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.
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.