PFAFF quilt expression 720 makes tapered stitches out of built-in stitches

Creating a tote bag is just the first step this week. In yesterday’s post, I explained three of the several presser feet for the PFAFF quilt expression 720. These are the feet used with the machine’s built-in decorative stitches. As you’ll see, I added some stitches as I assembled the tote bag panels instead of waiting until the end. I also did several stitch samples to make some hard choices as to which ones to include on the tote bag. But first, let’s cut fabric!

Quilted tote bag with PFAFF quilt expression 720

Cut the fabrics in the following order for the front panel – you’ll have leftover to use for the back panel


  • two – 3 x 15½ strips
  • two – 3 x 9½ strips
  • two – 4 squares for half square triangles
  • one – 3½ square
  • two – 3 squares for half square triangles

Background Print

  • cut one 4 x 18 strip – subcut into
  • two – 4 squares for half square triangles and 2 – 3½ squares
  • cut one 3½ x 18 strip – subcut 2 – 3½ squares for a total of four – 3½ squares
  • and cut from remaining strip, two – 3″ squares for half square triangles


  • two – 3¼″ squares for no-waste flying geese
  • four -2½″ x 12½″ strips
  • one – 2″ x 20″strip – subcut four – 2″ squares then trim remaining strip to 1½″ wide and cut four 1½″ x 2½″ rectangles
  • one – 1½″ x 20″ strip – subcut into ten – 1½″ squares
  • one – 1½″ x 14″ strip
  • two – 1½″ x 13½″ strips

bag handles

  • two 3″ x 20″ strips

Light Purple print for small shoo-fly blocks

  • one – 2″ x 20″ strip – subcut four – 2″ squares then trim remaining strip to 1⅞″ wide – subcut into six 1⅞″  squares
  • cut one – 2″ x 20″ strip; subcut two more 1⅞″ squares then trim strip to 1½″ x 14″ strip

Gray and background print pieces for front bag panel.

Make large shoo-fly block

Using the two gray and two background print 4 squares, make four half square triangles.

  1. Draw 1 diagonal line on the back of gray fabric square.
  2. Sew gray square to background fabric square, right sides together, by sewing ¼ away from each side of the drawn line.
  3. Cut on the drawn line to create 2 HSTs. Press the seam to the gray fabric.
  4. Trim each HST to 3½″ square.
Sew the shoo-fly block into rows:
  1. For the top row, sew one background print 3½″ square between two HSTs taking note of direction of angles in the photo below. Press the seams to the HSTs.
  2. The middle row is sewn with the gray 3½″ square between two background print 3½″ squares. Press the seams to the background squares.
  3. The bottom row is the same as the top row with the HSTs mirroring the ones in the top row vertically. Check the photo and press the seams to the HSTs again.
  4. Sew the rows together – top, middle, bottom – to make the block. Press the seams away from the middle row.

The shoo-fly block should measure 9½″ square.

Large shoo-fly block

Add tapered stitches

I intentionally used a solid fabric for the shoo-fly block because I wanted to add some stitches to it. But which ones? There’s such a variety that having a theme in mind made it easier. I wanted to include the butterflies but thought it was too small a stitch to put in the long borders. Then I decided to try out the Tapering Program with the butterflies.

The Tapering Program lets you increase or decrease the width of a stitch at either the beginning or end – or both ends – of a stitch. You can make symmetrical or asymmetrical tapers.

For my butterfly stitch, I wanted them to taper symmetrically at both the end and the beginning; to do that I need to select both before I start stitching.

Tapered butterfly stitch

To change the angle of the taper, you long touch the button and a menu full of options fills the Color Touch Screen. The screen will also show you how the stitch will look with your chosen angle. Then you touch ‘OK’ to close the menu and enable stitching.

Taper stitch long touch menu

Before stitching out on the fabric, cut and place stabilizer underneath the area to be stitched. Now you can start stitching by pressing the Start/Stop button – remember to decrease the speed of the machine too. When the stitch is almost to the end of the area you want stitched, press the reverse button. Then the Tapering program will stitch out the end taper and stop. You can press the Thread Snips button to have both needle and bobbin thread cut.

Tapered butterfly stitches

There are several more steps before the front panel is complete. I’m sure you’ll agree that quilt blocks are a perfect surface for stitches! Come back tomorrow to complete the front panel for the quilted tote bag using even more stitches from the PFAFF quilt expression 720 to embellish it.

This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 1: Starting a quilted project on the right (presser) foot!

Go to part 3: The PFAFF quilt expression 720 and its spectacular built-in stitches

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