Monday, September 17, 2018

Quilting Spirals and Paisleys

Some sweet people have mentioned that they liked how I combined spirals with paisleys on my Starburst quilt.  They even said that they might want to try it sometime.  I wanted to put some of my thoughts together on the combined design to provide a starting place.  I think that machine quilting is a lot like handwriting.  We write the same letters, but put our own slant on them. 

I think that spirals and paisleys combine so well because they are both rounded and both have points.  Plus the way I quilt them, they both echo inside and outside easily.  I call these my open design spirals and paisleys because each motif is not closed like images in a coloring book. 

First, paisleys are not tear drops.  They are more like a plume with a curving arc.  I like to think of the yin and yang symbol, how the black and white curve around each other and fill the space.  When I do paisleys I stitch the outside first and then echo inside once.  I feel like I end up with a prettier paisley doing it that way. 

Second, I like to think of cinnamon rolls when I quilt a spiral.  To fill up the space I frequently add hooks to my spirals.  Sometimes I add more than one hook. 

Third, with any design you quilt you need to know how to travel to get to another area.  I echo around previous motifs to get to another quilting space.  You also need to know the best place to stop and plan your next quilting direction.  Stopping at any of the points in either spirals or paisleys works well to hide those start and stop places. 

When combining designs I first like to look at each motif separately. 

Paisleys are fun even by themselves.  Melissa Corry from Happy Quilting has a great echoed paisley video which helped me a lot. 

With paisleys you can make butterfly wings, hearts, vines, groupings of three or combinations in random directions.  I have drawn them out in the image above.  The asterisks is my starting place. 

Hooked spirals is one of my favorite designs.  Angela Walters has a great swirl hook video tutorial

When quilting or doodling spirals just remember to leave room to come out after you have quilted to the center. 

As I mentioned earlier, I combined the spirals with the paisleys to quilt Starburst. 

I mostly combined them in a random fashion like in the picture below.  I never counted how many spirals or paisleys I did in a row.  My goal was just to fill the space evenly with both designs.  I naturally quilted more paisleys than I did spirals. 

However, there were two combinations I especially liked. 

I quilted a spiral at the top of a paisley vine.  It reminded me of a flower above the leaves.  I also quilted paisleys in the same direction around a spiral.  It reminded me of feathered spirals. 

Starburst (which measures about 58 by 72 inches) was quilted in about two hours on the Bernina Q24 longarm machine.  It went quickly by leaving the designs open and echoing to move around them.  Here are a couple more pictures which show the quilting a little better. 

 I always recommend doodling designs before actually quilting them on a quilt. 

Have you ever quilted a spiral and paisley combo?  I would love to see your work if you try it or have already done it. 



  1. OMG, thank you for the drawings-off to practice;) I have done something like a paisley but I don't think I did it from the outside in. I will go check Melissa's tute also.

  2. This is wonderful! Thanks for all the directions and pictures. I hope to get to work on this in the future.

  3. I love how you explained your process and I am really fond of the spiral flower, too!!

  4. It's interesting to see your drawings of the way you want to quilt and even more interesting to see how you combine motifs to fill the space on a quilt. Thanks.

  5. Thank you for the detailed explanation Jasmine. It is good to understand the process.


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