How to Free Motion Quilt Looped Rows

Kimberlee Tanner

How to Free Motion Quilt Looped Rows

This months free motion quilting motif is a fun twist on loops. By changing it up and quilting this design in rows, it adds a whole new look! I really like this beginner free motion quilting design as it’s easy to learn and forgiving in the details. You can change the width of the rows or size of the loops to fit your quilt top.


Where to Use Looped Rows

Like many of the quilting motifs I’ve shared, this free motion quilting design is versatile and can easily be used in sashing and borders or as an all over design.

If I’m using it all over, I do like to use the second version and alter the width of the loops, nesting the rows among each other. It creates a great all over texture without the quilted rows being prominent.

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!

How to Quilt Looped Rows

  1. Start by making a gentle s curve.
  2. At the top, make a complete circle.
  3. Trace over your circle and come down the other side into another gentle s curve.
  4. At the bottom of the curve, make another circle.
  5. Repeat.

Variations on looped rows

As well as even rows, you can also easily adjust this design to vary the widths of the loops. This works great for background fills and all over designs. There is no set path or pattern you need to follow, just simply extend some of the shapes farther apart than others.

When you do the next row, adjust the width of the row to nest inside the previous one, keeping about the same distance between stitch rows.

If you are using this motif in a border, try spacing it so that you can fit on larger circle directly in the corner. If you want extra help in hitting the corner just right, you can grab a fabric marking pen and draw it out first, then as you get closer, adjust your design to fit.

This is a great beginner design because it really is quite forgiving! It’s a great design to practice stitching on previous lines, but if you go off the line, it will still look awesome in the end.

If you are finding you are struggling with getting smooth curves, try speeding up a little bit and see if that helps. It’s easier to make smooth curves with smaller stitches. You can also try using quilting gloves. They give extra grip and make it easier to move your fabric around.

As with all the designs and free motion quilting, allow yourself time to be a beginner. Don’t be too hard on yourself! When you use thread that blends, your stitching won’t stand out nearly as much as it does to you as you are quilting. Take a few steps back and you’ll see all the fun quilting texture and not all the mistakes!

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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