Beyond Stippling-Five Tips for Better Quiltmaking


Meander No More, FMQ, Lori KennedyGood Morning, Quilters!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to yesterday’s post, How to Ruin Your Quilt with Stippling.  It was  meant to be provocative.  I want to nudge everyone to spend a little more time thinking about the quilting design.  Quilting should not be an afterthought. Quilting should be considered during every phase of the quilt-making process, from pattern and fabric selection onward. Continually ask yourself questions like:  “How will I quilt this?  What color thread will I use?   What motifs will look best?

Long winter shadows on free motion quilted stencil


It is obvious from your responses that we need to go beyond the step-by-step Tuesday Tutorials.  We need to see the motifs in action.  Choosing “the right motif” is a challenge for everyone.  I don’t have a quick answer for you, but I am formulating some ideas on how to best teach this important skill.  Stay tuned…


Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Threads, Sewing Room

Choose the Right Thread for Stippling

If you have chosen an allover motif–an Edge to Edge pattern as the long-armers call it- I assume your quilting goal is to create a light texture.  You don’t want to see the quilted line.  In this case, use a light weight thread (60wt or finer) in a low-contrast color.  This will provide the effect you seek.  If you choose a heavy thread, in a contrasting color, the stippling will be very obvious and will fight the piecework or appliqué below.  (More coming soon-in How to Ruin a Quilt with Thread)

Quilt Stencil

Choose a Motif with Character or Personality

If you plan to use an allover or edge-to-edge motif, choose one that matches the quilt, the recipient, or is personal to you.  For example, stitch Flower Power (it’s’s easier than stippling) on any floral or girl’s quilt.   Or try the more sophisticated, Nora’s Rose on the quilt for your Grandmother.  Need a boy’s motif or stitching a Halloween quilt?  Starry Night  is a perfect motif and easier than stippling!  Again, be sure to use the right thread for the job–lightweight and low-contrast for a texture-only effect.

Nora's Rose Quilt, FMQ

Walking Foot Quilting

If you’re not ready for free motion quilting, use a walking foot to stitch straight lines, wavy lines or concentric circles.  This type of quilting adds interesting geometric patterns and has a Modern flair. Stitch converging lines to create focal points and highlight areas of the quilt.  Grids are another example of walking foot quilting and are often used on Traditional quilts including appliqué quilts.

For more on these techniques, try Jacquie Gering’s Craftsy video:  Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot.  (50% off – for a limited time for readers of The Inbox Jaunt) Jacquie is a phenomenal quilter and a great teacher.  She covers everything from the parts of the walking foot to how to manage a large quilt on a small machine.

Free Motion Quilted Dragonfly

Machine Tying

Tied quilts conjures up images of polyester quilts with acrylic yarn ties…(Don’t, laugh–I bet a few of YOU made one too!)

Let’s set that image aside for a moment and consider how we might quickly machine tie a baby quilt.  Stabilize the blocks with stitch-in-the-ditch quilting or free motion quilted wavy lines over the seam lines.  Stitch from border to border horizontally and vertically.  Then add a small motif in the center of each block to act as the “tie”. Use one design in the center of every block or stitch a variety of motifs like The Butterfly, The Dragonfly and The Bumblebee. in alternate blocks.   Charming!

For a boy, try a single Fish, Star, Sailboat, Anchor, , or a Football.


Two Motifs

If you are ready for something slightly more adventurous, try combining just two motifs-one curvy and one linear and fill the blocks with variations of the two motifs.  Try The Picket Fence with any of the flower motifs like Faye’s Flower  Or Triangle lines with The Feathered Leaf or Spirals.  By choosing only two motifs, you will be assured the quilt will look cohesive and you won’t be overwhelmed by too many choices.  By choosing one curvy motif and one linear or geometric motif, you will be assured there is enough contrast between the motifs–necessary for good quilt design.

Straight Line Triangles, LKennedy, FMQ

For even more ideas…

Machine guided quilting and big-stitch hand quilting, try Susan Cleveland’s Creative Quilting:  Alternatives to Free Motion.  Use my affiliate link — 50% off for a limited time.  Thank you, Craftsy!  Susan is an award-winning quilter and a perfectionist.  She share loads of tips and techniques for beginners and advanced quilters alike!Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 9.08.06 PM

Beyond Stippling…

The key is to keep it simple.

Quilting does not have to be complicated to be beautiful.

But if you are going to make the effort…

Small, personal touches can make all the difference!

What about YOU?  How do YOU choose the quilting for YOUR quilts?  Do you have any tips you can share?

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.

Doodle to Design, Craftsy, Lori Kennedy






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!

Craftsy Title Card

Craftsy logo





Water and Ice-A Machine Quilting Tutorial

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

Welcome to all our new followers from The Quilt Show, Pinterest, Facebook and more.  There has been a lot of interest in the Ruining Quilts post.  It is clear–we all have some fears associated with machine quilting.

Fear no more-YOU are in the right place!

We will help you find YOUR way to beautiful quilts and beautiful quilting.

If you are new to The Inbox Jaunt, you might want to start with The Motif Library-with more than 100 step-by-step tutorials.

And I consider doodling an essential skill–so check out the Doodle Lesson page as well.

Not sure how to set up your machine for quilting?  Try Twelve Steps to Machine Quilting HERE

And for a video version – try one of my Craftsy videos (50% off for readers of The Inbox Jaunt)

This will give you a good start– then stick around for the tutorials, quilt-a-longs, giveaways, patterns, product reviews, books, magazines, open forums…..

Everything to HELP YOU gain confidence with machine quilting!


Today’s tutorial is a pretty swirling pattern that could be used as a background fill or allover motif on any quilt. I could also imagine it on an art quilt creating the texture of water or the swirls on top of ice.  Any figure skaters in the group?

After hours of doodling, it seems Water and Ice looks best when stitched at an angle-as opposed to straight vertical lines.  No need to draw diagonal guidelines–just “eyeball” this one to keep it loose and water-like.

Begin by stitching a wavy line.

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Add another wave-extending slightly farther to the right.

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

To add a swirl, curl in…

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Then back out again.

(NOTE-The swirl is similar to a sideways Paperclip-Tutorial HERE)

Paperclip, Free Motion Quilting

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Curve around and extend a little farther to the right.

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Combine wavy lines and swirls.

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Then stitch back, adding wavy lines and swirls.

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Water, Ice Machine Quilting Tutorial, Lori Kennedy

Makes me think of Florida…
Sunset, Lori Kennedy

What about YOU?

Any Water or Ice quilts stirring in YOUR sub conscience?

We’d love to hear!

Lots more quilting all week–including How to Ruin Your Quilt with Stippling.

Happy Stitching!


PS…This tutorial was stitched on my BERNINA 770QE (just love the stitch formation!) with Sulky 40wt Rayon thread on top and 50 cotton Aurifil in the bobbin.

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 share, pin or re-blog with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  This post may contain affiliate links.  Thanks!