Doodling is a fabulous way to learn free-motion quilt designs. Just with pen and paper, you can start your free motion quilting journey. Over the past three years, the GillyMac Doodle Challenge has provided over 400 participants access to an inspiring set of 80 doodles. During the Challenges, the participants were able to sample different doodles, decide which the found easiest, which they liked, and which they would go on to practise with the sewing machine.

With so many doodles, it is easy to be overwhelmed.  I recommend that a set of 5 doodles at a time is practised with pen and paper over a month, and then quilted out with your domestic sewing machine With practice, these will quickly become your go-to and favourite quilting options.

My top five recommended starter doodles to quilt are; Ribbon Candy, Angular Meander, Eight Point Star, Lazy Loops and Pearls on a String. Each of these has various derivatives and are simply starting points, like an outline, for you to develop as your confidence grows.

If you decide to choose your own subset of designs, then make sure you have:


  • Two that can be used in borders (Ribbon Candy, Eight Point Star, Lazy Loops
  • Two that can be used within shapes (Ribbon Candy, Eight Point Star)
  • Two that can be fillers for larger areas (Angular Meander, Pearls on a String, Lazy Loops)

Once confident with these, you can develop the doodles. For example, add leaves to your pearls to make them flower-like and add double loops into the ribbon candy to create new shapes within the quilt.

Doodle quilting can be a relaxing mindful process and the key to achieving this is doodle, doodle and doodle some more with pen on paper before you start up your machine.

Although the GillyMac Doodle Challenge is over, the complete set and ebook can be bought for £25. I’d love to see your progress, so don’t forget to tag me @gillymacdesigns on Instagram or Facebook or use the hashtag #gillymacdoodlequilting