Are you in a look out for an easy free motion quilting pattern that is both fun and adventurous? Maybe you have a baby quilt top or a Saint Patrick's Day-inspired top that needs to be quilted soon. Then this Clover pattern is for you, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned quilter, this design can easily be quilted on a domestic sewing machine or long arm quilting machine.
If you have seen the video tutorial on my YouTube channel, you know that I'm quilting this using the edge to edge technique instead of meandering style, which is common to many FMQ tutorials. The reason why I came up with this method is because meandering is quite difficult for beginners to decide the quilting path for the first time, which most of the time end up with bad spacing or even got stuck on an area, which is quite my experience.
So why not decide the quilting path ahead so we can focus on the quilting pattern? And that's what I did here, I found that quilting in diagonal or straight lines can produce beautiful Allover quilting pattern that captures the eyes with simple repetition of elements. But of course, if you're a seasoned quilter and is already skilled with meandering, then don't hold back, follow what your heart says.
Now let's jump in to the heart of this tutorial.
1. Learn to draw the clover leaves with three hearts.
Follow the numbering of the sequence of strokes illustrated on the drawing below. The first heart is drawn on the left, followed by the right heart, then the center heart to complete the clover. From the center point, stitch to the lower right to move to the next clover. The measurements below are based on the average estimated size of the clovers I can free motion quilt on a sewing machine. You can go smaller or bigger if you quilt this in a long arm quilting machine.
2. Practice drawing on paper to warm up and build your muscle memory.
This is a very important step for me before free motion quilting as it helps me plan my path and gain the muscle memory needed for the actual quilting. Here is my drawing notebook for this pattern. Our cat, Tobie, is also involved in my quilting business, so he is here too.
If you need a drawing worksheet to practice, you can download a printable PDF file below.
3. Mark the quilting path on your quilt sandwich with evenly spaced lines.
Because I like to set or plan my quilting path ahead, I draw lines to guide my direction, just like the diagonal lines on the image below. This is definitely an edge to edge quilting on domestic sewing machine, and I love the structural arrangement of my elements. With this style of quilting, you can focus on the pattern element which is clover here, and not worry where you gonna go next as you already know the path. I believe this method helps me achieve better consistency and muscle memory.
By the way, make sure to use an erasable marking pen for this step. You can also use the width of the ruler if it's around 2 inches or less. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with meandering, then that would be nice too. Feel free to try different pattern orientations to see which one works best for you.
4. Prepare the sewing machine and other tools for free motion quilting.
As for the speed, I set mine to medium setting, while my stitch length is set to zero to minimize the wear and tear of the feed dog. For tools, I make sure to use quilting gloves to have a firm grip of the quilt. For some, a slider sheet on the bed of the machine is a must for ease of movement, but for me I've never tried using it. But if you have it, then use it if it helps your free motion quilting. If it your first time to do free motion quilting, then check out this complete guide to FMQ.
5. Load the quilt into the machine, then start quilting.
Position the quilt that is most comfortable to you, then position your hands around the darning foot. Relax your body, take a deep breath, then bring up the lower thread, and start quilting from the left edge going to the right. Just like when you are drawing, follow the sequence of strokes to form the clover. If you think you wobble, just keep going and stay on track of the quilting path. Check out my YouTube channel JDreamQuilts for video tutorials.
7. When you reach the end of the quilting path, cut the thread and then move to the next line.
Make sure to backtrack 2 or more stitches at the start and end of the quilting path. Continue quilting until you fill the entire space. As for consistency of spacing and sizes of the clovers, I can say that it all depends on your strokes or movements. And as far as repetitive movement is executed here, our muscle memory plays an important role in achieving good consistency. From my perspective, I want to think of it as writing letters in cursive instead of drawing, in that way my brain just focuses on my stokes rather than on the figure I'm making. Anyway, let me know your thoughts here on the comments below.
8. Trim off excess threads.
After quilting, you'll have many trailing threads on every starting point of the quilting path. Trim them off, and congratulations you just completed a new free motion quilting challenge. At first glance of the quilt, your eyes may travel along the diagonal lines the clover are nested, and they look lovely and relaxing to see. And maybe you haven't noticed my mistakes and wobbles here, which I did a lot of times, but because of the arrangement of the clovers everything looks organic or natural. This pattern is called Allover pattern in fabric or surface design.
With the images above, you can see the differences between the three pattern orientations, the first two orientations were quilted using a diagonal and straight path respectively, and resulted into a beautiful allover repetitive patterns.
While the bottom is quilted in meandering style, and of course it looks great, but it lacks structure. I don't mean to be a quilting police here, as each quilter has its own preference, but whatever you prefer based on method or aesthetic, go for it.