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How to Free Motion Quilt a Goddess's Face (without it looking weird!)

We’re finally ready to begin free motion quilting! This is the process of adding beautiful texture to the quilt with different colors of thread and free motion filler designs. Learn how to quilt three designs over the goddess's hair and face in this new quilting tutorial:

Just in case you missed last week’s post, Click Here to learn how to finish the edges of the appliqués with a blanket stitch and zigzag stitch.

Free Motion Quilting Warm Up and Test

I know it’s tempting to watch a video like this and immediately jump on your sewing machine to begin quilting. I encourage you to first stitch a test square just to get your body warmed up and to check in on your stitch length of the day.

Eversewn Sparrow Sewing Machine

What does that mean? With free motion quilting, the stitch length is a balancing act between your hands moving the quilt and the speed the quilt is moving under the needle. This can fluctuate on a daily basis. Sometimes you’ll sit down and be quilting tiny stitches at a high speed and other days you’ll be plodding along with bigger stitches.

We aim for consistency with free motion quilting, but please understand this is a goal to work for that you’ll never really achieve. Don’t panic and don’t rip out your stitches. Just keep throwing more thread at it and if you make a bad stitch in the quilt – cover it up!

Quilting Designs for the Goddess Body

The trickiest quilting designs to pick in a goddess quilt are for the skin tone fabrics. Many designs can work over narrow spaces like her arms and neck, but will immediately go weird over her face. I tried quilting echoing lines three times over the goddess’s face and found it was just too challenging to quilt around her eyes and lips.

How to quilt a goddess quilt

Instead I switched to Microstippling, the super tiny version of Stippling to fill in the faces on the quilt and that turned out much better. Stippling creates a very flat, wiggly texture that can easily fit into tiny spaces like the gap between her eyebrow and eyelid, and it can also fit seamlessly even around weird shapes too. When quilting with matching thread, this almost completely fades into the background. I quilted over the cream colored fabric below with Isacord Vanilla thread.

It’s perfectly fine to use one design in her neck and another in her face. That adds a contrast in texture that helps to set those two spaces apart.

How to quilt Microstippling

Free Motion Quilting the Hair

I made a few odd choices in this goddess’s hair, but I have a very good excuse for that – it’s really HOT in the Crafty Cottage right now and kinda challenging to make decisions on the fly! I ended up using three different designs in her hair and quilting them three very different ways:

Echo Feathers – I quilted Echo Feathers off the bottom edge of the lightest hair fabrics. I wanted you to really be able to see what I was doing, so I kept my machine threaded with Isacord Blueberry thread, even though this wasn’t the same color I’d use to do the outline quilting.

The results are… Interesting!

how to quilt eternal love goddess quilt

There’s a piece of me that hates the lighter zigzag stitching peeking through the quilting, but there’s another piece of me that kinda likes it. I rarely do a dark thread-on-lighter-fabric combination because the light fabric seems to shine like a flashlight through mistakes.

The better contrast is lighter thread over darker fabric – that always looks good even if you make mistakes.

Echoes – I also used echo quilting to fill the hair too. This is a very simple choice to echo the pretty swirls and movement we have here and that worked great. There's nothing wrong with using the same design in a few different places on a quilt. In this case, I think it added a nice flow around the woman's neck and over her shirt.

how to quilt eternal love goddess quilt

Swirling Water – For this design I switched to Isacord Hint of Blue and stitched an outline all around the lock of hair. If you decided to let the edges of the appliqués fray, this is what you would do to minimize the amount of fraying on the edges.

how to quilt swirling water

Then I filled that outlined space with Swirling Water. I really like this extra gap – at least in this particular hair section – because it adds a bit of space between this lock of hair and the others and gives your eye a place to rest. How will it look if all of the hair pieces are outlined this way? Only way to know is to try it!

Quilt Along Homework

Your quilting homework this week is to quilt the goddess’s skin tone fabrics and all her hair. Next week we’re going to finish up this project by quilting her shirt, the baby, and the background!

Jump to the Next Post in the Eternal Love Quilt Along

Click Here to learn how to free motion quilt the rest of your quilt with three spiral designs.

Let’s go Quilt,

Leah Day


Great question Erin – I’d switch to a different type of needle. The Topstitch may be having issues piercing through the fusible web and fabric. I’d make a test with layers of fused fabric and keep testing different needles until you find one that works for you.

Leah Day,

I love this quilt and want to purchase. But I am having trouble FMQ on applique fused with lite steam a seam 2. Thread keeps breaking. This does not happen on the rest of the quilt, just on the applique. Using aurafil with 90/14 topstitch needle. Any suggestions? Thank you.


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