Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cyclone Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

This week, I'm finishing up the quilting on my 2014 Sisterhood Quilt. Some of it was time consuming, so it's been difficult to finish in a timely manner with other projects and lots of personal commitments on hand. However, I decided to quilt the top and bottom in my cyclone spiral technique,which is fast, fun, and exciting.

I shared this FMQ technique on Periscope on Monday (you can watch the video here on Katch without signing into anything; usually Periscope videos/"scopes" stay around for 24 hours only, but Katch allows you to save them). Even though the video was clear for us (my husband helped me film, and even shows his face for a minute!), it turns out the video was very blurry, and I'm not 100 percent sure why. Live streaming doesn't always work out with internet, I guess.

In case you couldn't see the video or get much from just my directions, I thought I'd share a short blog tutorial of how to go about quilting this motif!

 Cyclones to the right. The middle was quilted in wavy lines, mostly with a walking foot.


 Cyclone Free Motion Quilting Tutorial

  •  For this design, you will create a spiral that echoes both inside itself and outside.
  • There are endless possibilities with these spirals; they can be small or large, and the more echoes you add around them, the more the spiral itself stands out.
  • Drawing before quilting and/or practicing on a practice quilt sandwich is always a good idea before quilting a new technique! 
  • Make sure your stitch length is set to 0 for free motion, and that you use a free motion or darning foot. Some machines require that your feed dogs are down (I use a Janome Memory Craft 6300 and I do not put mine down). You can also use quilting gloves, an extension table, and Supreme Slider to make FMQ easier (though you absolutely can quilt without those tools).
1. Quilt a spiral and stop/hesitate at the center to make a point.

2. Echo the spiral back out from the middle. Quilt closely to the first spiral to ensure that there is a healthy amount of space open.

3. Echo the spiral again to the center, and then back out again to fill in more of the space.

4. You can echo into the spiral again, OR you can echo on the outside like below. I follow the curve and create little wavy spinoffs all the way around the circle. This creates a cyclone-like look. Have fun with it!

5. Come all the way around the spiral (to the top, where the star is). Quilt back down and start a new spiral below your first one. Follow steps 1-5 to create more. Fill in any small spaces with echoes.

Here's another look at some small cyclone-like spirals I quilted on Shirley's Stars, in memory of my grandmother:

Also: Postcards from Prague, my voile quilt:

I hope you have fun quilting cyclones and spirals! If you try it, tag me on Instagram (@quiltyhabit) or email me (quiltyhabit[at]gmail[dot]com) - I'd love to see!


  1. It's the wavy spinoffs that really make the cyclones so unique, Jess! And I definitely agree and echo the sentiment to draw the quilting design on paper and practice getting the feel of a motif that way. :)

  2. Very cool cyclone effect! I very much like that you didn't hide your thread color choice and it stands out on the quilt.


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