How to Ruin a Quilt with Stippling

Ruin Quilt, Stippling, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

Last week, I outlined Six Ways to Ruin Your Quilt with Quilting.  For the next six weeks we will tackle the factors that lead to our overall FEAR of machine quilting.  By mid-October, YOU should be a FEARLESS machine quilter–LOL (there’s no such thing as a fearless quilter–we just learn to move beyond.)


Stippling is described as a wormlike design–REALLY?

Unless you are a bird or a fish, I can’t imagine worms are your favorite design?!


I know many of you like stippling–a handful of people wrote in defense of stippling.  Some like how it looks, others like the soft textured feeling it can give a quilt and a few find it relaxing to stitch.

If this applies to you–STITCH ON!

YOU are turning quilt tops into quilts and I applaud you!

YOU have chosen a motif you like and you are developing your quilt esthetic–and that is my goal as a quilt teacher.

I am not the quilt police or an art critic…My only goal is to help YOU on YOUR way.

Meander No More, FMQ, Lori Kennedy


To be honest, ruined is a very strong word.  The primary function of machine quilting is to combine the three quilt layers into one. By that definition, meandering and stippling are perfectly functional and acceptable.

What I am referring to is a visual preference and is completely subjective!

But as long as we are stitching… why not make our quilts beautiful and add personal touches to them.  (My sister loves her quilt with all the personal notes added...

Machine Quilting, Basket Quilt

Machine Quilting, Basket Quilt



Stippling is not easy for everyone.

Many people (like me) find stippling very difficult. Stippling is not necessarily an easy motif to learn.  There are no stopping points and no concrete steps to follow.    I wrote about it –Why so Many of us Can’t Stipple or Meander HERE.   Many beginner quilters have been frustrated by this “Beginner Motif”.

There are many easy motifs.

I am also against stitching allover Stippling or Meandering as a default motif-instead of learning a variety of stitches.   There are over 100 Step by Step tutorials provided FREE here.  Many of them are quite easy to learn with a little doodling.

Quilting should enhance the piecework or appliqué.

The right motif can enhance the patchwork or appliqué below, and all over stippling rarely does the trick.


Imagine The Poppy Quilt with stippling or meandering all over it?

The quilting on this is very simple. Any beginner could quilt this.  The wavy lines give the poppy dimension and enhance the appliquéd flower.  Allover stippling would have ruined this quilt by flattening the entire design.

Poppy Quilt

Next, imagine my Modern Log Cabin quilt with Stippling or Meandering

What do YOU think?

The quilting on this is as easy (or easier) than meandering–and it enhances the quilt below.  Would meandering have been as effective?

Hand Dye, Log Cabin Quilt

What about the Wedding Ring Quilt?

Would meandering have enhanced this quilt?

You know my answer–but what do YOU think?

Double Wedding Ring Quilt


The quilt motif has nothing to do with the feel of the quilt–let’s save that for Open Line Friday!


I hope that I have convinced you to move beyond meandering.

Stay tuned tomorrow for easy alternatives

What about YOU?  Do YOU love the look of meandering?  Do YOU find it relaxing to stipple?  Do YOU find it difficult to stitch?  Do YOU think it enhances quilts?  Have YOU ever “ruined” a quilt?

We’d LOVE to hear!



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!

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73 thoughts on “How to Ruin a Quilt with Stippling

  1. Hi Lori, I’m a day behind, but I wanted to chime in on this. My first FMQ experience was all meandering and with lots of practice I became in expert in that, then I learned FMQ feathers, then discovered your blog with its rich array of FMQ designs. I still love meandering for overall quilting on busy prints when I need to get something done fast or where all my time and efforts won’t really show. But for solid (or mostly solid) fabrics and negative space, your tutorials have opened a new world of options for my FMQ work and have inspired some really fun quilting for me. What I really love is when you show how you tie designs together to create a piece of FMQ artwork, like your mystery quilt-a-longs, or table-topper/vase quilts, or even the “Meander No More” piece pictured on today’s blog. So, all this to say meandering does have a place in my FMQ skills but continuing to add all sorts of pictorial, linear, and fill designs helps keep me excited about quilting and gives me more options as I improve my skills. Thanks for the daily dose of inspiration!

