Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Orange Peel FMQ Tutorial

 This blog is about how I learned to do a free motion quilting pattern called Orange Peel. My Neapolitan quilt needed quilting, and I decided to do a very curvy all over pattern to contrast with all the boxes and straight lines that make up the quilt top.

I found a pattern I liked on Elizabeth Hartman's great blog, Oh Fransson. Elizabeth makes wonderful quilts and does beautiful quilting. She is also teaching a class on the Craftsy site, if you haven't seen it, check it out. I'm a student!

Back to the quilting pattern, called Orange Peel. I used Elizabeth's pattern, but I just could not make the design in the order that she did it. I kept getting it wrong and taking it out, and saying to myself, 'I can't have got it wrong again!' But I had. Over and over. Finally I decided it must be a left brain/right brain thing, and I should construct the same shape, but my way.

First, draw a grid, 2" squares. I used a Clover marker with powdered yellow chalk.

It's a big quilt, 90 x 100", so I worked on a quarter at a time, and I found it easiest to draw 4 lines vertically, and then mark horizontally using my basting stitches as alternate horizontal lines.

Now start sewing at the border and sew away from you, moving the quilt toward you. Start at the end of a vertical line, sew a quarter circle to the left, an arc, meeting at the widest point with the intersection of a vertical and horizontal line.

Now sew another quarter circle, this time going to the right, ending at the next intersection of horizontal and vertical lines. Now you have a half circle.

Keep sewing like this, making a line of left side half circles until you reach the end of your vertical line at about the middle of your quilt.

Now we're going to come back, sewing toward you, and pushing the quilt away from you.

Here we are at the center of the quilt, and making our change in direction.

Reach the intersection at the arrow, now do a quarter circle to the left to the next intersection.

From this point we will go all the way back to the outer edge of the quilt, making half circles with the mid point at the next intersection.

So here's where we are, with the line in black stitching toward the middle of the quilt, and the line in green coming toward us from the center to the edge. See what I mean, it's intersecting semicircles!

Now we work on the next vertical row. Start again at the spot where you finished the last row. This time I found it helpful to think of the Cathedral Windows block. We're making that shape. After we reach the intersection, it's back to semi circles again. We're following the blue line now.

When we reach the center of the quilt we reverse as before and arrive back at our starting point on the edge of the quilt. This is the yellow line.

And that's it! Four lines of stitching creates the motif. To start the next motif move over to the second marked vertical line from where you ended, think Cathedral Window, and make your left hand quarter circle. Then continue as before. I found it smoothest to aim for the widest part of the circle to my left, and to work in half circle arcs as much as possible.

Here's the start of the next row to get you going!

This is Neapolitan, quilted and ready for its binding. Nearly done!

Linking to WIP Wednesday, lots of great projects. Check it out!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Till next time,



  1. Well done for working it through, and great idea to draw on the grid!

  2. That quilting is awesome! I can't believe you do it on a domestic machine. My hat is off to you!

  3. That's pretty cool! I like the flow lines so I understand what you mean more clearly. Thanks!

  4. thanks for sharing.


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