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What is Stipple Quilting?

Stipple quilting is a free-motion technique where the quilter creates a meandering, non-directional pattern that adds texture and dimension to the quilt. This artistic approach allows for personalized touches, making each quilt unique. Intrigued by how stipple quilting can transform your projects? Discover the nuances that can elevate your quilting artistry to the next level.
Norma Jean Howland
Norma Jean Howland

Stipple quilting is a type of free flow stitching that creates a design on a quilt. It can be done by hand or sewing machine using stitches in lines that are closely spaced but do not cross each other. The lines are usually less than ¼ inch apart and create whatever unique shape the quilter desires.

Stipple quilting is a little like free form coloring using a sewing machine, or a thread and needle, instead of crayons. When used as filler between patterns, stipple quilting helps to join sections of an area, tie together color changes and give the quilt overall continuity. It is also used to delineate certain sections of a quilt in order to make them stand out. Quilters often use this technique to add dimension by creating spots that lie flat in contrast to the rest of the quilt, giving the quilt that warm puffy look.

Stipple quilting can be created by hand or on a sewing machine.
Stipple quilting can be created by hand or on a sewing machine.

Using stipple quilting allows you to be guided by imagination and on the spot creativity, combining shades of thread with hand movements to make swirling line patterns and random shapes. Although it can be a bit daunting at first, once the hand/foot coordination of stipple quilting is conquered, the end product makes it well worth the effort. Usually keeping the foot pedal at an even speed helps not only to control the design but reduces the chance of breaking the thread. If done by hand the stitching is easier to control, but takes much longer to complete.

For novice quilters, experts recommend taking a trial run with a small piece of quilt, also called a test sandwich, to get the feel of stippling before trying it on the real thing. It is important to stock up on thread in the color you want to use because stippling uses a lot of it. Something else to remember is that stipple quilting will flatten out sections, which can change the size of your finished product, so take that into consideration. If you are planning on quilting for a twin bed you don’t want to end up with a quilt that is too small for a twin bed but not quite crib size either.

With that in mind, this type of quilting can be tremendously freeing once you get the hang of it. After you have completed a stipple quilting design, you will have something original to show off at a county fair, give as a one-of-a-kind gift, or put in the nursery to welcome home the new baby.

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Discussion Comments


Hello folks. I hope you can help me I am trying my hand at stippling and it's not going very well so I need all the help I can get. I live about 50 miles from a large city and work so a course is out of the question. Do you still quilt in the ditch on the finished project or is the stippling the only thing you do? I can get mine to look nice. I do have a walking foot and when you cut the threads if you have to leave your project what do you do with them? As you can see I need all the help I can get. Thank you very much for taking my question Cathy


I have a Janome SX 2122 and have successfully used the darning foot a few years ago for stipple quilting.

Now I can't seem to get it to work. I'm putting the 'wire' above the needle knob, and the foot rises up with each stitch.

Help please.


I have never done stippling before and I don't really know what I have to do with the sewing machine to get started, but it looks interesting, could you please help me?

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    • Stipple quilting can be created by hand or on a sewing machine.
      Stipple quilting can be created by hand or on a sewing machine.