More Fabulous Fabric Doodles

Regina Dunn shares two more techniques for creating zendoodle quilts with a twist.


Note: This is a comprehensive list for all of the methods covered in Regina’s article.

White cotton fabric

Small-scale printed black-and-white fabrics in a variety that read dark, medium, and light in value

Fusible web cut to the size of your desired piece

Stiff fusible interfacing a little larger than the desired size of your design



Threads of various weights and colors

Various yarns and fibers

Spray bottle with water

Jacquard® Textile Color and Jacquard Neopaque® paints

Sponge, watercolor, and stiff paintbrushes


Backing fabric

Sewing machine with free-motion capabilities

Thread-painted zendoodles

This is a great way to practice your thread-painting techniques on a small quilt.

Note: For this method you will be sewing on the back side of the fabric; the bobbin thread will show on the front of your work. Load a thick dark thread in the bobbin to make your design really pop.


1.      Draw a design that interests you. I sketched a tree because I could divide the leaves and vines into many areas that could be filled with zendoodles. A completely abstract design works, too.

2.      Trace the mirror image of your design onto fusible interfacing, and iron it to the wrong side of your fabric.

3.      Set up your machine for free-motion stitching, load the bobbin with heavy thread, and test your tension on a scrap of fabric before sewing your doodle.

4.      Free-motion stitch following all of the outlines of your design. Then go back (still on the interfacing side) and fill in the doodles with heavy stitching. Vary your designs by drawing lines, shapes, and patterns of your choice.

5.      Flip the fabric over and thread paint parts of the doodles with white thread in the top and in the bobbin to add highlights. You can also add more thread painting in a medium value for shading, creating a three-dimensional effect.

Tip: For detailed instructions on thread painting, refer to Susan Brubaker Knapp’s series of articles in Quilting Arts Magazine (February/March 2010-December 2010/January 2011).

6.      Make a quilt sandwich and free-motion quilt along the outlines of the doodles and along the edges of the shapes.

7.      Trim and bind your quilt as desired.

Whole-cloth painted zendoodle

This method is great for larger designs that benefit from lots of color. Experiment with several different types of paint using this technique.


1.      Using the marker, draw your design onto tracing paper and then pin the paper to the white fabric. Lightly trace the design onto the fabric with a pencil, using a light box or a window.

2.      Set up your machine for free-motion quilting, with black thread in both the top and bobbin positions.

3.      Make a quilt sandwich by layering your marked top over the batting and backing pieces. Outline the drawn design by quilting along the outlined shapes. Do not fill in the doodles with thread.

4.      Lightly spray the top of the quilt with water. Using a sponge brush, paint the background with the Textile Color paints; let the paints bleed into each other for a mottled effect. (I used two colors.)

5.      Allow the paint to dry and heat set if necessary.

6.      Fill in the doodles and other details on the dry fabric with paint. Dry painting will cover up any bleeding into the doodles that may have happened in the last step. Allow the paint to dry and heat set if necessary.

7.      Trim and bind your quilt as desired.

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Free-Motion Quilting, Free-quilting-resources, Machine Quilting
Kristine Lundblad

About Kristine Lundblad

Kristine is Associate Editor of Quilting Arts Magazine, Modern Patchwork, QuiltCon magazine, International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene, Modern Patchwork Holiday and Quilting Arts TV.