I don’t know where I learned to do this quilting motif that I call ‘open headband’ — perhaps Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project, or maybe Diane Gaudynski’s excellent book on free motion quilting, or perhaps Helen Godden’s DVD, or maybe my own variation of techniques learned from all three. Anyhow, I use it often and find it a very relaxing motif that can be quilted large or small and that fits into all sorts of places.
Several people have asked me to share how I do it, so today I got a piece of paper and a Sharpie and took some (very amateur) photos of how the motif goes. I realised I’m much better on the Sweet Sixteen than I am with my drawing! But hopefully this will help you get started.
- Start this motif near the centre of the quilt and move out in an overall circular direction — this flattens out any wonkiness and pushes puckers out to the edge. Don’t be tempted to fill a quarter of the quilt, then move to another quarter — if the quilt is even slightly wonky, you may end up with puckers and pleats in the middle of the quilt.
- While I mostly do three hops around the arc, sometimes I do four so that I don’t end up with a long streamer of these motifs all going in one direction across the quilt. The fourth hop allows me to go off in a different direction, thus covering the quilt in an apparent random fashion.
- Use the ‘needle down’ position on your machine. If you have to stop in the middle of an arc or at a point, then you’ll be able to start again without being a stitch or two ‘out’.
So here are my photos with some instructions.
Start by stitching a semi-circle/arc near the centre of the quilt (the arrow shows the direction I use, but go in whatever direction feels comfortable to you):
At the end of the arc, stitch another arc back towards your starting point, but not quite coming even with it. Echo the general semi-circle shape, but don’t try to echo at a specific distance from the original arc (my drawing below shows a VERY uneven second arc!):
You’ve now done what I call ‘three hops’ — the arc and two echo lines. Next, you create a new ‘headband’ by starting a new arc at an angle off from the end of the third arc; I try to put this arc next to the earlier one so that I don’t end up with awkward gaps later — in other words, I fill the empty spaces as I go:
After creating the second arc, stitch two more echoing arcs around it, just like you did for the first one:
At the end of the third echo, bounce out in a different direction to create another small arc and echo it just like the previous two:
To stop you going off in an overall diagonal, this time do a fourth echo (not the three you’ve done previously):
At the end of the fourth echo, bounce out in a different direction to create another small arc and echo it just like you’ve done with the others. You should only need three bounces this time, though there’s no hard and fast rule:
And here’s an example of it finished (you can see that I’m much more even on the machine than with a pen!):