Free Motion Quilting on Block Four Square| Sewcial Bee Sampler

I am sharing with you today how I quilted block 11 – Four Square

If you are new here, this post is a part of my quilt-as-you-go my Sewcial Bee Sampler, a sew-along hosted by Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell. I plan to share along the process with some tips and tutorial.

As usual, I have two blocks made for two quilts, one with custom quilting and one with allover quilting. Both would be a great practice if you are looking towards improving your free-motion skill. I am still practicing myself, especially with the custom quilting. I am learning as I go, so let’s do this together!

If you are new here, this post is a part of my quilt-as-you-go my Sewcial Bee Sampler which I plan to share along the process along with some tips and tutorial. Click here to  related Archive posts.

There are affiliate links in this post for your convenience. Please refer to my full disclosure here.


Before we go into the design for this block, here are some of my favorite must-have tools for Free Motion Quilting:

  1. Superior Threads. I literally changed my minds about threads, when I started using this thread. And they come in big cones. which means they last longer before I have to change thread. I use an embroidery thread stand for it. You can get cheap thread stand like this one here.

2. Superior Threads Top Stitch Needles. I use this for all my sewing and FMQ. Really. In fact, I kind of find it a bit off when I have to use a needle that is not coloured gold as these needles are.

3. My trusty sticky Glove. Any brand works for me, but I personally love the one that is breathable cotton like this one.

4. Spray Baste. I am not a fan of taking off safety pins. This makes it so much quicker and allows me to cruise without fear of getting onto a pin. I personally love 505 Spray baste.

5.  My large throat Janome Horizon machine of course!

However, you won’t need all of these tools to start. Just a reminder, I started with the very basic sewing machine and just a regular free motion quilting foot. And still managed to quilt a queen-size quilt. Just upgrade as you feel more confident and want to ease a couple of things that bothers you.

Quilt as you go

Quilt as you go block-by-block is one method you could opt for when you want to make quilting large quilts on your domestic machine feasible. It is one of my go-to methods especially if I want to skip the heavy work pushing through large quilts within my machine throat space.

Besides, I love the fact that I can easily finish blocks by blocks and even have a fancy backing like this one I made earlier. If you are interested to learn how I piece the block together, here is one way how to do it – using small sashing strips.

For more ideas how to quilt a large quilt on a domestic sewing machine, check out this class.

Spray Basting Quilt Sandwiches

In order to quilt-as-you-go block-by-block, I first made each block into a quilt sandwich, basting with spray baste adhesive. I love spray basting as it removes the need to undo pins as you quilt especially for small blocks like these.

You can choose to use the same fabrics for the backing, however, I decided to do mine scrappy solid for the allover quilting quilt and scrappy printed for the custom quilt. The scrappy solid backing will look something like this one I made earlier.

I recommend having about 2-3″ wider batting and backing to make it easier to quilt the area around the edges of the block. I made mine kind of tight, and I find that it is hard to move the quilt with so little to hold on to when the quilting gets so close to the edge. Well, lesson learnt.

Allover Quilting Motif: Pebbles

For the allover quilting, I chose to do pebbles motif.

Although I usually use this motif for small areas, I made the motif with a larger scale to ensure that the block is about equivalent in density with the other blocks made before.

Pebbles is not much different than the loopy motifs, they are basically closely packed loops with various sizes.

Because I made the motif with a larger scale than what I use when filling up small areas, the variation of pebbles sizes are also wide.

The sizes of each pebble (loop) basically depends on how you want the final look to be. I would suggest adding more large pebbles more often for an allover quilting design.

This avoid the whole quilt being too stiff due to the dense quilting. Besides, it makes the quilting faster to finish off too.

O the side note though, this motif can quickly get boring. Hence, I would normally add a little spirals here and there or in this case, I added some pebbles with stars in them.

If you would like to try this motif, I have a simple tutorial here for you.

How to free motion quilt pebbles

You will need:

learn how to free motion quilt various motif on the blog!

First, decide how large are the biggest and the smallest pebbles are going to be. Roughly. This will very much depend on the area of the quilting.

I’d suggest a smaller range of sizes for smaller areas or if you want a dense effect.

For an allover quilting like this one, I prefer to make large pebbles to speed up the process and also to avoid the quilt being too stiff.

I just freehand and eyeball the sizes. Besides, I love the organic and imperfect look. Add in all the character that makes the quilt.

  1. Start with a single pebble which is basically a round loop.
  2. Make another pebble close to the first one touching each other. Now don’t worry if sometimes, your stiches slightly overlaps. Try not to, but if it does, don’t sweat too much about it. Once it completes, it won’t be obvious at all unless you really be picky on it.
  3. Continue making pebbles filling up the quilting space with various size pebbles.
  4. As you get more pebbles you will notice the direction of the quilting, if you are going to much in one direction, change direction and fill in the quilting space evenly.
  5. You may find that sometimes, you will have some travel stitches that goes slightly off from the pebbles, try to minimize this, but again don’t sweat over it too much. When it gets done, it just blends in.
  6. You can also add in extra details in some large pebbles to create more textures.

Extra Tips:

You may find that going one way is easier than the other. I find that moving counterclockwise was easier for me than moving to the other way. So I made more pebbles with counterclockwise movement.

I do suggest you try this pattern with pen and paper first. This will give you the idea on how the final look will be, how you are to navigate from one place to another, and how the motion is.

After having the confidence practicing on paper, you can move onto free motion quilting on scrap fabric basted with leftover batting. This is to ensure you have good tension and have a good sense of moving your quilt in the direction you want it to go. Then you can move onto quilting your block.

make sure you pin this to try them later!

learn how to free motion quilt pebbles

Custom free motion quilting on quilt as you go blocks

For the other quilt, each block is going to be custom quilted, which means each will be designed accordingly with the block pattern.

The benefit of using quilt-as-you-go block is that it is so much easy to maneuver with small blocks and custom quilting is made easier under the throat of a domestic machine. Plus, your shoulder should thank you too!

I planned the custom quilting using Sharon Holland’s colouring page which  Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell have available for download in the Intro section. I simply view them in magnified mode on my screen and crop each block into JPG on its own (You can use (shift+command+4 on Mac) or use snips in Microsoft.

Then, I printed the block individually and plan out the quilting with pencils. While doing it with the pencil I also plan how will I be moving the needle from one place to another.

custom quilting on a domestic machine


No Marking for Custom Quilting


Similar to the previous block, I use some dot-to-dot quilting. I did not do any marking at all for this block. Totally eyeballing from point-to-point.

That is why I love about dot-to-dot quilting. Minimal marking, more freehand motion quilting.


Feather quilting


This time, I incorporated the feather theme in the blocks itself as the frame for this block were small.

I love the idea of having a thicker spine and having the spine filled up with another motif.

In this case, I echoed the spine creating a thick line in the shape of a petal.

Then I started making feathers on one side and coming back down through the spine with the wavy line in the middle.

I finish off by making the other side’s feathers from the bottom up. This is always the way I do my feathers. From the bottom up.

If you are interested in more details how I free motion quilt feathers, take the free course on basic fmq feathers I have on the blog here.


custom quilting on domestic machine using quilt as you go technique


Well, if you decide to join along or have any questions, drop me a comment. I will be happy to help where I can! In the meantime, you can also check these free motion quilting tips!

How to Quilt As You Go A Sampler Quilt

Click here to related Archive posts.
until next time, have fun sewing and quilting!

get inspiration from the series of custom quilting using domestic sewing machine using quilt as you go technique block by block


For more dot-to-dot quilting ideas, I highly recommend this Craftsy Class!



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