My Approach to Quilting A Modern Quilt

I love  the look of machine quilting on modern quilts.   I wanted to use my walking foot but still go beyond simple or even complex lines to create unique quilting lines and shapes in my modern quilts.  I wanted to break away from repeating the same shapes over and over.  I did not want to follow a predictable set of lines.  I wanted to quilt wild and free!

Here are some examples  that might be helpful as you think about different ways to approach quilting your modern quilt.

Quilting by Me–Beyond Straight Lines

I quilt some of my smaller quilts (under 48″ on any side).  I make the decision to quilt it myself when I want eccentric or very improvisational quilting. I’ll show you some examples further down in this post. And, for my larger quilts, I send it to a long arm quilter for either edge to edge or custom quilting.

My Basic Tools for Machine Quilting

  • WALKING FOOT:  I have always used my walking foot because I quilt on a domestic machine.  It helps keep the layers together and that’s really important if I do my crazy improv stitching.
  • STITCHES:  On some quilts, I use the built in S or curve or wave stitch.  I lengthen the stitch length as far as it will go.  Most of the time I use a straight stitch but I lengthen it a bit because I like the look of a longer stitch.
  • THREAD:  I use anything from 40 wt to 50 wt. for the machine quilting.  I use mostly Superior or Aurifil.  I have a few others around–mainly I decide by the color that I want to use.
  • PREWOUND BOBBINS: If possible, I prefer to use a prewound bobbin in a color that blends with the top thread and the backing. I find that prewournd bobbins give me a better result on the top and back in terms of less puckering and more even stitches.  I buy them from Superior in different colors.
  • BASTING:  I spray baste with 505 Basting Spray.  I go to my garage to minimize fumes and avoid overspray getting all over my sewing studio.
  • REGULAR MASKING TAPE:  I use regular masking tape –I find that it sticks to the fabric better than blue painters masking tape.  I use it to mark my lines.  I don’t use any type of other marking tool.

Examples — My Approach to Walking Foot Quilting!

I always use my walking foot.  I like having this attachment to help me keep the quilt flat and moving evenly along.

Here are some examples of my approach to walking foot quilting.

This first quilt is a mini quilt of my Parisian Curves technique.  I kept it pretty simple–straight lines and some long hand guided waves here and there.  I also quilted spiral type blocks in some areas.  In other areas, I went very random–look at the background block in the upper left as an example.  None of these lines are marked.  For the straight line, I followed the seams –sort of…..It didn’t matter to me that the lines aren’t perfectly straight.  Organic and unique was my goal.  I chose to use a white thread because I only wanted texture.

modern quilt
Parisian Curves Mini

Speaking of Parisian Curves…I am working on a BRAND NEW On Demand online class that takes this technique upscale and more! Class will launch in Fall 2020.  Be sure to get on my Early Bird waitlist for registration by going here.

This next quilt is lap size.  I quilted with straight lines in a pale beige.  I used masking tape to mark the lines because I wanted a regular grid that complements the very random look of the pieced blocks.   Then, I went back and used a variegated thread weaving randomly over the face of the quilt (walking foot, no marking).  The striped fabrics are very old Kaffe from my stash.  The background is a Grunge by Moda.  (Photo color is a bit darker than the actual quilt)  This is a version of my MidCentury Modern but I really fractured the blocks into pieces–maybe I should call this shattering?  Here’s a link to my MidCentury Modern Curves on demand/on line class if you’re interested in learning more about this technique.


Here’s a detail–lightened the color so you can see the quilt lines better.


This next example is a very small mini quilt (about 12 inches square).  I marked some straight lines with masking tape and quilted it with varying amounts of space between each quilted line.  I went back and quilted a few ares by following the curves in the blocks.  Two thread colors were used:  yellow and gray.

A very small mini.

This is one of my Sarasota Sunset quilts.  Very simple walking foot quilting with straight lines and an occasional hand guided wavy line.  One thing I would change is to do more wavy lines–echo them so that it looks more balanced and densely quilted. And, I would baste it a bit better to have less puckering.

Sarasota Sunset #2

My most recent Sarasota Sunset quilt (although new ones are in my sketch book–just stocked up on some ombres to continue this series).  I used variegated thread all over the surface of the quilt.  The quilting lines are perpendicular and ‘eccentric’–meaning unplanned lines that rove all over the quilt.


Sarasota Sunset #3

Here’s a detail shot. I sort of wiggle the quilt around as I quilt it to get those scratchy wiggly lines that you can see in the yellow blocks in the 1st and 2nd full columns from the right.  Yes, I know I shouldn’t do that to my machine…but the results are so cool!!  I think my Janome forgives me –and enjoys the adventure!


I hope that you will try some of these approaches to using walking foot quilting on your next project.

Start with something small to get the feel of moving around and making decisions in the moment.  Then, move on to a small crib quilt or a wallhanging.  Find your own unique set of lines and shapes and have fun!


4 thoughts on “My Approach to Quilting A Modern Quilt”

  1. Love the shapes, placement of the flower motifs, pieces left in the binding and the quilting of the “Parisian curves mini”. Love the shapes, colors and the contrasting yellow thread in “A very small mini”.

  2. I think your techniques r awesome. I find your writing lines gives interest and security to your projects. We all want simplicity these days. We shouldn’t have to go to a longer quilter to get everything quilted. I want to finish my own quilting projects , and not someone elsefinish them. So, this gives use a new angle and saves money as well. Thsnk u so much.

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