Free Motion Quilting – Operation ZigZag

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagWELCOME NEW QUILTERS!

If you are new to The Inbox Jaunt, we’re glad you (finally) found us!  There’s a lot of quilting for you to explore and more than 75 free motion quilting tutorials HERE 

You might like to start with “Seven Steps to Free Motion Quilting  HERE .

Another favorite is “Inattentive Quilting: A Cautionary Tale” HERE


For those of you who have been following for a while, you know… I took two weeks off from our free motion quilt tutorials…

First, my twin daughters graduated from college!  Yeah, Girls!

GetAttachment-1.aspxOne week later, another daughter got married…So happy!


I stayed busy…

What about you?

Did you stitch while I was away?

Did you doodle?

Did you complete any UFOs???


Today we have five motifs for you to try–all variations of the ZigZag–

The Plain Zig Zag

I frequently use a plain Zig Zag in my quilts.  Nothing fancy.  No marking.  Just plain fun.  A plain Zig Zag resembles Rick-Rack and looks sweet on any quilt.

Because it is a straight line pattern it pairs well with curvy designs like flowers, spirals and swirls.

The Plain Zig Zag should be a mainstay in your quilting repertoire.

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagThe Wide Zig Zag 

When you need a little bolder pattern, try The Wide Zig Zag.

Start by drawing two lines or “rails“.  (Rails are drawn lines used to keep stitching tidy.)    In the sample below, the lines are one inch apart.

Begin stitching on the top rail.  Stitch on the line several stitches then stitch a “V”.  Stitch on the top line again and repeat.

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZag

Continue across your quilt…

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagNext, stitch on the bottom rail several stitches adding an inverted “V”  between the “V”s on the top line.

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagContinue until the row is completed:  Lovely!

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagThe Keyhole Zig Zag 

The Keyhole Zig Zag begins exactly like the Wide Zig Zag:  Stitch along the top rail, adding “V”s….

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagOn the bottom rail…Add a small open circle to the inverted “V”s…

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZag

Continue along the bottom rail—Now isn’t that fancy?!

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZag

The Doubles

If your quilt requires a bolder pattern-

Stitch two rows of Wide ZigZags ( You might call this “The Double Wide Zig Zag”)

This creates a secondary pattern that is very MODERN! — Any Modern quilters out there??

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagThe Double Keyhole ZigZag

You can do the same with The Keyhole ZigZag

Free Motion Quilting, ZigZagSULKY CONTEST

NOTE–This tutorial was stitched on Kona cotton using Sulky 40 wt Rayon on top and Aurifil 50 wt in the bobbin on my Bernina 820 (Domestic Sewing Machine) without a stitch regulator.

There is still one more day to enter the HUGE Sulky Giveaway –$100 worth of Sulky Rayon thread…Read more HERE


June is going to be a fast-paced month here at The Inbox Jaunt…Lots more quilting…photography…iphoneography…gardening…family…another Giveaway…and some Summer Reading….

If you’re looking for a good book…I just finished Agent ZigZag–the true story of a double agent in WWII–a fascinating biography!  Nice Father’s Day gift….

Happy Zigzagging!


PS…All images, tutorials and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only!  Feel free to re-blog, Pin, Tweet, Snail-Mail with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.   For all other purposes, please contact me at  I’d love to hear from you!


37 thoughts on “Free Motion Quilting – Operation ZigZag

  1. Hi Lori, thank you for yet another inspirational tutorial which I will certainly try. You asked what have we been doing well I finished a quilt for my son’s girlfriend who is serving in Afghanistan at the moment, I will give it to her when she returns in the next week or so. I am British but she is American so I made a stars and stripes quilt and I used your swirling stars quilt motif in the border. I was so pleased with it and your instructions were so easy to follow. Also thank you for providing the instructions to take it round the corner. You have helped my quilting no end.

