My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Praise of The Humble Stipple

I don't know why stippling (or all-over meandering) gets such a bad rap.  It's a free-motion quilting pattern that has got a whole heap going for it and we really shouldn't knock it like we do.

I was thinking about the stipple because I decided to use it, and using it reminded me of why I like it. 

Here's why I'm celebrating the humble stipple today:

  • Stippling fills an area quickly.
  • The pattern gives a really nice overall texture.
  • It's the type of pattern that looks good stitched out big, small, or anywhere in between.
  • Stippling is an excellent practice stitch because you need good 'flow' to get it nice and smooth, and there is no sharp corners, which can be traps for newbies.
  • I find it easy to use to travel around the quilt top.

My art quilt pieces tend to use more organic patterns - not even patterns really - just lines to indicate texture and so are often uneven and kind of random.  But when I'm stitching a more traditional quilt, the stipple gets a look in.

Here's a detail from one of my art quilts with a 'texture' quilting pattern to indicate the tree line in the distance.

Our quilt guild makes donation quilts - we call them community quilts - and most of them get given to Women's Refuge (a women's shelter to help women and children trying to get out of violent situations).  The one below was made and basted by several other group members and I've taken on the task of quilting it.

So I'm using it as a bit of a practice piece, with the intent of filling every block with a different free-motion filler.  And of course, where do you start when looking for free-motion quilting fillers?  But with stippling of course!

The next pattern I chose was curlicues.  Another nice pattern, but compare it with the picture of stippling above.  What do you think?  The stipple gets my vote for evenness of texture.

Sure, if we use any pattern too much it gets boring.  We need to be sensible and incorporate stippling with other patterns to add variety and places for the eyes to rest and move to.  But don't discount stippling just because everyone does it.  Everyone does it for a reason - it's an excellent, and very useful quilting pattern.

So here's to you, Humble Stipple!  May you live on long in the hearts of quilters.


  1. I used to diss stipple too... but I think it was more because I couldn't do it. Now that I can... after more than 10yrs of quilting, it has become one of my favourites. But like most designs - there is a time and place!

  2. Definitely more texture in the block with the stippling and you make good points about the use of stippling!

  3. I agree with you on all the points you make about stippling. I think the reason it gets a bad rap is overuse, which could be true for any pattern. One thing I think people forget is that it is important to pick an appropriate quilting design to enhance the piecing. I have seen all over quilt patterns RUIN a quilt. All over patterns, including stippling, certainly have their place, but it is not on every quilt. ;-) Yes, I am passionate aobut this subject.


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