pink and green placemat with title "quilting with spirals".

Simple Quilting with Spirals

A big spiral (or two) is a fun quilting design.

It adds a lot of interest. Often it reminds people of a record.

Things to consider

There are a few important things to consider before starting to quilt a spiral.

1. How big is my work area?

This design involves turning your quilt A LOT. If you want to use this design on a large quilt, you will need a lot of space.

2. Do I have the time?

The design is basically one long line stitched continuously. It is not difficult, but it does take time. It is best if it can be done without taking the quilt out of the sewing machine. Starting and stopping is difficult.

3. What kind of spacing should I use?

The easiest way to stitch this is to use the edge of the presser foot as a guide, following the previous stitching line.

However, it will be faster and use less thread if the space between lines is larger than the presser foot width. To do this, use a seam guide.

4. How big do I want the spirals?

Spirals don’t have to fill the entire quilt. You can have a spiral in just one section.

Design options

NOTE: These diagrams show echoing circles rather than true spirals. They give the feel of spirals, but are not exact representations.

Centre Spiral

Start a spiral with a circle in the middle of the quilt.

quilt diagram with a centred spiral quilting design.

Off-set spiral

The focus point can be anywhere on the quilt.

quilt diagram with an off-set spiral quilting design.

Multiple Spirals

This fun design has partial spirals off the edge of the quilt. The overlap gives interesting texture.

quilt diagram with multiple spirals.

Helpful Tips

  • This design requires a lot of moving the quilt around, so be sure to baste well.
  • Resist the urge to stitch at full speed. Since this design stitches in all directions, it can easily stretch the fabric on the bias.
  • Use a walking foot and grippy gloves.
  • Use a seam guide. Having a space of less than 1/2″ looks great, but takes forever. The larger the quilt, the bigger space between the lines you will want.
  • Be sure to stitch in a clockwise direction. You begin stitching in the middle of the spiral and gradually work your way out. If you stitch in the wrong direction, the bulk of the quilt will be piling up in the throat of your machine and it will be difficult to navigate. The bulk of the quilt should be out of the machine.
  • Do a couple practices starting the spiral. The start is the most difficult part to get looking nice. Once it’s started, it’s easy to do.
  • Start with a full bobbin. You don’t want to run out of thread part-way through!

Sample

This sample is a small placemat, but the procedure would be the same for a quilt of any size.

Make your own quilting practice placemats with this Simple Placemat tutorial.

Design option – Two off-set spirals

This fun design has two overlapping spirals

Marking

Mark the centre circle for the first spiral, Use a cup or bowl with a hera marker to mark it. Remember that the smaller the circle, the more difficult it will be to stitch.

tracing a cup with a hera marker.

Stitch

Slowly stitch around the starting circle.

stitching a starting circle for spiral quilting.

Once the starting point is reached, overlap the first few starting stitches, then gradually drift away from the circle until you have reached the point where your reference point (either seam guide or presser foot) is aligned with the previous stitching line.

beginning a spiral quilting line.

Be careful not to go at too great of an angle. It should take at least half the circle to get out to that point.

Continue stitching with the reference point aligned to the edge of the stitching line. Stitch in a continuous line until you get to the edge of the quilt.

close up of stitching at the edge of a quilt.

Once you reach the edge of the quilt, break the thread.

Rotate the quilt around to the edge of the quilt closest to the edge of the spiral. Stitch along the edge until you reach the other edge. Continue with partial spiral lines.

spiral quilting on the corner of a quilt.

The first spiral will fill about 2/3 of the placemat. Don’t worry about exact measurements.

Once the first spiral is complete, mark the circle for the second spiral. It will be in the opposite to the corner to the first spiral.

placemat with spiral quilting in progress.

Repeat the second spiral with the same process in the same way.

quilting a spiral design.

Many of the spiral lines will overlap, giving fun texture.

quilt top with spiral quilting.

Once the quilting is done, just trim and add binding to finish it off.

green and pink placemat with spiral quilting.

Be sure to share a picture #simplequilting to inspire others.

Want more Simple Quilting?

Get the Simple Quilting ebook.

Finish your quilts quickly and easily on your domestic machine with ten simple quilting designs and hundreds of variations.

simple quilting book cover

Inspiration

red and white log cabin sampler quilt with title.
Pojagi Inspiration quilt made of multiple pink fabrics.
pink making memories quilt with title.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos

designer, teacher, speaker

Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. For more information or to have her speak to your group click HERE.

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