Quilting the Sampler Quilt Background

The Sampler Quilt I’ve been working on has a lot of background fabric between and around the various blocks. The fabric is quite dark and busy, so I knew that whatever design I used to quilt it would barely show up. It didn’t make sense to do anything too intricate or fancy. On the other hand, I wanted to fill the space up with some sort of dense free-motion quilting design so that the blocks would pop out of the background.

For inspiration I turned to the wonderful resource that Leah Day has provided on her blog of quilting designs “400 Hundred + Quilting Designs.” This is an amazing resource for quilters, and I’ve learned a lot just from browsing through her site.

The design I chose to use is what she calls Pipe Maze (number 249 in her database of designs). This design creates a jumble of squares and rectangles that work well with the slightly wonky woven print on my background fabric. It has the added bonus of being really easy to do. Here is my little sample/practice piece:


As you can see from the photo that follows, it’s very hard to see the actual stitching on the busy fabric in my quilt. What you can see are the little squares and rectangles that catch the light.


It’s a little more visible on the back, because most of the backing fabric is lighter. The backing fabric has a very similar wonky woven print, so it also works well with this quilting design.


I’ve just finished doing all of the background quilting. I’m very pleased with how it has turned out. This is the most free-motion quilting I’ve ever done, and I learned a lot in the process. I followed a couple of the suggestions that Leah Day has on her web site FAQ page, including leaving the feed dogs up with the stitch length set to 0.0, and slightly limiting the pressure from my free-motion foot by wrapping some elastic around the top of it (this is described in this post by Leah Day, although I didn’t bend back the bar at the top of the foot like she does because I want the foot to go up and down a little bit). That seemed to make it easier. I also cover the flat bed of the machine with a SewSlip teflon sheet so that the quilt moves easily.

All that’s left for me to do on this quilt is trim off the excess batting and backing fabric and sew on the binding. When that’s done, I will show you the whole quilt in all of it’s busy glory. Stay tuned!

Threads used for the free-motion background quilting are: Superior Threads Masterpiece in colour 168 on top, and Superior Threads Bottom Line in colour 617 in the bobbin. (This worked out okay, but if I was starting over I think I’d have used Masterpiece in the bobbin as well as the top thread, both for a more easily balanced stitch, and to have top and bottom threads made of the same material.)

Related posts:

Planning the Layout of a Sampler Quilt

The Sampler Quilt – All Together Now

Pieced Back for the Sampler Quilt

Quilting the Sampler Quilt Blocks – Part 1

Quilting the Sampler Quilt Blocks – Part 2


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