  2. HI Lori! Congrats to your lovely twins! and the wedding looked just beautiful!
    Like the zigzags…looks quick and fun, will give it a try. Thanks!
    I managed to get a twin size pony quilt done I designed for my little niece Audrey for her 6th birthday these last few weeks. Well, I designed the ponies 🙂 and the quilt was a variation of the pinwheel block. I quilted it just with loops and hearts and used your idea to write secret messages here and there which she just loved and I made a label!!! LOL! The parents actually loved that. I did the triangle in the corner idea where two sides catch in the binding.
    Lets see and then made several swaddlers and recieving blankets and burp rags and sleepers for my new grandson Charlie! Had to keep busy or I’d be camped out on their doorstep waiting for them to say Gramma can come in and hold the baby! LOL! I’m completely smitten. 🙂

  3. Congratulations on such wonderful news regarding your beautiful daughters. What a great tute! I am constantly amazed by how easily you break these designs down in a step-by-step fashion. When I first found IJ I thought “I wish she’d do videos”…but honestly, Lori….I think your excellent photos are even better. I can study each one instead of “rewinding”…videos to see each step. Of course, I would like to see your speed and see your technique. Thanks so much…Inbox Jaunt is my favorite blog…even though I have been away for awhile I’ve caught up in the archives. Blessings…have a wonderful day!

  4. Hi Lori, Wow, what a busy week with such great accomplishments for each! So much happiness 🙂 I finished a table runner as a gift for someone at my son’s school and also a small wallhanging for the students in German class to sign and the teacher to keep. She kept saying how special this class has been for her and the kids loved signing it! Today, I am going to deliver a quilt that matches the material of the wall hanging (82 x 70) to the same teacher because she has been so helpful to my son throughout high school. It turned out bigger than a lap size but that’s okay. It is modern and I just straight line quilted, I had to get it done in a rush….. nothing like planning far in advance only to get it done a few days before the end of school, haha. But… it is done and will be delivered today. I’m so excited to give it away, it turned out very nice. Now, on to some projects that are not so time sensitive and I can practice some of the motifs for quilting!

  5. Glad you had so beautiful moments: graduations, wedding. One of my sons also graduated, but we do not have a celebration here…
    I have doodled a lot, and practised your flowers in a square for a birthday present.
    This zig zag and variations looks wonderful and seems easy to accomplish.

  6. Great, great tutorial!! I can see using this in the borders of a quilt. Love the keyhole idea. Congratulations on all your girls! Last May, my daughter was married and it was emotional and hectic!

  7. What an exciting week… Congratulations! I am envious of your energy and ability to do so much! Love the tutorial and I just bought the Zig Zag book for Father’s day. You are just full of information! thank you! J.

  8. super joli ;mais n ‘arrive pas a faire du piqué libre; je reviens de 8jours a NEW YOK c’etait superbeau ouah;; je vais me remettre a mes coutures et dessins bientot moi j’habite a frejus ;la cote d’azur merci pour toutes vos jolies choses monique;unpetit conseil pour le piqué libre serais sympa

  9. Been quilting and sketching! So glad you were sensible and put off tutorials while you enjoyed your daughters’ graduation and your daughter’s wedding! It is also nice to see that you survived them both so very well!!! I have a wedding August 1 for one of my daughters and I intend to come through it just like you did, I just need to finish her wedding quilt and making her garters (one to keep, one to throw). I think I’ll have around 200 hours just in the quilting on her quilt – some traditional, some modern, all stitched with love! Thanks for the continued inspiration!!!

  10. The way you break stitching designs down into manageable executions makes me confident that I can do it. The use of your “rails” is the key to getting started. One-step-at-a-time really does work.

  11. I’ll represent for the modern quilters! (But truly, I like quilts too much to have a favourite – I like them all).

    Felicitations to all your girls, and you and your husband.

  12. Rosemary B here:
    Congratulations on the twin graduations! So nice to see our kids grow up smart and strong. Congratulations as well on the wedding of your “another daughter” heehee
    I am so happy to see new couples. Best wishes to her and her new hubby.

