Tuesday Tutorial-Free Motion Quilting: The Elegant Leaf

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Good Morning, Quilters!  Today is Tuesday and that means just one thing…It’s time to quilt!  I have The Elegant Leaf to share with you today.  This motif, like all the others, can easily be stitched on a long arm quilting machine, or if you’re like me, you can stitch it on a domestic sewing machine –I primarily stitch on a Bernina 820 (with its extra wide harp space) and on a Bernina 150.  With practice, you will find what settings, threads and needles work best for you and your machine.  Be patient and keep experimenting!

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf


We’ve been talking about threads lately, (see more HERE) so I tested a few threads while experimenting with The Elegant Leaf.  My favorite thread is Sulky Rayon with Aurifil 50wt in the bobbin.  It always works for me, but I am trying to expand my repertoire with the threads readers have recommended.  Today I tested Isacord and Robison-Anton polyester threads and YLI Soft Touch Cotton.  I was surprised to find that I liked them all–and more importantly my sewing machine liked them all.  The tutorial below is stitched with the Robison Anton Super Poly while the Flower and Leaf (first image above) was stitched with my tried and true Sulky–mostly because I liked the color match best.

On with the tutorial…

Begin by drawing three “rails” (guidelines that will be erased later) 1-1/2 inches apart.  (The finished leaf will be 3 inches wide.)


Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf


Beging stitching on the center rail.  Stitch down and then curve around and back up to the middle rail–like an upside down heart–stop at the center line (with your needle down, of course…)

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Stitch down and around, mirroring the first half of your leaf–(Don’t worry if it’s not perfect–most leaves in nature are not perfectly symmetrical either!)

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Now stitch a Downward Curl on the right side of the leaf.  Stop here. Now curl down and to the outer edge of your first spiral.(Review Downward Curls HERE).

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Stitch back to the center line and begin the left Curl.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Curl, stop, curl down and out.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

From the center line, stitch another right and left Curl.  If your leaf is really large, keep Curling until you get to the top of your leaf.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

At the top of the leaf, stitch a slight curve to the center line, then stitch down the center line a few stitches.  Then back up to create the tip of the leaf.  (This is just like the Fleur-de-Lis )

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

From the tip of the leaf, echo stitch back down and around the leaf and then return to the tip of the leaf and you are ready to begin the next leaf.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

In the leaves below, I experimented with a few different leaf “tips”.  Try them and see which one works best for your project.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

Like most of the patterns and motifs in the Tutorials (see Quilt Tab above)  this motif can be used for a border AND in many other ways.  Below, I have paired it with The Easiest Flower Ever to create a pretty little posy.

Free Motion Quilting Tutorial-The Elegant Leaf

I hope you will doodle this a few times and then give it a whirl on your next quilt!

Speaking of doodling...on Thursday I have a great project for you to try with all your doodles--it’s easy and I’m sure you’re going to love it!!

Also, we had such a great response to Open Line Friday, that we will offer it again this Friday.  If  you have any questions you’d like featured send them my way any time this week.

Tomorrow is Work in Progress Wednesday--and I have a little Back-to-School Work I can’t wait to share!

Finally, for all the bloggers out there...if anyone would like to write a Guest Post for The Inbox Jaunt or if you’d like me to be a guest on your blog, let me know…

Hoping this tutorial keeps you in stitches,


PS…All the images and tutorials are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for PERSONAL use only.  Feel free to Pin or Share…Please contact me for any Commercial use.  (Thanks)



Open Line Friday–Questions and Answers

Scissors, Questions and Answers


I would like to try something new today.  I’m calling it Open Line Friday--a chance to answer questions and a place where we can bring together the collective knowledge of the group.  The following are questions that have popped up in the last week or two.   Please add your input to the following questions:

Rebecca at Cheeky Cognoscenti   writes:  You know, I always thought that “free-motion” quilting was done completely freehand, without any markings on the quilt top. Looking through your tutorials, I am struck by how many different motifs require (or at least greatly benefit from) marking lines to guide spacing, etc. My question is, at what point would you do the marking if this was a big quilt instead of a small sample? Do you mark the entire quilt top before you layer it and baste it for quilting? Or do you mark the quilt sandwich as you go, and if so, how do you keep your lines straight when you’re drawing on a puffy quilt sandwich? Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful tutorials, by the way!

Lori:  Free Motion Quilting refers to stitching with the feed dogs lowered or disengaged.  (When the feed dogs are “up” the sewing machine will advance the fabric–in a more or less straight line–  When the feed dogs are “lowered”  the fabric will only move when it is guided through the machine)  This allows the quilter to move in any direction and stitch motifs and patterns, not just straight lines.  Perhaps there is some confusion because it sounds a bit like “free hand drawing”.  Some marking is essential on almost all quilts.

As for marking:  I use the stitched seam lines created by piecing as my “rails” or guidelines whenever I can–in order to avoid marking.  In large quilts, I do a combination of marking methods.  I usually don’t mark until after the quilt is pinned–I like to use chalk and if the quilt is being moved around a lot the chalk comes off.  Even if the quilt batting is bulky, I am usually able to add enough markings.  I also add markings as I quilt.


Chris:Dear lori do you have any problems with your foot jumping is there anything I can do to stop this I have a Bernina 440 and love it.

Lori:  I’m not sure what you mean by the foot “jumping”…Perhaps you need to increase the presser foot pressure? Also, don’t forget to lower the presser foot–that can cause the foot to jump. Send more details…Maybe some other readers can help?

Bernina, Feed Dogs

Feed Dogs, Offset quilting foot


Ruth at StitchSewQuilt     I would like to try FMQ with a thicker-looking cotton thread as I have feeling it will last longer and look better, and not eat through my cotton patchwork??? Is that true? I keep snapping needles in my practice FMQ; really not sure why, I think the tension’s okay. That’s another reason I want a thicker thread, so it will match a thicker needle and hopefully decrease the possibility of snapping when I cross a seam.     Are all of the retailers that have been mentioned on here American? I live in Britain and am hoping to be able to find the supplies you are discussing. Thanks.

Lori:  I don’t think the problem is the thread or the needles.  Most of the time when I break needles it is because I am pulling too hard on a heavy quilt.  Make sure the area you are stitching is free to move. Also, an improperly threaded machine can break needles.  Have you had your machine serviced lately?   Are you using quality needles like Schmetz 80 or larger?    (Note–check out Ruth’s blog where she has a few images of her work.)  Most of the products I have recommended are available from online retailers.   We have a lot of followers from the UK–can you help Ruth with local retailers?

Marking Tools

Thank you to the readers who offered questions. Please help these readers with YOUR input!

We will try this again in a few weeks, if anyone has a question they’d like answered.