our website. Find a retailer near you here.

Pro-tip: If you don’t have a retailer that’s a reasonable distance from you, give the closest one a call. Many retailers would be happy to mail your Skill Set.

More to come!

While you’re waiting for your Skill Sets box to arrive read this post, Practice with a Purpose.

This is just the first in a series of Skill Sets. Stay tuned for more great practice opportunities brought to you by the great folks at Handi Quilter.


by Mary Beth Krapil





Swirly Grid Design

We have used all the shapes to make continuous grid designs except for the swirl (or hook). So today we will dive deep into the swirly grid design.

The Swirl

Remember the swirl or hook for the 5 basic shapes?

Like the S shape from last week, we need to make some modifications to the shape. To make our path continuous, the shape must start on the left and end on the right. I accomplished this by extending the line leading into the swirl and the line leading out. Then I spread them apart like this:

Notice that I also closed the swirl, or over-stitched the swirly part.  I did this is because this design is a lot of quilting in each grid space. If your grid is large, feel free to leave the open swirl with the double lines, like the original shape. Make it your own!

My quilting starts at the green dot on the left and arcs down slightly.

When I get about half-way across the grid space, I start my swirl.

Backtrack along the swirl.

Then arc up towards the grid intersection.

One thing to keep in mind while you are quilting this shape is that you cannot go too deep into the grid space. You have to allow room for a swirl on each of the four sides of the space. You can add a chalked dot or circle to the center of the space as a reminder, like we did when we used the loop shape.

The Path

To keep things consistent, let’s use the same grid.


Start in the upper left corner and stitch the shape across the top. Just like all the other shapes before.


The Mantra

Like the S-shape, it is SUPER important that the shape is stitched the same each time. In this case, the swirl has to go in the same direction. I chose to stitch the swirl swirling back towards where I started.


To help me keep the swirls going in the correct direction, I use the mantra “SWIRL BACK”.  And just like the S-shape, this mantra will be helpful when you you have to change the orientation of the shape to fill the grid.


Next stitch down the side. SWIRL BACK.


Keep the path going

As we did before we will work across the horizontal grid line. But for this design, like the Terry Twist, the serpentine path will not work. You will simply stitch across the top of the line. Keep the mantra going!

You can see how the swirl is opposite of the ones going across the top of the grid. It’s easy to get confused and turned around without the mantra, but the mantra will keep your shapes going the way they should. SWIRL BACK.

Next, stitch across the bottom of the horizontal grid line back towards the right. Keep the mantra going!

Without the mantra, you’ll be sure to get confused on this step. With the mantra you’ll just go along easy-peasy.

Continue on down the right side, and across and back on the next horizontal grid line. Keep the mantra going!

Stitching down the right side brings you to the bottom of the grid. Begin to stitch across.


Just as before, work the vertical grid line up.


Can you see now how using a chalked dot in the center of the grid space will help?

Next, work your way back down the vertical line. Keeping the mantra? Of course you are! If you don’t, you’ll be getting out the seam ripper.


Move across the bottom to the next vertical line and stitch up and down. Then across the bottom to the left side. Then all that’s left to do is stitch up the left side, back to where you started!


This swirly grid is great for larger grids. There is a lot of quilting in each grid space!

Did you notice that this intricate design used the skills we acquired when we learned the simpler shapes grid designs? We used the path that gets us from start to finish with just one start and one stop. We used a guideline (dot), we modified the shape slightly, we used a mantra to keep the pattern going correctly.  When you come up with your own new designs be sure to remember your skills and put them to work for you!


The Name

I have not named this one. Will you help me give it a cool name? Add your name suggestion in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you creatives come up with!


by Mary Beth Krapil


More Grid Designs

Last time, we took our grid work to a new level by using more of the basic shapes. We followed the same path using the grid. It’s time for more grid designs! Using the S shape and the (mostly) same path.

I saved this shape  and the hook for last because they are a bit trickier to stitch and keep the grid going. But as always, I have hints and pro tips to make it fun and easy. More grid designs = more fun!

S shape

Remember the S shape?

Such a useful shape! If you’ve been following along with the Free Motion Quilting for Beginners Series you should be very familiar with it. If you’d like to start the series from the beginning, start here.

For this grid design we are going to modify the S shape a little. We need to exaggerate one side of the S and flatten out the other side. Like this:

I named the two parts of this S shape. You’ll see why in a bit. The exaggerated side is the “BUMP” and the flattened out side is the “SLIDE”.

