Easy Machine Quilting Tutorial: Lines & Circles for Beginners with Leah Day


Hello my quilting friends. Leah Day here with a new machine quilting video. Last week we learned how to piece the beautiful basketweave quilt. Super, super simple quilt, very easy to put together. This week I’d like to show you how to quilt it with an equally simple and easy quilting design. We’re going to get started first with some walking-foot quilting and give you some tips on how to get started stitching straight lines over our printed fabrics. I’m getting started over these straight lines of printed fabrics, and I’m just going to stitch straight lines. You can see I’m using my walking foot. Set it to have a nice, tight stitch length, 1.6 mm, and I’m just stitching on a line that I marked when I was prepping up the quilt. It’s really really simple quilting. I just stay on that line. I am going to need to shift and manipulate the quilt about every 2″ to 3″, so every time I stop and take out a pin, I just kind of squish it around, make sure my hands are comfortable on the quilt, make sure nothing’s getting curled underneath it, and also that the fabrics nicely spread out so it’s not forming a pleat or a snow pile in front of me, any of that kind of stuff. I can do that by putting a little bit of tension down with my thumbs, and that kind of pulls the fabric out. The nice thing about this quilting design: It’s so simple. It’s just straight lines, but the nice thing about it is it really saved me some time with marking it because I was able to mark each section with just two lines. Once I get the two lines stitched, then I’m going to center my foot up between the two, and that’s how I’ll space out and stitch the other one. Now I’ve rotated it around a bit and I’m going to stitch over into that next marked line. With a walking foot you have to do the shifting. You have to sit there and rotate your whole quilt around, you might have to shift it through the arm of the machine just a bit. This takes a little bit more time, but once you get it settled, at least with this quilting design because the lines are so long, you’re going to be in this position for a minute so it’s really no big deal. Just be patient with it, and when you stop and rotate, really work on getting the bulk of the quilt situated so that it’s not in your way, and the entire line is going to be super super simple to stitch. Now I’m travel-stitching again in the ditch and I’m going to kind of guesstimate. That is, I’m not going to take out a ruler and mark it. I’m just going to guess the midpoint between the edge of my quilting space—that stitch in the ditch line—and this line that I have just quilted. You can see the blades of my foot are more or less centered up into the space. That helps visually center the line, too. I’m just going to stitch on down. If I veer off a little bit, no big deal. If it’s a little wiggly-wobbly, no big deal because more or less it’s going to be a nice straight line. That’s how I’m going to stitch all of the straight lines throughout this quilt: Marking just two of the lines over that printed fabric, stitching on those lines, and then stitching between them, so that I fill the entire space with beautiful straight-line quilting. Now that we’ve learned a little bit about walking-foot quilting, let’s change gears and try free-motion quilting some circles next. Now I’ve switched to free-motion quilting. I’m going to show you how I’m going to stitch around these circles. First I started by marking all of the circles that I wanted in this section. I use Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Marking Ruler. That was really really helpful for marking all of these shapes right in this area. Now I know I’ve marked this to have concentric circles where they don’t touch, but I am not going to quilt it that way. I’m going to stitch in the ditch right up and connect with the next circle and swing around, because breaking thread between each one would just take a lot more time. I really like the look of it with a line stitched through it. I don’t think it looks bad, and it’s so much faster to stitch. I’m swinging around. I’ve got these thread tails that are going to be in my way, so I’m going to get rid of them right this second: Stop in the ditch and then tie off my thread tails. You might not be able to see this really well because I’ve got white on white here, but you can definitely find my video for hiding thread tails at LeahDay.com I’ll link to it below this video. I just tie a knot, pop the thread tails into the tip of a cheater needle, and then pull it through. That’s nice and secure. I can clip off those thread tails and they’re not going anywhere. They’re nice and secure inside the quilt. Now that they’re out of my way I can really easily stitch around all of these circles. This is free-motion quilting so I don’t have to be rotating my quilt. Instead, I’m using my hands to guide and steer the quilt, staying on that line. It can be a little bit of a struggle. You might find that one direction in particular is kind of challenging to stitch that angle, but just practice. Just draw some circles on some fabric and practice it a few times and see what works best for you. It might be that this would be a cool idea to do some big-stitch hand-quilting instead. If you don’t want to free-motion quilt the circles you could always hand-quilt the circles in place instead. I would not use a walking foot for this design simply because using the walking foot it would be really time-consuming, a whole lot of rotation, and it would feel really challenging even though this is a small and simple quilt. It would feel pretty challenging to quilt these circles with a walking foot. This is looking good. I’m doing a motion that is kind of pulling with one hand and guiding with the other. It’s the best way to describe it. Right now my right hand is kind of pulling downward; my left hand’s kind of steering it around. Now I’m kind of pushing forward with the quilt, kind of pulling it towards myself. Now as I swing around it’s more of my left hand in control and pulling the quilt around. So it’s really using both hands and that is why circles can be so challenging to quilt smoothly. If you need to get a better grip on your quilt, definitely try some quilting gloves. That can really really help. Now I’m on the last one, the biggest circle, and this one’s going to be the most challenging, oddly enough, because it’s so big you might need to rotate the quilt around so it’s in a nice comfortable angle for you to stitch. I know that that angle really works well for me, so I’m going to rotate ever so slightly so I can keep the quilt at that angle for myself. Even if you don’t need to rotate it, just stay stitching on the marked line. That’s really kind of the key here, and if you stitch off the line don’t worry too much about it. Those lines will be erased. They’ll wash out and no one will know that you stitched off, so it’s not a big deal. I’m swinging back around, going to connect back up with my starting point, and there we go. That’s our circle stitched. You’re going to have just that little bit of a line right through the ditch where all of them connect together. I think that’s going to look great and it makes it so much faster and easier to stitch. So that’s it for the basketweave quilt pattern. If you’d like to make this fun and simple quilt, click right here to find the pattern at LeahDay.com Definitely subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on any new machine- quilting videos coming out every week. Until next time, let’s go quilt!