Step-by-step Spiral Quilting Process
While quilting Rainy Day in one large spiral pattern, I took a multitude of pictures. What better to do with them than to write a step-by-step tutorial on how you too can spiral quilt anything? It is SO not hard, really. Finding the very center point on your quilt may be the hardest thing. OR, use an offset spiral and start wherever the heck you want! This is a photo-heavy post – be forewarned! It was stitched on my domestic machine, an Elna 730 Pro.
We don’t use a ton of pins when we layer our quilts. They just get in the way too quickly for me, and I can feel wrinkles when quilting on my domestic machine and smooth them away. Here is my center block – a four-patch framed with a jelly roll strip.
The photo on the right shows my template folded in fourths; a circle I drew on printer paper from a vitamin bottle. It doesn’t matter what size circle you choose – you just sew around it one time and then you are finished with the template. Unfolded, you can easily see the center point. I lined up those fold lines with the center seams and pinned the template down. Don’t stress over getting the exact center – no one will care one bit.
Spiral Time to Start
Living on the edge, I started with a not completely full bobbin. Stupid, I know.
Well, I didn’t want to waste that thread or use it up another time. Besides, I had 45 minutes of sewing time with that bobbin and seven rows of spirals.
Things to note in the picture above: the stitch speed is set really, really low, my walking foot is on, the feed dogs are engaged, my stitch length is fairly long at 3.0 to mimic hand quilting, I am stitching in a counter-clockwise direction, and my needle is down. Also, no pins are nearby and the fabric has been smoothed with not a wrinkle in sight. Is it time to begin?
Spiral Ready to Press Start?
It’s time to finally start sewing. Go slowly! By that, I mean three stitches and then stop and turn. The center is key as is following closely to the circle you drew and cutout for the first step. Stitch around the template and stop when you get back to the starting point. Unpin the template, put it away or throw it away and take a deep breath. Woot-woot, it’s all downhill from here and goes quicker starting now. Not a lot quicker right away, but eventually a nice steady pace.
Above you will see my circle stitching is complete. My walking foot width when my needle is in the center position is about a half inch. I pulled out my ruler and made a light mark approximately a half inch away from the stitching line. You are going to aim for that little mark as you transition to row 2.
This picture gives you an idea of my transition; yours may not be as short as mine depending on where you mark your line. It doesn’t matter because you can see in row 3 that it all works out nice and smooth. The fourth row made it more circular without that sharper pivot point. Take a break a minute and relax your shoulders, drink your beverage and enjoy your progress.
Spiral Back to Work
Keep going in this manner, around and around. You’ll move your quilt a lot but be sure you smooth out your fabric each time. No one wants a wrinkle on the back – they are too annoying. Here’s my backing looking nice and smooth and you can see the half-inch spacing fairly well. The photo on the right shows I’m getting as far as the borders plus my speed bar has slide over a bit faster.
I used that partial bobbin, a full bobbin and then part of a third bobbin on this piece.
This is a pretty good closeup of my size 3.0 stitches and the spacing. I also find that if I tie off the threads and then bury them right away, I don’t miss any when the quilt top is finished. I use a side-load needle for ease of threading those sometimes very short threads.
Spiral Final Row??
This is as close to the edge as I got for the final row of the continuous spiral. I didn’t go around one more time because it would end up too close to the binding and then be basically useless. I purposely stitch off into the batting – no thread to bury. This wasn’t the last row though of stitching because this quilt was rectangle shaped. I had a few more rows to finish on each of the long ends.
Spiral Quilting Continues
Fifteen rows completed the rectangle shape and then another 14 rows to complete each corner. I continued to use the edge of my walking foot to measure where I would start each row.
The picture above gives you a good idea of how to start sewing each row to continue the spiral pattern until your quilt top is complete. Then you trim, add binding and finish however you normally would to enjoy the finished piece.
This quilt top ended up being a good size at 54″ x 66″. After it has been washed and is all squishy no one will ever notice any wobbles or wiggles I made. I hope this tutorial has assisted you or gives you the confidence to give this fun and easy quilting design a chance. Please share any questions you have in the comments.
Our other Linky Parties can be found by clicking the link above or along the sidebar on our website for more quilting fun – check out what our friends are up to. Like/follow us on our Facebook page and you can share your photos of what you’re working on. We would love to see them!