The Path

Use the same 9-patch grid.


Start in the upper left corner and stitch the shape across the top. Just like before.

The Mantra

It is SUPER important that the shape is stitched the same each time. The BUMP first and then the SLIDE. So I use those words as my mantra.

Bump and Slide – Bump and Slide – Bump and Slide……

This mantra will be ever so helpful when you start changing directions.

Next, stitch down the side. Bump and Slide.


As we did before we will work across the horizontal grid line. But for this design, the serpentine path will not work. You will simply stitch across the top of the line. Keep the mantra going!

Can you see now why we need a mantra? The S shapes going across to the left are opposite of the ones we stitched across the top of the grid. It would be easy to get confused and turned around without the mantra.

Next stitch across the bottom of the horizontal grid line back to the right. Keep the mantra going! Bump and Slide.

Without the mantra, you’ll be sure to get confused on this step. With the mantra you’ll just go along easy-peasy.


Continue on down the right side, and across and back on the next horizontal grid line. Keep the mantra going!


Stitching down the right side brings you to the bottom of the grid. Begin to stitch across.


Just as before, work the vertical grid line up.

Are you noticing how the S-shapes are nesting together? Cool!


Next, work your way back down the vertical line. Keeping the mantra? Of course you are! If you don’t, you’ll be getting out the seam ripper.


Move across the bottom to the next vertical line and stitch up and down. Then across the bottom to the left side. Then all that’s left to do is stitch up the left side, back to where you started!

I love the movement this design brings!

The name

This design is know as “Terry Twist”. It was named for the great quilter, author, and teacher, Sally Terry, who originated the design. You’ll want to check out her books and if you ever get a chance to take a class from her, DO NOT pass up the opportunity! You will learn a ton and have the most fun ever.

Here’s some real-life grid-work quilting. You can see a nice example of Continuous Curve (top right) and Terry Twist (bottom left). Notice the actual grid is not showing. I marked the grid on the fabric with blue water soluble marker. After quilting I rinsed the marks away. When we have seam lines on the quilt marking is not necessary. But where you have no seams, mark that grid. Sometimes you will want to stitch the grid and other times not.

The center circle is also grid work. A simple cross hatch is grid-work!

Next up, we will explore using swirls or hooks for more grid designs.


by Mary Beth Krapil






Grid Designs – Level Up

Now that you know how to complete a continuous curve design, it’s time to level up our grid work. And it will be simple to do! We started with a curve, one of the five basic shapes. We can use the other four shapes using the same stitch path as we did for continuous curve.


Pro tip: This is exactly how to expand your free-motion cache of designs. Take something you know and make a small change. Voila! New design!

Straight lines

We know the path to stitch. We will simply change the shape that we stitch. Let’s start with an easy one. Straight lines.

Start with the same grid.



Start in the upper left corner like we did with the curve. Quilt a V shape. Don’t drop down too far in to the space. You need to leave room for the other V’s that will be coming.


Continue on with the stitch path we used for continuous curves. Across the top and down the right side.


Serpentine across the first horizontal grid line.


And serpentine back to the right.


Pro Tip: Mark 4 dots with chalk or washable marker in each grid space to give yourself a goal. It will also help to keep your V’s a bit more uniform.


Continue on along the stitch path in the same manner as the continuous curve design from last week.  Work all your horizontal grid lines as you work your way down the right side.

Stitch the vertical grid lines using the serpentine method.


Keep going till you finish where you started.

To level up this design, make it as uniform as you can. Some tips that will make the design more uniform: use a ruler for quilting your straight lines and use a measuring tool to mark you guide dots so they are evenly spaced. Note, you don’t have to use these tips. The design still looks great stitched completely free motion and without the guide dots. Do what makes you happy!

More shapes

What about the other three of the five basic shapes?


Change the shape to a loop. Loops are easy and fun to quilt.


Use the trick of guide dots to keep your loops from going too far into the center of the grid space.


Let’s level up and start with a little different loop, and let them over lap in the center. Fun! It’s  an entirely different look.

For this design I put a guide dot in the very center of the grid spaces. Then I tried to just touch the dot with my loops.


This is where that 15 minutes of practice, I mean PLAY, every day, really becomes fun. Creating new designs for your stash.

Have some fun trying different ways to use the loops and straight lines and see what you come up with! Please share in the comments.

