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How to free motion spirals on your quilt: 3 dynamic designs

by Robin Bogaert

My hope is that anyone interested in learning to free motion quilt has been following along this week. Yesterday I discussed tips for successful free motion quilting and 3 simple quilting designs. Today, I’m sharing how to do some spiral designs including continuous spirals, spiral flowers, and ocean waves. I’m also working with some luscious Gütermann Metallic Thread and continuing with the UNIQUE Quilting Therm Fleece and very pretty Fabric Creations cotton fabric.

Spirals are a fun whimsical, somewhat modern design that adds some lovely texture to quilts. Let’s get started with how to draw them on paper, and then apply the drawing to a quilt sandwich.

 3 pieces of white paper each with a different spiral design drawn on them.

Spiral designs to practice on paper before stitching out on practice quilt sandwiches

Design 1 Continuous spirals

The continuous spiral is a basic design that you’ll quickly get the hang of with a bit of practice and is great for beginners. The following images show you how to get started.

A continuous spiral design drawn on white paper.

Continuous spiral design drawn on paper

As you can see from the drawing above, start with a basic spiral by drawing a tail that rounds into the center point counter clockwise, and then echo that center point clockwise to come out of the center and move on to another tail that rounds into another spiral (spiral 2) and continue.

Complete the entire page to train the brain for quilting on an actual practice sample (recommended). See my page below and spiral drawing number by number.

Completed page of spiral designs number by number to show how a continuous spiral is drawn out on white paper.

Completed page of spiral designs number by number to show how a continuous spiral is drawn out

A spool of Gütermann Metallic Thread lies on top of a quilt sample with a continuous spiral design.

Completed continuous spiral practice sample with Gütermann Metallic Thread

A close-up of a spool of Gütermann Metallic Thread on a quilted background.

Close-up of the gorgeous shiny Gütermann Metallic Thread making spiral designs look so pretty

Note: The size of the spirals doesn’t have to be consistent; this is a personal choice as the sewist is the artist.

Design 2 Spiral flowers

Spirals can morph into flower designs and are a very natural way to get floral designs started. In the case of a rose or cabbage rose, flowers appear to have a spiral center so it’s only natural to use a spiral to make a flower. See progression of photos below.

A piece of white paper with the start of a simple center spiral design drawn on it to make the beginning of a flower.

Start with a simple center spiral design to make the beginning of a flower

A hand draws spirals on a piece of white paper to create a flower design.

Wrap the spiral into the side of it to get ready to draw petals attached to the spiral

Using spirals, a flower is drawn on white paper.

The flower completed with petals added continuously to the outside of the spiral design

Drawings on white paper of samples of the basic flower design, continuous flowers, and cabbage rose design made by continuously building on the petals.

Samples of the basic flower design, continuous flowers, and cabbage rose design made by continuously building on the petals

The cabbage rose design is a great design also to fill in a single area; for example, if you have a solid fabric that needs a design.

Cabbage rose free motion quilting design on black fabric; Gütermann Variegated Thread

Single cabbage rose design done on solid fabric is a great filler design all started with a spiral

A spool of pink Gütermann Cotton Thread and UNIQUE Sewing Wash-out Marker laid on top of a quilted sample with a floral design on white fabric.

Pretty in pink spiral flower designs with Gütermann Cotton Thread and UNIQUE Sewing Wash-out Marker used to mark quadrants

Design 3 Ocean waves

Ocean waves are a great design to show movement, I often use it with landscape quilts to show water and waves and is a dynamic design. It’s relatively easy to draw as it is based on a cursive handwriting ‘C’. See photo below.

Ocean waves drawn like a continuous cursive ‘C’ from left to right on white paper.

Ocean waves drawn like a continuous cursive ‘C’ from left to right

3 free motion spiral practice samples turned into potholders; Fabric Creations Fabric

Spiral designs on free motion practice samples and made into potholders

To execute ocean waves on the practice quilt, draw a tail from the left, take the lign up to the right into a cursive ‘C’, curl towards the center and back down and around into another wave or cursive ‘C’. You’ll need to do this by starting and stopping your line. It’s also a great border design.

This concludes today’s designs. Join me tomorrow when I discuss leaves, feathers and plume quilting designs which also work great as both a filler and border. Again, I’ll be transforming my practice samples into seasonal potholders with Fabric Creations and Fabric Palette cotton fabric.

This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: 22+ essential TIPS for free motion quilting success [beginners]

Go to part 4: Boost your free motion quilting skills with these 3 nature-inspired designs

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