Machine Quilting Practice #8: Teardrops

There are so many ways to fill a background with machine quilting, and we’re only trying a few of them! We have practiced stippling, echo quilting and loop-de-loops so far. For this practice session, we will try a design formed by echoing loops – one that I call “teardrops”.

The teardrop background fill motif begins by stitching the shape of a teardrop or flower petal.

Without stopping or lifting the needle, reverse direction and echo the shape. Make it slightly larger than the first teardrop but return to the same starting point.

Continue to echo the shape four or five times, making each repeat slightly larger than the last.

Start another teardrop at the base of the first and echo it. Then start another between the two, and so on.

For this practice session, you will need one of the quilted Star Motifs from session #4. If you are working on a nine-block sampler quilt, quilt the teardrops around the star motif in the bottom left corner. For more information, please read the Instructions for Preparing a Machine Quilting Sampler. Set up your machine for free motion stitching by lowering (or covering) the feed dogs and installing a darning or free motion presser foot.

I started the first set of overlapping teardrops at one of the inside points of the star motif. Pull up the bobbin thread as described in Beginning and Ending Machine Quilted Stitches and take the first small stitches by moving the quilt slowly under the needle. Continue moving the quilt under the needle and forming the teardrop shapes.

Remember to keep the quilt in the same orientation as you stitch. Practice moving the quilt under the needle and echoing each set of teardrops. If you quilt yourself into a dead end, take a few small securing stitches, stop, clip the threads, and start again in a new location. Or, make a series of small teardrops (or clamshells) to travel to a new location.

Continue in this way, working your way around the star motif, until the background is completely covered with teardrops. This motif can easily be varied by changing the initial shape and echoing it. Congratulations! You have now completed four random free-motion background fills and seven blocks in total. We only have two more blocks to go, and next week we’ll try random free-motion feathers!


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