Do you free-motion doodle? Try this machine-quilting mashup

If you’re like a lot of quilters (like we are), you’ve likely tried free-motion quilting. You’ve traced, you’ve doodled on paper, and you’ve mastered a few tried-and-true motifs on your machine, which you use all the time. You’re good at them, so you stick to them, right?

But maybe those motifs are getting a little repetitive, and you’re looking for something new to try.

Well, we have your solution. And you don’t need to learn any new free-motion motifs (unless you want to, of course!)—you can use the motifs you already know.

It’s a little trick we learned from three-time Martingale author Christa Watson:

In her latest book, Piece and Quilt with Precuts, Christa offers 11 quilt patterns, 18 walking-foot and free-motion quilting designs, and the inspiration to not only mix and match your quilts with her quilting designs, but also to mix up different free-motion quilting designs on a single quilt. “Quilt as desired?” Yes, please!

From Piece and Quilt with Precuts
A close-up of Christa’s mash-it-up method

We had the opportunity to hang out with Christa at Quilt Market, and she was kind enough to show us how she mashes up her motifs into something she calls free-motion improv. We’ll let Christa explain in this video:

 Reading this post in email? Click here to view the video.

Your free-motion motifs + Christa’s marvelous mash-up method = lots of fun doodle quilting ahead!

Piece and Quilt with PrecutsNot ready to mash it up just yet? No worries—in Piece and Quilt with Precuts, Christa walks you step-by-step through exactly how to quilt each quilt in the book. So you can quilt by the book, or quilt off the page! Christa will meet you wherever you’re at on your machine-quilting adventure.

Speaking of adventures, where are you on your machine-quilting adventure?

  • Um…still packing.
  • I’m packed and I’ve started my journey—bon voyage!
  • I’ve been on this adventure for years!

Tell us in the comments!

58 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Still packing, just learning things outside of straight line quilting. It’s an adventure that’s for sure!

    —Sandy Allen on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve been on this adventure for years! I have come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

    —VA on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve dabbled in doodling, but need to get back to it. Practice is so important. This book looks like a fun and creative approach.

    —Deb Smith on March 7, 2018
  • I try! On my journey but my style seems to be quite primitive.

    —Charlotte on March 7, 2018
  • I’m packed and have started my voyage… and thinking I’m ready to move on to newboat (sewing machine) that has more bells and whistles!

    —Betsy on March 7, 2018
  • I am still packing and may need a bigger suitcase! I have the books, the equipment (walking foot and free motion foot), but I can’t get up the courage to try to actually DO a lot of free motion quilting. I have done a litte, but the perfectionist in me doesn’t want to take that next big step and actually try a bigger piece with more than just "a meander"!

    —Patty on March 7, 2018
  • Have not even looked at a suitcase, still hand quilt.

    —Debbie Clayton on March 7, 2018
  • Um…still packing. I stick to straight line and wavy or cross hatching. I also do some meandering but I’d love to dive in and learn some new techniques!

    —Annette J on March 7, 2018
  • Wow, I love the look. Wish I could learn to do some of that.

    —kathy on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve been on this adventure for years! I am a true believer that the quilting makes the quilt – for good or for bad. I also like being able to say that "I did it myself!"

    —The Lisa Marie on March 7, 2018
  • I’m still packing, for sure. I usually stick to just one design for fear of having to in-pick my mistakes!

    —Kathy E. on March 7, 2018
  • I have packed my bags and I am the all-american adventure!

    Sandy on March 7, 2018
  • Not quite to the packing stage yet, I am just thinking about packing.

    —Kathy on March 7, 2018
  • I have started my journey, but definitely prefer a Longarm – especially for large quilts.

    —Chris on March 7, 2018
  • I keep packing and re-packing. I have been on short trips, working on my confidence to take a long meaningful one.

    —cj on March 7, 2018
  • I’m travelling but need lots more practice and ideas!

    —Carol on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve tried machine quilting and it always looks terrible. I send my quilts to the best long arm quilter in Michigan.

    —Barb W on March 7, 2018
  • I am packed and on my journey but I have a lot more packing to do! I have tried a little bit of free motion in a little bit of walking foot quilting but I don’t get enough time to practice. Because if I could at least do 10 minutes a day… I know I could do better. I love all these posts by Martingale‘s. I learned something off of everyone and I love looking at other people’s comments to so I don’t feel so alone!

    So glad our blog is helpful to you, Marion – and you are right, those 10 minutes a day make all the difference! –Jenny

    —Marion Lisko on March 7, 2018
  • Packed, but not ready to unpack yet. (Nervous!)

    —gail on March 7, 2018
  • Umm, need to get off the fence. As I am a perfectionist, I get in my own way sometimes

    —Donna Merrifield on March 7, 2018
  • I have been on the quilting adventure for many years, and hope for many more years. I learn with every quilt no matter how many I make or view on this magical trip. I love the entire creative process from design and fabric selection to the final quilting and finishing stitches, and everything in between. The quilting truly makes the quilt. I learned early to listen to the quilt throughout the process so I can tell the quilt’s story in thread, whether free-motion machine quilting, built-in decorative stitches, hand-embroidery, or some combination.

    —Jane on March 7, 2018
  • • I’m packed and I’ve started my journey—bon voyage! Recently took a 2 day workshop that was packed. Hardest part is finding time to practice new things. I love small quilts to help me practice.

