Sweet Sunshine–A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Sunshine Free motion QuiltingIf you’re like me, you’re in need of a little Vitamin D…It’s too cold to go outside these days…So we will have to drink a glass of milk and make our own sunshine-Sweet Sunshine!

Sunshine Free motion Quilting


Begin with happy confidence that you can FMQ (i.e. a sunny disposition)–If you need help getting started,   see Seven Steps to Free Motion Quilting).   Then draw a square–any size.  If your quilt block is large–draw a large square, if your quilt block is small–go with that.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I drew a 4-1/2 inch square.

Stitch a spiral in the center of the square–I just “eyeball” the center.   Next begin stitching “rays” out toward the edge of the square.  Do not stitch TO the lines of the square--we need a little space later.

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

Continue stitching rays around the center spiral.  It does not matter how many rays–or if they are even.   After the last ray,  begin stitching curved lines back and forth, working up and away from the center of the sun.

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

Near the top of the ray, stop and echo stitch around the point of the ray and into the center of the sun.

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

Begin stitching the curved lines again, back and forth until you are near the point of the second ray.  Again, echo stitch the point and into the center and begin again…

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

Continue rotating around the sun like a planet until you come to the first ray.  Echo back into the center of the sun, meet up with your first set of curved lines and tie off.  Voila!  Instant sunshine!

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

NOTE–This tutorial was stitched on Kona fabric with Aurifil 50wt cotton thread in the bobbin (because that’s what my Bernina 820-domestic sewing machine prefers) and Robison Anton Rayon on top with a Schmetz 90 Topstitch needle–without a BSR.

Sunshine Free motion Quilting

That’s my version of a “Sundance”–doing all I can to nudge Mother Nature into Spring!

Perhaps a little vase quilt and a few tulips from the market would help as well!

What about you?  What are you doing to add a little sunshine to your day and get through the final days of this very long winter?  I’d love to hear…


Little Miss Sunshine,


(I can just hear my family HOWLING!)

PS…All tutorials, photos and information are the property of Lori Kennedy @ The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  People with sunny dispositions are asked to re-blog and Pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other uses, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks a million–93,000,000 in fact!

46 thoughts on “Sweet Sunshine–A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

  1. I love your designs – thank you for the inspiration and for sharing. Thank you also for the ray of sunshine!

  2. We have sunshine and spring weather in Germany and get the feeling that the winter is gone. But the sun here is nothing against your sundance tutorial. Such a fun thing to quilt. The stitches on your sundance are as if you did not turn the BSR off.
    I buy flowers and have them in my kitchen and living room to bring the spring colors into my house.

    • Hi Martina,
      I never use a BSR–learned to FMQ before they were available.

      I’m glad you liked the tutorial–and I’m so jealous that in Germany you are feeling like winter is gone…It’s in full swing here -4F today and we have mounds and mounds of snow everywhere!

  3. You are a ray of sunshine. Your talent for coming up with amazing new designs to free motion just leave me shaking my head in awe. I wish my little finger had half your talent.

  4. So Lori, how often do you free motion and how often do you use the BSR? How do you decide when to use the BSR? I agree with the other poster, you certainly look like you’re using it, your stitches are perfection.

    • Hi Roxanne,
      I never use a BSR. They were not available when I began quilting, so I learned without one. When I tried one later–it came with my Bernina 820–I didn’t like it as it threw off my normal rhythm.

  5. This is just what we need in the midst of winter! It’s gorgeous, and it’s really cheerful!
    This one should win an award. You’ve got one from me….

  6. PS I really like your final photo in Sundance tutorial. It is quite helpful to see a summary of all the steps in that one picture.

    Thank you!

  7. I grabbed a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store the other day, just to have that little splash of color radiate in the house. It does seem like it’s been a long winter. Love your sunshine vibes!

  8. Okay so I take it you are one of those that will rise but needs a little time to shine…lol! I love mornings but I like to get my coffee and no talkie till half is gone lol…well no questions anyhow. My brain needs time to wake up.
    I love your sunny little design! Will try a few doodles on my flt. home this morning. It had 20 seats last I checked so I should get on this time. It’s cold but the sun is shining here in Minnie! Make it a happy day!

    • Ness, I was sorry to hear you were stuck in Minneapolis on such a cold day! Brrr! I bet you had a great time at the Daytona 500! Was it fun to see Dale E win? Were you cheering for him? Hope you are safe at home now, weary traveler!

      • Hi Lori!! Yes I am home!!!!…it’s 5 below but I am so excited to be home and I’m snuggled under a quilt my daughter made me and sitting by the fire. My girls picked me upat the airport…was so good to see them and give them a big hug.
        Yes was a blast seeing and hearing all the cars and drivers at Daytona and yes I was cheering for Dale…you can’t help it when you see him!! We got to see them race on Sat. 300 miles but the excitement didn’t compare to Sun. But…all the festivities all morning were pretty neat and the start of the race was exciting and made it to lap 38 and here came the rain…and it rained and stormed and had a tornado warning and we held out long as possible but it got late and we were drenched and had a 3 1/2 hour drive home and an 0-dark thirty flight to catch home the next morning we ended up having to bail. It was pretty hard to do but at the time had no idea if or when they might get to race again and we had waited hours.  Oh wells…we got a taste of NASCAR. I was not going to miss my flight home and Hubster had to go to work so catching a later flight wasn’t an option. Flights fell apart in Minnie…I was bumped off three flights and spent the night at an airport hotel. Man it was c-c-c-cold! But it all workedout this morning. 🙂
        Will be so good to crawl in my old bed tonight. 🙂 I’m heading there now. 🙂 I am so excited to be home, can hardly wait to get going on my sewing. 🙂

  9. Well we are having a snow storm, we have already had about 18 inc. your brings me the will to quilt on this stormy day. loe your sight.I look forward to all the neat things you come up with. thank you Shirley

  10. Perfect timing! This morning I finished piecing up a table topper with some orphan Sunshine and Shadows blocks. Sounds like quilting it with Sweet Sunshine is a good idea. Thank you!

  11. Sunshine right now is toffee coated in milk chocolate and almond bits! We actually had sunshine today that melted a bit of the snow – I stayed in and quilted!

      • I am thrilled to share that it is warming here in south GA.. Still thinking of all of you in cold areas.. used to live in Chi Town area and Missouri.. Tomorrow we put up a month long display of quilting in the glass display cases in local library. This is to celebrate March as National Quilting Month, particularly March 15, National Quilt Day. Maybe I can get a Sweet Sunshine finished and include it. If I do, Lori is it OK if I post an index card by it with your name and site ?

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  13. Working on sketching some of the images and would love it if we could have a search button on the tutorials… Since you have posted so many wonderful ones, it would be great to search by name instead of scrolling all the way down to the newest one. working up the courage to do a small study of the shells.. J.

    • Hi Judy, I was not able to add a ‘search” button to the tutorial page, but I did move the search function to the top of the sidebar–above my image…I think that will make it easier to find and use.

  14. Lori You are so talented!! thank you for taking the time and sharing your ideas with us the images really help!!

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