The Sweep–An Essential Quilt Doodle

Quilt Doodles

Good Morning, Quilters and Doodlers!

We’re back to doodling today with a doodle every machine quilter should know–The Sweep. 

The Sweep is the building block of a wide variety of motifs like Twisted Rope, Feathers, Braided Wheat and many more.  You use “The Sweep” any time you stitch from one line to another parallel line.  The key is to develop YOUR SIGNATURE “Sweep”.

The basic Sweep would look like this:

Quilt Doodles

But that is too mechanical looking…not pretty for quilting.  To achieve a prettier look–doodle, doodle, doodle–until you get your own Sweep.  This may take 1000 repetitions over several sessions.

Quilt Doodles

I prefer to practice this on lined paper and draw from the bottom toward the top–so I rotate the paper.

Start with the left to right Sweep.  Start on a line and “sweep” to another line as shown.

Quilt Doodles

Once you’re comfortable with the Right Sweep,

Try the Left Sweep.  (1000 times or until you get YOUR SWEEP!) 

Quilt Doodles

Once you can Sweep left and right, try bigger and bigger Sweeps.

Quilt Doodles

And then try “echo-doodling” back to the center line after each Sweep.

Now it’s starting to look like quilting!

Quilt Doodles

Be sure to practice Sweeping (not dusting or vacuuming) this week...we’ll be adding on next Thursday.


Happy Quoodling,


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

14 thoughts on “The Sweep–An Essential Quilt Doodle

  1. I have the right sweep down, but the left one still needs practice. I love the cartoon! I need to hang it in my studio!

  2. I just have to tell you, before the page came to life, I was envisioning a Witches’ broom, I mean it is getting closer to Halloween, isn’t it?

  3. This post was most timely for me – I had just finished a lap quilt to enter in my quilt guild’s quilt show – my take on Pat Sloan’s “Island Dreams” from her book “What a Novel Idea” (which, coincidentally, is our quilt show theme). I quilted the blocks with the Square Flower and used the Slender Leaf pattern (similar to the Sweep, which I’ve been “air doodling” for weeks!) in the sashing, then alternated both in the wide outer border. The judges commented on the quilting and awarded the quilt a second place ribbon!! I must note that I’m not an experienced FMQer and I’ve only used my Baby Lock Tiara a few times since I bought it 2 1/2 years ago, so I consider this a major accomplishment, and I have Lori to thank for my success! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lori – I couldn’t have done it without you!!

  4. I intend to practice this, but I’m curious why bottom to top? It doesn’t feel normal*, nor is it the direction we quilt in.

    *I was going to say natural, but handwriting isn’t!

    • Great question–I guess that is what feels natural to me and that is how I would quilt it. You should do whatever feels most natural to you! You will get the best quilting line when you move in your natural movement patterns. Thank you for the question!

  5. Pingback: Doodling–Adding to “The Sweep” | The Inbox Jaunt

  6. Pingback: More Sweep Doodles-Leaves | The Inbox Jaunt

  7. Pingback: How to Doodle–Braided Wheat | The Inbox Jaunt

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