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Stippling 101

imageStippling is one of the most elegant ways to finish a quilt and the first step towards free motion drawing and thread painting for many. So many are intimidated by the desire to have perfectly rounded, untouching and uncrossed stitching. Embrace your points and crossed lines and stipple to hearts content, mistakes prove that you are trying something. As you get more proficient they will disappear from your work and a whole new level of the creative realm will be open to you.

In this article Peter will take you through how he sets up to stipple and a couple of great tips/ tricks that he uses to get great results every time he sits down at a machine.

Sewing Machine

Peter uses at the moment is the Janome Memory Craft 8900 and the


Today we are using the Wonderfil Tutti through the needle and in the bobbin, which is a 50wt Egyptian long staple cotton and comes in a variety of variegated colours. For a tone on tone stipple Peter prefers the Wonderfil Invisafil, which is a 100wt lint free cotton.

The choice of thread is an important one, because ideally you will be stitching at a high speed you want a good quality thread that won’t break, snap or shred on you every 2 minutes and that is why Peter uses the Wonderfil threads.


Janome Purple tip needles, these needles are specifically designed by Janome to eliminate skipped stitches on quilt layers.


imagePeter prefers the Convertible free motion foot set, mainly because it floats above the fabric, which reduces the amount of drag on the fabric allowing for easy and regular movement of the fabric. You can also use a darning foot, but the disadvantage here is that the foot is constantly grabbing the fabric on the down stroke of the needle, which restricts the movement of the fabric and distorts the stitch.


To practice, cut 2 x 17 inch fabric squares and a same sized square of light weight wadding. Then spray starch and press both pieces of fabric.

Now you are ready to start stippling!!!

Before you start draw the bobbin thread up through the quilt sandwich, you do this the same way as if you were drawing your bobbin thread up without any fabric there. You do this so that you don’t have thread tails and you can easily trim them off once you have started stippling.

imagePlace your hands flat on the fabric and form an L shape with your thumb and pointer finger. Point your thumbs at each other, with your hands in this position, you now have the optimal position to have maximum control over your fabric.

Get the needle going at full speed, this is the easiest way to get a great stitch, (if you aren’t comfortable using the foot control and moving the fabric, try using the start/stop button, this will get the needle going at a constant speed so you just have to concentrate on moving the fabric), start moving the fabric in a smooth motion creating shapes. To start with concentrate on just making a wavy line across the fabric, then incorporate some large curves, as you build your confidence with the fabric and slowly bring your curves down to a smaller size.


Practice, practice and practice some more. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, these are proof that you are making progress.

Enjoy the process.