Stippling is one of the easiest quilting techniques to learn. Using your machine, you make a series of curves — much like puzzle pieces — and make sure you don’t cross your lines. You can also envision stippling as linking “s” curves that are in normal position and lying down. Lines that are more than 1/2″ apart are referred to as “meandering.” Lines that are less than 1/4″ apart are called “stippling.”
The concept of meandering/stippling is easy. The trick is to keep your curves even, for instance keeping all of your curves quarter-size.( You’ll need further practice if you have some curves the size of a dime and others the size of a silver dollar.) Meandering takes practice and getting into a rhythm. The second challenging part is planning your path so that you don’t get stuck in a corner.
This child’s Tshirt quilt (shown on a previous blog post) is a great example of meandering. (If there’s a problem viewing this photo, please visit my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com).
A year ago, I took a quilting class from longarm guru Linda Taylor in which she recommended making a meandering sampler. As I recall, her sampler had 11 different sizes of meanders/stipples. She came up with the idea because the longarmers she employed were sometimes inconsistent with their meander sizes. They had particular problems when they worked on a project before and after lunch — and then couldn’t duplicate their results on the remaining half of the quilt.
This weekend, I gave a presentation and talked about meandering. Some of the quilters worked on domestic machines and commented they couldn’t keep their meandering curves even. I showed them my sampler and recommended using it as a reference tool while they were quilting.
In addition to being a good reference tool, a meandering sampler is a great learning tool. It allows you to practice your technique and to learn to be consistent. Becoming proficient takes time and practice.
For longarm quilters, a stippling sampler is a great way to show clients what to expect. Most clients can’t picture the difference between a 1.5″ stipple and a 1″ stipple, but the difference is evident if you have a sample handy. In addition, you can assign prices to your samples.
My sampler is about 40″ long and 10″ wide. It’s not very flashy, but it does the trick. So I encourage you to make your own sampler. It is valuable for both business and skill-building reasons.