Tuesday, August 12, 2014


What the heck is stippling and meandering? 

Quilt Featuring Stipple Design, Square Pattern
Angela Mitchell at Craftsy.com

I thought I knew what it is but after reading blogs over the past several years, I'm beginning to doubt that I actually know.  From time to time, one of the bloggers that I follow describes how she "stipple" quilted a piece and I look at her pictures, kind of shake my head and question myself. After all, I assume that everyone else knows more about quilting that I do, right? 

So, when I read a post and see a picture of "stippling" that looks like a filler pattern, with straight lines or stars or circles, and with the lines crossing and recrossing each other, I wonder if my quilting teacher, Sandy in Ft. Atkinson, WI, knew what she was talking about. When we got to the lessons on free-motion quilting, she informed us in the class that "meandering" was larger free-motion puzzle pieces with lines never crossing. She also taught us that "stippling" was the same but much smaller.  Well, that's not what I've been reading in the blogs.

I decided to see what the "Internets" had to say about it and here's what I found about stippling:

          This technique is closely related to meandering. The major difference between the two is the distance between lines of stitching. Stippling features a quarter of an inch or less between lines, while a wider distance is used in meandering. Although the techniques are used for the same purpose, this spacing difference creates two distinct effects.
An additional requirement of stippling is that lines of sewing do not cross over each other. The patterns formed, instead, are roaming, curved lines that cover the entirety of an otherwise open area.

This is from Quilting Assistant. I also found several other sites which describe stippling and meandering in the same fashion, although one of them allowed that straight lines could also be called stippling but that it's much harder to avoid crossing the lines of stitching with straight lines.

It appears that quilting vocabulary is changing and stippling/meandering refer to any kind of filler designs--straight or curved lines, crossing each other or not.  Do you agree with this?  Does it matter to you?  Probably not, I'm just being a bit cranky about this, I guess.  Take a deep breath, Barb, and think of the grand scheme of things. Does it really matter what name people give to their quilting patterns?  Not really but to me, I'll stick with the traditional names of these techniques.

To me, this is stippling on the left and meandering on the right::
Blue Quilt Featuring Meandering Design
  at Craftsy.com


  1. Im in complete agreement with you. I think the only difference between stippling and meandering is the distance between the quilting lines (and I dont think that anything thats straight line quilting is really stippling either!)

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