POP Quilting–A Machine Quilting Quick Tip

POP Quilting, Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters,

As the seasons change, so do my “Vase Quilts”.  I pulled this OLD quilt from my collection to highlight the colors of my velvet pumpkins.  (Don’t forget to SAVE your pumpkin stems–and check your local pumpkin farmer or nursery for more–tutorial coming soon!)

How old is this quilt?

It is so old…there’s stippling on it…and we all know how I feel about stippling and meandering!


A side from the wormlike quilting on it, this quilt is one of my favorites and a good example of  “POP Quilting”.

The shapes that are most noticeable are the circles, squares and lines that are not quilted…they “pop” right off the quilt and become the focal point.

POP Quilting, Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy


In the vase quilt, I filled the blocks with circles and squares and created a stripe throughout the border.

For this technique, draw any shape…

And then heavily quilt around it.

POP Quilting, Machine Quilting, Lori Kennedy


You can straight stitch the outline or you can omit this step.

I have done both ways and both work…though I favor outlining the shape before filling in the background.


Many motifs work well for this technique…

The Twist

Beginner Loops

Straight line quilting

Even the Motif-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named….


Try this on YOUR next quilt–it works well on printed fabrics and blocks with a lot of piecing.

How will you POP YOUR next quilt?

We’d LOVE to hear!


Lori Redenbacher

52 thoughts on “POP Quilting–A Machine Quilting Quick Tip

  1. I recently did pop quilting on a customer quilt, the Labyrinth Walk. I know I’ll be helping my daughter’s mother-in-law make a baby sized one soon so I can do it again. 🙂

  2. This is great! Also the first time I’ve heard the term “vase quilt”. Is that a thing? If so what would be the general dimensions? I make a lot of table runners but I like the idea of a little something pretty to decorate. I’m thinking a good way to practice my new skills as well!

    • “Vase quilts” is a term I made up to refer to small quilts that I use under vases or bowls to decorate. Usually any size smaller than a table runner.

  3. Oh, this is lovely and as Sheila just mentioned making some vase quilts offers such a great way to practice machine quilting. I love the “pop” on this quilt and I’m going to use my next two weeks away thinking about, and planning, a Christmas themed runner or vase quilt to try this on. So fun! Thanks a lot for sharing!

  4. I really like how this looks – especially on the pieced blocks. I understand why you do your tutorials on solid fabric, but it’s really nice to see your techniques on pieced quilts, as that is what I mostly make. Thanks!

  5. What kind of cloth do you use when quilting on a single solid piece, like your example and also the Sunflower Sampler from yesterday? I love the idea of making the quilting the focus of the piece.

  6. I am jusr finishing up a table runner that I am “popping”.
    It was an exercisr from a FMQ class where we were working with stencils. My instructor told me it was lovely as is, but if I put it in a show it would be judged that it needed more quilting. This weekend I was antsy to be creative so I pulled it off the UFO pile and just started quilting swirls, hooks and unspeakable inbetween my stenceling. It looks much better now.

  7. I had a sudden intake of breath and an exclamation when I opened today and saw this vase quilt. It went right in my heart ! Love it..Color choices sometimes blow me away. Colors that quilters put next to each other is sometimes something I would never choose and yet when I see it done, it is gorgeous ! I “test” colors next to each other but I discovered early on that a folded fabric exhibits a deeper color than a single layer. I had put bolts next to each other in the shop before buying but they always looked somewhat different at home. Also the overhead lighting in the shops are different than what I have at home …( Ott ). So…unroll the bolts to exhibit single layer of fabrics and get permission to take them to the light coming from windows.
    How did I get off on that ? ! Oh, Lori, you always have such delicious color combos.

  8. I just started following your blog, and I have one of your classes togged up in Craftsy. I just read your blog on meandering/stippling. Thank you! I am new to free motion quilting, and very frustrated that I can’t seem to get the hang of it. You are encouraging me to keep trying.

  9. When making your vase quilts, do you ever include a water/moisture barrier of any kind within the quilt sandwich? I only ask because of a antique table disaster that I’ve had ….

      • I’ve done this on a couple of things, which were baby items, but I think it would work for vase quilts, too. The flannel-backed plastic I’ve found at fabric and craft stores is a bit too heavy to my mind. So, I’ve instead purchased a very light weight flannel-backed table cloth, and it works fine. Items have to be hung to dry, of course, because the plastic can’t tolerate a dryer.

