Dots and Dashes-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and DashesCIRCLES, CIRCLES, CIRCLES 

Good morning, Quilters!  Welcome back to Tutorial Tuesday–and tomorrow we will have Tutorial Wednesday!

It’s Circle Week (Next week, too.)  We’re going to explore circles in ways you may never have imagined.  We are going to walk through the quilt exercises slowly, but methodically.  

There will be something for everyone in the next two weeks.  There will be boy patterns, girl patterns, modern motifs and traditional motifs..

All from the HUMBLE CIRCLE!


Though you may have seen videos or in-person demonstrations of quilters stitching circles at 100 miles per minute….circles require the beginner to SLOW DOWN!

Practice on paper first.  This is a good time to pull out your lined notebook paper…

Don’t worry!  We’re going to start slowly…Today’s tutorial is only three steps.  Please practice this a lot.  First on paper, then on your machine, then on paper again!

This will help you develop the MUSCLE MEMORY required as we work through all the tutorials in the next few weeks…

By the end of the month, YOU will be stitching circles at 200 miles per minute!

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and Dashes


To begin learning circles, draw two lines.  I recommend 1/2 inch or 3/4 inches to begin.  This size is neither too large nor too small…

Begin stitching in the middle, between the two lines…Stitch clockwise to create the first circle…Continue stitching clockwise directly on the previous line of stitching.  You will stitch 1 and 1/2 circles…

NOTE:  The image below shows 1-1/2 circles with the second row of stitching offset a bit–this is for demonstration only—you should stitch ON the previous stitching.

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and Dashes

Continue stitching clockwise over the previous line of stitching.  When you reach the middle point (half -way between the top and bottom lines)–stitch a straight line…The Dash

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and Dashes

For the next circle, stitch counter clockwise…

Continue on this way to the end of the line stitching a clockwise circle, a dash, a counter-clockwise circle…

This looks fabulous, but more importantly—it develops MUSCLE MEMORY for future motifs!

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and Dashes

By offsetting the Dots and Dashes, you can create a very modern background for any quilt!  I used this background fill on The Fabulous Flower Tablerunner--I think you will soon find many uses for this fabulous filler!


Once you are comfortable with Dots and Dashes–try different size circles from very large to very small.  Keep the clockwise-counterclockwise flow going…You’ll need it next week!

…. .- .–. .–. -.– / … – .. – -.-. …. .. -. –. –..– / ..-. .-. — — / .-.. — .-. ..**

PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to Pin, Re-blog or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

PPS…The above tutorial was stitched with Sulky 40 wt on top, Aurifil cotton 50 wt in the bobbin on Robert Kaufman Kona fabric with Warm and Natural batting using a Schmetz 90 Topstitch needle on my domestic sewing machine. (no BSR)

**PPPS…Morse code for…Happy Stitching, from Lori!

26 thoughts on “Dots and Dashes-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

  1. Very nice, thank you. And, it looks more angular/geometric than I expected next to the lush flowers on the Fabulous Flower Table runner.

  2. I have several baby and little ones quilts to make and I think between the heart and the circles you have solved my question! Yea, very new quilter and have never fmq before. Thanks Lori!

  3. Love the organic feel of it…I always have thought the circles were cool. I had to draw the other half of a girls face from a mag. in art class in tenth grade…looked so plan and silly I covered the entire background in tiny tiny circles…took me days and days to finish LOL! I got an A! and a top ribbon at a local art fair. I loved the circles way back then :)!

  4. How cute !!! love them..I have discovered that I can draw, sew, etc easier in one direction than the other. Counterclockwise is way easier than clockwise.. I have often wondered if it has anything to do with being righthanded or lefthanded.

  5. Great, I have a baby quilt that I am doing different things in the squares. Tired of the ones I have been practicing so this a great new pattern to do.

  6. FYI…Monday sept. 15th is International Dot day. This quilt seems fitting. Google The Dot, a book by Peter H. Reynolds. It’s delightful.

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