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How to Free Motion Quilt Stars and Swirls

How to Free Motion Quilt Stars and Swirls

Have you ever put off doing something because you’re don’t feel confident enough in your skills and you don’t want to take the chance of ruining the project you’re working on? That’s me sometimes when it comes to free motion quilting.

Even though I free motion quilted waves, figure eights and feathers on the quilt I made for our oldest daughter and leaves on the Forest Friends quilt, I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to fmqing and I get nervous when it comes time to quilt a new project.

I’m making a Dr. Who Tardis quilt for our son. In truth, it was his Christmas gift but by Christmas it was still only a quilt sandwich. Nevertheless, I wrapped it and put it under the tree for him.

I couldn’t have been happier with his reaction when he opened his gift. He loved it… despite the fact that it was only half finished.

After the new year, I worked away on the stitch-in-the-ditch part of my quilting plan. There was a lot of it!

By mid-February, I had the quilting on the Tardis done and was ready to quilt the borders. And that’s where I got stalled.

I knew I wanted to free motion quilt stars in the borders but his quilt was turning out so well, I was scared of ruining it.

Finally in March, with our son’s birthday approaching I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer. I dug through my fabric dresser, found an orphaned quilt block, layered it up with batting and backing and sat down at the machine to practice.

I started with the idea of quilting stars and loop de loops.

Practicing free motion quilting stars and loop de loops

Then at the very end, on a whim, I did that curlyq/swirl. I liked the look so much I dropped the idea of doing loop de loops completely.

After one more practice sandwich in which the style of the swirls changed a bit, I switched to the Tardis quilt.

Here’s what the stars and swirls look like quilted around the lantern at the top of the Tardis:

How to Free Motion Quilt Stars and swirls around Lantern on Tardis quilt

A close up:

How to Free Motion Quilt Stars and Swirls Close -up

One of the right side border:

Free Motion Quilt - stars and swirls on the side borders of the Tardis Quilt

Video Tutorial – How to Free Motion Quilt Stars and Swirls

I started out on the bottom left border and by the time I got around to that right side border pictured above, I was feeling confident enough to enlist Dave’s help in making a video to demonstrate how I created each star and swirl on my home machine so you can too.

As I mentioned at the end of the video, don’t wait until you’re an expert at free motion quilting to start making quilts for family and friends. It doesn’t have to be perfect. And you’ll get better and more confident with practice.

Feel free to remind me of this next time I’m stalled on a project due to fear or perfectionism. 🙂

If you quilt something using my stars and swirls tutorial, take a picture and tag me @supermomnocape on Instagram or @1SuperMomNoCape on Facebook. I’d love to come see!







Pin this video tutorial for future reference by clicking on the Pinterest button under this post.

And of course, I’d love it if you shared it on Facebook and Twitter as well. 🙂

Video Tutorial of how to free motion quilt stars and swirls

I would be so pleased if you chose to share by clicking on one of the buttons below!


  • Ashley
    April 9, 2017 11:02 am

    Thanks for linking up this great tutorial over at the #HomeMattersParty! I am a “quilter” — as in, I piece the quilts together and then send them off to be quilted… I’m too scared to free motion! I’ll have to give this a go, though!

  • Julie
    April 9, 2017 10:53 am

    I’m not surprised that your son was thrilled, even with a half finished quilt. This is amazing. love it.

  • MaryLou Wahl
    April 9, 2017 8:40 am

    Happy Sunday Morning Sue, Just finished watching your free motion tutorial and cannot thank you enough for such a great idea. Can’t wait to try the design-have done the free motion stars and also done swirls but never thought of the combo and just love it. I do machine quilting on quilts for the church quilt group I head up and this will look supper on some of the ones that the gals make with just strips of fabric or panels. You sure have my creative juices flowing-thanks so much and have a wonderful sunshiny Sunday.
    Blessings to you and your family on this Holy week ahead. MaryLou

  • Mary Anne
    April 8, 2017 5:07 pm

    You’re far braver than I am! FMQ intimidates the daylights out of me so it’s a good thing I don’t do projects that require it. I think you did a fine job and your son is going to be really happy with his quilt.

  • CathieJ
    April 8, 2017 4:47 pm

    Oh I love how you quilted this. I need to figure out how to drop the feed dogs on my machine so that I could practice free motion quilting. I am not sure if it is even possible, but I have hope. Thanks for the video.

  • Susan Nixon
    April 8, 2017 11:21 am

    Looks great to me! Thanks to Dave for filming that so nicely. I love that you are using that old Singer for your quilting!

  • Sandy
    April 8, 2017 8:48 am

    Very nice!! Thank you. What kind of sewing machine are you using?

    • Super Mom No Cape
      April 10, 2017 9:11 pm

      Thanks so much Sandy! I replied by email but I thought I’d reply here too in case someone else would like to know too.

      That’s my vintage Singer 15-91. She’s a wonderful old machine. I sew and quilt on her almost exclusively. The only time I use my more modern machine is when I need to zigzag something or use the fancy stitches.

  • Rachel
    April 8, 2017 6:22 am

    Well done! It’s turned out really well, hasn’t it!

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