The Holly Leaf-A Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Merry Tuesday Quilters! Welcome new followers AND faithful friends!   We glad you  made it here in time for the Christmas whirlwind of free motion quilting tutorials and fun!     With just five weeks until Christmas, we better get started on our holiday projects!

 We are going to keep you busy here at The Inbox Jaunt –-I’ve got more than sugarplums dancing in my head!  We’ll be working on candy cane striping, pine boughs, snowflakes, ornaments and much more…

Today, we’ll start with the most iconic of Christmas motifs, The Holly Leaf.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Begin by drawing three lines, equidistant apart.  In the sample below, the “rails” are one inch apart.

Begin stitching on the center rail.  Stitch a curved line up and to the left rail.  Make a sharp point and stitch a curved line, finishing again on the left rail.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Stitch a slightly curved line and stop on the center rail.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Stitch the right side of the Holly Leaf

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

Return to the starting point–but leave a small space as an “escape”–where you can later stitch out of the leaf without stitching over another line.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

From the bottom of the leaf, echo back around the Holly Leaf–Do this by stitching on the INSIDE of the leaf.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

When you reach the bottom of the leaf, stitch up and through the tip of the leaf to begin the next Holly Leaf in the chain.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

When you have completed the entire row of Holly Leaves, stitch back through the center of the leaves and add a few berries and ribbons.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

For a beautiful ribbon-effect add spirals as filler around the leaves to fill in the margins. The Spirals are reminiscent of holly berries and give it a very festive look.

Holly, Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

A row of Holly Berries would look lovely down the center of a table runner for your Christmas feast or a few leaves would look lovely in the corner of a dinner napkin.

Whether you are stitching on a long arm or on a domestic sewing machine like I do -(I stitch on a Bernina 820 or Bernina 150.) -this pattern is easy–a Beginner Pattern.  I stitched this on Kona cotton with Aurifil 50 wt in the bobbin and Sulky 45wt in the top.  I used a Schmetz 80 Universal needle.

Check in tomorrow–I have a small project that includes these gorgeous leaves and on Open Line Friday this week we’ll be discussing how to squeeze in a little quilting time during this busy season!

From my workshop to yours,


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Just remember this is for personal use only…all images and tutorials are the property of Lori Kennedy.  Commercial use requires permission from the author.

29 thoughts on “The Holly Leaf-A Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

  1. I love the Holly Leaf pattern. Its also great used in an all over pattern. Just use a loopy meander and thrown in a leaf set every once in a while.

    I love your plan for having different Christmas themed quilting motifs!

    • This is such a timely and beautiful design….I hope you know how much easier it is for us to replicate (sort of…lol) these designs when you break them down into simple segments….and how much we appreciate you. I had no idea how marking simple registration lines would improve my fmq’ing so much. It was a “doh” moment for me. I’m still going through the archives so if this has been answered please overlook this: do you use a stitch regulator? What kind of sewing machine do you use? Wishing you and yours a most happy Thanksgiving and entire holiday season! Blessings and quilty hugs….

      • Thank you so much, Kathy. I sew on a Bernina 150 and on a Bernina 820 with the large harp space. I do not use a stitch regulator. I did not learn on one, and when I tried one later, I found it threw off my own natural timing. I know a lot of people like them, but one can learn to stitch evenly without one.

  2. I love quilting holly leaves in an all over pattern with some loops for berries, but would never have thought to do them in a line like this. I love the way you add the berries and ribbons in at the end! Thanks for another wonderful tutorial.

  3. Hi Lori. I’m new to your blog and loving it and the inspiration it gives me to keep getting better in FMQ. It’s very satisfying to say ” I did the whole quilt myself” and not pay out those huge checks to longarmers. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  4. Hi Lori! I’m from Minnesota and just joined your blog. Actually, this is the only blog I’m on. I do all my own quilting on my domestic machine, and am truly inspired by your work. THANK YOU!

  5. Hi Lori,
    I am new to your blog and I love your creative quilting designs. I have tried fmq on both my domestic and longarm machines and I struggle with the process. I am just now reviewing your other tutorials but was wondering if there is someplace to start in the review process or in your archived blog posts. Do you have a starting point to recommend? I need to start with the basics.

  6. Hi, Lori, love your designs and the way you show them in steps is great. One question, do you really stitch AWAY from you as it appears in the descriptions? I would think you would stitch out the designs and then do the next one BELOW the first one, but I haven’t actually done any on cloth, just paper, but it would be easier to see it if you did the second one below, at least in my little brain.

  7. I love this! Sooo pretty! I am so excited about these Christmas tutorials you are doing, they are just beautiful and look fun. My head is swimming with idea’s to use them on and who to give them too for Christmas. My girls are getting tree skirts, this will make them extra pretty. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent. You are such an inspiration.
    Putting the final coat of finish on my sewing table…it’s turning out awesome! Can’t wait to get it inside and put to work! 🙂

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  14. I never thought I’d dare try free motion but you are so good at instructions, I’m tempted to try on my home machine. thanks for the inspirations.

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