How to Free Motion Quilt Abstract Flowers

Kimberlee Tanner

In a quest to actually finish all our quilts (it’s hard to snuggle under a quilt top), we are sharing a new free motion quilting motif with you each month. These are simple motifs that can easily be tackled by a beginner. Grab a practice quilt sandwich and some extra thread and try it out. You may just find a new favorite quilting motif!

This month, we are learning how to quilt abstract flowers.

Where To Use the Abstract Flower Motif

This quilting motif fits really well in defined, real or implied, shapes. I like to use it in squares, but it works in triangles or circles as well. I've done a quilt using this motif in the same direction for all the squares, and I've also mixed it up and quilted it around a center point.

Preparing the Practice Quilt Sandwich

We’ll be using about 12-14″ square quilt sandwiches for our pieces. This size is small enough to practice a new to motif and not be overwhelmed by bulk, but still large enough to get a feel for the full pattern. It’s also a size that we can usually find scraps for. If you hang on to leftover batting from quilts, we love to use them for practice sandwiches. I recommend practicing on solids when you can as it allows you to see your stitches better and know where you can practice more to improve. If you want to save even more fabric, when your practice sandwich is full, simply throw a new piece of fabric on top and start over. You can do this until you have 3-4 layers of top fabric.

One thing to keep in mind when practicing, your quilts will likely be much larger than your practice sandwich. Remember to vary the scale and practice your designs larger as well so that they don’t end up super small when you move to the final quilt.

Doodle, Doodle, Doodle

Before you head to the sewing machine to stitch out a new free motion quilting motif, pull out the paper and pen first! Taking the time to doodle the design builds up muscle memory, gets you comfortable with the movement, and also helps you to identify a quilting path. Then when you get to the quilt top, you’ll know how to move around and fill in tricky areas. If you need something to occupy your hands while watching movies or tv, (or a work zoom meeting), keep a sketchbook handy and doodle out new free motion quilting motifs. This also works to keep a journal of ideas and quilting patterns you know which can make deciding how to quilt your projects much easier!

Marking the Design

This quilting motif requires very little marking. If I'm quilting it in a defined shape, I usually don't do any marking. If I do, the only thing I worry about is drawing in a center line. This is especially helpful in round shapes. Keep in mind, when quilting this design in a square, you are working on the diagonal and going from corner to corner. 

Quilting the Abstract Flower

To quilt the flower, we are going to work our way from the outside in to the center, then back out the opposite side.

First, start by quilting a gentle hill shape that fills the space and extends almost to the opposite corner.

Now echo the line back to the start.

Repeat the same steps creating another petal inside the first one.

Now, make one more small hill, stopping at the opposite corner.

From here, you are going to repeat the same design on the second half of the shape.

Echo the center shape out and back two more times to finish the design.
For other shapes, you are going to follow the exact same steps, adjusting as needed to fill the entire space. If you are doing a triangle or smaller area, you can also simply quilt have of the motif.
Go grab your sketchbook and draw out the design, then try quilting it and see how it goes! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out! 
Happy Quilting!
Kimie and Missy

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