NOTE : I no longer promote Craftsy/Bluprint as I used to due to the way the subscription is currently being carried out. I had the issue of cancelling my subscription when the company changed hand and I find that cancelling through calls is inconvenient. However, I do still stand behind these classes I promote and if you are subscribed, you can surely check these classes I recommend on the platform. If you are looking for another online platform to learn craft such as quilting, do check out CreativeBug. It is much cheaper in subscription (subscribe now 3 months for only $5). Thank you.

I am sharing with you today how I quilted block the Patience Corner. I have two blocks made for two quilts, one with custom quilting and one with allover quilting.

Both would be a great practice if you are looking towards improving your free-motion skill. I am still practicing myself, especially with the custom quilting. I am learning as I go too, so let’s do this together!

If you are new here, this post is a part of my quilt-as-you-go my Sewcial Bee Sampler which I plan to share along the process along with some tips and tutorial. Click here to  related Archive posts.

There are affiliate links in this post for your convenience. Please refer to my full disclosure here.


Before we go into the design for this block, here are some of my favorite must-have tools for Free Motion Quilting:

  1. Superior Threads. I literally changed my minds about threads, when I started using this thread. And they come in big cones. which means they last longer before I have to change thread. I use an embroidery thread stand for it. You can get cheap thread stand like this one here.

2. Superior Threads Top Stitch Needles. I use this for all my sewing and FMQ. Really. In fact, I kind of find it a bit off when I have to use a needle that is not coloured gold as these needles are.

3. My trusty sticky Glove. Any brand works for me, but I personally love the one that is breathable cotton like this one.

4. Spray Baste. I am not a fan of taking off safety pins. This makes it so much quicker and allows me to cruise without fear of getting onto a pin. I personally love 505 Spray baste.

5.  My large throat sewing machine of course!

However, you won’t need all of these tools to start. Just a reminder, I started with the very basic sewing machine and just a regular free motion quilting foot. And still managed to quilt a queen-size quilt. Just upgrade as you feel more confident and want to ease a couple of things that bothers you.


Quilt as you go

Quilt as you go block-by-block, is one method you could opt for when you want to make quilting large quilts on your domestic machine feasible. It is one of my go-to methods especially if I want to skip the heavy work pushing through large quilts within my machine throat space.

Besides, I love the fact that I can easily finish blocks by blocks and even have a fancy backing like this one I made earlier. If you are interested to learn how I piece the block together, here is one way how to do it – using small sashing strips.

Basic stippling free-motion quilting

For the allover quilting, I chose the basic stippling for this first block to warm those skills up. Stippling is a great quilting design as it is easy, fast and produces great texture for the quilt. While relatively easy, if you have not done one before, I do suggest you try stippling with pen and paper first. The idea is to get the stitches to be fairly uniform, the spacing between the routes are evenly spaced and to make it as randomly, as possible.

Think of stippling motion like creating a maze.

While you can echo previous curves, make intentional take off from the echo in different directions and echo again and repeat the intentional take off from echoing.

After having confidence practicing on paper, you can now move onto stippling on scrap fabric basted with leftover battings. This is to ensure you have good tension and have a good sense of moving your quilt in the direction you want it to go. Make sure these few things before you start :

Checklist prior to free-motion quilting

  • Bobbin is filled
  • The needle is changed if it has been some time since it was last changed
  • The feed-dog is down
  • Needle is set to stop with needle-down position
  • Wear fmq glove for better gripping

The tension of the stitches is uneven!

When I first tried stippling years back, I find myself going fast each time I make a U-turn causing the stitches to be off-tension and the back stitches  showing on top. If you have encountered the same problem, I suggest you keep on practicing to go at an even speed even at turns, so that the tension of the stitches will remain beautifully intact. If you find yourself moving your hand faster at curves and U-turns, slow down with the presser foot. However, don’t worry too much if it does go off every now and then. Make sure you use the same color thread in the bobbin and top thread so it would not show up too much. I too had gone through this phase. Just keep practicing, you’ll get there.

