Free-Motion Quilting Tutorial: Dots and Dashes by Lori Kennedy

In my experience most quilters’ stitching falls into one of two general categories. First are the ones who can quilt motifs in even, well-spaced, patterns. These stitchers are usually very good at teaching how to machine quilt.

In the other camp, there are quilters who prefer to free-motion stitch fanciful motifs and drawings. Maybe it’s because they stitch in a more improvisational way, but its sometimes harder for them to explain their process because it’s unique to them: they just do it.

A handful of quilters I know can produce both classic and whimsical motifs and teach the techniques to others: Candy Glendening, Susan Brubaker Knapp, and Lori Kennedy come immediately to mind.

Lori is known for her innovative motifs, whimsical free-motion stitched images, and easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorials on her blog, The Inbox Jaunt. Her approach is to break down the process of creating the motif or picture, urge you to practice on paper and fabric a lot to develop muscle memory, and to teach with a healthy dose of humor.

lori kennedy free-motion stitching table runner
Table runner by Lori Kennedy, featuring the Dots
and Dashes quilting motif as a filler stitch.

Here’s an example of a tutorial for a modern-looking quilting motif, adapted from her blog. The Dots and Dashes tutorial teaches basic skills with circles that you can parlay into more complicated motifs as your practice and grow as a quilter. By offsetting the Dots and Dashes, you can create a very modern background for any quilt.

Dots and Dashes Free-Motion Quilting Tutorial by Lori Kennedy

1. To begin learning circles, draw two lines 1/2″ or 3/4″ apart, to begin. This size is neither too large nor too small. Begin stitching in the middle, between the two lines. Stitch clockwise to create the first circle.

lori kennedy free motion quilting step 1
Step 1. Go Slowly and begin to stitch
the circle quilt motif.

2. Continue stitching clockwise directly on the previous line of stitching. You will stitch 1-1/2 circles. NOTE: The image below shows 1-1/2 circles with the second row of stitching offset a bit. This is for demonstration only. You should stitch ON the previous stitching. Continue stitching clockwise over the previous line of stitching.

lori kennedy dot quilt motif step 2
Step 2. Machine stitch a counter-clockwise circle.

3. When you reach the middle point (half-way between the top and bottom lines), stitch a straight line: The Dash. For the next circle, stitch counter clockwise. Continue on this way to the end of the line stitching a clockwise circle, a dash, a counter-clockwise circle, and so on. This looks fabulous, but more importantly: it develops muscle memory for future motifs!

Step 3. Free-motion stitch the dash, then start the
dot on the other end of the quilt motif.

Lori will be teaching a web seminar, Meander No More: Learn to Free Motion Quilt With Confidence, March 18, 2015, 1 p.m. ET. In one hour, Lori will inspire you with dozens of colorful quilts as she walks you through the Four Skills of Free Motion Quilting. She will offer fun doodle and stitching exercises for every skill level; and she will help you choose the right supplies and tools so you can learn to free motion quilt with confidence and finish your own quilts!

Learn more and register now. Everyone who pre-registers will receive admittance to the live webinar and a link to the recording, so you can register now and watch whenever it’s convenient for you, as many times as you like.

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Easy Quilting, Free-Motion Quilting, Machine Stitching, Quilting Daily Blog, Tools, Supplies & Resources

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