Doodling to master free motion feathers … and general scribbling

I’m learning a new free motion feather meander, my daughter is learning to color.

A photo posted by Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing (@quiltaddictsanonymous) on

My 20-month-old has discovered crayons. She likes to put them in her tin box and shake it, stuff them in between the couch cushions, line them up on the dog’s back and every once in a while she actually uses them to color.

Most of the time I show her how to use the crayons to put the pointy end down, keep it on the paper and go back and forth to make scribbles. But sometimes I let her go to town on a scratch pad while I doodle free motion quilting designs.

That was the case a couple nights ago. I’ve been trying to master free motion feathers for years. Literally, years. I tried and failed to use them in a border design. I went back to the drawing board and started using feather-like designs like fern leaves and swirls with spines to get the hang of the techniques involved in making feathers. And I’ve been doodling. If you haven’t heard it before, doodling is one of the best ways to get the movement of a free motion quilting design down, next to actually getting on a longarm and quilting.

Doodling new designs helps you get the motion down, test the pattern to see if you’ll like it and shows you how to get into and out of tight spaces. The last is especially important to work out on paper ahead of time. It is much easier to toss a sketch than to have to rip out stitches because you quilted yourself into a corner.

The design you see at the top of the page (which my daughter also colored on) is a variation of Angela Walter’s feather meander. You can watch her video tutorial on how to quilt it above. But I like it because it is a feather, but it isn’t the formal, you really need to make it perfect feather. I have a quilt in mind to test it out on, and I think I’m finally brave enough to give it a go. Now I’ve just got to find some time in between color time to load it on the frame.

What quilting designs are you trying to master?

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