  2. I have used stippling and meandering for many years, usually in combination with other motifs. It is, as others have said, a fast all over pattern and great for busy fabrics or where a quilt will be heavily used. It was the first free motion design I learnt and I never has a problem doing it.. After hearing other quilters describing their frustrations learning stippling I thought about why it is easy for me. I realised it is the same design sometimes used in cake decorating, known as cornelli work, which I often used when I decorated cakes a long time ago. The pattern was already in my brain. Shows the importance of doodling and practice.

  3. I definately agree with you that non-meandering motifs enhances the quilt. I think many people default to meandering because you don’t have to think about what you are going to do in each square or border and it is relatively quick. I’ve been following you for about 2 yrs now and even with the doodling and tutorials I find it hard on my own what to decide on. If I am duplicating exactly I am fine, but coming up with something myself, I am very indecisive or it just doesn’t come to me. I’ve resorted to pinning everything I like for FMQ in Pininterest!!!

    • It is hard to make that leap–and I think it only comes by doing many quilts. Everyone is indecisive–until they are forced to be decisive. Sometimes a deadline is helpful. I love Pinterest, too!

  4. I’m in the “stippling/meandering has it’s place and is a good tool in our box camp”. I will continue to happily use it when and where I think it’s appropriate on a quilt. When done properly, it can be the perfect quilting to complement a quilt top. That said, I have see it used when something more custom would have been a much better choice. It’s not right for every quilt. The thing that I am disliking the most, and getting tired of seeing is over quilting something. So many pretty quilts are just quilted to death and I think that “ruins” a quilt just as much as some think stippling does. Just because you can put quilting stitching in every little space of fabric in a quilt doesn’t mean you should. Just my opinion. 🙂 But, if that is what someone else likes, and that is how they want their quilt, then they should do that regardless of how those of us that don’t like that style think. Just because I personally don’t care for over quilting doesn’t make it wrong for everyone. As long as the quilting is nicely done, it all comes down to personal preference and there’s plenty of room in the quilting world for all types and styles of quilting. 🙂

  5. I thought for a long time before I finally decided to comment. I had plenty of time to think as I meandered away on my current quilt. 🙂
    I decided in January 2015 that I was going o make all 5 of my grandkids a quilt for Christmas. I had not made a quilt in at least 15 years, and I had never machine quilted. I was searching for tutorials on FMQ and stumbled upon your blog. Your beautiful FMQ designs just amazed me! They gave me the courage to attempt something besides straight line quilting. I finished my 5 Queen sized quilts – three of them had no stippling. Then I made a chevron with every other row done in stippling and all the other rows had straight line stitching. The last quilt was a Dr Who quilt. I didn’t want the quilting to stand out. I had spent so much time on the blocks and I wanted them to be the focal point not the quilting. So I stipple quilted the entire quilt. It was perfect for that quilt.
    This year I have learned to quilt feathers. I quilted feathers on the blocks made with solid fabric and stippled the printed fabric sections. Thats how I’m quilting my current quilt. The feathered quilting is the focus – the stippling gives the printed fabric some texture without taking focus off the feathers.
    I worry every time I quilt that I will ruin my quilt top – but I have never worried about the stippling ruining it. I guess my point is that stippling has its place in my quilting. I love your quilting designs, and if I ever make a quilt out of all solid fabrics you can bet I’ll be doodling away some of your beautiful designs. But I am mostly making queen or king sized quilts and all of them have more printed fabric than solid. For me a mix of custom quilting and stippling is an easy, beautiful way to add texture without taking the focus off the custom quilting.
    I’m still a fan – I purchased and loved both of your craftsy classes. Just a little disappointed at the bash on stippling.

    • It sounds like you have a plan for how and when you use your stippling-you mix it with other motifs and that sounds lovely! I agree that there is a place for stippling when it is thoughtfully used. Thank you for writing- I am sure your quilts are beautiful and well-loved! I’m not trying to be a bully–just trying to encourage quilters to be thoughtful in their quilt choice.

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