How to Quilt It – #1 – Scallop Bubbles, Fire Triangles, Swirl Flower and Drapes

Today’s post is part of a series called How to Quilt it.  All posts come with coordinating block patterns that you can find here.

All tutorials in this series are for domestic machines and meant to show you the ends and outs of different designs when free motion quilting.  This series assumes you are already know how to free motion quilt, but are just interested in learning about different designs.  If you are brand new to FMQ and need to learn the basics, consider tackling this quilting technique first.

To view all previous posts in this series, click here.



Yay!  I’m excited to be here today.  I like starting new things and this “thing” is a fun thing.  Before you groan that you don’t want to learn different free motion quilting designs because you are SO VERY comfortable with what you already know, let me say, BUT it’s so much fun!  Really, really.

And I can honestly say with but a few exceptions I have meander quilted all of my quilts for around ten years.  Whoa!  Now though, I want newness and fun and I want to step out of my box a bit.

I’m rambling, let’s hush me up and jump into the tutorial!



What we are quilting

Today we are quilting up the Juniper block.  Find the pattern here.  I’ve also got a little bundle for it here if you like and want to use the same fabrics as me.  If I’ve run out, I’ll put a new one up soon.

Today, I’m going to show you how to quilt:

  • Scallop Bubbles – This is how the background is quilted, with clam looking shapes that echo twice.  It doesn’t matter what direction they are going in or what size they are, so if you’ve got a little space, make a little scallop bubble.
  • Swirl Flower – There is only one of these and it’s located in the very center of the quilt and takes up all the space of the center square.  She’s not as hard as she might look and if she looks a bit wonky, that’s okay!
  • Fire Triangles – This is the design located in all the triangle shapes:  the star points and the small triangle located surround the center square.  This is a really easy design that makes some yummy texture.
  • Drapes – These little devils are easy for some and difficult for others (like me).  I can’t seem to make one match the other.  No matter though!  It all looks great in the end.  This design is located in all the square shapes.  I’ve also added some little lines through them to fill in the unit.


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A Few Thoughts

  •  You can do this.  You can do this.  You can do this.
  • I’m using Microquilter in silver for my top and bobbin thread.
  • You don’t need a fancy machine to free motion quilt, you just need one that has a feed dog that lowers (check your manual).
  • I am quilting on a Bernina 550QE domestic machine.
  • I will be turning my block into a pillow (more on this next week).
  • I’ve spray basted my block if you are wondering why there are not any pins.  Here’s the spray I use.
  • I’ve cut my backing and batting 4″ bigger than my quilt block.




Things to think about

  •  I don’t quilt in all the ditches, but do quilt the ditches that seem to have quilting far too spaced out and would create a “puff” if I didn’t.
  • I like to move starting in the right top corner, moving towards the bottom corner, then pivot and move across the bottom, pivot again and move from bottom left corner to top left corner, then move from top left to top right.
  • Your quilting may look a bit different even if you are using the same designs.  That’s what you you want, for it to look like YOU.
  • I like to stick with the area I’m quilting and not stray too far away.  If you do you could get trapped or forget a spot.
  • Use the ditches and your previous quilting as ways to travel to where you want to go.
  • Don’t expect perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  Mine certainly isn’t perfect, except for maybe perfectly wonky.  🙂
  • Give where you are moving to a little thought before moving.
  • If you are trapped and have to cut the thread, do it.  It’s perfectly acceptable not to have a continuous thread.
  • Don’t stress, this is meant to be fun!




I’ve been stressing about the video being so long.  I hope that doesn’t annoy you.  I wanted to be thorough and quick, an impossible feat.   My plans are to post about this series here and there.  If you would like to contribute a quilting design, I’m all ears.  Just pop me an email.

Look for that pillow post tomorrow or next week.


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  1. Good morning Melanie! I just love watching your videos and especially how you embrace quirky and a little wonky vs. perfection. After years of trying to quilt and piece perfectly, you have changed my mindset and I actually am enjoying quilting more than I did before. The goal is to improve and keep getting better, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, and maybe shouldn’t be so it can retain a handmade look. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Thank you for such an enlightening video. I’m a beginner at FMQ, and I learned so much watching this – especially traveling and dealing with “puffs”.. The designs are great, and I’ll be using them in my future projects. I hope to get my current quilt basted and begin the quilting today. I think I’m going to try the scallop bubbles for my outside border. You did a great job on this video. I could see clearly how you were stitching and traveling. A huge help to me. Thanks again.

  3. This looks so fun to try!! I have not attempted FMQ in a few years but your videos are giving me confidence to try again!

  4. I really enjoyed watching your video and picked up some useful tips! I have 3 tops ahead of me to quilt and will be using 2 of these designs in them – the triangle and the background filler, after a lot of practice. Thanks so much for posting and sharing and I’m looking forward to more !

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