Second Annual Machine Quilt-a-Long–A Mystery Sampler

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

Thank you all for participating in last week’s Open Line Friday about “Sewers, Sewists, Seamstresses, Tailors….”  

It was a fascinating discussion!


Our Mystery Quilt-a-long was so popular last year that I decided to make it an annual project!

For the next several weeks, we will be replacing our “Tuesday Tutorials” with a Mystery Quilt-a-Long!

If you follow along, you will learn

  • new motifs
  • marking techniques
  • thread tips
  • design and composition tips
  • so much more…

In addition, you will have a gorgeous wall hanging for your sewing room (or to use as a gift!)

The only clue I will give you…this sampler will have a nautical theme.

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy


This week we will focus on the Quilt Sandwich.

The final quilt size will be 16 inches wide by 21 inches long.

Begin with a fat quarter of solid fabric in red, blue or aqua…for the top of the quilt.  

I will be using a Kona cotton fabric from Robert Kaufman fabrics.  I usually purchase my Kona cotton from JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock’s of Paducah.

NOTE-Robert Kaufman only makes one Kona cotton–so it will be great quality wherever you find it.


I like to use novelty fabrics in my quilt’s theme whenever possible.  For this quilt, I will be using a nautically themed cotton fabric.

I recommend that you avoid batiks and white on white fabrics for the backing.

Batiks and hand dyed fabrics are very tightly woven fabrics and are  harder for the needle to penetrate and make a good lockstitch.  The slight needle deflections can show up as a slightly imperfect stitch.

White on white fabrics have a coating of paint that also cause needle deflections.

Whenever possible I avoid these fabrics just to make things a little easier…


For small wall quilts, I like to use Warm and Natural cotton batting.  It tolerates heavy quilting well and remains flat.

Cotton batting also has a natural tackiness and grips the top and backing fabric when the layers are ironed together–no basting required!


It is very important to iron all three layers of the quilt sandwich.

Iron each layer separately first.

Next, iron all three layers together.  Check the back and add spray starch to the back to help it glide more easily if desired.

Iron the top layer one last time–everything should hold together.

Quilting Fabric, Lori Kennedy


Use your favorite marking tool to draw a 21 x 16 inch rectangle.

(This is not like stitching a 1/4 inch seam…if you are off a little, it will be just fine!)  (That’s what I call “FREE motion quilting!)

I like to use the Clover Chalk wheel for straight lines, a ceramic pencil (Fons and Porter or SewLine) or a Dritz Chalk Cartridge-

All of these marking tools are easy to see, easy to remove, and don’t break too easily.

Quilt Marking Tools, Lori Kennedy


We will start stitching next week.

I like to use a heavy weight thread for a bold quilting line.

Some of my favorite machine quilting threads are :  Aurifil 28wt Cotton, Sulky 40 wt Rayon, King Tut- 40 wt Cotton, Magnifico–40wt Trilobal Polyester.

Choose white thread or a light-colored thread for high contrast.

Quilting Thread, Lori Kennedy

In the bobbin, I always use Aurifil 50 wt cotton (orange spool)…It is a fine weight thread, low lint and lock stitches beautifully with slippery top threads like Rayon and Polyester.

(It is much finer weight than Aurifil’s 28 wt cotton (gray spool)–which is better for using on top as a decorative thread.

Quilting Thread, Lori Kennedy

That’s it for this week!

Create a well-ironed quilt sandwich and mark a 16 x 21 inch rectangle.

Choose your threads and we will begin sewing next week.

Happy quilting!


PS…All tutorials, images 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 or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!



55 thoughts on “Second Annual Machine Quilt-a-Long–A Mystery Sampler

  1. You are SO generous with your tutorials on your blog. I look forward to this and hope I can follow along and keep up! April is a busy time for me, but the beauty of the blog is I can go back and “catch up”. Thank you Lori.

  2. Iron each od the3 layers separetly? You want us to iron the batting by itself? Humm …when I have hit the batting before with the iron…it didn’t seem to like it.

    My project from last year is still a work in progress, adding spools as I use new thread!

    Thank you.

    • I usually lightly iron the batting. If that doesn’t work put it between the layers to iron. If you are using cotton batting you can iron it.

  3. My first QAL with you, I’m fairly new to FMQ. Started quilting 2 yrs. ago and FMQ this year. I actually shared one of your tutorials on my blog this week, I linked back to you but I don’t know if it notifies you or not. I’m shopping for nautical fat qtr. today. 😎

  4. Is this an appropriate activity for a complete novice at machine quilting?? I’m a hand quilter, would like to learn machine quilting, but my few attempts have been pure misery. You make it look so easy!

  5. Lori ~ you’re such a dear to share SEW many helpful details about a myriad of things. I’m in constant learning mode when reading your posts. Thank you!


    What about black on black or other tone on tone fabrics? Do they, like the white on white, have a coating on them?

    What else could be made beside a wall hanging from this project? I really have no desire to hang my quilting on any walls. And there are so many “wall hanging” size projects that I’d love to do. Suggestions?

    Thanks for all you give and share with us sewing sponges.


  6. Oh, Lordy, I am soooo bad at this FMQ thing! Can’t wait to do this with you! I may be beyond help, but it will be fun!

    • Yes, but we will be quilting it immediately. Will you add the borders before we begin quilting or use the method that attaches pre-quilted pieces together?

  7. I am SOOO excited to do this. I have never done an online quilt along, so I am truly excited. Thanks so much Lori for doing this. By the way I have been LOVING your Craftsy class, anyone who hasn’t signed up for it needs to right away. I am anxiously waiting for your second one (any idea when it will be available?). Thanks again!

  8. Cathy is right, your Craftsy class is wonderful! I can’t wait for the second one. And this mystery adventure will be great fun – thanks!

    • The second Craftsy class will be released in ten days and the quilt a long continues next week. We are going to be busy stitching!!

  9. Going to try this. This will be a first for me. This should help me since I’m a new free motion quilter. Love your sight and have passed it along to my fellow quilters.

  10. Hi Lori! I am new to your blog and relatively new to FMQ, I have been practising hard and would love to be part of your sew-a-long is there somewhere I need to sign up or do I just follow along with your blog each week? I have made my quilt sandwich and I’m really looking forward to getting started…. thank you! It sounds a lot of fun!! Christine x

  11. Yeeha! We were out of town with no wifi for 2 1/2 weeks. I am thrilled to be back in time to begin along with you! And I dearly love the new-to-me April top banner – lovely!

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