Learn How to Free Motion Quilt Stippling

Stippling is one of the most popular free motion quilting designs, and typically the first design any beginner learns to machine quilt. Stippling is also referred to as Meandering because the lines randomly meander over your quilt without a set pattern or specific design.

Learn how to machine quilt Stippling in this very old video created in 2008:

I still use the Machingers quilting gloves to help my hands grip the quilt and give me lots of control over the quilting design. It's really essential to have something on your hands that helps grip the quilt top, otherwise the fabric tends to slip under your fingers.

The Rules of Stippling

All free motion filler designs have basic rules that govern how they are stitched. These rules are as simple and easy to memorize as the rules behind cursive writing. Once you memorize the rules of a design and practice quilting it, you will be able to quilt it anywhere.

The rule behind Stippling is very simple:

Stitch a wiggling, meandering line that doesn't cross itself.

free motion quilt stippling | machine quilting

It's important to note that this is a specific rule only to Stippling. It has confused many beginning quilters into thinking that we are not supposed to ever cross our lines of quilting. Please understand that it's perfectly fine to cross your quilting lines, and there are many designs we use in quilting that involve crossing and travel stitching to form the design.

A great way to practice Stippling is by drawing it on paper because the same metal muscles that you use to draw the design will be used to quilt it.

drawing stippling worksheet | free motion quilting

This quilting worksheet can be found in the Free Motion Basics for Beginners workshop. You can print this page as many times as you need and practice tracing and quilting this design. It's important to trace a quilting design with a pencil because it will help you learn the design and commit it it to memory, much like learning cursive writing.

Stippling has a very unique texture that appears to flatten or recede into the background of a quilt. It's perfect for machine quilting densely into the background areas of a wholecloth quilt, or expanding to a large scale to quilt a soft bed quilt. Because Stippling is so popular, many quilters feel that it's a bit overused, and even I found myself stuck for years in a stippling rut.

However, Stippling is a terrific machine quilting design to learn because it will help you build skills for moving the quilt smoothly, estimating space, echoing, and controlling the quilt. Stippling is also extremely versatile - it can work on any quilting scale and is very quick to quilt over large areas.

Let's learn how to free motion quilt Stippling on a very small scale too!

Yes, Stippling is definitely a design you should learn to machine quilt, just remember not to quilt it to death! I consider free motion quilting filler designs just like working with different colors of paint, and you wouldn't only paint with one color for five years? It's good to learn a design like Stippling, but keep expanding your skills with new design and exciting textures to use in your quilts.

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