October 21, 2010

Free Motion Quilting Designs: Meandering and variations

I would define meandering as covering space randomly without a precise pattern. For most quilters, it means this.

Meandering stitches up quick and sort of recedes from the eye, allowing the piecing of the quilt to shine through. Some people love meandering so much it's the only quilting pattern they use. And that's just fine - it's very versatile! However, if you want to try a meandering variation, you could stretch it out. This looks watery to me.

Make it pointy and it kind of looks like fire.

Loops make some easy meandering. I have an easier time with this pattern when I let some of the loops be double.

A popular loop variation is to throw in some stars with the loops.

You could meander with lines and angles.

You could use arcs. These make me think of bear claws. (Not the donuts. Actual claws on bears.)

Spirals make a great meander.

One thing I like to do in large areas of meandering is to add little sketches every now and then. Little presents for the recipient to find.

More than any other quilt design, your meandering will benefit from you sketching it beforehand. Fill paper. Fill lots of paper. Four whole sheets at least. There are some things you have to get the feel for - the "rhythm" of the pattern you're using, leaving even space between your lines, figuring out how to move around what you've stitched to what you haven't stitched, and figuring out how not to work yourself into corners. Paper costs so much less than fabric, sketch whenever you get a chance. Coloring with the kids? Meeting at work? Sketching a few times a week can really help your meandering; I have been sketching a lot more these past few months and I have been happy to see my meandering become smoother and more even.

See more Free Motion Quilting designs and tips on the Free Motion Quilting page.


Sarah Craig said...

Hi, Christina! Great suggestions about random meandering - I love your examples which include some I haven't tried. Another thing you can add (besides little drawings) is words - cursive works great in random meandering! I just did a quilt for a housewarming and I added in words like "peace" "love" "home" "joy" "family" - easy peasy!

The Vegetarian Hunter said...

What - you can different kinds of meandering! ha ha. These are fantastic! I think I now know what I am doing on that monster of a quilt I asked you about (the pink one, Bird on a Wire). I really like Sarah's idea too about writing words, how lovely!
Funny too, in my machines manual, it says to never cross over your quilting stitches - like the overlapping swirls. I have done crazy all over swirls on all of my first projects not knowing it is supposed to be a no no. Since you told me it is okay though, I don't worry about it anymore. =P hee hee

Gene Black said...

I do a varied meander because I get bored doing the same thing for hours. I also add surprises in my quilting. I quilted one in rows using various things you have shown and dropped in some flowers and hearts in the rows with the loop on a string things. I posted pics in the Flickr pool.
This is not my best work because the person who commissioned the quilt wanted a really thick batting that I will never use again!

Molly said...

You've really inspired me and I have been practicing my fmq again lately and I just can not get it right. My stitches are too long and very loose. I've moved the tension one way -- then the other. Moved the stitch length up -- then down. My machine only has a manual slider so I don't have a zero setting. I've done feed dogs down -- feed dogs up. I think I've done about every variation of settings I could try.

Is it possible it's just that my machine won't stitch well that way or if I keep trying new things it might start working great? I feel silly giving up. I can do straight lines OK with my walking foot.

I guess my question is .... can you come over to my house and try it on my machine?? (I wish!!) Despite my failure I've really enjoyed this informative series and feel like I've learned a lot. Thanks for being so great at sharing your talents :)

Kay Lynne said...

I like all the ideas that you can do to vary your meandering. I can get bored doing the same things. Thank you for all the tips.

Irina said...

I haven't tried free quilting yet, but I'm trying to get as much information as possible and I found this post so useful! Thank you for showing all the different variations.

BubzRugz said...

This should be easy for me - my mind always seems to meander!
Seriously - it is inspiring me to get going..... next step DO IT!

Megan said...

mmmmmmm...bear claws.....

Fat Chick Design said...

I set up my machine for free motion today, all set for tomorrow night!

Gaile said...

I am just loving your posts lately! Soooo much great stuff to practice and learn. I love the idea of sketching any time, anywhere - so simple but somehow it never occurred to me! I have a question for you - I haven't seen you talk about it yet, but how is the quilting done on this quilt from City Quilts - I've seen this sort of almost fire/swirl/woodgrain several places and would like to try it:


Mama Pea said...

I'm so far behind. I'll get back to it. But, I wanted you to know:

I gave you a sunshine award on my blog today. Check it out: http://peasinapod.typepad.com/peas-in-a-pod/2010/10/sunshine-award.html. Thanks for all you do! I appreciate your blog-friendship!

Barb H said...

Christine, your instructions on FMQ are generally spot on, but I have to comment today about meandering. To be precise, "...stippling and meandering are the same thing, but meandering is on a larger scale and stippling is very concentrated stitching. Stitching is...regulated in order to have equally-distanced, non-crossing (and non-touching) stitching overall." www.allexperts.com. Many of the examples you posted today are beautiful filler designs for quilting but are not technically meandering since the lines cross each other. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't meet the definition of meandering. Just wanted to clarify this for your followers.

John'aLee said...

Awww your drawings brought back memories of me teaching beginning quilting in my shoppe when I first opened. So thanks for the great reminder.

Elsa said...

Christine, it was so nice to see you last night at PMQG! love all these drawings! you are such an inspiration! (and very humble too!) I thought I'd leave you my email:
elsa.hart@gmail.com ... don't know how to change my settings.

JariJari said...

You simply good at FMQ & teaching it to others...great instructions and inspiring

Cindy Maki said...

I have a difficult time making any patterns, even stippling, but meandering is the one for me. I have made 3 queen size quilts with meandering FMQ which most people I have followed say is one of the most difficult. I worry how it will look as I am stitching it, but.... it always looks great. Try meandering everyone...really...just try it if nothing else is working. It solved my FMQ dilemma and kept me from giving it up completely.

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