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My Secret to Matchstick Quilting

The Wonky Pinwheel Quilt in Honey Run

Last month, I showed off one of my new patterns, the Fan-tastic Quilt. This month, I got to preview Honey Run fabric and sew up the second quilt which is included in the Fan-tastic pattern. I call it the Wonky Pinwheel Quilt. Why? Well because there are big wonky pinwheels that repeat throughout the quilt, as well as some smaller pinwheels that also repeat throughout the quilt. It is such a fun and easy quilt to make. Its larger blocks really show off the fabric in the quilt. A great way to quilt a quilt that has larger blocks is Matchstick quilting (I will talk more about this at the end of this blog post).

Being able to finish a project within a month is great because seeing all of my UFOs piling up can be daunting. I am totally one of those people who plays guess the designer at a fabric shop… I will look at a fabric bolt and think “oh that is Sue Daily, J Wecher Fisher, or the Tattooed Quilter”. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong. It is so fun to see a designer’s style evolve throughout the years. So being able to see the fabric in a quilt and know what line it was from and who designed it is super important to me. That is why I love working with big blocks.

Yellow, black, and gray make such a lovely color palette. Black and yellow alone can cry out danger but add in a gray and it really softens the contrast between those two colors. Then add in variations of the yellow and you are left with this dreamy, summery fun collection of fabrics by Jill Finley for Penny Rose Fabrics (a division of Riley Blake Designs).

Shop Honey Run fabric by clicking here.

Yes, this is Honey Run. A sweet nod to the life of a honey bee full of flowers, honeycombs and queen bees. These small insects are marvelous and influence our world so much. I just love each and every print in the collection. I of course, can never have enough gingham. If I ever designed fabric, this would be a staple in all my collections and Jill Finley makes her ginghams unexpected and unique. She added a small flower in between her squares. Ahhh genius!!! Yes, she has all the good stuff. Hexies for the honeycombs, bees zipping by each other in diagonal lines creating a diamond. And the main print… I love the flowers down to the last detail of the whimsical stems.

For the backing on this quilt, I used a gray 1/2” wide stripe. The stripe in the fabric runs salvage to salvage, making it simple for your backing to look seamless. It’s my first time using a stripe as my backing fabric and I kind of love it. I had a lot of fun with the quilting. By using matchstick quilting and alternating the line directions, I added extra dimension plus texture to the quilt. I am so happy to be able to show you my little slice of honey heaven.

Straight line quilting gives a beautiful texture and creates interest by complementing any quilt design. It can also be less time consuming.

What is the difference between straight line quilting and matchstick quilting?

Matchstick quilting is a type of straight line quilting. For me, straight line quilting is something I use all over my quilt, stitching the lines in one direction. Always starting and stopping on the same edge of the quilt (I did this in my Scrappier Double Pinwheel Quilt). When I have straight line quilted, I have only quilted in one direction, the width of the quilt, using my walking foot. The spacing between the lines is about 1/2” to 1” (or more). I haven’t tried it yet, but straight line quilting includes grid quilting, meaning running lines on the width and the length of the quilt.

What is matchstick quilting?

Matchstick quilting is a clean and modern form of dense quilting. It uses parallel lines that are stitched close together, about 1/8” to 1/4” apart.  When I use this form of quilting, I like to alter line direction within the quilt. I use my BRS foot because I am quilting within a smaller space and quilting forward and backward. A great example of this is the butterfly quilt I made earlier this year.  

My secret to matchstick quilting

My secret to matchstick quilting, when sewing in small spaces, is to sew your lines forward and backward. Does that make sense? Basically, avoid sewing side to side. I have tried side to side and my lines are never as straight as when I sew the line forward and backward. After realizing this, now I will turn and move my quilt every which way to avoid sewing side to side, making me less frustrated, which is always a good thing. I recommend figuring out what makes quilting easier for you and making a point to incorporate it into your quilting process. FYI – there is a video that shows this at the bottom of this post.

Other tips for quilting

  • Make sure that your quilt is basted good.
  • Start in the middle of your quilt and work your way out.
  • Use a sharp topstitching needle.
  • Use your quilt’s block seam edge, foot of your liking (i.e. walking foot, BRS foot, or patchwork foot) and even painter’s tape to help you stitch straight lines.
  • A portable table is great to rest the parts of your quilt that are not under your machine, so the weight of the quilt hanging doesn’t get in the way of your quilting.

Hopefully with these tips on quilting you will be able to straight line quilt and matchstick quilt with ease.

Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • Diane Beavers
    May 26, 2019

    Thank you Elisabeth, great tips on Matchstick quilting which I know understand. Light bulb moment!
    I am just beginning to quilt w/the BSR and I also have a used 440. I love it! But much more practice is needed.

    • Elisabeth DeMoo
      > Diane Beavers
      May 27, 2019

      That’s wonderful!! I am so glad this was helpful to you! Thanks for sharing!

  • Colleen Horne
    December 7, 2020

    Do you have the wonky pinwheel pattern for sale? I am a beginner quilter and would love to add this pattern to my list if quilts to make. So far 3 and I hope that I get better at it. Thank you. Colleen Horne

    • Elisabeth DeMoo
      > Colleen Horne
      December 7, 2020

      Thank you so much for your interest. I have the pattern for sale in my SquareSpace shop and Etsy shop. Here is a direct link to the pattern in the Etsy shop – . The great thing about the pattern is that is has directions on two different quilt designs in it and it also has size options. If you have any questions let me know. Have a lovey day!!