Quiltmaking Tips: Quilting Shapes on Quilts

Quilting Tips from the Tech Editors

Do you avoid free motion quilting or free hand drawing with your sewing machine because you feel you are not good at it? Don’t let that stop you from doing some machine quilting. Mary Mashuta gives you great ways to quilt wonderful gently curved designs in her book, Foolproof Machine Quilting. She shows you that by using a walking foot with the feed dogs up, you can sew around a few predrawn shapes. Your quilting will be even and professional looking.

Foolproof Machine Quilting by Mary MashutaOne of the many helpful ideas in Mary’s book is to draw or trace the quilting design onto self-adhesive shelf paper (Contac paper), cut out the shape, stick it to the quilt and sew around it. One way to use this idea is to use one of the appliqué shapes already in the quilt as your quilting design. Use a copier to enlarge and reduce the shape for variety, cut out these shapes from the Contac paper, and place them to fill in the background of the quilt. Use a larger size for a larger space and a smaller size for a small space. When you finish one area, reposition the shapes onto another area. The Contac paper will remain sticky for several uses. If your curves are a little too tight to use a walking foot, use a free-motion foot. Quilting with a free-motion foot and the feed dogs down takes a little patience, but because you have a shape to follow, it is still easier than having no design to follow.

The plant appliqué shapes are traced onto self-adhesive shelf paper and used to quilt the background of this crib quilt made using a pattern in Covered With Love, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins.

Using various sizes of the plant shapes creates an organic, jungle-like filling for the quilt's background. They can be overlapped if necessary and sized to fill in the open areas.

The same technique can be used to quilt words in a quilt. Create the letters needed, cut the shapes from self-adhesive shelf paper and sew around the letters. A free motion foot will probably work better than a walking foot because the curves are rather small. The great advantage of the Contac paper is that the letters can be positioned so you can adjust the spacing before you quilt. In addition, if you need to use a letter more than once, just make one letter from Contac paper and use it as many times as that letter appears.

Position the letters before quilting around them.

Finished quilted letters

Your quilting may not be as perfect as what a professional quilter would do, but it is satisfying to know that you made the quilt from start to finish. Remember—most recipients of your quilts are not expecting perfection—they only see the love you put into their quilts.

This entry was posted in Quilting Tips Series and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Ann
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    This book we could all use, especially on small items. Looks like a great book.

  2. Linda Erickson
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    This sort of process can also be done with freezer paper which can be repositioned several times before it loses its stickiness.

  3. Posted November 28, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great book and I hope to be able to check it out more. Could be a good Christmas gift too!


  • january

    All-in-One Quilter's Reference Tool, Updated Second Edition by Harriet Hargrave, Sharyn Craig, Alex Anderson, and Liz Aneloski for C&T Publishing
  • Backyard Birds by Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins for C&T Publishing
  • January – Stash Books

    Quilt Lab--The Creative Side of Science by Alexandra Winston for Stash Books
  • me & my sewing adventure - an intermediate guide by Kate Haxell for Stash Books
  • january – stash products

    fast2clean Brave & Bold Mini Microfiber Static-Cling Cleaners
  • February

    Wild Blooms & Colorful Creatures by Wendy Williams for C&T Publishing
  • February – Stash Books

    Adding Layers--Color, Design & Imagination by Kathy Doughty for Stash Books
  • Essential Sewing Reference Tool by Caria Hegeman Crim for Stash Books
  • February – Pattern Pack

    MODKID™ Summer Fun by Patty Young for Stash Books
  • February – products

    Kraft-tex Black
  • Kraft-tex White - Kraft Paper Fabric from C&T Publishing
  • march

    American Homestead Quilts by Ellen Murphy for C&T Publishing
  • Fresh Family Traditions by Sherri McConnell for C&T Publishing
  • March – products

    Spunbond for C&T Publishing
  • Essential Applique Pins from Piece O' Cake Designs for C&T Publishing
  • March – Stash Books

    Playful Petals by Corey Yoder for Stash Books
  • At Home with Modern June by Kelly McCants for Stash Books
  • March – Stash Books Products

    Posey Patch - Eco Tote by Corey Yoder for Stash Books
  • March – FunStitch Studio

    We Love to Sew--Bedrooms by Annabel Wrigley for FunStitch Studio
  • April

    Quilting... Just a Little Bit Crazy by Allie Aller and Valerie Bothell for C&T Publishing
  • Bargello--Quilts in Motion by Ruth Ann Berry
  • April – Stash Books

    The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu for Stash Books
  • Tenny Tiny Megagerie by Noriko Komurata for Stash Books
  • April – FunStitch Studio

    Sew in Style--Make Your Own Doll Clothes by Erin Henztel for FunStitch Studio
  • May – Stash Books

    Free-Motion Quilting Workbook by Angela Walters for Stash Books
  • Stitch 'n Swap by Jake Finch for Stash Books
  • Make & Love Quilts by Mary Fons for Stash Books
  • Boutique Casual for Boys & Girls by Sue Kim for Stash Books
  • May – Stash Books Products

    Orbit Eco Tote designed by Jennifer Sampou for Stash Books
  • May – FunStitch Studio

    The Wonderful Colorful Wonder Wheel of Color by Lynn Koolish, Kerry Graham, and Mary Wruck for FunStitch Studio
  • June

    Pictorial Art Quilt Guidebook by Leni Levenson Wiener for C&T Publishing
  • Emporia Rose Applique Quilts by Barbara Brackman and Karla Menaugh for C&T Publishing
  • June Stash Books

    Because I Love You Sew by Trish Preston for Stash Books
  • Little Fixes by Disney Powless for Stash Books
  • June Stash Books Products

    fast2cut HexEssentials Small Peepers by Kathy Doughty for Stash Books
  • fast2cut HexEssentials 1 1/2" Peepers by Kathy Doughty for Stash Books
  • fast2cut HexEssentials 2 1/2" Peepers by Kathy Doughty for Stash Books
  • June FunStitch Studio

    Sew It! by Allison Nicoll for FunStitch Studio