We will explore the other two shapes soon!

Happy gridding!


by Mary Beth Krapil



Grid Designs – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

Recently, there was an HQ Watch and Learn Show about quilting grid designs. Wait, what? You haven’t heard about HQ Watch and Learn?

HQ Watch and Learn Logo

Every Tuesday at noon Mountain time (2pm Eastern, 1pm Central, 11am Pacific, 7pm London, 5am Wednesday Melbourne, Australia) we present a video on our Facebook page. It’s entertaining, informative and inspirational! If you haven’t already, be sure to Like and Follow Handi Quilter on Facebook. That way you’ll get notified before the show. If you can’t be there during the live presentation, the show will remain on our Facebook page for later viewing.  The videos are also available on our YouTube Channel.

What’s even better,  you can ask questions in the comments on the Facebook page. And you’ll get expert answers from the Handi Quilter educators!

Watch the show on grid designs here. after you finish reading!

Grid Designs

So back to grid designs.

Q: What are they?

A: Any design you quilt that is based on an underlying grid.

Q: Where does the grid come from?

A: You can use the piecing seam lines on your quilt. Think about a nine-patch block.

Line drawing of 9 patch star block

It has an automatic grid.

line drawing of 9 patch star block with grid highlighted

Q: OK, I see the grid. Now what do I do with it?

A:  So many things!

If you have been following along with the Free Motion Quilting for Beginners posts, you know lots about the 5 basic shapes. If you are new to this, start reading here.

Start with a curve

Let’s start with a simple curve. I’ll walk you through the stitch path to quilt a design called Continuous Curve or Orange Peel. Let’s try it on the 9-patch block.

We will use the seam lines of the 9-patch as our grid.

Start in the upper left corner and stitch a curve. Remember to look ahead at the intersection of the grid to get a nice smooth curve. You want to hit that intersection as accurately as possible.

Stitch two more curves across the top of the grid, using the grid as your guide.

When you get to the end of the grid, stitch a curve down the right side.

Now you will quilt the first horizontal grid line. Stitch a curve to the left.

You may be tempted to continue on like this:

But don’t do it!

Photo by Monstera

Instead quilt in what we call


Like this:

There’s a really good reason for this! When you stitch back to the right, you’ll want to create nice crisp crossovers at the grid intersections (red circles).

If you don’t serpentine, it’s up to you to be super accurate in hitting the points of the grid intersection. If you miss, the design doesn’t look so good.

SO, serpentine to get better results. When you crossover your first curves on the way back, the crossovers form the perfect crisp points!


Continue down the right side.

Then serpentine, across and back, on the next horizontal grid line.

Continue down the right side and start across the bottom. Stop when you get to the first vertical grid line.

Serpentine up that vertical grid line. With these curves you do need to give it your best effort to hit the crossovers that you stitched when you worked the horizontal lines. Remember the secret to curves!  Look ahead at your goal. Do not look at the needle as you stitch.


If you are more comfortable stitching one side on the way up and the other side on the way down, do what works for you. I prefer to continue with the serpentine path. Do what gives you the best results in hitting the points.

Travel across the bottom to the next vertical grid line.

Stitch up and down the vertical grid line.

Stitch to the left and start up the left side of the block.

Continue up the left side, remembering to look ahead and hit your points accurately,

When you get back to where you started, you’re finished!  The reason this design is called continuous curve is because it puts a curve on each grid line with only one start and one stop. When quilting, we really like to be as continuous as possible. So that we don’t have to waste time securing  thread ends.

I love how this design forms a secondary design of circles that appear to overlap.

The Finish!

Here is how the design will look on our block:

And another block:

Notice we skipped some of the seam lines and just used the ones that form a 9-patch.  But what if……………

What if we did a continuous curve using every seam line?

This creates a very different look. You can really see the overlapping circles on this one!


Stay tuned for more grid designs in our Free Motion for Beginners series. We will use some of the other basic shapes to create interesting designs that look a lot harder than they really are.


You can go watch the HQ Watch and Learn video now.


by Mary Beth Krapil


One More Echo – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

One more super easy and super fun echo quilting design and I promise to stop. (Maybe) But can you see how echoing is a essential skill for a free motion quilter? It is a must-have in your tool box.

