How to Free Motion Quilt a Whirligig Design

Kimberlee Tanner

This week I am sharing one of my favorite quilting motifs. Its so fun and easy to quilt out and creates tons of movement and texture. It does take a little preparation though as you will need a grid to quilt it. It's totally worth the extra time though, I promise.



Quilting a Grid Design

The best part about learning to quilt grid designs like this one is that after you've figured out the stitching path, you can quilt any grid design in the same way. It's easy to mix and match the shape you are using and come up with lots of possibilities, all with a continuous path and no stops and starts!

You can also play with different sizes and shapes of your grid. If you need to leave some squares off, it's no problem and you can still stitch the same path. I show you the basics of this in the video, but don't be afraid to grab some graph paper, mark out an area, and simply play around until you have figured out how to fill the entire area with one continous path.

The first thing we need is of course the grid. I'm using a 2" grid, but you can do any size you want. If you don't want to mark, you can easily use the blocks and squares in the quilt itself. If you are using this as a fill or background, you'll want to mark the grid out. I like to use fabric marking pens and markers that I will have to remove so it doesn't erase before I have a chance to quilt. Chalk, water erase, or heat erase all work fantastic. Just remember to always spot check before you mark the entire quilt top!

The Quilting Path

We are going to quilt this design in rows, but we aren't going to quilt the entire outside till the end. Don't worry, I'll walk you through each step.

For this whirligig motif, we are going to be creating an asymmetrical hill. It will start steep, but be gradual on the second side. If you want to do it symmetrical, you'll end up with an orange peel design (which is also a great pattern!).

Start in the top left corner and first stitch down, across, and back up. From here, go down again.

You'll then continue this same path till you get to the bottom corner of the opposite side.

From here, do not quilt up the side, go back along the bottom edge to the left until you get to the edge.

Now, repeat the first set of lines going down, across, and up until you get to the opposite edge.

And again, straight back to the first edge.

And repeat until you have fill the grid.

Now we are ready to do the final edges. Simply work your way up the side

And finally, across the top back to your starting position.

Now your entire grid is filled and there is no backtracking and no starting and stopping! After you erase your grid, you see the final quilting motif.

As I said, this same grid path can be used for any shape and size of grid and the quilting design used can be altered and changed in many different ways. It's definitely worth learning and figuring out the technique. Take the time to play around and learn the right quilting path and you'll be amazed what you can do with it!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!

Happy Quilting

Kimie and Missy

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