Can’t get my brain thinking which way to go and when should I be pressing my foot pedal?

Focus on which way to go rather than what has been stitched. As we let our brain focus on where we should be going, it should guide our hand to move the quilt at it should. I often stop if I find myself struggling to move the quilt or things are just in awkward position (your shoulder seem a little tense up etc.). Just simply STOP pressing the presser foot pedal and turn the quilt to the easiest direction to quilt to, and continue. Don’t forget to breathe! If you find yourself holding your breath, (which is common- I still do it!) stop often, breathe and think of which way is the best route to go. It’s like driving – while so many things happen simultaneously, if most of the things we do become a routine – we can let our focus be about one thing – the road.

[bctt tweet=”Free Motion Quilting on your domestic machine is like driving – the more you put on routine, the more you get to focus on the route. So keep on practicing!” username=”lilmushroomcap”]

How can I get even stitch length while free motion quilting?

Note the speed of your machine, the speed should be complimenting your hand movement. The faster you go, the faster you would have to move the quilt. While in some machine, there is a speed control (I am blessed with one with my current machine) it is still possible for you to make even stitches on a machine that does not have one, you just have to be familiar with your machine speed and keep on practicing. I started quilting with a basic Janome, moving onto a classic Hursqvarna and noticed the difference in speed with each machine, but I get used to both and conquered them with many many practices. You can too!

As you can see in the video below, I switched from slow motion to a faster motion at one point when I feel like I get the hang of where to go, and the motion. As I press the pedal more, the machine accelerates and move at a faster speed, so I have to move the quilt faster as well in order to maintain a rather even stitch length.

Here is the finished block. Textures…

Custom free motion quilting on quilt as you go blocks

For the other quilt, each blocks are going to be custom quilted, which means each will be designed accordingly with the block pattern. I love playing with different quilting design for such quilt and make the quilt block pop out even more.

The benefit of using quilt as you block is that it is so much easy to maneuver with small blocks and custom quilting is made easier under the throat of domestic machine. Plus, your shoulder should thank you too!

I planned the custom quilting using Sharon Holland’s colouring page which  Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell has available for download in the Intro section. I simply view them in magnified mode on my screen and crop each block into JPG on its own (You can use (shift+command+4 on Mac) or use snips in Microsoft.

I then printed the block individually and plan out the quilting with pencils. While doing it with the pencil I also plan how will I be moving the needle from one place to another.

Marking on the block for free motion quilting for quilt as you go blocks

You will need:

On the quilt block, make sure custom quilting are done within the finished block size – which means, you have to mark the 1/4″ mark from the block seams using water-erasable marker. This is to ensure that when joining the blocks together, the quilting does not get buried inside the seams.

You can also do marking for the feather spine as this will be a great guidance to free motion quilting feathers. I have been pinning lots of feathers and all kinds of quilting lately over at pinterest. Join me along over at pinterest!

Here are some snippets of the free motion quilting done for the block.

I am still practicing my feather quilting. What free-motion quilting design are you planning to practice more this year? Do you love feathers?

Well, if you decide to join along or have any questions, drop me a comment. I will be happy to help where I can!

Since it is already quite a lengthy post – I will be doing A Dandy block in a different post. See you again!




2 Comments on Free Motion Quilting on Block Patience Corner | Sewcial Bee Sampler

  1. I absolutely love feathers on quilts 🙂 I’ve been away from my quilting for 7 or 8 months, so I’m wondering if that will be like riding a bicycle, and they’ll come back quickly for me, or if I’ll need a good bit of practicing to get happy with how mine turn out. I have a couple of big quilts to finish before I get to something I can try them on, though.

    • Hi Lynette!

      I have been there -gap in fmq time. I use to regularly fmq but has stopped a long time, but now I am gearing it back up.. I thought I was better at feather quilting, but trying it again this time seems a little harder, so I guess they do need regular practicing. So, it is good to get those fmq gears going. PS; you froggy blocks on the stair photos are sooo cute!!

      Have a lovely day Lynette! Thank you for dropping your comment over at my blog. 🙂

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