    I like these patterns. I want to make them.
    I did actually sort of finish sewing together some blocks, and finished my quilt club block of the month.
    I am so busy all of the time now, T-minus two months until my mom and dad move into the super deluxe retirement community here Ashby Ponds.
    So much I have to do.
    Your blog always makes me happy, and I save many of your posts.
    Some day soon I will be back at sewing like mad

  13. Gorgeous daughters, Lori, and congratulations to all of you! I have been sewing and quilting like crazy……..I belong to two Guilds so I am working on Challenges for both of them as well as doing blocks for the Quilts of Valor block drive. Both my Guilds are participating in that cause. You certainly deserved the vacation away from the computer but I am so glad you are back. Thanks for the super cool zigzag tutorial……love it!

  14. Congrats on your twin’s graduation and the marriage of your other daughter. All beautiful! I love to FMQ and your zig zags really came to life when opposed or doubled. Thanks. Sulky is nice thread.

  15. Congratulations on your daughter’s granduating and your daughter’s wedding. Was taking only two weeks off enough time. Boy you sure have had a busy start to your summer. Have been busy sewing and practicing FMQ while you have been gone but did enjoy your silent Sunday as always.


  16. How exciting for you! Congrats to all your girls! I’m waiting on a new grandson mid-June – my son is graduating from a register dietitian intership on Sunday – I made my granddaughter an ice-skating outfit – had to adjust for 3 different sizes and figure out how to do an egg-shaped skirt for her. I also mentor a little girl at the middle school and made her a zipper bag and pillow case out of Tinkerbell fabric – her favorite! I also have my sewing room in order – only took 3 days to redo it!! On to quilting!!

  17. Congratulations, Lori, to you and your beautiful family. What wonderful major accomplishments. HOW did you manage to do all of that and sound so rested and perky? I’ve finally finished sewing a quilt top and am in the process of basting it. I’m doing thread basting, because I think I am going to hand quilt some motifs.

    Thanks again for your great instructions. I like how you give so many variations.

  18. Congratulations Lori! You’ve had some wonderful happenings in your family recently 🙂 We’ve had our oldest granddaughter graduate this year, and I was able to go out to North Carolina to see her and her sister, who performed a lead part in her high school play 🙂 Glad you are back – I’ve missed your wonderful tutorials!

  19. congratulations for the twin’s graduations, marriage of the other daughter and thanks for this great zigzag tutorial

  20. When’s your book coming out? You’ve a book in your tutorials. I love the detail pictures of how you stitch a design. I’ve tried some of your designs. I admit they do take practice. Just read your note about the Teflon slider. Mine didn’t stay put so I stopped using it. But the tape idea on the slider is perfect. I will use it the next time I’m doing free motion quilting, I’ve two quilts that I’m completing with my walking foot then back to free motion quilting.

  21. OOoooo….so glad to have found your blog (via aurifil on FB). I’m new to fmq and can use all the visual helps I can find. Lots of treasures here. So clear too. Thanks for putting up so many tutes.

  22. Congratulations on the the marriage and graduation of your daughters. I was on a vacation also the last two weeks so did no quilting. I have been back for 3 days and am still trying to get back into the swing of things

  23. Hi Lori, I am new to FM and am unclear as to how you are sewing the single line zig zag. Are you making the zig zags using a FM straight stitch or using a zigzag stitch in free motion??? Your zig zags look perfectly spaced, do you mark the intervals between the zigs and the zags??

  24. Okay, so I’m the last one to find this wonderful blog! I’m happy that I did. Thanks so much for sharing your FMQ motifs. I love your embellishment on the basic idea – you take it to another level. I love that you doddle also. I doddle, too

    • So glad you found us! Please tell all your quilts friends about us too! And please join the conversation! We love to hear from everyone!

  25. I just found your site, and am so inspired!!!! Thank you for all the great tutorials. On the plain zig zag at the first of operation zig zag did you use a double needle or just do one set of zig zags and go back to do a second row beside the first? I am brand new to FMQ, and you have inspired me to put off the embroidery module for my machine and spend some time learning this great art! THANK YOU!

  26. Pingback: 2015 Free-Motion Quilting Challenge – October Challenge with Lori Kennedy of The Inbox Jaunt | QuiltShopGal

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