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels


This design was originated by my good friend and Handi Quilter Ambassador, Helen Godden. Helen quilts free-motion on the HQ Capri. If you don’t already follow her on social media, you should! She is a wealth of fabulous ideas and techniques. You can find her here:

Facebook:  Helen Godden Quilts
YouTube: Helen Godden Quilts
Website: www.helengodden.com

She calls this design “Roadmaps”. That’s an appropriate name since you create a roadmap for yourself and then echo quilt. It’s really that simple!

I love the look you get with swirls.

Here’s How:

Choose your favorite removable marking tool. Chalk, Handi Iron-Off Pencils, water soluble marker, air soluble marker….  There are lots to choose from. Just be sure to test, to make sure the marks will come out once you’re finished quilting.

Handi Iron Off Pencils


Create your roadmap

Draw a swirl.


Add another swirl. And one more.

Keep going until you fill up your space.


Now you have your roadmap.


Start at the beginning with your first swirl. Echo quilt next to one side of the swirl. Which side you choose does not matter. Use the side of your machine’s foot to glide along your drawn line. This will give you even spacing.


When you come to the end of your first swirl, swing around the tip.



And start quilting the other side of your marked line. When you encounter another swirl, keep going next to that swirl.

Keep going and keep going and eventually you will wind up finishing back where you started. Once finished, you can remove your roadmap.

You are left with a beautiful echo quilting design!


So fun and so easy and so very beautiful! I like to use this design for all-over quilting, for background filling, or to fill busy blocks.

Here is one I quilted out.


Here’s a close-up, but it’s a little hard to see my blue water soluble marks. I was able to see them fine for quilting.


I quilted this piece of fabric to use for a bag project. Why buy pre-quilted fabric, when you can quilt your own?

I like using the foam headliner material in place of batting for bags.  Bosal In-R-Form and By Annie’s Soft and Stable are a couple of brand names for the product.  I load it just like I would load a backing fabric. Then baste the top fabric on, and quilt away. It creates beautiful texture and gives your bag nice form.

I’m planning to have some fun with my couching foot on this. So the echo design is perfect for some quilting and a backdrop for my couching.

I’ll share the rest of my process in another post.  For now, Have fun echoing one more!


by Mary Beth Krapil






More Easy Echo Designs – Free Motion Quilting for Beginners

As promised, we’ll learn some more easy echo designs. How did you do with the peacock feathers? I’d love to see some pics in the comments!

We can modify the teardrop shape of the peacock feather to create a similar but very different looking design.


Start with a leaf shape. You should be proficient at stitching leaves by now. If not, go back to this post for a review and more practice.



Then just like the teardrop, echo it.

And echo again.

Start a new leaf and do it again to travel around your quilt.

Remember to travel in an undulating path to prevent the design from looking like “rows”.  You want to have your quilting be an all over texture and not rows.

This design is available on Quiltable.com, if you like to quilt with pantographs or robotic quilting systems. Pro-Stitcher is the robotic system that pairs with Handi Quilter, Janome, King Quilter, and Babylock longarm machines. The design’s name on Quiltable is “Flames”

Pro Tip: I called the initial shape for this design a leaf. It can just as easily be called a flame. Depending on the theme of the top you are quilting you can quilt echoed leaves or echoed flames. Only you will know it’s the exact same design.



Along the same lines, with a little twist, are rainbows.


Start by quilting an arc.

Don’t start your echo from the point where you finish your first arc.


Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Instead, travel a bit away from where you ended.

Then quilt your echo.

Travel, and then quilt your second echo.

Start another arc.

Travel along the previous rainbow and echo the arc.

Travel away from your ending point and stitch your 2nd echo.

Notice that the echos go until you hit the rainbow already stitched.

Once you get going you will nestle your arcs between the rainbows you have already quilted.

Continue on in this matter to fill up your quilting space.

You can tell this one takes a bit more concentration and you will get more practice in over-stitching as you do your traveling.

The same tips apply to the leaves design and the rainbow design as we mentioned with the peacock feathers:

If you need to fill space, add another echo.

If you don’t have enough space for 2 echos, just do one. Or none! No one will ever know!

Also, where your first shape ends, will be the side you end on after 2 echos.


An even more challenging way to quilt the Rainbow design is the traditional Baptist Fan design. Where the rainbows are in rows and are uniform size.

The best way to accomplish Baptist Fan, if you are quilting free motion, is to use rulers. It’s a bit labor intensive but it is really beautiful when finished.

Remember, post pictures of your stitching in the comments!


by Mary Beth Krapil




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