Herringbone WIP – Simple Stipples and FMQ Tips

Today I’ll share with you how I’m quilting my Herringbone quilt. Just call me the stipple queen. 🙂 I did all piecing and quilting on my Bernina 710 without a stitch regulator.

stipplingHerringbone by Christa Watson; free quilt pattern designed for Camelot Fabrics

I spent the first 10 years of my quilting career stippling everything I could get my hands and needle on! Then I took a break due to stipple burnout and starting spending way too much time quilting more labor intensive custom designs on my quilts. However, for Herringbone, I returned to my favorite go-to allover motif: stippling!

Since I wanted the quilting to enhance the graphic nature of the design rather than steal the show, I chose to go with a thin, 50 weight Aurifil thread in both top and bobbin. I tried out several colors to see which would blend in the most with both the yellow and grey fabrics.

aurifil_thread_choicesTip: audition thread colors before you begin quilting. The grey blends best!

I ended up going with Aurifil #2600-Dove which I think is just the perfect shade of light grey! It surprised me how well it seemed to disappear into the yellow fabric – providing scrumptious texture, rather than a heavy, “thready” appearance.

For this quilt, I practiced on a few scraps first (like I always do) and tested my machine’s tension. Here’s a quick tip: if your machine has really nice tension when you are sewing regular seams, it shouldn’t need to be adjusted too much for free-motion quilting.

herrinbone_quilting_glovesI usually quilt with flat hands forming a hoop – gotta love those Machingers!

Don’t be afraid to experiment a little until you get a pretty stitch! For some reason, the day I quilted it, I was able to achieve more consistent stitches with the feed dogs engaged, but covered with a Supreme Slider. I didn’t fret about why, I just went for it. I’m very pleased with the consistency of my stitching on this quilt and I think slowing down just a little helped, too.

I made a label ahead of time and ironed it to the backing fabric with fusible web before I quilted it. Because I am using a thin blending thread, the quilting stitches will hold the label in place nicely without too much distortion of the writing.


I chose to use a coordinating chevron print from the line for the backing – “sew” fun!

I also tried Soy batting for the first time with this quilt and I really like it. It stuck really well to the quilt while spray basting, and I like the drape and heft of it. I reminds me most of quilting with a nice cotton batting (like Warm ‘N Natural) but with a little more loft to it. Now I need to see how it washes up!

bamboo_battingSoy Blend batting given to me by my friend Cory. It was fun to try!

I timed myself like I usually do, and it took less than 4 hours to completely stipple this baby. After spending over 40 hours intricately quilting my last quilt, that was like a speed record for me! (Hmm – I need to seriously quilt more quick and fun allover motifs for the next few quilts….)

Now I’ll go get the binding put on and share the final reveal next time!

Roundup of Machine Quilting Blog Posts I’ve Written:

I’d like to leave you with links to several blog posts I’ve written about machine quilting, both here on my blog and for Craftsy. Some of my tools and techniques have changed slightly and a few things may be repeated, but I’ve covered a lot of basics:


27 thoughts on “Herringbone WIP – Simple Stipples and FMQ Tips

  1. Linda H. says:

    Your quilting is so nice! I don’t use gloves anymore. Since discovering Neutrogena hand cream (recommended by Diane Gaudynski) that’s what I use when I’m FMQing. I like that I’m able to actually feel the fabric under my hands, and that it keeps my skin soft.

  2. Carole Hill says:

    If it wasn’t for you doing a demo at one of the Queens meetings, I may not have tried to quilt my own quilts, so it is with lots of interest that I will be checking out all of your videos. Thanks so much for making them available to us!

  3. Kathi Riemer says:

    Your stipple is so uniform…. a contradiction, but it is so nice! I also like the way you put your label on the back. Your quilt is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Lorna McMahon says:

    What a delightful post! Stippling is the one fmq motif I have never tried. But I do like quick and fun allover motifs! Great tips on auditioning thread and keeping the feed dogs engaged.

  5. Michele says:

    Thanks for sharing. I need to strat learning the “stipple” technique. I am tired of doing straight lines or in the ditch. Will have to start with “charity baby” quilts.

  6. Ellie says:

    Please expand more on how the supreme slider works. I looked it up on amazon but the details weren’t helpful. Love your posts.

    • Christa says:

      It’s a very slick surface which temporarily adheres to the bed of your machine. The slick surface makes it much easier to slide your quilt around. They are expensive, but so worth the price! They come in 2 sizes but the smaller one works just fine!

  7. sdaurio says:

    great quilt! Love the stippling. Stippling is hard for me, I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. I need more practice!

    • Ellie says:

      I practice doodling on paper with a pen or pencil just making circles or loops it helps to build some muscle memory. Think of dog paws, jigsaw puzzles, mountain tops, flower petals and just let your mind and your hands go while you are drawing. Try sewing your name to start with on a piece of scrap fabric. It also helps to practice on real fabric I use sandwiched scraps. After you get the feel for it it stays with you and the next time you try it you’ll be surprised how easy it comes to you.

  8. Rebecca Toman says:

    Beautiful quilt. On my to do list. May I ask you what type of sewing machine you are using for your machine quilting. It looks like it has a large throat area to work with larger quilts. I am in the market for a new machine with a larger throat area and tring to get as many opinions as I can before I make the big money purchase. Thanks. Love your blog.

      • Ellie says:

        I was going to ask the same question I’m also looking for a larger throat area and was considering a sweet sixteen dedicated machine but you seem to have just as much fun and ease on your Bernina 710. I have a Bernina Aurora 440 machine that I just love but could use more space for bigger quilts. Plus then I can also sew and piece on a Bernina something I couldn’t do on a sweet sixteen.

      • Christa says:

        I love the extra space! I have also quilted on a Sweet 16 and they are very nice. But then you would need to have space for 2 machines. I’m a Bernina girl through and through!

  9. Anne says:

    I only do I love those machingas but I love that quilt too. Not sure I’ve seen that masterpiece of yours before. The yellow and gray combo is very pretty. Then again yellow is my favorite color, but it does look particularly “happy” with the gray. Great job. Can’t wait to see the quilting!!

    • Christa says:

      I used to pin baste all my quilts, but the last few quilts I’ve made I tried the spray basting and I really like it! It adheres the entire surface together and I’m getting better quilting results with it!

  10. freedomgarden says:

    that is so awesome! I just finished stippling my first free motion quilt and it is awesome to see yours. I will for sure check out your tutorials for some tips, thanks!!

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