The Oyster Shell-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial


Oyster Shell Free Motion QuiltingGood Morning, Quilters!

In my continued efforts to feel warmer…more seashells!  (See last week’s The Sand Dollar-Free Motion Quilt tutorial)

Today we will be working on another all over or fill pattern.  It can be used to cover large areas in your quilt.  One shell builds on the previous shell and does not have to be stitched in a line.


Begin by stitching a small coil.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ002Reverse directions and echo stitch back to the beginning.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ003Continue echo stitching back and forth around the central coil.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ004Stitch three to five layers and then begin a new shell.

Oyster Shell Free Motion QuiltingThe  new shell can begin either on the right or left of the completed shell.


Add shells on top of one another and shells on each side.  Also, the initial coil can be stitched to the right or left…

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ006To add a little more design, add a row of scallops between the layers.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ007Mix the “fancy shells” in with the plain oyster shells.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ008Or add a few loop-de-loops between the rows.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ009A little star-shaped spikes…

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ010To make a long shell:  Start with the Basic Oyster Shell and stitch back and forth in a taper shape.

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ011This adds more interest to a beach full of plain oysters.


OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ013A grouping of Oyster Shells is a beautiful way to embellish any quilt.  Don’t limit this beautiful motif to beach quilts…

This design is just pretty and will make a beautiful texture on your next quilt!

OysterShell.LKennedy.FMQ015It’s easy and forgiving so give it a whorl!

From the beaches of Minnesota to you,

Happy Shelling,


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 re-blog and pin with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!


23 thoughts on “The Oyster Shell-A Free Motion Quilt Tutorial

  1. Thanks for the seashell series! I grew up on the North Carolina coast and collected shells and whatever else washed up onto the beach throughout my childhood…you’ve given us star(fish), sand dollars, and flying gulls–could you possibly throw in a tiny crab, too?

  2. …..and from the mountain beaches of West Virginia…thank you! lol….honestly, though…this is a great tute….I love the star and loops in the middle…it’s like finding a pearl in the middle of the oyster! My favorite is the long shell….it’s so pretty. What a lovely way to start the day! Blessings….

  3. Lori, if there’s a big area to fill in, do you suggest doing columns of oysters, or arches of rainbows? Or wiggly columns? I’m stuck going from the small samples to knowing how to move across a large area.
    Thanks. Peggy

  4. I love your quilting tutes and this is a great example. I am making a quilt as you go and this will fit in beautifully!
    Thank you Lori for all you are doing!

  5. Lori, I love your blog and tutorials. Your motifs and stitches are so nice and even. Mine are not to say the least. Is there a way to find the first of your lessons so I can work on the basics some more?

    • Carol, The lessons aren’t really in any special order–I recommend you read EVERYTHING from Day One of my blog…Just Kidding…

      Try The Easiest Flower Ever and Straight Line Designs. They are both great beginner motifs.

  6. Ah, Lori, such an absolutely perfect idea that fits our current locale (Port Isabel/South Padre,TX)!!!! We’ve only been gone a week and I/we have acclimated and forgotten the “winter norm” that exists up there!!! BUT my quilty fingers are beginning to “itch”!!! Such an addiction I have!!! Off to find an Rv park with a quilt group for possible future wintering………………………………. Already have sent a message to the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Guild!!!! LOL!

  7. I hope to be able to put some of your wonderful designs to work soon! Longarm is set up and ready to go! Could I ask you what size stitches you normally use?

    • I think it’s different on long arms…When using a domestic sewing machine to quilt, we don’t set a stitch length…the stitch length is determined by how fast the quilt is moved under the needle.

  8. Rosemary B here:
    This is a very cute design. I can imagine this being used on a larger scale in areas too.’ I will try it!

  9. I love all of your free motion motifs, thank you. I know little to nothing about quilting the quilt. Can any of your designs be done with a walking foot ? If so what stitch length do you recommend? I ha a Burkina Stitch Regulator and have used it but am not comfortable using it on a quilt I am giving to a charity.
    Again thank you. Gwen

  10. One of my favorites because for some reason, I find it easy – and I love the variant that spirals and narrows….also the idea of doing it as a free standing column and using something else between!

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