Spiderweb Free-motion quilting tutorial and a Halloween quilt

I finished this year’s Halloween quilt, a lovely four-patch variation in Cotton & Steel fabrics. My other Halloween quilt has more orange in it, so I wanted to make one that didn’t incorporate orange. I think the pink adds a striking note to this quilt.

Because this quilt was very angular, I wanted to add some quilting that would “soften” it. I’ve found that when a quilt has many 90 degree angles, adding some round quilting can soften the final outcome of the quilt. Likewise, if you have a quilt with a lot of curves, try adding some angular or straight-line quilting to it. I don’t always follow this rule, but in the case of my Halloween quilt, I felt I should.

For some reason, probably because I knew it would be fabulous, I was dead-set on spiderweb quilting. This posed a challenge, however. Most of the free-motion spiderweb motifs I was finding on the internet were for computerized long-arms or pantographs. Seeing how I was quilting this on my domestic machine, neither of those options would work for me.

So what’s a girl to do but mash them all together and make up her own? This spiderweb is a great all-over design for a domestic machine to tackle, and the result is just what I was hoping for to add a few curves to my finished quilt.

Spiderweb FMQ [Mini] Tutorial

Because this is easier seen in action, I’ve put together a video of how to quilt this design

1. Start with your thread outside of your quilt top, and make a swooping motion onto your quilt top, stopping at a point. With allover designs, I prefer to start and stop as much as possible outside my quilt top, so that I have less threads to bury at the end. 

2. Continue making swooping motions around in a circle, until you have 6 points. You should be near your starting point now, and you should stop quilting when your needle is a 1/2 inch to an inch away from your last line of quilting.

3. Continue around in a circle, on the inside of your last line, echoing your previous line of quilting, always staying about 1/2″ to 1″ away, depending how dense you want your spiderwebs to end up.

4. Once you reach the center, make a swooping motion through your completed web to an adjacent spot on your quilt to start your next spiderweb. I like to think of a spider leaping from the center of her web out to a nearby branch, that’s the gentle curve you’re going for.

5. Your end point is now the first “point” of the 6 points of your new web. Continue quilting this one in the same manner you quilted your first spiderweb in steps 2-4.

Vary the sizes of your spiderwebs and the direction in which you quilt them to give that random, “over-all” effect. I like to divide my quilt top into four sections, and quilt the top left, then the top right, then bottom right, and finally bottom left. This allows me not to have too much of the quilt under my machine’s throat at any given time.

A benefit to planning your starts and stops outside your quilt top, is that at any point you can swing your thread out of the center of your web and outside your quilt top, and then cut your thread. This allows you to pull your quilt out, lay it out flat, and review your progress. It allows you to find areas you might have missed, and to make sure you like how the motif is progressing.

Finally, as with any free-motion quilting, practice and time are the two factors to success. Your first few spiderwebs might not look the best, but I promise, if you stick with it and just keep going, they’ll blend into the quilt and the overall effect will be worth it.


A note about the quilt:

This quilt was a modified 4-patch, that alternates between a 4-patch block and a solid block. It measures 58″x72″ and uses the following fabrics:

Front: (all Cotton & Steel fabrics)

  • Kitten Mittens in Blue from the Cat Lady Collection
  • Trick or Treat in Teal and Shattered in Charcoal from the Lil’ Monsters Collection
  • Witch’s Cabinet, Halloween Beads in Multi, and Halloween Lane in Natural from the Boo! Collection
  • Whirlwind in Orchid from the Zephyr Collection
  • Pattern Book in Midnight (Lawn) from the Macrame Collection

Back: Overlook Serape in Turquoise from the Mesa Collection by Cotton & Steel

Quilted with black thread and finished with 1/8″ black and white striped binding

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