Odd and Even Doodles

Doodles, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters and Doodlers!

I trust you are all Doodlers by now?!

Doodling is the fastest way to improve your skill at machine quilting!

If you disagree, please tell us your experience…we want to hear from YOU!

If you agree–please add your testimonial today!


One of the main goals of machine quilters is to create continuous line designs.  

Continuous line designs allow the quilter to stitch with minimal stops and starts–minimal knotting.

One trick that helps is Even and Odd Traveling

Whenever you want to continue traveling in one direction across the fabric–use an odd number of “passes”.

For example, when stitching petals (see photo below)  Stitch a scallop from left to right,  SWITCH–echo stitch from right to left, SWITCH–echo stitch back from left to right-This is three total passes-and will allow you to continuously stitch from left to right.

Any odd number–one pass, three passes, five passes–will allow you to continue moving in the same direction.

On the other hand…

An even number of passes will bring you back to the beginning of the motif –or the center.

Doodles, Lori Kennedy

For Nora’s Rose

Stitch the stem with center curling to the right  and two more passes–three total—add a leaf on the right.

If you want to add a leaf on the left–add another pass–four passes.

Doodles, Lori Kennedy

Think about this concept when you are doodling–then it will come naturally when stitching.


Doodles, Lori Kennedy

This is a little hard to explain.

Try doodling it first, then let me know if it makes sense–otherwise I will take another stab at it.

Happy Doodling!


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 lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!

23 thoughts on “Odd and Even Doodles

  1. Oh my yes! My quilting is improving so much with the addition of doodling. Someone told me it builds muscle memory. It has made a HUGE difference!

  2. Yes I agree with Judy. It is helping with building muscle memory. Helping stop the herky jerkies. Not a word but you get my meaning. Still a long way to go.

    Aileen in FL

  3. I will be without sewing equipment for next three weeks. This will include a long international flight. I am taking book, pencil, eraser and I pad and intend to doodle quite a lot then quilt when I return home. About to practice odd and even. Thank you for your generous help. I have purchased your videos they are great. I have told my friends back home, Australia, about your site

  4. Doodling is the best ways for me to practise a new quilting stitch. Thanks for all your inspiration.

  5. To fit whatever quilt I’m working on I doddle out the motif I want to use and tweak it to fit my quilt and style which is usually a specific design that meanders all over. My brain needs a plan and this helps. To aimlessly meander would probably give me a stroke lol. For instance I tweaked the holly leaves and berries for my daughters Christmas quilt so I could move from one to the next easily no matter which way I was going or what space I needed to fill. Almost all my quilts are bed size.

  6. I have become a doodler after a couple of classes (yours and Christina Cameli’s ) said that it really helps. I don’t think it builds “muscle memory” as much as it builds “pattern memory” in your head. If you know where you are going, it is easy to keep going.
    I have always doodled, but now I doodle with a purpose.

    • An excellent quilter friend told me she can’t draw, but doodles anyhow to learn the pattern / muscle memory. Trust me, the free motion quilting will get better. Practice, practice and more practice. Then it becomes so much fun!

  7. When I doodle a design, it helps me when I’m about to FMQ. I can look back to what I doodled, especially the patterns that really looked nice. It refreshes my memory of how I want to get it onto fabric. It’s a great method, and it has even built confidence in me that I can draw beautiful designs with practice. Thanks for this even/odd tip. It’s helpful to put a name to what we try to do.

  8. I am a firm believer in doodling. If I want to try a new motif I will practice it as many times as needed on scrap paper until I feel confident. Then I will get some fabric scraps and put together a small quilt sandwich and practice on that before I stitch it on my quilt.

  9. Love your description of how to travel, or not. I always have to “think” about it. Maybe now it will be more “natural.”? Odd or even, how simple is that!!

  10. I love your simple explanations of how to free motion quilt. I have been quilting seriously for a couple years now and got a new machine just 3 busy months ago that will help me execute these skills I want to learn. I’ve got to begin the doodling on paper (instead of just in my head). Thanks for sharing your expertise in such an understandable way.

  11. Makes sense to me, and I think I have subconsciously been doing just this. Nice to have it actually explained though, and I’ll be more conscious of it. Thank you.

  12. Agree with JoyceO – thanks! Love the simplicity of “odd/even” ….but I recognize I am “odd”. :>

  13. As a professional quilter, I use the doodle first method to combine designs to fit my customer’s quilts. You are never too good to skip the doodle process, it reinforces in your mind and muscle what you want to put on the quilt. I never was a doodler until I started machine quilting. Thanks to you lots of people are going to learn they can doodle/draw their own designs.

  14. I think your explanation was great.
    I never thought of it as odd and even. For me it was more trial and error. lol Hopefully this will save me some time.
    Some designs that I want to quilt, instead of doodling it over and over filling up a page, when I get a good one I really like I just trace that one design over and over to get it into my head. That way the design really shows up. I keep it close to my machine so I can quickly look at it if I forget what I am doing.
    I also like to trace the pattern with my finger onto my quilt. That helps to figure out size and spacing to fit the block.

  15. I totally understand. I did stars and moons, recently, and it didn’t look half as good as yours, and I kept quilting myself into a corner, and had to tie off, cut thread and start anew. I have an idea of what to do, we’ll see if it turns out like I imagine.

  16. Thanks for the info, the odd / even pass was a bit of a light bulb moment for me. I am keen to give the doodling a go now.

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