AQS Freemotion Workshop Part 1


In our four part series, we take you from the beginning steps to the most popular techniques today in freemotion quilting. Join us and start your freemotion adventure!

Each week we will kick off the workshop with activities to get you started. Freemotion is not a sit back and observe kind of sport. It works much better if you dive in and get started. Next, we will recommend some great resources that we particularly love to take things further. At the end, we will share some of our most popular video tips from leading quilt instructors. We look forward to this journey with you. If you have any questions along the way, be sure to leave us a note in the comments below.

One of the biggest parts of learning freemotion quilting is working with and creating designs. Practicing designs builds your confidence and let’s you troubleshoot without the added pressure.

Here are some ideas to get you started playing with designs:

Directed Doodles –

  • Take a continuous all-over design and draw it until the basic pattern is memorized.
  • While doodling the continuous pattern, try changing the design using the following ideas:
    • Go Big! Take the design and space it out so there are 1-2 inch gaps.
    • Constrict the design. Make it narrow, make it short, make it tiny.
    • Add flourishes, echoes, extra loops, hooks, scallops.
    • Make it your own. Let your mind wonder as you doodle and draw variations of the design as your hand plays.
    • Add elements. Throw in a star, a flower, a heart.
    • Take the design to its basic shapes.
    • Add lines and shapes to the design so the density is full and there is an equal amount of lines throughout the space.

Continuous Line Tracing – 

  • Take an image you love, it can be a design element or even a photograph, enlarge it to the size you want to practice, and lay a piece of tracing paper over it.
  • Trace the outline of the design without breaking the line. 
  • Work to create an image that can be easily identified in as few lines as possible.
  • Play with clever ways to backtrack or travel to each area of the design. Think about thread build up and ways to hide it.

 Be sure to save your favorite designs and don’t hesitate to add notes, measurements and new ideas to you drawings. Use your drawings to inspire throughout your quilting when you are hunting for design ideas.

Want some more practice playing with designs? I highly recommend:

Pathways to Better Quilting by Sally Terry – Sally breaks quilting designs into five basic shapes and along with bunches of tips and advise on quilting, encourages you to use these shapes to unleash your creativity. This one is a particular favorite because it is more than a book of patterns, it is a guide to making your patterns uniquely yours!

Quilting Dot to Dot by Cheryl Barnes – Begin with a dot, then the next dot, then the next, until you are stitching along like a pro! Cheryl breaks down quilt designs into their basic shapes and gives stepping stones to follow allowing you to learn at your own pace and experience lots of success along the way! 

Machine Freehand Patterns by Nan Moore – Nan focuses on the motion of the design. First she starts with the basics, shows how to changing direction, and then it’s all about letting the motion evolve. I love the way Nan encourages you to build detail into our designs and always make it your own. Her faux pantograph ideas are fantastic!


Here are a couple tips to get you started from Mary Smallegan and Cindy Seitz Krug:


  Learn to set up your sewing machine for quilting with Mary Smallegan.


 Watch Cindy as she teaches the basic stipple shape.

Want to learn more? Take a look at these beginning quilting iquilt classes! 

Visit Mary Smallegan’s iquilt class here.

Visit Cindy Seitz-Krug’s iquilt class here!

Visit Jodi Robinson’s iquilt class here!
 This week, play with designs. Look at them, take them apart, and put them back together. Create with movement and scale. Most importantly get to know yourself and get comfortable with adding your special flair! See you next week!

Join us for Part 2 of the AQS Freemotion Workshop!

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Sarah Cureton

Love the info from your workshop