Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #12


I was happy to be able to see my dear sewing Wanda a few times while she was back from Saudi Arabia. The last time we met was at Rogers Sewing Center‘s Bernina Club, and she asked me how to quilt the swirls I had quilted on the border of my Duckie Crossing quilt {kits available from Heartbeat Quilts}.


So, this post is dedicated to her for her love of sewing and people! Without further ado, here is a series of schematics to hopefully show you how to fill up an area with these swirls:

1. First, I started with this swirly-looking tail.


2. Then, I kind of echoed another bigger swirl before “off-shooting” to make another new swirl.


3. I echoed around that new swirl, and off I went starting another swirl.


4. Then, I did something a little fancier. I echoed around the new swirl and the previous swirl to get back up to the top right corner to start a new swirl.


5. Then, it’s the same. I echoed around the swirl before off-shooting with a new swirl.


6. Then, it’s a matter of keeping up and building your swirls.

7. I just kept going as fancy led until I filled up an area.


These swirls are very machine-quilter friendly in that there really isn’t a set way to do it once you get the basic idea down. It is a quick way to give your quilt a quilted texture look, and thus a lovely alternative to the usual big meandering or stippling. I often do swirl-quilting when I want to highlight my quilt as a whole with just a bit of texture, especially for a quilt that has busy prints.  The key to good-looking swirls  is to make sure your swirly curves are smooth – once you master that, you are more than good to go.

[Christmas in Ohio, Fons & Porter Easy Quilts Winter 2010]

[Christmas in Ohio, Fons & Porter Easy Quilts, Winter 2010]

I recommend using the Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton thread (top and bottom) to quilt this motif because generally the scale is large rather than micro and dense. My echoes are about 3/16″ – 1/4″ apart.

[Dancing Daffodils, publish pending]

I hope this post is somewhat helpful to you — now, why don’t you go and give it a swirl?! ;)

p.s. I want to thank you for the questions you have asked on free-motion quilting. I hope to be able to answer them soon!

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42 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #12

  1. I’ll have to print this post and then try to replicate on paper a few (hundred) times to see if it makes sense. thanks for posting this!

  2. That’s a lovely, yet fairly easy design. How nice of you to share the step-by-step with us, Wendy! Thanks! I also use Aurifil 50-weight for FMQ, and find it’s frequently my thread of choice. This post, that quilting design and the thread tip: Good stuff!

  3. Thank you for popping over to my blog and visiting and your nice comments are a buzz!
    I like the swirl and they would make a nice alternative to meandering or stippling.
    What thread did you use on the Christmas in Ohio quilt? It looks like a fairly thicker weight the the Aurifil 50wt you mentioned?

  4. Wendy–thanks for the tutorial. I am going to flag this post and go back to it until I am comfortable with is. I would think drwaing it on paper would help on the practice side.

  5. Thanks for another great tutorial Wendy – one more design to add to the practice list!

    I so enjoy these posts and hope they keep coming……….Luv Ann J

  6. Hi Wendy, have you moved? I hope all went well and you are settled in to your new home. I have been away too and just got back a few days go. I’m sick and have to stay home and rest until the weekend, but I cannot keep away from the computer hehe! I’m a Yahya again to a baby boy Finn. Just in case you didn’t read on my blog – Take care – Hugs Natima

  7. This is something that had always amazed me! You not only can draw with pen/pencils; you can “draw” with NEEDLES and THREAD! Thumbs up!!

  8. You’re very generous to share these tips, tricks and ideas for quilting Wendy. I really appreciate the time you put into that. This is a great all over pattern, I’ll definitely be trying this one, it looks so great on your quilts.

  9. WENDY, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TUTORIAL!
    I’M SO SO SLOW AT GETTING THIS FM STITCHING DOWN!!! I REALLY THINK THIS IS GOING TO HELP ME!
    XOXO

  10. Hi Wendy,

    Thank you for your clear and beautiful examples of swirl quilting. I really do love the visual texture it adds to quilts.

  11. Thank you for the fabulous tutorial! I have finally settled in again back in Saudi and have started sewing again here! I’m anxious to try this technique on my next quilt! I appreciate that you remembered to post the tutorial even with all you have going on! I hope all is well!! Miss you dear friend! Hugs, Wanda

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  17. Dear Wendy,
    thank you so much for the new design. it looks very nice. And…almost like an online-class :-)).
    Thank you, take care
    Jacqueline

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