How to Quilt It – #2 – Elongated Curls and Tornados

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.



So another free motion quilting tutorial today.  This one is an all over design.  That means it’s the same design repeated over and over again all over the quilt.  There’s no switching it up depending on what shape you are in.

Let’s jump in!


Pattern Feature

  • Skill Level:  Beginner friendly
  • Available in PDF and Paper booklet
  • Video tutorials
  • Pattern is clickable with lots of helpful links included (including methods for basting, quilting and binding)
  • 3 scrappy quilt patterns included.


Get the Pattern


What we are quilting

Today, I’m quilting on just a scrap fabric sandwich today meant for practicing.  I’ve also quilted this design on my latest rescue quilt as well.  This is a fill design, you can fill any space or quilt with this design.  Quilts that come to mind that would be perfect for this one are the busier quilts.  Think, Trippy quilt or Tea Time, any quilt that is a bit much to think about doing specific designs on specific spots of the quilt.

Everything is random, so it doesn’t matter what direction you make your curls or tornados.  There is no specific amount of times to do each design, so just mosey your way around the quilt stitching whichever design in whichever direction you want.

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

  • Elongated Curl – This is just the sweeping curl you see in the pic above.  It starts as a wavy line and then curls inside, back out and the follows along the wavy line again.  It ends by echoing all the way around once.  You can also echo around multiple times if you need to travel to a different place of your quilt.
  • Tornado – The tornado is just a space filler.  It fits into the spaces between the elongated curls and the edges of the quilt.  It starts out with small half moon shapes, getting bigger the more you repeat it.


The Little Miss Sawtooth Star Quilt Paper Pattern

Get the Pattern


This picture shows the elongated curl repeated over and over again without the tornado included.


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’ve spray basted my block if you are wondering why there are not any pins.  Here’s the spray I use.




Things to think about

  •  Remember this is a fill.  Your “mistakes” won’t show at all.
  • 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.
  • Echo when you want to move to a different place of the quilt.  There’s no exact number for each line of either design.
  • If you are trapped and have to cut the thread, do it.  It’s perfectly acceptable not to have a continuous thread.
  • Have fun with this one!  It creates a very yummy texture when washed.




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