    • Now I am so curious… did your table get well? My very old dresser never recovered from a perfume spill…But then I didn’t want to take it to a shop and pay $150 for “possible repair”. Damage was about 4″ x 4 “. I never did tell my daughter she made that spill on “her” dresser 44 years ago when she was 18 months old. My responsibility anyway.

      • No, there’s still a visible water ring on it, the size of the bottom of the vase. I would need to refinish the entire piece, and, that’s always tricky with old furniture. It’s a shame, too, because it is a very nice drop-leaf.

      • Linda, I couldn’t help noticing your remark about a ruined dresser. There are products that can remove old water marks — that’s a different subject than one that’s been ruined with perfume or nail polish remover…. Consider restoring just the top, not the whole dresser. It’s fashionable to have 2 tones or one painted & the other wood.

  10. I am usually amazed when I read your blog and then encouraged to take on something new in machine quilting. But I must say that this post really sent my creative blood moving. I cannot believe how that POP quilting changed the look of that little topper. It gave it so much texture and eye catching design that I was a bit unbelieving at first. I actually thought you had appliqued circles on the top at first. But the more I studied the photos, the more I was struck by the fact that it was all in the quilting. Thank you so much for doing this post. It really is an eye opener for machine quilting.

    • I use chalk. It comes in lots if colors. Also the Sew Line ceramic pencil is nice. Frixion pens ate good and come off with a blast of steam.

      • I use the Dritz Chalk Cartridge Set–Here’s a link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/2f1B2gn
        Any chalk will work–even children’s chalk. I like it because it is easy to see and easy to erase. Also, a sliver of any bar soap makes a nice marker. Let me know if you need anything else. I know it is easy to get hung up on the little things like this–and we want to help you on your way!

      • Lori…uh..may I add my experience here? Heat of any kind dispels Frixion gel…a heated iron, hair dryer, light bulb, whatever…electric blanket…go for it all. However, I tried water
        by itself and that was a no go ! I love my Frixion pens and use all colors all the time..Rare for me to have a project that can’t use them. I have decided tho to begin trying chalk..I have so much left over from art classes.

    • I’ve used lots of different chalks, too, but my favorite is Roxanne’s Quilter’s Choice chalk pencils. They’re not too soft, show up well & you can get a nice point for fine lines – plus erase easily. I also use a big WHITE art eraser to remove marks. It doesn’t leave a lot of crumbs & erases very cleanly. Although I like them for piecing/ cutting marks, I’m suspicious of Frixion pens, as I’ve heard the marks can reappear when exposed to cold temps.

      • And I will yak again RE Frixion pens.. using them now in 5th year. Haven’t had the Reappear problem. Only problem I have had was using black on some fabrics. After heating the black, it left a white line as if a bleach line had been applied. I learned how to make marks with other colors of pens or to come close to where I wanted but in an area that would be hidden after any stitching. It is second nature now.

      • Thank you all so much for you helpful tips! I actually do have another question. I know that for some quilters hearing Jo-Ann Fabrics makes them cringe. I don’t really know what kind of batting is good to use. My main focus is on baby quilts, 35×45-ish. I bought a large roll of polyester batting from there one time. I have also heard that you need to quilt a certain amount with different kinds of batting. How do i know what amount i really need to quilt? I typically have been quilting a straight line a 1/2 inch on either side of my 5 inch blocks.

        I also want to mention that you have a very helpful site Lori. Thank you!

  11. Thanks for the tip of “that which shall not be names” 🙂 I’ll keep that in mind as I start my quilting journey. I adore the puffy circles and I look forward to using your tutorials (once I get my new machine).

  12. Be careful with some chalks from “art supplies”, as they may have oils in them. Check labels or test in an spot not normally visible. The same is true with some colored pencils — they may have wax & will be very difficult to remove marks. I keep the ones that work with my quilting stuff & the others in my art supplies, so they don’t get mixed up.

  13. Pingback: Autumn POP Quilt | The Inbox Jaunt

  14. I use the frixion pens all the time. A famous quilter, Pam Clarke said to use a product called “Sew Clean” and it works great on the black fabric. Jamie what’s his name recommends it also.

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