    I love your books

    —Lisa Huckins on March 7, 2018
  • I do free motion quilt, but as you said I always do the same pattern because that is what I have perfected and is easy. I want to branch out badly. Part of the issue is I was taught "pedal to the floor" and it is hard to not continue to do that. I’m still trying! Maybe this book would help me. 🙂

    —Kimberly P on March 7, 2018
  • That is a skill I want to acquire. I hand quilt now and that is relaxing, but sometimes you just want to machine one. I was practicing and my 10 year old grandson tried it. He was way better than me so I think he was less tense. Kids learn at a much faster rate than us old folks. I guess I’m somewhere between still packing and started on my journey. Wish me luck. I like the quilts in the book.

    —Kay Menefee on March 7, 2018
  • Still packing. I’ve done a workshop on quilting with my domestic machine, but haven’t tried it on a real quilt yet. One of these days I will go beyond straight line quilting!

    —Carol Johnson on March 7, 2018
  • I’m still packing — afraid to start.

    —stitchinmom on March 7, 2018
  • I’m mid journey, and what a trip it’s been!

    —Katie Peterson on March 7, 2018
  • Very, very basic beginner

    —MS Barb on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve been on this adventure for years. Christa has helped me with her videos on Craftsy and I love watching and learning from her.

    —Kathy O on March 7, 2018
  • Packed and started the journey! Love the idea of mixing all the motifs wich I’m trying to get to look smooth & flowing! Pratice, pratice, pratice!

    —Tammi Williams on March 7, 2018
  • Packed and ready to go. Have tried a few small projects, but ready for some serious free motion quilting adventures!

    —Diane on March 7, 2018
  • How about washing before packing?

    —Beth on March 7, 2018
  • Still unpacking i’m afraid

    Deb on March 7, 2018
  • I packed up all my stencils and gave them away yesterday. I like free motion quilting and appreciate Christa showing us some easy to do designs. It’s so much easier to quilt designs that you have in your own head instead of following someone else’s stenciled line. At least it is for me. Thank you!

    —JoAnne T. on March 7, 2018
  • Um, still packing and dithering. So scared to try FM on a real quilt after looking at my practice pieces. For now I’m sticking to wavy lines, serpentine stitches, and lots of straight line grid work.

    —Sandy May on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve been doing stippling and meandering for years. It is time to break out of the mold. Tried something new this week and wasn’t thrilled with it, but it was acceptable. Will try again as soon as I get a small top together.

    —Linda Ahn on March 7, 2018
  • Packed and on the journey, long way to go however!

    —Donna on March 7, 2018
  • I’ve started on small journeys but would like to take a longer trip.

    —Marlene on March 7, 2018
  • Ben on this adventure for years. Depends on how my arms feel and shoulders if I quilt or tie my quilts….

    —Anna brown on March 7, 2018
  • • Um…still packing.for the last 2 years

    —marlene Auret on March 7, 2018
  • Still packing or maybe even still thinking about what to pack..

    A. Bouwman on March 7, 2018
  • I am packed and on my way! This is my year to learn to free motion quilt!

    —Bev Gunn on March 8, 2018
    Definitely still packing. Have taken a class, watched videos, tried some on my own. FMQ on my domestic machine feels like writing with the paper instead of the pencil. Does not compute from mind to hands-totally backward for me. And, can’t seem to get the machine speed in sync with moving the fabric speed. Just bought 3 more yards of fabric to make practice sandwiches. Wish me luck, please!

    —luvmylogcabins on March 8, 2018
  • I took a stipling class a few years ago. Then got up the courage to travel further and started expanding. It isn’t always perfect but it is a lot of fun.

    —Vivian Bernsen on March 9, 2018
  • Dipping my toe into the water.

    —Cheri B on March 9, 2018
  • I do this all the time, especially talking on the phone, I didn’t know there was a name for it,now I do! It sure helps when I’m free motion quilting. Thanks..

    —Linda isfeld on March 9, 2018
  • I’m packed and ready to start! This looks like a great book thanks!

    —Tina on March 9, 2018
  • I started my journey about 4-5 years ago and I am obsessed with quilting. I have made over 50 quilts that I can remember and I can’t wait to start another one.

    —Gladys Bacon-Rust on March 9, 2018
  • I’m packed and determined to make some headway on this journey. Just entered a quilt in a show that I totally freemotiom quilted. Not a winner, but I consider it at least backing out of the driveway. I plan to do much more this year.

    —Marcia on March 9, 2018
  • I’ve been stuck and challenged and feel this new book will jog me off onto new pathways.

    Wren on March 9, 2018
  • I’ve been on the free motion journey for years and I always think I’m going to try something new but tend to fall back on old favorites because I can’t decide what new designs to try.

    —Deb B on March 9, 2018
  • I have started my journey, even though I am anxious about rough seas ahead. Still have a lot to learn. Bon voyage!

    —Linda Towers on March 9, 2018
  • Been on this adventure for years and years…:-}

    —Shirley Marvin on March 9, 2018
  • I’m still packing. I’ve got the supplies, but not the courage.

    —Sue on March 10, 2018
  • I’ve been on this adventure and still trying to improve.

    —Lillian K on March 10, 2018
  • I have been on the journey awhile, but always looking for new ideas.

    —Lynn on March 11, 2018
  • I am on the journey, but always looking for new inspiration. Getting started is the hardest part.

    —Peggy Hallstrom on March 12, 2018
  • Organized? Not so much—I just go digging!

    —Cristina M T Scarfon on March 26, 2018

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