Pebbles-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesGood Morning, Quilters!  Welcome to all the new quilters who have joined us and to all our long-time friends!

We have almost 5000 followers of The Inbox JauntThat’s a lot of quilt experience in one place!

Today we have a new Free Motion Quilt Tutorial:  Pebbles!

But first…


Last Friday, we had a very interesting conversation about Stitch Regulators. (As SewCalGal points out–the stitch regulators on long arm machines are different than on domestic sewing machines…)   Some people LOVE them, some of us do not…

The “Take Home” Message:

  • Find what works for YOU…
  • Stitch Regulators are not perfect–they will not solve all your FMQ issues.  YOU still need to practice, practice, practice…
  • You CAN get even stitches without a regulator–so if it’s not in the budget right now…forge ahead and learn FMQ anyway.


For the last several weeks we have been using the Humble Circle to create several lovely free motion quilt motifs.

If you have been working through each of the previous tutorials, Pebbles will be easier.

First, we learned to stitch clockwise and counter-clockwise circles by stitching:

Dots and Dashes

Free Motion Quilting, Dots and Dashes

Next, we used Dots and Dashes to create The Race Car:

The Race Car-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Then we stitched the String of Pearls.  This tutorial worked on circles of different sizes, spaced closely together…

String Pearls, Free motion quilting,

All of these skills lead up to Pebbles!

PEBBLES-The Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

Pebbles are a background fill pattern and do not require any “rails”.  They look great in any (maybe every?) quilt!

I love how Pebbles look when tucked into other background fills.  Every so often just add a small area of Pebbles.

I rarely fill an entire area with Pebbles…I think they lose their effectiveness…and for ME–they require a high level of concentration.

Free Motion Quilted Tea Cup

(See the Tea Cups Quilt in the post, When You’re Not Quilting…)

Applique, Free Motion Quilting

(See  Eight Steps to Free Motion Quilting Applique)


Begin stitching just like The String of Pearls...

Get in the rhythm of clockwise, counter-clockwise…

Instead of stitching 1-1/2 times around each circle, stop at any point to begin another circle…

This may be 1 and 1/4 revolutions or it may be 1-7/8 revolutions and anywhere in between…

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesKeep adding circles of different sizes…

Unlike other motifs, circles look great with over-stitching–stitching over a previous line of stitching.

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, Bubbles

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesUse Pebbles to outline any shape…or create a shape–using negative space and Pebbles

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesFor another look, stitch a normal Pebble, and then add a spiral into the center of it and stitch back on the spiral to the edge of the Pebble to continue to the next circle…

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, Bubbles

This has a “Bubble” effect and is quite fun!

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesPebbles can be varied by add The Wind or Waves among the Pebbles.

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, Bubbles


Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, Bubbles


Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, BubblesIsn’t that fun?!

Free Motion Quilted Pebbles, Bubbles

I thought we were finished with The Humble Circle…

But some new flowers have been appearing in my doodles…Developing…

May your stitches be happy this week!


PS…This tutorial was stitched on my domestic sewing machine, a Bernina 150 without a stitch regulator, on Robert Kaufman Kona cotton with Aurifil 50 wt cotton in the bobbin and Sulky 40 wt Rayon on top with a Universal 90 Schmetz needle.

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 share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

28 thoughts on “Pebbles-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can do pebbles reasonably well, but I had not thought that they can be used as “negative space” to make letters (and now I can imagine other designs…) stand out.

  2. Sometimes your stitching gives an appearance of hand quilting – having a stitch, then exposure of fabric, then stitch again. Is this a stitch setting? How do you achieve this? I love it!!! (ex: The wind or waves – above)

    • I often use a bobbin thread that matches the background fabric and white on top. In this case, the bobbin was blue and the top thread white. It’s very subtle…so I’m surprised that you are picking up on it…Give it a try!

    • Cindy, your question is just what I was thinking, how to get that look that Lori has, almost like hand quilting. Thanks so much for asking!

  3. I havea noah’s ark themed fabric that I have made a BB quilt out of. I think I would like to use the pebbles, and the wave, but really hadn’t wanted to use that much quilting on it. Any suggestions?

      • That was what I was thinking. I need to get some of these done b4 the BB’s come (1 down, and 3 to go, w 3 more due in Dec-Jan) Larger swirls, wave like motion,

  4. A fave of mine!!! Flowers…..hmmmm….me, too, wishing that the next season was Spring not Autumn!!!!!! (I’m so NOT a winter person!!!!! But it’s now referred to as “Quilting Season” around here!!!!!)……Hugs…………………

  5. I agree with Ana Perna – using pebbles to outline a letter is genius! Your “L” looks awesome and I am going to ‘permanently borrow’ that idea. As usual, you have inspired me. Thank you Lori!

  6. Your efforts to teach and share your skill are really appreciated. You break it down to where it seems possible. Even for us who may not have the natural artists eye or coordination. Thanks!

  7. Pingback: The Poinsettia-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial | The Inbox Jaunt

  8. Pingback: Home Machine Quilting Tips: Combine Free Motion + Straight Lines | Sew Mama Sew | Outstanding sewing, quilting, and needlework tutorials since 2005.

  9. Pingback: how do I quilt my mermaid's torso?

Comments are closed.