January 06, 2016

5 Things I Learned While Graffiti Quilting

Grafitti quilting is a style of free motion quilting where you take the different quilting designs you love and use them all, mixing them up and joining them together. I've admired the style for a long time, but I was intimidated by it, so I kept putting off trying it.

This project seemed like the perfect one to finally give graffiti quilting a try. 
These blocks were made as tests to be sure my cutting directions were right for the blocks in my Friendship Galaxy baby quilt, and I have no plans for this quilt, so I figured if the quilting ruins it, it's no real loss.

I don't think the quilting is ruining it, though! In fact, I really like it.
I'm not quite halfway finished this mini quilt, but I thought I'd share a few things I've already learned about graffiti quilting.

Lessons from Graffiti Quilting | DevotedQuilter.com

1. Use a thread that doesn't blend. 

I've always tried to use a thread that blends with the fabric as much as possible because I wanted to hide all my mistakes. A few times with previous quilts, though, I've found it hard to keep track of where I've already quilted because the thread blended so well that I couldn't see the stitches. These background fabrics are grey and I'm using a lighter grey thread and I can see what I'm doing! I can't even imagine how hard this style would be if I couldn't see what I'd already quilted. Yes, you can see the imperfections, but I'm okay with that.

2. Bigger is better.

The spaces around these double stars are pretty small, so I was trying to keep the scale of the quilting small too. I thought the whole graffiti style would be lost if I didn't squeeze a lot of designs into each space. It's hard to make the designs look neat at such a small scale, though.
Once I moved out around the single star, where there's more room, I started making each design a little bigger and it is much easier to make them look neat.

3. Pebbles are a graffiti quilter's best friend.

Pebbles fit anywhere! When I find myself in an awkwardly shaped space, I throw in a few pebbles to fill it up. When I don't know what to quilt next, I stitch a few more pebbles. When I want to move to the other side of a design I just finished...you guessed it, pebbles!

4. It's easier than it looks.

I was intimidated by graffiti quilting because it looked complicated. It's not, though. It's just a matter of stitching one design a couple of times and then switching to something else. I pause a lot, look at what I've done and think about what I should do next. I turn the quilt a bit to allow myself to work from different angles to fill in those spaces. I'm still not comfortable with a lot of different designs, so there's a lot of repetition, but I think the graffiti style still comes through.

5. It's fun!!

Need I say more? I'm sure I'll be using this style again. Have you tried graffiti quilting yet? Any lessons you've learned that you want to share?

I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social, WIP Wednesday and NTT.


  1. I agree - I just started playing with graffiti quilting myself and pebbles are the perfect way to blend together! :)

  2. This is so helpful! I have wanted to try this and your post is a great guide!

  3. Looks great. I haven't tried this yet. Don't think I'm there yet.

  4. I tried this a few months ago on a solid piece of fabric so it was a bit easier to see where I had quilted. I had a lot of fun with it and am so happy you tried it! And you're right - pebbles go anywhere, and echoes are a good filler too.

  5. I had never heard of graffiti quilting but it certainly sounds like I could do with giving it a go :)

  6. looks great and looks like you are having fun too!

  7. It looks awesome, Leanne!! I have been totally intimidated by the idea of graffiti quilting but your tips are really inspiring, I might have to set up the machine to FMQ and play between squaring up HSTs. . .

    BTW, matching thread - I do love the look but man, it truly is hard on the eyes!!

  8. This is so cool! Looks like a lot of fun, too!

  9. You're a natural! It looks great. I love doing pebbles

  10. I love the graffiti look but have been intimidated by it. You make it look doable and natural, you inspire me to give it a try.

  11. Thanks for sharing your tips. I have wanted to give it a try too.

  12. This post would be perfect for my new Lessons Learned Linky. Please come share: http://quiltingmod.blogspot.com/2015/12/lessons-learned-linky-1.html

  13. Very nice work. Thanks for sharing.


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