The Power of Doodling

If you can draw it, you can quilt it.

These words changed my approach to quilting forever. Learning about the power of doodling helped me grow and learn while building my free motion quilting skills.

What is Doodling?

All those little flowers and stars in the margins of your notebooks are doodles. For this post, doodling is intentionally drawing quilting motifs to practice them before you get to your sewing machine. Doodling is an exercise in hand-eye coordination that will improve your quilting by leaps and bounds.

Doodling also helps build self-confidence. Practicing on paper is much less intimidating than putting a needle into a quilt sandwich. That also makes it less expensive. With doodling, you can grab the nearest pen and scrap paper and get to practicing. Add in its portability, and doodling is my favorite way to become a better quilter.

When to Doodle

Doodling is so easy to do any time you want, but there are times when it’s particularly helpful. If you’re learning a new quilting motif, doodling helps you practice it before you commit thread to a quilt sandwich. It’s also helpful if it’s been a while since you’ve quilted a motif. I keep my doodle book and some practice sandwiches by my machine so I can boost my confidence before I start sewing.

Doodling can also help you develop a quilt plan. If your quilt pattern comes with a coloring sheet, you can make a quilting plan by doodling motifs in different sections of the coloring sheet to make sure you like what you have planned. If your pattern doesn’t have a coloring sheet, you can take a picture of the quilt top and either draw your quilting plan in an app on your tablet or print it and doodle from there.

Here's the coloring page from my Sawtooth Splendor quilt pattern. To make my quilting plan, I doodled different motifs around the page until I was happy with the results.


Tools for Doodling

Doodling might be the most affordable part of this hobby! The closest pen and scrap piece of paper are just fine. I prefer to use a journal for a couple of reasons. First, I’m addicted to journals, and this is a great way to… you know… use the journals. More importantly, though, I like journals with lines, dots, or grids so I can use those as guides for motifs that I might want to practice making the same size.


As much as I’m addicted to journals, the marker/pen/pencil addiction is even stronger. I’ll usually grab a pen or marker that brings me joy for my doodle sessions.

My Best Doodling Tips

The first tip is to try to keep your drawing hand up and off the paper. This is going to do a better job of simulating what’s going to happen when you get to your sewing machine. The doodles will be wobbly and weird looking at first, but I promise you your quilting will almost always be better than your doodles.

Next, try not to bounce from one motif to another during a doodle session. Take the time to dedicate a few pages in your journal to one motif. The longer you can doodle a motif, the easier it will be to transfer that hand-eye coordination to your sewing machine.

Also, try to fill the entire page when you’re doodling a motif. This will help you figure out what you’d do in an actual quilt when you get near the edges or draw yourself into a corner. Practice figuring out where to go next on the paper so it’s second nature when you get to the machine.

Finally, start in a different spot on each doodle page. This will help you determine if you have a preferred way of moving around the page that will easily translate to how you move your quilt sandwich under the needle.

Are you ready to go grab some paper and a pen? Look at my meander doodle below and start practicing with that. I can’t wait to see what you do!

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